Life After Death
This much is known to everyone that whoever is born into the world has got to die one day or the other. But nobody knows on his own what happens or will happen after death. This is known only to Allah (Suhhaanahu Wata'aalaa). Allah (Subhaanahu Wata'aalaa) vouchsafe the knowledge of it to His Prophet (Sallallahu Alaihe Wasallam) and through the Prophet (Sallallahu Alaihe Wasallam) men like you and me also come to know about it. Every prophet of Allah (Subhaanahu Wata'aalaa), in his time, had revealed clearly to his people through what stages they would have to pass after death and how at each stage they would be recompensed for their deeds - good as well as bad - during their earthly sojourn. Since Prophet Muhammad (Sallallahu Alaihe Wasallam) is the last of the Divine Apostles and Messengers and no prophet is going to be raised up after him, the different stages through which a man has to pass after death have been explained by him in greatest detail and with utmost clarity. If all that the Prophet (Sallallahu Alaihe Wasallam) has revealed in this connection is brought together it would make a volume by itself. We will, therefore, give a very brief summary of it over here.
There are to follow three stages after death. The first stage runs from death to Resurrection. It is called Barzakh. Whether a person is buried when he dies or he is cremated or cast into the river, his soul does not perish with him. It is immortal; it lives. It only migrates from this material world of ours to anothers world. In this other world the angels question him about his spiritual state. If he is a true believer, he gives the correct answers; whereupon the angels impart to him the glad tidings that he is going to live in peace and happiness till the Last Day. And if it is otherwise, that is, he is an unbeliever, an infidel or a sham or hypocritical Muslim, he is, at once, placed under dreadful punishment which is not to cease before the Day of Reckoning.
The next stage comprised of the Last Day and the Resurrection. The Last Day means that there will come a time when the entire material world will be destroyed by the command of Allah (Subhaanahu Wata'aalaa), anihilation will descend suddenly on everything that exists around us. The whole world will be thrown topsy-turvy. Then, after a long time, when Allah (Subhaanahu Wata'aalaa) will wish, all men will be raised up again. Every persons born into the world will be re-created and called upon to render a full account of his doings on the earth. In the Great Reckoning, those who will be found worthy of deliverance will be awarded a place in the Paradise and those who will turn out to be guilty and undeserving of Divine chastisement will, be consigned to Hell.
After this, there will commence the last stage. The dwellers of the Paradise will live in a state of eternal bliss, supremely immune from every kind of pain, anxiety or suffering and exulting in the bounties of their Lord the like of which they would not have dreamt of in the world, while those that will be condemned to Hell will have to live permanently in a condition of unmitigated misery and distress. There, will be for them nothing but horrible agony and castigation. This will be the ultimate stage after death.
The above was the sum and substance of what the prophets, specially the last of them, Prophet Muhammad (Sallallahu Alaihe Wasallam), have taught mankind about the Hereafter and what is indicated about it in the Holy Quraan and the Traditions. We will now examine some of the relevant verses of the Holy Quraan:
Every soul shall have a taste of death: in the end to Us shall ye be brought back. [XXIX:57]
Every soul shall have a taste of death: and only on the Day of judgement shall you be paid your full recompense. [III: 185]
The Last Day will be a frightful, horrible day.
O mankind! fear your Lord, for the convulsion of the Hour (of judgement) will be a thing terrible! the Day ye shall see it: every mother giving suck shall forget her sucklingbabe, and every pregnant female shall drop her load unformed! thou shall see mankind as in a drunkenriot, yet not drunk! but dreadful shall be the wrath of Allah. [XXII: 1-2)]
One day the earth and the mountains will be in violent commotion and the mountains will be as a heap of sand poured out and flowing down. [LXXIII : 14]
A day that will make children hoary - headed. [LXXIII: 17]
At length, when there comes the deafening noise, that Day shall a men flee form his own brother, and from his mother and his father, and from his wife and children. Each one of them, that Day, will have enough concern (of his own) to make him indifferent to others. Some faces that Day will be beaming, laughing, rejoicing. And other faces that Day will be dust-stained, blackness will cover them. [LXXX:33:41]
On the Day of Recompense:
That Day shall ye be brought to Judgement! not an act of yours that ye hide will den. [LXIX:18]
One day We shall remove the mountains, and thou will see the earth as a level stretch, and We shall gather them, altogether, nor shall leave out any of them, And they will be marshalled before the Lord in ranks, with the announcement, "Now have ye come to Us (bare) as We created ye first! Aye, ye thought We shall not fulfil the appointment made to you to meet Us?" And the Book (of Deeds) will be placed before you; and thou will see the sinful great terror because of what is recorded therein; they will say "Ah! Woe to us! What a Book is this! It leaves nothing small or great, but takes account thereof!" They will find all that they did placed before them: and no one will thy Lord treat with injustice. [XVIII: 47-49]
A man's own limbs will depose against him before Allah (Subhaanahu Wata'aalaa) on the Day of Reckoning.
That day shall be set a seal on their mouths. But their hands will speak to Us, and their feet will bear witness to all that they did. [XXXVI: 65]
The Holy Quraan, in fine, has portrayed most graphically and vividly the happenings of the Last Day: the terrific explosions and the dreadful tremors, the total annihilation of the world even the mountains will be wiped out of existence, the rising again of men, the gathering together of them for the Judgement, the presentation of the Book of Deeds, the deposing of one's own limbs against oneself, the Judgernent, and finally, the execution of the Divine Verdict and the allotment of Heaven and Hell. All these events have been described so candidly in some of the chapters of the Holy Quraan that one can obtain a full picture of the happenings of the Last Day by reading them. The Prophet (Sallallahu Alaihe Wasallam), thus, is reported to have observed, "Anyone who wishes, to know about the Last Day as if the scene of it was drawn before his eyes should read these chapters of the Holy Quraan: Takveer, Infitaar and Inshiqaaq.
We will, now see a few Traditions of the Prophet (Sallallahu Alaihe Wasallam) appertaining to Barzakh and the Last Day. Says, he:
"When anyone of you dies the place that is going to be his abode in the Heaven or in the Hell (on the basis of his conduct in the world) is brought before his eyes every morning and evening and it is said to him, "Behold, this is your destination, and, surely, you will reach it'."
"When the Trumpet will first be sounded on the Last Day by the command of Allah (Subhaanahu Wata'aalaa) everyone will faint and drop dead on the ground. When it will be sounded next all men will rise again."
They will then be commanded to proceed to make their presence before the Lord. The angels, thereafter, will be told to collect them together and here the investigation into their conduct on the earth will begin."
It is related that a Companion once enquired from the Prophet (Sallallahu Alaihe Wasallam), "O Messenger of Allah (Subhaanahu Wata'aalaa), how will Allah (Subhaanahu Wata'aalaa) raise up his creatures from the dead? Is there anything like it here in this world which may be cited as example?" The Prophet (Sallallahu Alaihe Wasallam) replied, "Has it never occurred to you that you may have passed by a stretch of land in your country and found it dry and bereft of all vegetation, and, then, on coming upon it again, after sometime, discovered that it was covered lavishly with fresh, green grass?" The Companion replied, "Yes, my master. It has." The Prophet (Sallallahu Alaihe Wasallam) remarked, "This typifies resurrection. Allah (Subhaanahu Wata'aalaa) will raise from the dead in the same manner."
The Prophet (Sallallahu Alaihe Wasallam) is reported to have asked, after reciting the Quraanic verse:
On the Day (the earth) will declare her tidings, "Do you know what it means?" The Companions are said to have replied, "Allah (Subhaanahu Wata'aalaa) and His Apostle (Sallallahu Alaihe Wasallam) know best." The Prophet (Sallallahu Alaihe Wasallam), the Tradition goes on to tell, then said, "On the Day of Judgement the earth will bear witness to all the deeds performed by men on it (i.e., at the bidding of Allah (Subhaanahu Wata'aalaa) the earth will tell that such and such a person had done such and such a thing on it on such and such a day.)"
Speaking of the Day of Recompense the Prophet (Sallallahu Alaihe Wasallam), further, is reported to have said, "On that Day Allah (Subhaanahu Wata'aalaa) will call upon everyone to come forward and be his own witness. He will say to him, "Today you are your own witness: our recording angels are present; this much of evidence is enough." Then by the command of Allah (Subhaanahu Wata'aalaa) the lips of the person will be sealed and he will not be able to utter a word. His limbs (arms, legs, etc.) will then be commanded to speak and they will relate the whole story of his doings in the world."
It is reported that once a person went to the Prophet (Sallallahu Alaihe Wasallam) and said, "O Messenger of Allah (Subhaanahu Wata'aalaa)! I have some slaves who sometimes disobey me, or they steal or tell me a lie. I sometimes scold them and, sometimes, I also punish them. How is it going to turn out for me on the Day of Requital?" The Prophet (Sallallahu Alaihe Wasallam) observed, "Allah (Subhaanahu Wata'aalaa) will dispense justice correctly on the Day of Judgement. If the punishment you meted out to them is proportionate to their faults you will neither get nor have to give anything; you will be quit. If the punishment turns out to be of a lesser degree than what they merited, you will be recompensed for it. If the punishment proves to be excessive you will have to recompense the slaves." On hearing the Prophet (Sallallahu Alaihe Wasallam)'s reply the enquirer began to cry. He said, "Then, O Prophet (Sallallahu Alaihe Wasallam) of Allah (Subhaanahu Wata'aalaa)! the best thing for me is to send them away.
I declare before you that I have set them free." The Prophet (Sallallahu Alaihe Wasallam) is also reported to have recited the following Verse of the Holy Quraan to him:
We shall set up scales of justice for the Day of Judgement, so that not a soul will be dealt with unjustly in the least. And if there be (no more than) the weight of a mustard seed, We will bring it (to account) and enough are We to take account. [XXI: 47]