The question of whether there is a life after death is not an issue of scientific concern, for science only deals with the classification and analysis of sense data. While man has been conducting scientific inquiries and research, in the modern sense of the term, for only the last few centuries, he has been familiar with the concept of life after death since time immemorial.
All of the prophets sent by Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta’aalaa) for the benefit of humanity called upon their people to worship Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta’aalaa) and to believe in life after death.
They laid so much emphasis on this last belief that even a slight doubt about its reality was considered a sign of denying both Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta’aalaa) and all other beliefs. The very fact that they have dealt with this metaphysical question of life after death so confidently and so uniformly, despite the fact that they appeared over thousands of years and in different places, proves that the source of their knowledge about this reality was one and the same: divine revelation. We also know that these prophets of Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta’aalaa) were opposed strongly by their people on this very issue, as many considered it impossible. Despite such opposition, however, the prophets were able to convince many people of its truth.
This raises the following question: what made those followers forsake the established beliefs, traditions and customs of their forefathers notwithstanding the risk of being totally alienated from their own community?
The simple answer is: they analyzed the issue with their minds and hearts and came gradually to the realization that the prophets were speaking the truth. Did they realize the truth through perceptual consciousness? No, for a perceptual experience of life after death is impossible. What they used was their rational, aesthetic, and moral consciousness, which Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta’aalaa) has given to every individual in addition to a perceptual consciousness. These additional faculties guides an individual through those realities that cannot be verified by sensory data. That is why all prophets of Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta’aalaa) appeal to the aesthetic, moral, and rational consciousness of man when discussing metaphysical matters. For example, when the idolaters of Makkah al Mukarramah denied even the possibility of life after death, the Quraan exposed the weakness of their stand by advancing very logical and rational arguments in support of it:
وَضَرَبَ لَنَا مَثَلًا وَنَسِيَ خَلْقَهُ قَالَ مَنْ يُحْيِي الْعِظَامَ وَهِيَ رَمِيمٌ •قُلْ يُحْيِيهَا الَّذِي أَنْشَأَهَا أَوَّلَ مَرَّةٍ وَهُوَ بِكُلِّ خَلْقٍ عَلِيمٌ • الَّذِي جَعَلَ لَكُمْ مِنَ الشَّجَرِ الْأَخْضَرِ نَارًا فَإِذَا أَنْتُمْ مِنْهُ تُوقِدُونَ • أَوَلَيْسَ الَّذِي خَلَقَ السَّمَاوَاتِ وَالْأَرْضَ بِقَادِرٍ عَلَى أَنْ يَخْلُقَ مِثْلَهُمْ بَلَى وَهُوَ الْخَلَّاقُ الْعَلِيمُ [يس: 78-81]
“He has set up an argument about Us and forgot his creation. He said: ‘Who will give life to the bones when they are decayed?’ Say: ‘These will be revived by the same One who had created them for the first time, and who is fully aware of every creation — the One who created for you fire from the green tree, and in no time you kindle from it. Is it that the One who has created the heavens and the earth has no power to create ones like them? Why not? He is the Supreme Creator, the All- Knowing’.” (YaaSeen 36:78-81)
In another Aayah (Verse), the Quraan says very clearly that non-believers do not have a sound basis for their denial of life after death. It is based on pure conjecture:
وَقَالُوا مَا هِيَ إِلَّا حَيَاتُنَا الدُّنْيَا نَمُوتُ وَنَحْيَا وَمَا يُهْلِكُنَا إِلَّا الدَّهْرُ وَمَا لَهُمْ بِذَلِكَ مِنْ عِلْمٍ إِنْ هُمْ إِلَّا يَظُنُّونَ • وَإِذَا تُتْلَى عَلَيْهِمْ آيَاتُنَا بَيِّنَاتٍ مَا كَانَ حُجَّتَهُمْ إِلَّا أَنْ قَالُوا ائْتُوا بِآبَائِنَا إِنْ كُنْتُمْ صَادِقِينَ • قُلِ اللَّهُ يُحْيِيكُمْ ثُمَّ يُمِيتُكُمْ ثُمَّ يَجْمَعُكُمْ إِلَى يَوْمِ الْقِيَامَةِ لَا رَيْبَ فِيهِ وَلَكِنَّ أَكْثَرَ النَّاسِ لَا يَعْلَمُونَ • وَلِلَّهِ مُلْكُ السَّمَاوَاتِ وَالْأَرْضِ وَيَوْمَ تَقُومُ السَّاعَةُ يَوْمَئِذٍ يَخْسَرُ الْمُبْطِلُونَ [الجاثية: 24-27]
“And they say: ‘There is no life but our worldly life. We die and live, and nothing destroys us except time’. They have no knowledge about that; they do nothing but make conjectures. When Our Aayaat (Verses) are recited to them in all their clarity, their argument is none but that they say: ‘Bring our fathers, if you are truthful’. Say: ‘Allah gives you life, then makes you die, then He will assemble you on the Youm ul Qiyaamah (Day of Judgement) in which there is no doubt, but most of the people do not know’. To Allah belongs the kingdom of the heavens and the earth. The day the Hour will take place, it will be the day in which the adherents of falsehood shall lose. (Al-Jaathiyah 45:24-27)
Surely Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta’aalaa) will raise all those who have died, but only when He chooses to do so. A day will come when the whole universe will be destroyed and then the dead will be resurrected to stand before their Lord, Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta’aalaa).
This day will be the beginning of the life that will never end, and on that day every person will be rewarded by Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta’aalaa)]= according to his or her good or evil deeds. This day is called the Youm ul Hisaab (Day of Judgment).
The Quraan states that there will be a life after death because the moral consciousness of mankind demands it. If there is no life after death, any belief in any concept of God, itself becomes irrelevant. Furthermore, such a situation would mean that Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta’aalaa) is unjust and indifferent, for how could He create mankind and then lose interest in His creation? As Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta’aalaa) is just, those people who have committed crimes must be punished. All of those tyrants who have killed scores of innocent persons, unleashed great corruption and evil within their societies, enslaved their people to serve their whims, and other terrible deeds must be brought to justice.
As man’s life is so short and the world is not eternal, true justice can only be meted out in the Aakhirah (Afterlife), which will have none of these limitations. The Quraan states that the Youm ul Hisaab must come and that Allah (SallAllaho ‘Alaihe WaSallam) will decide the fate of each soul according to his or her record of deeds:
وَقَالَ الَّذِينَ كَفَرُوا لَا تَأْتِينَا السَّاعَةُ قُلْ بَلَى وَرَبِّي لَتَأْتِيَنَّكُمْ عَالِمِ الْغَيْبِ لَا يَعْزُبُ عَنْهُ مِثْقَالُ ذَرَّةٍ فِي السَّمَاوَاتِ وَلَا فِي الْأَرْضِ وَلَا أَصْغَرُ مِنْ ذَلِكَ وَلَا أَكْبَرُ إِلَّا فِي كِتَابٍ مُبِينٍ • لِيَجْزِيَ الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا وَعَمِلُوا الصَّالِحَاتِ أُولَئِكَ لَهُمْ مَغْفِرَةٌ وَرِزْقٌ كَرِيمٌ • وَالَّذِينَ سَعَوْا فِي آيَاتِنَا مُعَاجِزِينَ أُولَئِكَ لَهُمْ عَذَابٌ مِنْ رِجْزٍ أَلِيمٌ [سبأ: 3-5]
“Said those who disbelieve: ‘The Hour (i.e. the Day of Judgment) will not come to us’. Say: ‘Why not? By my Lord, the knower of the Unseen, it will come to you. Nothing in the heavens and in the earth, even to the measure of a particle, can escape Him, nor is there anything smaller than that or bigger, but it is recorded in a manifest book. (The Hour will come,) so that He rewards those who believed and did righteous deeds. For such people, there is forgiveness (from Allah) and a noble provision. As for those who strived against Our signs to defeat (the messenger), for such people there is a painful punishment of the divine wrath.” (Sabaa 34:3-5)
The Youm ul Hisaab or Youm ul Qiyaamah (Day of Resurrection) will be the manifestation of Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta’aalaa)’s justice and mercy. He will shower His mercy on those who suffered during their worldly lives for His sake, believing that eternal bliss was awaiting them.
(To be Continued)