5a – The Hereafter – Prelude

“O mankind!  Indeed, Allah’s promise is true, so do not let the life of the world delude you, nor let the Deluder (Satan) delude you from Allah.” [Qur’an, 35:5]

“And they inquire from you, ‘Is it (the Day of Judgement) true?’  Say, ‘Yea.  By my Lord!  Indeed, it is true.  And you shall not escape.” [Qur’an, 10:53]

This world, with the precise and well-defined roles of its constituents, indicates the existence of a wise, knowing and powerful Creator.  (See: [Qur’an, 50:4,16,18, 34:3 and 46:33, 50:15, 36:82]) Yet, we sometimes see people around us getting other than what they deserve.  Very good people might suffer greatly, while evil, dishonest individuals might escape the hand of the law, and live in luxury and wealth that they have amassed by illicit and immoral means.  It would be wishful thinking to imagine that human free-will, with its accompanying conscience, carries no accountability or consequences. There must be another life, in which all will receive their just reward or punishment.  [See: Qur’an, 3:190, 23:115-116, 68:35-36, 45:21, 75:36-40, 44:34-40]

This world is therefore a place of toil and action.

“Blessed be He in Whose Hand is sovereignty, and He has power over all things.  He who created death and life, in order that He might test you, [as to] which of you is best in conduct.  And He is the Mighty, the Forgiving. ”  [Qur’an, 67:1-2]

`Ali (may Allah be well pleased with him) said, “Today there is action, and no reckoning.  Tomorrow, there is reckoning and no action.” [Narrated by Bukhari]

“Indeed, in the creation of the heavens and the earth, and the alternation of night and day, are signs for people of intellect.  Those who remember Allah standing, sitting and on their sides, and ponder over the creation of the heavens and the earth.  [They say,] ‘Our Lord!  You have not created this in vain; free from all defect are You [exalted above creating without purpose], therefore preserve us from the punishment of the Fire.'” [Qur’an, 3:190]

It is imperative that we realize that this world, and all it contains, has been created for a purpose.  Nothing of Allah’s creation is in vain.

“We have not created the Heavens and the earth and [all] that is between them in vain; that is the conjecture of those who disbelieve, so woe from the Fire to those who disbelieve!  Or, shall We treat those who believe and do good deeds like those who work corruption in the land?  Or, shall We treat the pious like the wicked?”  [Qur’an, 38:27-28]

Allah has praised those who use their intellect, and correspondingly He has castigated those who refuse to use their minds, and who consequently deny the Hereafter.

“Nay, those who believe not in the Hereafter are in punishment and far error.  Have they not observed what is before them and what is behind them of the Heavens and the earth?  If We willed, We could make the earth swallow them, or cause pieces from the sky to fall on them.  Indeed, therein is a sign for every penitent servant.” [Qur’an, 34:9]

The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) has said about [3:190], “Woe to him who recited it without pondering over it.”  [Narrated by Ibn Mardawayh]

In the same light, Hasan Basri said, “An hour’s contemplation is better than a night’s standing in prayer.”

The intelligent individual is therefore he who reflects over the universe around him, and comes to the realization that an Afterlife is necessary. The human mind can recognize this necessity in general terms, but it cannot independently determine precise details of the afterlife, such as whether there is bodily resurrection, what the precise criteria of judgment will be, and what specific forms of reward and punishment will take place. These details are matters of the unseen, and can only be known through authentic revelation, from the Creator, that informs us of them. Hence, one first needs to investigate, and become convinced of, the veracity of the Prophet Muhammad (may Allah bless him and grant him peace). The believer then has no hesitance in accepting the details of what the Prophet has brought.

The Qur’an and authentic hadith provide considerable information about the Hereafter, but is useful to bear in mind that we still cannot grasp its nature fully. Ibn `Abbas (may Allah be well-pleased with him) has said, “There is nothing in Heaven that is in this world except for the names.” In other words, the gardens, rivers, etc. of Heaven that are described for us in the sacred texts are not like the corresponding delights of this world. The phenomena of the two worlds may share names, and a common core meaning, but the Hereafter is a quite different world from this one. At the same time, we believe the Hereafter is real, and not merely metaphorical.

That person who is certain of the existence of the Hereafter will reflect this belief in his life.  He will feel a sense of responsibility for his beliefs, words and actions.  He will strive to be sincere and truthful, to worship his Lord, and to desire good for his fellow creatures. Such convictions, springing from religious belief, simultaneously fulfill the collective worldly need, by providing the most effective way of regulating the conduct of members of human societies.

“O you who believe!  Keep your duty to Allah, and let every soul look [to] what it has prepared for the morrow, and fear Allah!   Indeed, Allah is well-acquainted with what you do.  And be not like those who forgot Allah, so that He caused them to forget their own selves; those are the transgressors.  Not equal are the Companions of the Fire and the Companions of the Garden.  The Companions of the Garden are the victorious ones.”   [Qur’an, 59:18-19]

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