What are the benefits of belief? Why is it important to believe in the next world?
A believer who knows the transitory nature of the world and the Next World’s being eternal does not allow his/her heart to be taken by this world. They do not lose sight of all passing blessings each being a test and use all them in accordance with Divine approval and good pleasure. In other words, a concern for one’s Next Life and preparation for death serve to keep the slave steadfast and on the straight path.
It is self-evident that a believer who says, “Truly we fear from our Lord a glowering, calamitous Day.” (Al-Insan, 76:10), will steer clear of sin and wrongdoing and strive to do good.
Only one who is oblivious leads their life without any concern for the Next Life and in accordance with their whims and desires. They are dominated by their animal appetite and are not aware of it. They consider their misery bliss with no idea about the many stages awaiting them in the grave and the Next Life, they waste their lives in a state of futile distraction.
Yet no fact will disappear by mere ignorance of it. Indeed, we have surely never heard of anyone escaping death. The fear of death has never availed anyone at the time of death.
The reality of death and the Next Life will one day most certainly catch up with those who are covering it over. The laughter of the heedless today will turn into great disappointment and bitter regret tomorrow.
Belief in the Next Life reminds every discerning person that their connection with the world will one day be severed, that they will be left to face whatever good or evil they have done and that they will see the consequences without exception. In other words, contemplation of death and the Next Life leads to heightened God-consciousness and prevents one from allowing their heart to be caught up in the world, allowing a person to regulate their actions and behaviour and avoid wrongdoing that they will later regret.
Thinking about death in times of prosperity and affluence protects the Muslim from the trials of wealth. Contemplating death in want and poverty is a means to attaining contentment of heart.
Death is the greatest test and most fearsome calamity for the human being. But what is much worse than death is to live oblivious of death and the afterlife and to waste one’s life without performing deeds in search of forgiveness and reward from Allah that will be given after death. What befits a sound-minded Muslim is to prepare for death before it strikes and for this preparation the most important thing is to purge their lower self from evil characteristics and connections to this material world.
An impure heart that is not disciplined with the Quran and Sunna will never accept the reality of death. Just as Isma’il Haqqi Bursawi (may Allah have mercy on him) says of the lower egocentric self:
“How can the lower self be a Muslim when it is the mother of unbelief. Even Satan became an unbeliever because of his lower self.”
In other words, so long as a person fails to restrain the temptations and desires of their lower animal self and not loosen its hold on them, they will not be able to sufficiently contemplate death and the beyond it. With the animal-self overcoming spirituality, it can even lead to a person dying without belief – may Allah protect us from that.
In order to be secure against this great danger it is imperative that the lower self be purified and disciplined, and that the spirit be strengthened with acts of worship and frequent remembrance and invocation of Allah.
Shaykh Sa’di (may Allah have mercy on him) points to the importance of disciplining the soul before death:
“To the dust you will return, where you came from; Be humble, resembling the dust, then, oh, brother!”
The Messenger of Allah (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) says:
“Let he who believes in Allah and the Last Day not harm his neighbour. Let he who believes in Allah and the Last Day honour his guest. Let he who believes in Allah and the Last Day speak well or keep silent.” (Bukhari, Nikah 80, Adab 31, 85, Riqaq 23; Muslim, Iman 74, 75)
A believer who wholeheartedly pays heed to this prophetic wisdom realises their dealings with the people forever with mercy, courtesy, respect and with due regard for the rights of others.
Likewise, belief in the Next Life strengthens a person’s sense of responsibility. It inspires the effort to be able to meticulously fulfil one’s duty and responsibility. A person who is aware that Allah sees them always and that everything they do is being recorded and that they will be called to account in the Next Life regarding their worldly life, acquires the sensitivity of avoiding wrongdoing even in places where they are not seen by others. On the contrary, in awareness of the fact that deeds of righteousness undertaken away from the gaze of mortals, in secret and private, are more befitting a sense of ‘sincerity’, they deem such times and places special opportunities for the attainment of divine approval. As such, they become virtuous individuals in whose every state, public and private, others trust.
On the other hand, the Next Life is a realm which is necessarily existent in terms of both oppressors and the oppressed, the disbelieving criminals as well as the righteous. This is because there can be nothing more natural than the rewarding of good and the punishing of evil. Had there not been prisons even in this fleeting world where the evil people are punished, life would be unbearable.
Just this wisdom alone necessitates belief in the Next World.
Is it not the human being who is angered even by a mosquito that bites them and wants to kill it, while on the other hand they deem themselves indebted to a person who offers them a single cup of coffee. Consequently, it would be absurd to suppose that the evil and good issuing from a person throughout their life will remain without consequence.
If there was no reward and punishment, the divine program placing all creation at humanity’s disposal would have remained meaningless, and the creation of humanity futile. This would have, in turn, contradicted the divine names Al-‘Adl (The All-Just) and Al-Hakīm (The All-Wise). Just as Allah is exalted above having any deficiencies, He does not wrong His servants and is absolutely exalted above any meaningless action which has no wisdom. Allah Almighty declares: “We did not create the heaven and earth and everything between with to no purpose. That is the opinion of those who disbelieve. Woe to those who disbelieve because of the Fire. Would We make those who believe and do right actions the same as those who cause corruption on the earth? Would we make those who are godfearing the same as the dissolute?” (Sad, 38:27-28)
“Or do those who perpetrate evil deeds suppose that We will make them like those who believe and do right actions, so that their lives and deaths will be the same? How bad their judgement is! Allah created the heavens and earth with truth so that every self might be repaid for what it earned and they will not be wronged.” (Al-Jathiyya, 45:21-22)
That is to say, by virtue of His divine justice, Allah will punish the wrongdoers in the Next Life and He will reward those who do good. In the words of the Qur’an:
“Whoever does an atoms weight of good will see it. Whoever does an atoms weight of evil will see it.” (Az-Zilzal, 99:7-8)
It is stated in the Qur’anic chapter Luqman:
“My son, even if something weighs as little as a mustard-seed and is inside a rock, or anything in the heavens or earth, Allah will bring it out. Allah is All-Pervading, All-Aware.” (Luqman, 31:16)
Moreover, those who have no belief in the Next World, will surely become the most harmful people in this world, since they will worship their personal gain and self-interest. In the eyes of such people, religious sentiments, moral and spiritual responsibilities, love of people and Umma (the world community of Muslims), respect for the common good and society’s interests are laughable matters. The only accomplishment for them is dishonesty and deceit.
In one Qur’anic verse, the disposition and character of those who do not believe in the Next Life is exemplified:
“You who believe! do not nullify your sadaqa (charity) by demands for gratitude or insulting words, like him who spends his wealth, showing off to people and not believing in Allah and the Last Day.” (Al-Baqara, 2:264)
Therefore, undermining the idea of religion and the Next Life is an extremely dangerous undertaking that drags societies to ruin. Recent and distant history is full of such examples.
While believers who believe in the Next Life and regulate their lives accordingly worry about their departure from this world with their belief intact, they do not have a fear of death per se. The aim of attaining the approval and good pleasure of Allah and reaching eternal bliss leads to the endeavour to live a full life. It also gives one the ability to patiently endure the suffering of worldly life. Enjoying worldly pleasures cannot satisfy the human spirit. The spirit’s repose is to be found in the spiritual tastes with which belief invests the human being.
In fact, death and the life of the Next World is mentioned in many verses with the word, liqāa (liqāa l-lah, liqāi l-ākhirati), denoting ‘meeting; uniting with one’s beloved.’ As declared in another verse from the Qur’an:
“As for those who look forward to meeting Allah, Allah’s appointed time is certainly coming. He is the All-Hearing, the All-Knowing.” (Al-‘Ankabut, 29:5)
In other words, while death is a painful separation filled with longing for those who are left behind, it is for believing hearts a means for the spirit’s breaking out of the cage of the body, its passage from mortality to eternity and reunion after separation.
Moreover, no real achievement can be spoken of in this life without the endeavour to return to Allah, to whom we belong, honourably and with a clear conscience.
The Qur’an says of those who deny the afterlife:
“Who could do greater wrong than those who invent lies against Allah? Such people will be arrayed before their Lord and the witnesses will say, ‘Those are the ones who lied against their Lord.’ Yes indeed! Allah’s curse is on the wrongdoers, those who bar access to the way of Allah desiring to make it crooked and reject the Next World.” (Hud, 11:18-19)
“Those who deny the meeting with Allah have lost, so that, when the Last Hour comes upon them suddenly, they will say, ‘Alas for how we neglected it!’ They will bear their burdens on their backs. How evil is what they bear!” Livestock (Al-An’am, 6:31)
How does Allah invite His slaves to His Presence?
Allah, glorified be He, invites His servants to the Abode of Peace (Dar al-Salam), or to the Garden. Of course, every invitation has its conditions and every blessing has a price. The Garden can be entered only with a pure, refined, unstained and clean heart. This purity of heart is the visa, so to speak, of entry into the Garden.
Abu al-Hasan says:
“Allah Almighty brought you into the world in a pure state; so, do not go to Him with impurity.”
When a human being is born, they smell beautiful despite coming from a murky origin and they generate a feeling of great happiness and tranquillity in the heart. This stems from their innocence and purity. Allah wants for us, too, to remain in the immaculate state in which we were sent to this world, to lead an upright life and to return to Him with an unblemished Record. For the Garden cannot be entered with the heaviness of sin and wrongdoing. Wrong actions are stains that blacken the heart. An increase in these stains causes the eye of the heart to become blind and then a person no longer feels anything when committing wrong actions.
‘Umar ibn ‘Abdulaziz (may Allah be pleased with him) said:
“The forbidden acts are a burning fire. Only those whose hearts are dead reach toward them. Had the hearts of those reaching out to them been alive, they would surely have felt the pain of that fire.”
That is to say, hearts that have become hardened with wrong actions, have as a result experienced a spiritual death becoming blind to the light of truth. As declared in a Qur’anic verse:
“It is not the eyes that are blind but the hearts in the breasts that are blind.” (Al-Hajj, 22:46)
“Those who are blind in this world will be blind in the Next World and even further off the Path.” (Al-Isra’, 17:72)
“But if anyone turns away from My reminder, his life will be a dark and narrow one and on the Day of Rising We will gather him blind.’ He will say, ‘My Lord, why have you gathered me blind when before
I was able to see?’ He will say, ‘Just as Our Signs came to you and you forgot them, in the same way you too are forgotten today.” (Ta Ha, 20:124-125-126)
And so, the blindness in this world towards the matter of the revelation of Qur’an will turn into an eternal blindness in the Next Life.
Those whose hearts are blinded by the darkness of wrong actions cannot find the path of the Garden to which Allah Almighty invites humanity. In this respect, it is imperative that we take a pure, sound heart with us to His presence.
 Çıktım Erik Dalına, Istanbul 2012, p. 60.
 Kharaqani, Nur al-‘Ulum, 258.