What is the intermediate realm in islam? What is the next world in islam?
Having departed from this world with death, we will then pass on to the life of the grave, in other words, to the temporary station that is the intermediate realm. After this, the last phase of the Next World, will begin.
The intermediate realm is temporary, just like life on earth. But the next phase that follows it however, is a life where both bliss and punishment are never ending.
The most important point concerning the intermediate realm and the Next Life is this: Life in both these realms is very different, in many ways, from life in this world. Time and space will be very different in these two realms.
For instance, we refer to time in this world in accordance with the rising and setting of the sun. We calculate days in reference to hours and months in reference to the days and the years in reference to months. All these will become meaningless when we enter the grave. The measurement of time there will be particular to the intermediate realm.
The same is true for the eternal realm. In fact, as it is endless, measurements, scales, time and space in that life will be completely different from those in this world. In trying to understand the information provided in the Qur’an and prophetic narrations concerning the life of the Next World, let us not make the mistake of assessing these in accordance with the standards and measures of this world.
Human beings have discovered that even in this life, the concepts of space and time are applicable only on Earth. It is known that time slows down in space and there is the expansion of space-time. Scientists have shown that if a twin was sent to the gravitational field of a large planet and remained there for 10 earth years, they would have aged less than their twin sibling. NASA astronaut Scott Kelly undertook a yearlong mission aboard the International Space Station in 2015. He returned 5 cm taller and one 100th of a second younger than his twin brother.
This information can help us understand why it is not right to try to understand the eternal life of the Next World on the basis of worldly dimensions. Inevitably, our mind can only attempt to understand what we do not know by comparing it to what we do know. When someone describes someone we do not know, they do so by likening them to other acquaintances that we have in common, saying things like, “They are as tall as So-and-so, their face or eyes looks like the face or eyes of So-and-So…”
How, then, can we describe an entity that we have never known? Were someone to say to us, “I just saw someone who is neither male nor female with no gender.” What would we understand from this? We would not understand much, because we have never seen a person who does not have a gender. Having said that, we are firmly convinced of the existence of such creatures as angels, because the Qur’an and in the Prophetic narration inform us of these. But angels are genderless and in many other ways way beyond anything we have any reference of.
In the same way, we do not know what the spirit is, what its nature and characteristics are. But we firmly believe in its existence. In revealing to us in the 85th verse of the Qur’anic chapter Al-Isra’, “of knowledge, you have been granted only a little,” Allah, glorified and exalted be He, declares that there are many things that we cannot comprehend or explain.
This goes to show that belief is one thing, while perception is another. We believe in many things, the existence of which the Qur’an and the prophetic narrations inform us of, even if we cannot fully comprehend them. This is one meaning of belief in the Unseen.
Matters such as questioning in the grave, the grave’s expansion and wideness for the believers and its contraction and narrowness for the unbelievers, need to be evaluated within this context.
In much the same way, the endlessness of the life in Garden in the Next World, with the absence of such things as old age, illness, suffering in any way at all, as well as the continual renewal of the bodies of those condemned to the Fire, without their being permitted to burn to ashes, need to be considered in the same light. While inexplicable from the perspective of worldly dimensions and measurements, all these are very real and true.