What is Belief in The Hereafter In Islam?


What is belief in the hereafter ın Islam?

Almighty Allah has ordained five stages for human life. The first stage is the realm of souls; the second is the period spent in the mother’s womb; the third stage is the temporal life in this world; the fourth stage is the period spent in the intermediate stage and the grave; the fifth stage is the Hereafter and eternal life either in heaven or in hell. The temporal life was granted to mankind as a test: Salvation and eternal happiness depend upon deeds and conduct of humankind in this temporal life. Belief in the Hereafter is one of the principles of six articles of faith enabling men to become aware of the fact that there is a reward or a punishment in return for these deeds and acts and thus men have responsibilities during this temporal life. Important significance was attributed to the belief in the Hereafter to the extent that it is mentioned in many verses in the Qur’an together with the belief in Allah.

The Almighty Allah says:

“…. whoever believes in Allah and the Last Day and does good deeds will have their reward with Allah, and there shall no fear come upon them nor shall they grieve.” (Baqara, 2:62)

In praise of the qualities of believers: “Those who believe in Allah and the Last Day ask thee for no exemption from striving with their goods and persons. And Allah knows well those who do their duty, (Tawba: 9:46)” The verses draw attention to the characteristics of belief in Allah and the Last Day.

The Hereafter that will begin after death is a new, real and an eternal life. The respected verse states:

“What is the life of this world but amusement and play? But verily the Home in the Hereafter, – that is life indeed, if they but knew.” (Ankabut, 29:64)

Because of knowing this anyone would put every moment to good use and seize every opportunity and never remain unwary of Allah for a moment. Their life turns into a life of worship full of good deeds. They are in a state between awe and hope regarding their fate and final destination. Their hearts cry and eyes shed tears because of the fear of Allah and worry of the reckoning on the Day of Judgment.

It is narrated that a pious man came to a market. He was going to buy a few items he needed. He had calculated the cost of what he planned to purchase and decided that he had enough money. However, when he went to the market he realized that the money he had was not enough to finish the shopping. Thus, that pious man started to cry and continued while the people around him were surprised seeing him in that situation. They tried to comfort him by telling him that crying for not having sufficient money was not correct behavior. After a while this pious man recovered from his state and addressed the astonished people while sobbing:

“Don’t assume that my tears are shed for this world! I have realized that my calculation at home did not correspond to the account in the market! How then can the calculation of the account in this world be suited tomorrow to accord with that in the Hereafter!”

No doubt, tears that are shed for the sake of worship and serving Allah in this life would bring a smile in the Hereafter. Therefore, the renowned poet Yunus Emre takes his place in the front row of those who shed tears for the afterlife and invites everyone to join the same rank:

Upon remembering that day (the Day of Judgment)

Let’s shed tears for this day

It is a day of giving up on all

Let’s shed tears for this day

The earth cracks on that day.

All of the dead resurrect

Entire wrongdoings are questioned

Let’s shed tears for this day

The sky splits off on that day

Man endures so much

Everybody is frightened

Let’s shed tears for this day

Horror of that day

Turns the innocents to old men

What a pity to the sinner

Let’s shed tears for this day

That day is the moment of crying

Men and women become naked

Let all hearts get burned

Let’s shed tears for this day

Oh Yunus! Step in the straight path

What can a brother do?

Remedy can only come from Allah

Let’s shed tears for this day

In a different poem, Yunus moans:

May the balance of account be lawful

May the unlawful receive punishment

Wrongdoers will be treated as they deserve

What should I do, what shall I say?

When the life on this earth is completed, one of the Archangels, Israfil would blow a “horn” (the Sur) and with the primordial sound coming from the Sur human beings will be resurrected and then they will gather at the place of resurrection.

Resurrection of men on the final day is a simple act for Almighty Allah who created things that didn’t exist before. The Qur’an speaks of this fact as follows:

“Man says: “What! When I am dead, shall I then be raised up alive? But does not man call to mind that We created him before out of nothing?” (Maryam, 19:66-67)

“Does man think that We cannot assemble his bones? Nay, We are able to put together in perfect order the very tips of his fingers.” (Qiyama, 75:3-4)

“Doth not man see that it is We Who created him from sperm? Yet behold! He (stands forth) as an open adversary! And he makes comparisons for Us, and forgets his own (origin and) Creation: He says, “Who can give life to (dry) bones and decomposed ones (at that)? Say, “He will give them life Who created them for the first time! For He is Well-versed in every kind of creation! The same Who produces for you fire out of the green tree, when behold! Ye kindle therewith (your own fires)! “Is not He Who created the heavens and the earth able to create the like thereof?” – Yea, indeed! For He is the Creator Supreme, of skill and knowledge (infinite)! Verily, when He intends a thing, His Command is, “be”, and it is! So glory to Him in Whose hands is the dominion of all things: and to Him will ye be all brought back.” (Ya Seen, 36:77-83)

“It is He Who brings out the living from the dead, and brings out the dead from the living, and Who gives life to the earth after it is dead: and thus shall ye be brought out (from the dead).” (Rum, 30:19)

“Say: “(Nay!) Be ye stones or iron, or created matter which, in your minds, is hardest (to be raised up),- (Yet shall ye be raised up)!” then will they say: “Who will cause us to return?” Say: “He who created you first!” Then will they wag their heads towards thee, and say, “When will that be?” Say, “May be it will be quite soon!” (Isra, 17:50-51)

“O mankind! If ye have a doubt about the Resurrection, (consider) that We created you out of dust, then out of sperm, then out of a leech-like clot, then out of a morsel of flesh, partly formed and partly unformed, in order that We may manifest (our power) to you; and We cause whom We will to rest in the wombs for an appointed term, then do We bring you out as babes, then (foster you) that ye may reach your age of full strength; and some of you are called to die, and some are sent back to the feeblest old age, so that they know nothing after having known (much), and (further), thou seest the earth barren and lifeless, but when We pour down rain on it, it is stirred (to life), it swells, and it puts forth every kind of beautiful growth (in pairs).” (Hajj, 22:5)

These verses, as words of Almighty Allah, who takes life and brings the dead to life, demonstrate resurrection will no doubt take place. In the face of such an inevitable fact one should take into account the following declaration: “You will die as you have lived; you will be resurrected as you have died.” Then one should be prepared for this day.

As Yunus said:

O friends! o brethren!

I fear that I will die

Yet I am prepared to get what is deserved

Thus I don’t mind dying

Then, Almighty Allah says:

“Then shall anyone who has done an atom’s weight of good, see it! And anyone who has done an atom’s weight of evil, shall see it.” (Zalzala, 99:7-8)

“The Day whereon neither wealth nor sons will avail, but only he (will prosper) that brings to Allah a sound heart.”(Shuara, 26:88-89)

Inspired by these verses the renowned poet Arif Nihad composed the following lines:

They said: “No wood exists in the hell;

The passenger will take his own wood!”

Then I realized that one who goes to the paradise

Will take his rose and lily with him!

Yunus also draws attention to the fact one should be prepared while heading to the Day of Judgment:

Tomorrow the work will not be finished

If it is not completed today on this earth!

In other words, the Hereafter is an indispensable place for both the good and bad people because nothing is more natural than rewarding the good and punishing those who deserve it. Had there been no prisons or other institutions for criminals and wrongdoers in this temporal world, life would have been unbearable. Even for this reason only, it is possible to believe in the existence of the Hereafter.

It is a simple observation to notice the reciprocity in the following examples: a man tends to punish even the smallest insect for a bite on his body. On the other hand a man tends to appreciate even the kindness of an offer of a cup of coffee and the memory of this appreciation can last for years. Therefore, it is simply unacceptable blindness to expect that unlawful deeds and actions of a man throughout his lifetime will remain unreciprocated before the Almighty Allah. There is the persecution of the oppressor; complaints of the oppressed; blasphemy of the unbeliever and faith of the believer in our life on this earth. Had there been no rewards and punishment for these events and behaviors, not only the Divine program that brought all beings under the control and command of men but also the creation of men would have been meaningless. All of these would have been in conflict with the attribution of Almighty Allah, who is Just and Fair. As Almighty Allah is far away from having any flaws, He is also far away indeed from falling into any such deficiency. Thus, in order to emphasize the day of reckoning, reward and punishment, Almighty Allah states:

“Does man think that he will be left uncontrolled, (without purpose)?” (Qiyama, 75:36)

“Did ye then think that We had created you in jest, and that ye would not be brought back to Us (for account)?” (Muminun, 23:115)

“We created not the heavens, the earth, and all between them, merely in (idle) sport.” (Dukhan, 44:38)

“The Unbelievers say, “Never to us will come the Hour”: Say, “Nay! But most surely, by my Lord, it will come upon you; – by Him Who knows the unseen, – from Whom is not hidden the least little atom in the heavens or on earth: Nor is there anything less than that, or greater, but is in the Record Perspicuous.” (Saba, 34:3)

“Allah! There is no god but He: of a surety He will gather you together unto the Day of Judgment, about which there is no doubt. And whose word can be truer than Allah’s?” (Nisa, 4:87)

“O ye who believe! Believe in Allah and His Messenger, and the scripture which He hath sent to His Messenger and the scripture which He sent to those before (him). Any who denieth Allah, His angels, His Books, His Messengers, and the Day of Judgment, hath gone far, far astray.” (Nisa, 4:136)

“He questions: “When is the Day of Resurrection?” At length, when the sight is dazed, and the moon is buried in darkness. And the sun and moon are joined together,- That Day will Man say: “Where is the refuge?” By no means! No place of safety! Before thy Lord (alone), that Day will be the place of rest. That Day will Man be told (all) that he put forward, and all that he put back.” (Qiyamah, 75:7-13)

Neither in the Qur’an nor in the Prophetic traditions (hadith), is any information given regarding the timing of the Day of Resurrection. However, a number of minor and major signs of the day of judgment are mentioned in these primary sources. We can summarize the available information as follows:

  1. Minor Signs:
  2. Learning and knowledge will decrease while ignorance will increase. Alcohol consumption and fornication will take place explicitly.
  3. Murders for simple reasons and even for no reason at all will rise.
  4. Justice and competence will disappear; no attention will be paid whether something is lawful or unlawful, legitimate or illegitimate.
  5. Rebellion against parents and (slavish) obedience to (the unnecessary demands of) women will increase.
  6. Cheating and corruption will spread and everybody will start complaining about these ills.
  7. Respect and compassion for people will decrease significantly and warnings will remain unnoticed.
  8. Migration to cities will soar and buildings will spring up. Incompetence and wicked people will enjoy respect and they will hold power and authority.
  9. Gambling, fortune telling and tools for gambling will become more varied and popular. People will not notice the passing of time.
  10. Wasting money, goods and resources will increase; people will prefer material and worldly interests to the happiness in the Hereafter.
  11. Major Signs:
  12. The emergence of a smoke lasting forty days,
  13. The emergence of the Antichrist (Dajjal),
  14. The emergence of an animal called Dhabbatu’l Ard,
  15. The rising of the sun from the West,
  16. The spreading of Yajuj and Majuj in the world,
  17. The descent of Jesus (a.s) to the earth,
  18. The rising of a strong fire in the Hejaz region and,
  19. The sinking of three places in the East, the West and in the Arabian Peninsula.

The Day of Judgment would start when Israfil, one of the archangels, blows his trumpet and resurrection would take place when he blows the same horn: trumpet for the second time. This is described in the Qur’an as follows:

“The Trumpet would (just) be sounded, when all that are in the heavens and on earth will swoon, except such as it will please Allah (to exempt). Then will a second one be sounded, when, behold, they will be standing and looking on!.” (Zumar, 39:68)

In addition to this explanation and information about the signs of the Day of Judgment, there is a classification regarding Israfil’s blowing of a trumpet. According to this classification, there will be three blows:

  1. 1. Blow of Space (Nefhatu’l-feza): With this blow the whole world would remain motionless.
  2. Blow of Thunderbolt (Nefhatutu’s-saika): With this blow everything would perish. No hills would remain and the earth will become absolutely flat and straight. Everything except the Almighty Allah would perish at this blow.
  3. Blow of Resurrection and Judgment: Almighty Allah would command all beings to “rise up” and everybody will rise. (Tefhim IV, 591)

Allah, Most High states:

“ The trumpet shall be sounded, when behold! From the graves (men) will rush forth to their Lord! They will say: “Ah! Woe unto us! Who hath raised us up from our beds of repose?.”.. (A voice will say:) “This is what (Allah) Most Gracious had promised. And true was the word of the Apostles.” (Ya Seen, 36:51-52)

According to some scholars, the unbelievers and those who rebelled against Almighty Allah will face punishment and pain in their graves. However, the pain in the grave is little compared to the pain in hell and therefore the period spent in the grave is regarded as a time of sleep. When they awake from this sleep, those who sinned or died as unbelievers will face a great pain and thus they will start panicking and shouting for help by saying “shame on us, what on earth is happening to us” (Ömer Nasuhi Bilmen, Tefsir, VI, 2943)

Those who are condemned to punishment will utter “shame on us, what a pitiful situation we are in.” According to these views, punishment in the grave will be lifted during the course of a forty-year gap between the first and the second blow to the horn and the deceased will be in a state of sleep. For this reason, when they awake from their sleep on the Day of Judgment and realize that they would face the punishment, they will start lamenting saying:

“Who woke us up from our sleep?”

What is important to remember here is not when the Final Day will come but whether everybody is prepared for death as his or her personal last day and for the life in the Hereafter.

The world is a deceitful mirage whereas the Hereafter is an endless life. We should come to our senses before death claims us so that that we will not face punishment and become helplessly regretful. There is no doubt that every human being will inevitably come across Azrail (Angel of Death) at an unknown time and place. There is in no place to hide from death. Therefore man should be aware of the wisdom in following the verse “Hasten ye then (at once) to Allah” (Dhariyat, 51:50)  and take refuge in Allah as the only shelter.

Sincere believers are those who start investing in their life after death from today before waiting for their personal final day (death). There will be no fear and no sadness for such people on the terrifying Day of Judgment.

The renowned poet Yunus utters the following wish on the Day of Judgment:

Oh (The Almighty Allah), may you please make us

Among those who enter the Divine house of paradise!

And among those who see Your Beauty

Upon arrival to Your presence.

Source: Osman Nuri Topbaş, ISLAM SPIRIT AND FORM, Erkam Publications