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Islam and Spiritualism ( 12 Feb 2015, NewAgeIslam.Com)

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The Concept of the Hereafter in Islam



By Maulana Wahiduddin Khan

13 February, 2015

The Eternal World According to Islam, the present world is not an eternal abode. The Quran tells us that man is placed here only temporarily, so that his moral fibre may be tested in terms of his obedience to God’s will. He must always remember that there will be the life hereafter, or Akhirat as it is known in Islamic terminology. This is also referred to as Ma‘ad, which means a place to which one returns. There is a time limit to mortal existence. Death marks the end of the testing period for all human beings. But death only means a change of abode, for the soul never dies. Man returns to the realm whence he came, so that he may wait for Judgement Day. That realm, the life hereafter, is the eternal world. Thus man’s life is divided into two parts: a brief stay in this world and an eternal life in the next world. To the ungodly, it is only then that it becomes obvious that a life which is eternal is far more important than this present existence.

God created human beings and made them responsible for their actions by granting them freedom. If there were no Afterlife in which the good were rewarded and the bad punished, there would be no justice; in which case, it would appear meaningless to create people with a conscience and a sense of responsibility. But God is just and always acts justly. Hence it is the absolute demand of justice that there should be a Day of Judgement on which everyone is brought to book. After death, human beings will, therefore, leave this present, ephemeral abode and, on the Day of Judgement, will enter another world, which will be eternal. When the time comes for the Last Reckoning, God will destroy this world and replace it with a permanent, everlasting world. All human beings will then be resurrected and brought before the Almighty to be judged. On that day, everyone will stand alone before God. Those who have done good deeds in the world they have left behind will be rewarded. Their reward will be paradise, a state of joy, happiness and peace.

The Quran states: “God has created death and life to test which one of you is best in conduct.” (THE QURAN 67: 1)

Death is not the end of our lives; it is the beginning of our real life. Because our future is being decided on the basis of our present performance, we can either make use of our opportunities on earth to ensure a well-deserved place for ourselves in Paradise, or we can throw them away and condemn ourselves to punishment in Hell. The belief in the Hereafter naturally has a great influence on the life of a believer. When he knows that God is watching all his actions, his behaviour will be responsible. He will always endeavour to lead his life in consonance with the will of God and will inevitably avoid any course which will incur God’s displeasure. Furthermore, the concept of the Hereafter gives a fuller meaning and purpose to the life of the believer. One who firmly believes in this concept will not give in to greed and other such worldly failings. He will not be a materialist, for he knows that this material life will surely come to an end with death, whereas there will be a whole eternity before him in the Afterlife, during which he will certainly rejoice in having paid due attention to the spiritual side of life on this earth.


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  1. Moreover, is there any concept of the "soul" in Islam? The translators, translate "nafs" as soul although "nafs" is more correctly translated as "self". We talk about the desires and lusts of the "nafs" which make it clear that "nafs" is not soul.


    Verse 39:42 talks about taking the nafs of people at death and during sleep.


    (39:42) It is Allah that takes the souls (of men) at death; and those that die not (He takes) during their sleep: those on whom He has passed the decree of death, He keeps back (from returning to life), but the rest He sends (to their bodies) for a term appointed verily in this are Signs for those who reflect.


    Here nafs implies "consciousness of self". The consciousness of self is certainly taken away at death and when asleep and also when in coma. Once again, nafs is not soul as soul is understood.


    Then there is the word "Ruh" 


    (15:29) "When I have fashioned him (in due proportion) and breathed (Ruhi) into him of My spirit, fall ye down in obeisance unto him."


    and in 3:49  where  Jesus "makest out of clay, as it were, the figure of a bird, by My leave, and thou breathest into it and it becometh a bird by My leave" 


    The "Ruh" or the breath of life may be like the spark that starts combustion in an engine or lights up a gas stove and brings it into life and nothing more. Indeed, this breath of life is no different from breathing into a person to resuscitate him and is not "soul".


    Also, the verses that talk about bringing the dead back to life make no mention of the "soul". They talk about reconstructing man down to his very "fingertips"


    (75:3) Does man think that We cannot assemble his bones?

    (4) Nay, We are able to put together in perfect order the very tips of his fingers.


    Also the burning in hell is physical.


    Once again take the example of 7:172


    It talks about "AND WHENEVER thy Sustainer brought forth their offspring from the loins of the children of Adam, He [thus] called upon them to bear witness about themselves:…..”


    Is the soul brought forth from the loins of the parents? How then this verse is interpreted in terms of the “souls” in the fairy tale of aalam-e-arwah?


    The concept of soul in Islamic literature is a borrowed concept and does not derive from the Quran. All ahadith that use the concept of "soul" are therefore of doubtful origins.

    By Observer 14/02/2015 04:08:32
  2. "Man returns to the realm whence he came"

    Did man have an existence before he was born? This takes us to the fairy tale regarding the aalam-e-arwah which finds no mention in the Quran. The fairy tale is reproduced below:

    Allah(SWT) created all souls from Adam to the last man to come on this earth till the end of this universe. After creating all souls, Almighty Allah(SWT) gathered them in a wide field to take witness as to whether He is their Sustainer. All souls replied that of course You (Allah) are our Sustainer. Almighty Allah(SWT) needed this witness from all Souls so that on the day of Resurrection they should not say that they were unaware of the reality that only Almighty Allah(SWT) was their Sustainer.  

    The fairy tale leads to beliefs such as:

    1. The souls are waiting to be born and procreation helps this process
    2. Any  interference or attempt to limit procreation is not only useless since those who are destined to be born will be born but an act of kufr.
    3. All those who procreate in large numbers are striving in Allah's way.

    The fairy tale of aalam-e-arwah was concocted to explain the verse:

    7:172 “AND WHENEVER thy Sustainer brought forth their offspring from the loins of the children of Adam, He [thus] called upon them to bear witness about themselves: “Am I not your Sustainer?” – to which they answered: “Yea, indeed, we do bear witneafss thereto!” [Of this We remind you,] lest you say on the Day of Resurrection, “Verily, we were unaware of this”. 

    A simple reading of the verse suggests that this was not a one time affair but a continuous process where each child before it is born is asked the question.

    Most likely, the verse is an allegorical way of saying, that belief in Rabbul alimeen is instinctive, and part of genetic memory passed down from Adam to all his children.

    This is also supported by recent studies. The Quran does not support the view that the souls of all those who will take birth were all created much earlier (alongwith Adam?) 

    Belief in God is part of human nature - Oxford study

    Is Belief in God Ingrained in Our ‘Human Nature’? A New Study Says So


    Led by two academics at Oxford University, the £1.9 million study found that faith and religion come to human beings naturally — possibly instinctively. The project entitled the “Cognition, Religion and Theology Project,” took three years to complete and involved 57 academics and more than 40 different studies in 20 countries around the globe, and spanned disciplines including anthropology, psychology, and philosophy.


    It set out to establish whether belief in divine beings and an afterlife were ideas simply learned from society or integral to human nature.


    Roger Trigg, the project’s co-director said:

    “If you’ve got something so deep-rooted in human nature, thwarting it is in some sense not enabling humans to fulfill their basic interests.  There is quite a drive to think that religion is private.  It isn’t just a quirky interest of a few, it’s basic human nature.  This shows that it’s much more universal, prevalent, and deep-rooted. It’s got to be reckoned with. You can’t just pretend it isn’t there.”

    Trigg explains that the faithful can look at the data and say, ‘If there is a God, then … he would have given us inclinations to look for him.”  On the flip side, atheists would potentially accept the notion that faith appeals to the human heart and mind, but that humanity must evolve and move beyond simple myths.


    Arguably, the former argument seems more compelling, especially considering the fact that religious beliefs remained consistent, despite major cultural differences.  Clearly, a common thread connects the human search for a higher being.

    In the end, the study contends that, regardless of culture, belief in the afterlife and in purposeful happenings (or happenings with divine purpose) are completely natural and ingrained in human nature.  Rather than existing as a remote or infrequent societal occurrence, faith and religion are normal (and frequent) human experiences.

    By Observer 13/02/2015 21:24:09
  3. We should do good for the sake of doing good, not for the sake of a reward.
    By Ghulam Mohiyuddin 13/02/2015 13:42:35