Home

ISLAMIC MEDICAL EDUCATION RESOURCES 04

9812-THE LAST DAY & AFTER-LIFE

Lecture to 1st year medical students, Kulliyah of Medicine, International Islamic University, Kuantan given by Prof Dr Omar Hasan Kasule, Sr. on 26th December 1998

OUTLINES

STAGES OF  HUMAN LIFE:


          Non-existence (‘adam)

          Life on earth (hayat al duniya)

          Life in the grave (hayat al barzakh)

          Life in the hereafter (hayat al akhirat)


 

PHYSICAL NATURE OF THE AFTER-LIFE:


          Physical life with physical bodies

          Physiological functions

          Emotions and feelings

          Resurrection as physical beings


 

BURIAL:


          Biological significance.

          Social significance.

          Spiritual significance


 

EVENTS OF THE GRAVE:


          Questioning: moral and not academic.

          Rewards & punishment


 

LIFE IN THE GRAVE:


          Transitional life (hayat al barzakh).

          Physiological functions


 

COMMUNICATION WITH THE DEAD:


          Ghosts

          Communication: dead & living.

          The dead & events on earth.

          The living & events in the grave

          Role of dua by the living

          Dreams of the living about the dead


 

BELIEF IN THE LAST DAY:


          Purpose  & goals of human strife on earth

          Dynamism & change : beginning & end.

          Creations are finite

          Only Allah who is infinite.


 

KNOWLEDGE OF THE LAST DAY:


          Only allah knows (ghaib mutlaq)

          Prior social deterioration


 


PRE-EVENTS BEFORE THE LAST DAY:


          Violent shaking of the earth (zilzal)

          Frightening noises.


 

EVENTS OF THE LAST DAY:


          Resurrection (ba’ath)

          Gathering (hashr)

          Presentation of records (‘ardah )

          Accounts (hisaab): big & small

          Justice (tahqiiq al ‘adl)

          The balance/scale (mizan)


 

RESURRECTION:


          Logical & commonsense

          The creator can also resurrect


          Life-cycle of birth, growth, maturation, reproduction, and death.

 

JUDGMENT, REWARD, AND PUNISHMENT:


          Judgment on correct use of free will

          Rewards and punishment as a motivator


 

PARADISE (JANNAT):


          Drinking and and eating

          No biological and psychological stresses


 

HELL (JAHANNAM):


          Life in hell as bad and frightening

          Physiological processes

          Food and drink as punishment


 

THE ISSUE OF ETERNITY:


          No more death after the last day

          Paradise is permanent

          Hell: temporary & permanent


Stages of  human life: Life on earth is temporary. It must come to an end so that another level of existence must start. This applies equally well to individuals (ajal al insan) and communities or nations (ajal al umam). The human has to pass through 4 phases: non-existence (‘adam), life on earth (hayat al duniya), life in the grave or what is called the intermediate phase of (hayat al barzakh), and life in the hereafter (hayat al akhirat). Islam does not accept the concept of re-incarnation. Each human has only one earthly life which ends on death. Akhirat is a higher and better existence than the earthly life (3:14, 102:1-8). Good people look forward to it. Bad people fear it or ignore its existence. Life in the hereafter whether in paradise or hell is everlasting (khuluud). Death is a transitional event. It is inevitable (3:154, 62:8). It occurs when the ruh is separated from the physical body. Humans do not know its appointed day (31:34). Only Allah knows when death of each individual and that of the whole universe will occur (2:28, 76:28). All humans will die and will have life after death (3:168, 55:26). There is life after death first in the grave and the hereafter. All humans will be resurrected from their graves for the everlasting life of the hereafter. On resurrection the ruh will rejoin its physical body.

 

Physical nature of the after-life: After-life has a physical nature. There will be life after death (2:28, 80:21-22). This is in fulfillment of one of Allah’s constant laws in creation: the parity of life and death and the interchange between life and death. Life after resurrection from the graves will be physical and not metaphysical or spiritual. The Qur’an has not provided details about this life whether it will be exactly like that on earth or there will be some differences. The Qur’an makes it clear that it will be physical life with physical bodies. It has described many physiological functions of that life that are exactly similar to those on earth. The resurrected humans will experience all events of the hereafter as physical beings. On resurrection people will be gathered in one place; all generations and all geographical areas will be together (al hashr ba’da al mawt). Those who committed transgressions will be punished in hell for a limited time with the exception of those who committed shirk who will be condemned to stay in hell forever. Paradise (jannat) will be the permanent abode of the righteous.

 

Burial: Humans are buried in graves (80:21). Burial in the grave (qabr) has both biological, social, and spiritual significance. On the biological level, burying the body prevents the spread of disease that would occur of it were left to decompose in the environment. Socially it is a demonstration of respect and honor for the human being who even in death is given a respectful send-off unlike most animals that just abandon their dead. Salat al janazat for the Muslim deceased is further consolidation of this respect. The Prophet even stood up in respect for a passing funeral procession of a Jew (MB# 667). The Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) was forbidden to perform salat al janazat for the hypocrites (munafiqin) who had forfeited the respect due to humans by their unbelief and treachery (9:84).

 

Events of the grave: Angels will question the deceased as soon as they are buried in their graves. The righteous will answer correctly whereas the evil ones will not know the answers. Knowledge of the correct answers is not academic,  it is moral. Thus an evil person who learns the right answers to the questions while on earth will not be able to reproduce them on being questioned in the grave. Everyone will be told their fate while they are still in the grave whether they will go to hell or to heaven (MB# 694). There will be rewards for the righteous and punishment for the wrong-doers while still in the grave (MB# 691). Finally the dead will be resurrected in a physical form on the last day (ba’ath, ihya al mawta, al hayat ba’da al mawt).

 

Life in the grave: There is life in the grave. This is transitional life between earthly life and life in the hereafter (hayat al barzakh). We do not have a detailed description of the nature of life in the grave. We however know that it is temporary and the stay of the human in the earthly grave is like a visit (102:2) in comparison with the length of the hereafter. Some authentic hadiths indicate existence of some physiological functions in the deceased in the graves such as shouting (MB# 674, MB# 692), hearing (MB# 689), and conscious understanding (MB# 690).

 

Communication with the dead: There is no evidence for existence of ghosts or any other communication between the dead in the graves and living humans on earth. There is also no evidence that the dead can in any way influence events on earth. There is no evidence that the living can in any way influence events in the grave with the exception of prayers (dua) to Allah the almighty to have mercy on those in the grave and it is Allah’s privilege to do what He wants in such a situation; humans can not know for certain what is the final result from their dua. There is no evidence that dreams of the living about the dead are a form of true communication with them. It is only dreams by prophets that are considered true. Dreams of ordinary humans are not always true and their interpretation is not a valid method of knowing anything about the dead.

 

Belief in the last day: It is part of iman to believe in the last day (2:4, 65:2). Belief in the last day (2:4, 70:26) gives meaning to human strife on earth and gives it a humanly understandable goal in a temporo-spatial dimension. The occurrence of the last day is certain (2:223,88:17-26). Denial of the last day is unbelief, kufr (4:136, 83:10-12). It is not difficult to understand and believe in the last day. It is logical that anything that is dynamic and undergoes changes must have a beginning and an end. No physical structure or phenomenon can be everlasting; each has a finite life-span. The earth and its contents can not be an exception to this general rule. Everything except Allah must have a beginning and an end. Only Allah has a permanent eternal existence (2:248, 69:6). It is only Allah who is infinite.

 

Knowledge of the last day: The knowledge of the last day is with Allah alone (ghaib mutlaq) (7:187, 33:63, 67:26, 79:42-46).  Only Allah knows the time when an individual life will end or when the whole earth or the universe will come to an end. Humans must therefore continue working hard in the suspense that the end could come anytime. They must ensure that they are ready for the end whenever it comes. When the prophet was asked about the occurrence of the last day, he said that he did not know but he gave social changes that will pre-date it. The human must try his best to do good both as an individual and as a community because the last day may occur at any time and there is no opportunity to turn back and do good.

 

Pre-events before the last day: The last day will be preceded by several events that will herald its arrival (ashraat al sa’at & muqaddimaat al sa’at) (47:18, 99:1-5, 82:30). Most of them will be drastic and frightening and will involve all the familiar physical phenomena of the universe that will change or even be destroyed. The Qur’an has in a very graphic way described changes in the following on the last day: mountains, heavens, the moon, the sun, and the earth. There will be violent shaking of the earth (zilzal) and frightening noises.

 

Events of the last day: After resurrection, humans will experience all events of the last day in their physical human form as conscious participants. Many events and phenomena will occur on the last day (mashahid al qiyamat). The horn will be blown to herald resurrection (6:73, 33:29).  Resurrection (ba’ath) will be the first event of the last day (6:26, 86:8-10). People will be gathered (hashr, 2:203, 10: 9-10), their work record will be presented (‘ardah 11:18, 69:18, 17:13-14) and accounts of their deeds will be made (hisaab 2:281, 102:8). Justice will be established (tahqiiq al ‘adl (42:71, 50:24-29), the balance or scale (mizan) will be set up to weigh the god and the evil acts (7:8, 101:6-11). Each will be judged according to their performance (2:212, 50:24-29). Every act however small will be accounted for (21:47, 99:7-8).

 

Resurrection: Belief in the hereafter is closely related to belief in resurrection. People will have to rise from the dead to face judgment and to be rewarded or punished. It is surprising that some people find it difficult to believe in resurrection. The concept of resurrection is quite logical and is commonsense. Allah who created humans and the whole universe from nothing could surely bring them back to life! . A lot of empirical evidence points to the occurrence of resurrection (35:9, 79:27-33). There are many biological phenomena that people see daily that should convince them that resurrection will occur. Human biology itself is evidence of resurrection (36:77-79, 82:6-8). Cells in living things die every day and new ones arise by the processes of mitosis and meiosis. All living things go through a life-cycle of birth, growth, maturation, reproduction, and death.

 

Judgment, reward, and punishment: The last day with the associated rewards and punishment acts as a motivator for humans to work hard and to do good. There will be reward for good work and punishment for bad work (23:101-115, 30:12-16, 64:9-10, 84:1-15, 79:34-41, 32:20, 39:71-74, 69:18-37). Humans, unlike other living things, were given a free will. They will be judged on how well they used that free will. Animals without such a free will not face any judgment. There is so much transgression/aggression (dhulm) in the world that a fair God can not let the wrong-doers go without punishment. If this were the situation there would then be no motivation for doing good.

 

Paradise (jannat): The Qur’an has described life in jannat as very good such that the righteous look forward to it (2:25, 98:8). There are many bounties and comforts (2:25, 78:16). These will be enjoyed in a physical form like eating, drinking and sexual pleasure. There will be comfortable houses, carpets, and servants. There will however be a big difference in quality as compared to the earth. People in jannat will drink (7:50, 83:25-28) and eat (13:35, 77:42-43) what is not even imaginable on earth. They will enjoy these physical comforts without the biological and psychological stresses of life on earth. They for example will have no want or craving for anything because whatever they just think about will immediately be available. There will be jealousies and bad feelings that arise among people on earth who look at the resources as limited and not enough to satisfy everybody.

 

Hell (jahannam): Hell is the abode of the unbelievers and wrong-doers (p 1176 6:27 .. 102:6-7). It is a place of punishment (14:15-17, 88:5-8). The Qur’an has described life in hell as bad and frightening (2:24,  92:14). There are many punishments one of which is physical burning (3:181, 85:10). The physiological processes on earth will also occur in hell but will be a means of punishment and not satisfying physiological needs. The drink (6:70, 78:24-25) and food (44:43-45, 88:6-7) of the people of hell will not quench thirst or relieve hunger but will be a punishment.

 

The issue of eternity: There will be no more death after the last day (14:17, 87:13). Those who enter paradise will stay there permanently (2:25, 98:8). Hell will be permanent for certain categories of offenders (2:39, 98:6). Those with minor offences will spend a time of punishment in hell and then be forgiven and enter paradise.

Professor Omar Hasan Kasule December 1998