CHAPTER – 8
FAITH IN THE DAY OF JUDGEMENT
‘O our Lord! Open our eyes so that we may see the realities scattered all around us which are a proof of your existence; and Bestow on us the wisdom to discern the path that leads to you, and protect us from all perceptible and imperceptible evils’.
Man and the Death:
There are four types of people in regards to their attitude towards death.
1) The people who support the idiotic view of, say, a poet, who claims that, "Whatever has happened in the Past is over, and as you don't know what's going to happen in the future you might as well live for the present!". People who have adopted this philosophy on life consider the day that has passed as something which is over and done with and they do not think about the future. They reckon that there is no point in thinking about what has happened. But, for goodness sake, it is not over! Our deeds are accounted for in the record of our actions, good and bad, and none of them, great or small, will be left out of that record. We may hope our actions are unseen, but (it is only to our consciousness that they are unseen). Otherwise, whatever we have done is Present in our soul, and God is aware of our deeds even though we may forget about them. In fact, people who never think about death are the most misled, compared to the other three categories.
2) The attitude of the second category of people can be compared with the Persian poet, Umar Khayyam. Many people were attracted to his unconventional views as far as morals were concerned. He says, ‘‘since death is an undeniable truth and life is short and ephemeral, let's fill it with love and passion. And when we are struck with misfortune and despair, let us seek refuge in wine and poetry, and revel in forbidden pleasures!"
3) Then there are people who think of death as a phenomenon and an event without any consequences. These people belong to the third category. The Arab poet Abul Atahiya is well-known for his verses on the phenomenon of death, but he has not spoken of what happens after death, as if he agrees with people who claim, “Death is nothing but a deep sleep in the grave.”
4) Finally, the fourth category of people are those who follow the way of truth because they realise that life is eternal, and that death is the beginning of new life and not a deep sleep but awakening form hypnotic slumber. Indeed there is another, much longer life which is infinite. It may be a life of eternal bliss and joy, or one of never-ending suffering. The Prophet (peace be upon him) said; “People are asleep; they will wake up when they die”. It refers to the same truth. They will thus, come to realize that a long interminable life is awaiting them after death. It will bring either be eternal bliss or painful retribution according to one’s deeds. This and the fourth group, consists of those who are the right-guided believers.
Life after Death:
The life hereafter is the true life. It is not visible to anyone who is short-sighted and cannot be understood by anyone who is dull-witted or does not wish to hear about such things. But anyone who really uses his eyes and mind to see and understand truth will realise that life consists of several stages. A man begins his life as an insignificant mass, shrunk within himself in his mother's womb. At that stage, if he were given the power of reasoning, he would take the womb as his ultimate abode, and one which he would only leave under duress. If he were able to speak at that stage he would declare that leaving his mother's womb would mean being dead and buried, in just the same way as we consider death and departure from this world. But it is also a process of birth, a shift from this world to another, which is more expansive and far removed from our mortal, material life. It is the world of eternal life.
Preparations for the Death:
Our zest for life is an inborn human instinct. The ambitions we nurse and the hopes we aspire to are never ending. In fact it is for this reason that death, in spite of being closely connected to our sense perceptions, is far removed from our thoughts. Even the sight of a funeral may not remind us of our own death. On the contrary, many of us live in the illusion that death is something that will never happen to us. Even when we attend a funeral service, our minds may wander. There are graveyards around us, but do they make us think about the fact that one day we too shall be laid to rest? Fortunately, however, the graveyard is not our ultimate abode! It is our physical bodies which will be laid to rest. The body is like a garment that we take off when it gets dirty. And the soul disentangles itself from the body in just the same way as the child disentangles itself from the placenta when it is born.
Anyone who is not following the path of God may forget about death. But a believer is always ready to meet his end and prepares for it by repenting to God and asking for His forgiveness. Such a person clears all his debts, in terms of money and obligations. He is continuously taking stock of his actions, thanking God for his successes and seeking forgiveness for his failures and shortcomings. He contemplates life after death by thinking of the day when all eyes will be forced to turn toward God, and by being aware of punishment after death. Such a person is constantly seeking God's pleasure through his noble deeds, and through prayer and patience.
Here are some verses from the Holy Qur’an regarding the subject of death: “Why is it not then that when you see a dying person's soul come up to his throat while you are helplessly watching - and at that time We are nearer to him than you, although you cannot see Us. Then why do you not - if you claim you are not subject to reckoning - restore to the dying person his soul? Answer this, if what you say be true!(Qur’an;56:83-87). In other words, when death approaches we tend to panic and feel helpless; we bring medical help to the dying person and comfort him as much as we can. But at this point can anyone who claims not to be dependent on God, do anything to restore health and give him a new lease of life? This is a g divine challenge to those who deny the existence of God. It is a question which they cannot answer.
A Senseless Doubt:
Some people who have abandoned religion may cynically ask, "How can the Angel of Death possibly be with two people who are dying at the same time in say, America and China?’’ The answer to that statement is: 1) From the angel's perspective, planet earth seems like a minute particle one who leans over the colony of ants where millions of them swarm, or peers in to glass of water which has numerous microbes. For the angel this orb of the earth is like a grain of wheat in our palm. 2) Also the angel of death has many associates to seize the souls. Allah says: “when death approaches anyone of you, Our angels take his soul and they are not negligent in performing their duty”(Qur’an;6:61).
The Day of Resurrection:
The second basic tenet of faith is belief in the Day of Resurrection and Judgement. The Holy Qur’an places so much importance on this principle as on belief in God: the two tenets are invariably mentioned together. A believer is constantly aware of the Day of Judgement and this knowledge determines his actions: he does as much good as he can to reap the rewards on that Day and avoids letting him self involved in actions which will harm him spiritually. He will resist even the most enjoyable and desirable temptations, realizing he will have to take full responsibility for his actions on that Day. Similarly, if he is asked to undertake a difficult task, he will carry it out, being aware of the positive sequences. Such people are described in the Holy Qur’an as those; “... who are impelled to rise from their beds (at night) to call out to their Sustainer in fear and Hope, and who spend on others out of what We provide for them as sustenance...”(Qur’an;32:l6). It is people like this, who are happy to serve God regardless of whether times are good or bad: They are willing to let go of whatever they own for the sake of others. They are in awe of God and respect His power and at the same time, they are comforted by His mercy.
The Last Hour:
The Holy Qur’an states that the time fixed for the Day of Resurrection is known to none but Allah: “They ask you about the Last Hour and when will it take place. Say: "Knowledge about it rests only with my Lord: He Himself will disclose it at the proper time…”(Qur’an;7:187); “Allah Alone has knowledge of the unseen things of the Heavens and the Earth. As for the taking place of the Hour of Judgment, it will be like a twinkling of an eye or even quicker: surely Allah has power over everything”(Qur’an;16:77). However the Holy Qur’an states that certain strange happenings will take place in this universe prior to the Last Hour: a creature will be brought forth to speak to mankind - the human mind cannot picture how, or what kind of beast this will be? Our knowledge is limited to the fact that God has revealed this information. Among the other peculiar occurrences that will come about is the letting loose from a rampart of the savage tribes: “It is not possible that a nation which We have destroyed may rise again. Until, when Gog and Magog will be let loose and they will swiftly swarm from every height, and the time of fulfillment for the True Promise will draw near, then behold! The eyes of the unbelievers will fixedly stare in horror: "O woe to us! We were indeed heedless of this warning; nay we were wrongdoers.”(Qur’an;21:95-97). There are references to the Last Hour in other Traditions (Sayings of the Prophet). Among them are the extinction of truth and the prevalence of ignorance, alcoholism, adultery, an increase in the number of women and a decrease in the number of men, the disappearance of honesty and trustworthiness, social imbalances, the appearance of an impostor until appearance of Prophet Jesus (peace be upon him) as the Proclaimer of the Divine Path, as revealed to the Last of All Messengers, Muhammad (peace be upon him).
Commencement of the Last Hour:
The Holy Qur’an states that the Last Hour will-be preceded by certain signs. There will be a massive earthquake, unlike any other that mankind has witnessed, and it will come about when human life is still flourishing. “When the earth will be shaken to her utmost convulsion, and the earth shall bring out all her inner burdens”(Qur’an;99:1-2).The consequence will be that human society will be thrown into a state of panic and terror and plunged into gloom. This panic will be severe, Allah says: “On that Day you shall see that every nursing mother will forget her nursing-babe and every pregnant female will miscarry, and you will see people as if they are intoxicated, though they will not be drunk: such will be the horror of Allah's chastisement”(Qur’an;22:2). Thus man will live on earth to witness the earthquake, enquire about it and trace the reasons for its occurrence.
As we mentioned earlier, about the knowledge regarding the Day of Judgement and what will happen on that Day, belongs to the unseen realm. With our limited perception we cannot inform ourselves about it in the same way as we can find out about the material world we live in. The human mind will not be able to control it in the same way as it controls worldly affairs: our knowledge regarding That Day is based solely on our understanding of the meaning and significance of the verses concerning the subject. We find in the Holy Qur’an many clearly worded verses (ayah) describing the changes and alterations that may occur in what we call the laws of nature. It is understood, for example, that the continuity of these laws is dependent on the continuity of life on earth. In other words, they will cease to be valid when this life ceases to exist This means that we can deduce that the world we know, with its earth, stars and the marvelous system that holds it together, is but a temporary abode set up for a specific time and purpose.
Other events happening on that Day are that the mountains will be rocked so violently that they will become like cotton wool. Huge mountains will be reduced to hillocks of quicksand and the whole earth will become completely flat and bare with no rough surfaces whatsoever. The Holy Qur’an has informed us about all these events. It says that the waters of the seas will explode and evaporate into steam, the stars will fall out of their galaxies, the moon and the sun will merge, and the skies will be torn away and folded, like sheets, in a large size register. And the earth will be changed into another earth. Heaven too will be changed.
Blowing of the Trumpet (Nafkh-i-Sur):
We do not have any detailed description of the trumpet referred to in the Holy Qur’an, nor how it will be blown. Whatever is said about it without the support of Qur’anic verses or authentic Traditions (Sayings of the Prophet, peace be upon him) should not be relied upon. However, in the light of what is said in the Holy Qur’an, we understand that the trumpet may be blown on two occasions: 1) : “On the Day, when the trumpet shall be blown and all who dwell in the heavens and the earth shall be terrified except those whom Allah will choose to spare, and all shall come to Him in utter humiliation”; (Qur’an;27:87); 2): “The Trumpet shall be blown, and all that is in the heavens and the earth shall swoon except those whom Allah will please to exempt. Then the Trumpet will be blown for the second time and behold! They shall all stand up, looking around”(Qur’an;39:68). The above verses indicate that the first blowing of the trumpet will render mankind into a state of panic and senselessness, while the second blowing of the trumpet will be for resurrection. This is the occasion on which judgement will take place, as stated in the Holy Qur’an: “Then a trumpet shall be blown and, behold, they will rise up from their graves and hasten to their Lord.”(Qur’an;36:51).
Resurrection and Congregation:
Everyone who has died will be resurrected on the Day of Judgement, with each person being in the same mental state as on the day he died. This means he will hardly feel the time lag. He may even be under the impression that only an hour or so has passed since his death. His mental state after resurrection is rather like that of a person who goes into a coma for three days as a result of a car accident. When he comes round he continues his normal routine as if nothing had happened. For example, he may set out to do whatever he was doing before he was struck down by the car - talking to someone, crossing the road, etc. He continues that activity without realizing he has been unconscious for three days. Mankind will be in such a state on the Day of Resurrection. Among the several real-life situations similar to those that will occur on the Day of Resurrection is the following parable, which appears in the Holy Qur'an: “Or take another example of the one who passed by a town which has fallen down upon its roofs. He exclaimed: "How can Allah bring this dead township back to life?" Thereupon Allah caused him to die, and after one hundred years brought him back to life. Allah asked: "How long did you remain here?" he replied: "Perhaps a day or part of a day." Allah said: "Nay! You have remained here for one hundred years: now just have a look at your food and drink; they have not rotten; and then look at your donkey and see that his very bones have decayed. We have done this to make you a Sign for mankind. Look at the bones of your donkey how We bring them together then clothe them with flesh and bring him back to life! When this all was shown clearly to him he said: "Now I know that Allah has power over everything."(Qur’an;2:259).[also refer to Ezekiel's vision of dry bones (Ezekiel, 37:1-10, Nehemiah's visit to Jerusalem in ruins after the Captivity, and to its re-building (Nehemiah;2:2-20): and also referred to Uzair, or Ezra].
We can compare these verses with the other Qur'anic parable of the people in the cave (narrated at Qur’an:18:9-26) who slept for three hundred years and woke up under the impression that they had only been asleep for a few hours. They sent someone with the money they had on them to buy things to eat. But of course, the money they were using was outdated! And they were totally unaware of this. These stories illustrate the condition of human beings on the Day of Resurrection. We too shall all be contradicting each other, thinking that we have slept for only a short while: “On the Day when the Hour of Judgement will be established, the criminals will swear that they did not stay in this world more than an hour; thus are they ever deluded. But those who are given knowledge and faith will say: "In fact you have stayed, according to the Book of Allah, till the Day of Resurrection and this is the Day of Resurrection: but you were not aware.”(Qur’an;30:55-56). Thus people will be under the illusion that they are still living in this world.
The shock and horror of that Day will cut adrift all relationships and affinity among human beings: “Then those whose scales are heavy, they are the successful” (Qur’an;23:102). We will ignore even our closest friends, as we shall all be so involved dealing with our own 'business'. We will even flee from our families, offering them as ransom if need be! All human beings will be left in such a state until they will all be taken to the congregation. God will gather every being for the congregation, from Adam until the last of his descendants: Those who died in their sleep were drowned, devoured by wild beasts, killed in air crashes were cremated - everyone will be resurrected by God, who created them form nothingness. Among those gathered for the congregation too, will be the jinns and the Satans. Hastening toward the Summoner the disbelievers say: "This is a hard day"(Qur’an;54:8). Then our Lord shall command hell to appear from a distance for everyone to see. And He will say: “Did I not enjoin you, O children of Adam, not to worship Satan, who is your open enemy, and that you should worship Me which is the Right Way? Yet, inspite of this, he (Satan) has led a great number of you astray. Had you no common sense? This is the hell, of which you were repeatedly warned (if ye followed him)”(Qur’an;36:60-63); “Indeed We have forewarned you of an imminent punishment which lies close-at-hand, on the Day when man shall see what his hands have sent forth and the unbeliever will cry: "I wish! I could remain merely dust.”(Qur’an;78:40).
Then God will send all the unbelievers, along with the jinns and satans whom they worshipped as gods, to hell. These gods include: Zeus and Aphrodite of the Greeks, Jupiter and Venus of the Romans, Hurmuz and Eherman of the Persians, Habi of the Egyptians, Bal of the Phoenicians and Lat and Uzza of the Arabs. Men set these gods up as partners to God. The Greeks and Romans set up different gods for different things: Apollo the God of sun and the arts, Bacchus the God of wine, Diana and Artemis, goddesses of wisdom, Neptune the God of the seas, and so on. “On the Day of Judgement Allah will say to them: "Call on those whom you thought to be My partners." They will call them but will receive no answer; and We shall cause animosity between them.”(Qur’an;18:52). And God will say, “"What is the matter with you today that you do not help each other?” "(Qur’an;37:25); “When all people appear before Allah, those who were weak in the world will say to those who thought themselves mighty: "We were your followers. Now! Can you do anything to relieve us from the punishment of Allah?" They will reply: "Had Allah given us guidance, we would have guided you. Now it makes no difference whether we panic or bear it with patience, for there is no escape for us.”(Qur’an;14:21). But those leaders have no answer. They can only evade the questions put to them and exonerate themselves by confessing their inability either to save themselves or those whom they misled. They all stand in total submission after being humiliated before the Lord of all creations: the pantheon with all the deities will have gone, likewise false leadership will have been obliterated, the bonds between unbelievers and their objects of worship will have been broken. In fact, the very objects of worship will absolve themselves of the guilt of falsehood built around them by those who worshipped them.
“Once the matter has been decided, Satan will say: "In fact, the promises which Allah made to you were all true; I too made some promises to you but failed to keep any of them. However, I had no power over you. I just invited you, and you accepted my invitation. Now! Do not blame me, but blame yourselves. I cannot help you, nor you can help me. I reject what you did before; that you associated me with Allah. Certainly such wrongdoers will have painful punishment.”(Qur’an;14:22); “Those who are believers fight in the cause of Allah and those who are unbelievers fight in the cause of forces of evil: so fight against the helpers of Satan; surely, Satan’s crafty schemes are very weak”(Qur’an;4:76). This verse also clarifies that the spurious spiritual guides (pir) and spiritists (A’mil), who claim that they have a ‘hold’ on devils and jinns and, through them, can harm or do good to any one they wish, are all liars. They also claim that they can cure those with epileptic fits be exorcizing the jinns. All this is sham and humbug. The Satan has no control over anything.
Reckoning and Accounting:
Every human being will present him or herself for the reckoning. A balance of absolute justice will be set up, which will not ignore even the most trifling matter. Everything will be taken into account - all that is on earth or in the skies, even including the electrons in an atom. Man will be reckoned for all his actions and any hypocrisy; double-dealing or deception, to which he indulged during his lifetime will weigh against him. It will be an absolutely fair reckoning; only our good actions, prayers and supplications to God for pardon and mercy will stand in our favour. Any worldly aspect we may have enjoyed on earth, such as wealth, influence and power will be of no help to us on the Day of Reckoning, except for the extent to which we used these attributes for the sake of God, in His path and in obedience to Him.
Intercession: On that Day, no one will be able to help anyone else, nor can anyone intercede with God unless He grants His permission. Intercession in the other world will be different from this one. In this world we may be able to mediate with someone in a position of authority on the strength of the goodwill or influence we enjoy with that person. This sort of intercession may not be sincere. It may be done with the intention of obliging an employee or having acquitted someone who was accused of doing wrong. However, intercession in the other world can only take place when God, out of His mercy, wishes to pardon someone and to honour a person out of His generosity to him or her. In this case, He grants permission to someone to intercede, and, accordingly, the person to whom Divine permission is granted intervenes.
Witness and Proof: Law courts in this world are presided over by human beings who have been trained to be judges. The justice dispensed by such courts is limited and by no means flawless. Facts of every litigation are judged on the basis of material evidence. However, court in the other world will be presided over by God; justice will be absolute and unrestricted. The prophets will bear witness, likewise the angels, who recorded good and bad actions of every human being; their register will contain statistical information on the confessions of sinners, and even the limbs of the human body will give witness regarding actions committed.
Witness by the Messengers: On the Day of Reckoning, the prophets will be brought forward: The record (or Deeds) will be placed open; the prophets and the witnesses will be brought forward. (Qur’an;39:69) Every community will be judged in the presence of its Prophet, according to the Shari’a (religious law), which it abided by in this world: “And thou will see all people kneeling down: all people will be called to the record”(Qur’an;45:28); “How then if We brought from each people a witness, and We brought thee as a witness against these people”(Qur’an;4:41).
The Books and the Scrolls: The scrolls on which deeds we have carried out in this world will be recorded and kept folded; these scrolls remain unrevealed, and a secret. The human beings will know nothing about. If we repent in all sincerity for the sins we committed, those sins will be erased from the scrolls. If we do not repent those deeds will remain recorded, and on the Day of Reckoning, will be brought forward and made known to everyone - like examination results. And like examination results, they will remain in the custody of the examiners as guarded secrets: no one will know who has failed until the date and time are fixed for the announcement of the results. Then those results will become known to all who are concerned about them, and news regarding those who have failed, will spread among family and friends. But on the Day of Reckoning, the record of wrong deeds and failure to obey Divine Law will be made known to the entire congregation of humanity. If you fail an examination you may lose a year of your career - but failing the divine test, ordained by God - the test of faith in God and belief and practice of what He ordains, will lead one to hell and if he is an unbeliever, deprive him of eternal happiness. On that Day the Scrolls will be unfolded and every man will receive his record of deeds and be told: “"Here is your book of deeds: read it. Today you yourself are sufficient to take your own account”(Qur’an;17:14). Anyone who has more good deeds recorded to his credit by the Angel of the Right will receive his record of deeds on his right hand, as a glad tiding to him that his reckoning will be smooth and easy. When he reads his record, he experiences the same kind of happiness as a student who finds out he has passed his examinations when he reads his results. He wants to tell those close to him about his success: Now as for him whose record shall be placed in his right hand, he will exclaim, “Come you all! Read this my record! Behold, I did know that (one day) I would have to face my account”(Qur’an;69:19-29). And whoever has more bad deeds on his records, as noted 'by the Angel of the Left, will receive his record of deeds in his left hand. He will weep in self-pity and it will dawn on him that he will have to face eternal despair. He will then say: "Oh would that I had never been shown this my record, and neither known this my account! Oh! would that this (death of mine) had been the end of me! Of no avail to me is all that I have (ever) possessed (and) any power of argument had died away from me!" (Qur’an;69:25-29); “But as for him whose record shall be given to him behind his back, he will in time pray for utter destruction, he will enter the blazing flame. (Qur’an;84:10-12). “On the Day of Judgement Allah will raise them all back to life, then inform them about what they have done. Allah has kept full record of their deeds even though they may have forgotten, for Allah is a witness over all things”(Qur’an;58:6). “And they will say in wonder, "Oh, woe unto us! What a record is this! It leaves out nothing, be it small or great, but takes everything into account!" For they will find all that they ever wrought (now) facing them”(Qur’an;18:49); “They will then realise that they had done wrong unto themselves and that "thy Sustainer does not wrong anyone”(Qur’an;18:49). They regret the excesses they committed and on paying heed to the temptations of the devil and their own evil selves a voice will call out unto them “...Allah's hatred towards you was far greater - during your worldly life when you were called to the Faith and you used to refuse - than your hatred of yourselves”(Qur’an;40:10).
Defense followed by Confession: On the Day of Reckoning, the unbelievers will try to defend themselves and make false oaths to prove their innocence. They will behave as if they are in the presence of a person of authority in human form, without realizing that they are in the presence of God, Lord of all creations, who is aware of what is going on in everyone's conscience and the musings of every soul. On the day God will raise them all together, then will they swear unto Him as they (now) swear unto you, and they will fancy that they have some standing. (Qur’an;58:18). ... and in their utter confusion they will only be able to say, “By God, our Lord, we never were idolaters”(Qur’an;6:23). At that moment. God will render them speechless and will order their limbs and internal organs to confess of the wrong they have done: the hand will admit to its mistakes and the legs will confess about the wrong places they went to: “This day We seal up their mouths, and their hands speak out to Us and their feet bear witness as to what they used to earn”(Qur’an;36:65). When their confessions are taken note of and proven to be true, these people will reproach their organs and limbs: And they say unto their skins, "Why testify you against us?" They say, "God has given us speech Who gives speech to all things, and Who created you in the beginning, and unto Whom ye are returned.”(Qur’an;42:21). These human beings used to hide themselves away from the world in order to indulge in sexual pleasure, and imagined that God would not notice them! How could this be possible, even when measured by human standards of intelligence and capabilities? Television is a good example to illustrate this idea. The announcer sits in an enclosed area and presents a program - but does this mean he is hidden from anyone's sight? Millions of people both watch and listen to him. If on a human scale we can make information known in this way, it is even simpler for God to observe all the actions of us mortals. It is for this reason that the Holy Qur’an says: “And they say unto their skins, "Why testify ye against us?" They say, "God hath given us speech Who gives speech to all things, and Who created you at first, and unto Whom ye are returned. You did not hide yourselves lest your ears and your eyes and your skins should testify against you, but ye deemed that God knew not much of what ye did. That, your thought which ye did think about your Lord, hath ruined you - and ye find yourselves (this day) among the lost”(Qur’an;41:21- 23). This is what will happen to those who do not believe in God and who deny the Day of Reckoning. These people are unable to see beyond this world and refuse to see that life is eternal. Such people do not realise that they cannot hide anything from God, Who is aware of everything and how can they, in this case, possibly hide anything from their physical bodies, which are part and parcel of their own beings? It is important, therefore, to ask God to forgive and protect us on the Day of Judgement in the same way as He forgave us in this world, for He is the only One Who can do so.
An Absurd Argument: Some people will reason by asking how our hands and feet can possibly 'speak' when they do not have the faculty of speech. But, if you think about it, there are inventions that 'speak': tape-recorders, films, cameras, including those which are hidden in banks and such places, and are able to take pictures of anyone who visits the bank. And if a man who robs a bank denies any accusation made against him, a film can be shown to him, exposing his crime, showing him in the very act of stealing, maybe talking to himself or any others who were around, as proof of what he did. If man, through his ingenuity can make such marvelous; inventions, is it not possible for God to invent something beyond the ingenuity of man?
The Reckoning and its Result: There are various categories of reckoning. The easy reckoning is for those who receive the record of their deeds in their right hands, and the severe reckoning for those who disobey God. After the reckoning, people will be placed in various categories: those who are drawn close to God in the front, followed by those who have done what is right in their life, and finally those who lost their way.
Now if one happens to be of those who are drawn close unto God, happiness (awaits him or her in the life to come) and inner fulfillment and a garden of bliss. And if one happens to be among those who have attained to righteousness (he or she too will be welcomed into paradise with the words), "Peace be unto thee (that art) of those who have attained to righteousness". But if one happens to be one of those who are wont to call the truth a tie, and (thus) go astray, a welcome of burning despair (awaits him in the life to come) and the heat of blazing fire! Verily, this is the truth. Extol then the limitless glory of thy Sustainer's mighty name (Qur’an;56:88-96).
The Approach to Hell: Everybody will walk along a path overlooking hell. The speed at which they move along this path will depend how close they are to God and on the abundance of their good deeds. This means, therefore, that those who are in awe of God, and are God-conscious, will have a 'safe exit'. God the Almighty says: “There is not one of you but shall approach it. That is a, fixed ordinance of the Lord. Then We shall rescue those who kept from evil, and leave the evil-doers crouching; there”(Qur’an;19:71-72); “Nay! Would that you knew through the real knowledge provided to you in this Qur'an and care about your life in the Hereafter. Because on the Day of Judgement when you shall see the hell,”(Qur’an;102:5-6). The above verses refer to two different 'viewings' of hell. Those who are God-conscious will have the first viewing, and they will have a safe passage and attain salvation. Those in the second viewing will include people who have followed evil ways and have been unjust; they will fall into the abyss of hell. The first viewing may perhaps be before the reckoning takes place, when everybody will witness the sight of hell.
Paradise and Hell: The Holy Qur’an presents descriptions of heaven in a style that the human intellect can easily understand. References are made such as: Rivers will run beneath it... Those who reside in it will wear bracelets of gold and pearls, their garments will be of silk... Rivers of wine and rivers of honey will flow in it, and in it will be girls most beautiful of eye like unto pearls hidden in their shells, and immortal youth. The blissful delights of heaven belong to the realm of the unseen, and God has described them in allegorical language in the Holy Qur’an in a manner easily understood by the human mind. It should therefore be clear to us all that everything in paradise which is referred to is unlike anything in this world That includes the rivers, milk, honey and 'the girls most beautiful of eye, etc. In this context we can consider the quote from the Holy Qur’an and a saying by our Prophet, peace be upon him. The Holy Qur’an says: “And no human being can imagine what blissful delights as yet hidden, await (in the life to come) as a reward for all that they did”(Qur’an;32:17). And our Prophet (peace be upon him) sys, “”God says, I have prepared for My righteous servants what no eye has ever seen and no ear has ever heard and no heart of man has ever conceived'. This is further proof of the point we made earlier, that the human being is incapable of imagining or comprehending the unseen. Some commentators on the Holy Qur’an who have expounded on this subject have done so without providing proof for their theories. They tried hard to present a visual image of the life hereafter and compare it to life in this world. But their efforts were similar to those of scholastic theologians who tried to gauge and conceptualize Divine Justice and Divine Attributes on the basis of human justice and attributes: they got tangled in a web of theories and arguments. It would have been wiser for them to take the same stand as that taken by the scholars of early Islam who adhered strictly to the text regarding relevant issues, admitting the incapacity of the human mind to go beyond its limits. One of the empty and fruitless arguments put forward by these scholars pertains to the beautiful girls of paradise. Would cohabitation -with them be similar to the way we live with women in this world? They forgot that part of the role of marriage in this world is to have children and preserve our species. But as there is no such purpose in the life hereafter, those sorts of questions have no meaning. It is far more reasonable to believe everything that has been mentioned in the Holy Qur’an instead of going into details and interpreting what has been said in a way which is incompatible with the text.
Admission to Paradise:
Admission to Paradise cannot be achieved merely by a sense of yearning or wishful thinking. It can only be achieved by faith and obedience. The Holy Qur’an says :“The final result will neither be in accordance with your desires nor in accordance with the desires of the People of the Book. He who does evil will be requited with evil: he will find no protector or helper besides Allah”(Qur’an;4:123); “Do you think that you will enter paradise without going through the trial? Allah has not yet tested you to see who among you strive hard for His cause and who show patience for His sake”(Qur’an;3:142). Therefore, a believer who is accepted in the realm of paradise is one who promotes good, who has worked for God's sake and has sacrificed time, money and power on earth in order to work towards truth. Failing this, he should have avoided getting involved in actions that in the end are harmful to his spiritual development, and have leant to be patient.
Salvation is finally achieved after the reckoning is over and the believer crosses the bridge of Sirat: “Those who were conscious of the Sustainer will be urged on towards Paradise, till when they reach it, they shall find its gates wide-open, and its keeper will say unto them, "Peace be upon you! Well have you done: enter then this (Paradise), herein to abide." And they will exclaim "All praise is due to God, who has made His promise to us come true, and has bestowed upon us this expanse (of bliss) as our portions so that we may dwell in paradise as we please! And how excellent a reward will it be for those who labored (in God's way)!” (Qur’an;39:73-74).
Description of Paradise:
In terms of space, paradise is as vast and spacious as the heavens and earth put together. If this is hard to imagine, we must remember that the other world in relation to this is tike this world compared to the mother's womb. As we mentioned earlier, the fetus thinks of the womb as being its own finite world. And, if you think about it, any house on earth is a million times lager than the world of the fetus. Paradise has been prepared for the righteous and God conscious. So who are these people and what do they do? We may perhaps wish to follow in their footsteps and be blessed by their company. God has described the righteous and God conscious in the following way: “Who spend (in His way) in time of plenty and in time of hardship, and hold in check in their anger, and pardon their fellow men because God loves the doers of good; and who when they have committed a shameful deed or have (otherwise) sinned against themselves, remember God and pray that their sins be forgiven...”(Qur’an;3:134-35) These are some of the qualities of the God fearing and God conscious people. And God will, out of His generosity and benevolence, admit to heaven those who acquire those qualities after practicing the right kind of faith and having sincere belief in the principle of the Oneness of God. Paradise will be divided into different categories, first and foremost is the Garden of Bliss which may not be attained by everyone: “Does every one of them hope to enter a Garden of Bliss?”(Qur’an;70:38). The Garden of Bliss is for those who are: foremost in faith and good works(Qur’an;56:10), They who were (always) drawn close unto God (Qur’an;56:12).
Then there is a part of heaven known as the 'highest place in heaven'. It is granted to those servants of God referred to the Holy Qur’an in the chapter entitled Al-Furquan (The Criterion). They are the people who possess the following virtues:
1) Humility and patience towards those who are not as spiritually developed as they are.
2) Devotion to God, which keeps them in constant touch with Him.
3) Awareness of the judgement they will receive in the life hereafter.
4) Moderation in spending.
5) Avoidance of treason to God, their fellow creatures and to themselves.
6) Avoidance of falsehood and futility.
7) Paying attention, both in mind and manner, to God's signs.
8) The desire to bring up their families in righteousness and making them aware of Truth.
The above virtues represent, in a nutshell, a complete code of individual and social ethics, and a ladder of spiritual development, available to everyone. Among other divisions of heaven are: Gardens with trellises and without.(Qur’an;6:141). That is to say, there are both cultivated and uncultivated gardens; Gardens of Abode, Gardens of Eden and the 'two Gardens', for those who are God fearing. In these gardens will be set down the record of the truly virtuous in a most lofty model.
Life in Paradise:
The Holy Qur’an states that those who are in paradise will meet their brethren and their kith and kin: “Enter Paradise, you and your spouses, with happiness know therein neither (burning) sun nor cold severe, since its (blissful) shades will come down low over them and low will hang down its clusters of fruit, most easy to reach”(Qur’an;76:12-13). In happiness will they and their spouses on couches recline (Qur’an;36:56). And as for those who have attained to faith and whose offspring will have followed them in faith, we shall unite them with their offspring.(Qur’an;52:21). They will meet in an atmosphere of warmth and purity of heart: We shall have removed whatever unworthy thoughts or feelings may have been (lingering) in their bosoms.(Qur’an;7:42); “. ...And (by then) We shall have removed whatever unworthy thoughts or feelings may have been (lingering) in their breasts, (and they shall rest) as brethren, facing one bother (in love) upon thrones of happiness. (Qur’an;15:47). (In such a paradise the blest will dwell) reclining upon carpets lined with rich brocade; and the fruit of both these gardens will be within easy reach(Qur’an;55:55). And they will be waited upon by (immortal) youths, (as if they were children) of their own, (as pure) as if they were pearls hidden in their shells(Qur’an;52:24). In that (paradise) they shall (right fully) claim all the fruits (of their past deeds), resting in security(Qur’an;44:55). A cup will be passed round among them (with a drink) from unsullied springs, clear, delightful to those who drink it: no heartiness will be in it, and they will not get drunk thereon. (Qur’an;37:45-47).
And as for their food and drink, it will be waited upon with trays and goblets of gold(Qur’an;43:71). Immortal youths will wait upon them with goblets, and ewers, and cups filled with water from unsullied springs(Qur’an;56:17). ...And with fruit of any kind that they may choose and with the flesh of any fowl that they may desire... amidst fruit-laden lote trees, and acacias flower-clad, and shade extended, and waters gushing and fruit abounding, never-failing and never out of reach, and (they will rest on) couches raised high. (Qur’an;56:19-20; 28-34). Upon their faces thou wilt see the brightness of bliss. (Qur’an;83:24), Some faces will on that Day shine with bliss, well pleased with (the fruit) of their striving (Qur’an;88:8-9). They will be at liberty to go wherever they wish, to meet and talk to whomever they wish: ... and they will be welcomed with the greeting? "Peace!" (Qur’an;14:23). They speak nothing but good ... for they were (willing to be) guided towards the best of all tenets, and so they were guided onto the way that leads to the One unto whom all praise is due (Qur’an;22:24). And they (who are thus blest) will turn to one another asking each other (about their past lives). They will say, "Behold, aforetime, - when we were (still living) in the midst of kith and kin - we were full of fear (at the thought of God's displeasure): and so God has graced us with his favour and has warded off from us all suffering through the scorching winds (of frustration)"(Qur’an;52:25-26).
And in gratitude to their Lord they say, "Verily, we did invoke Him (alone) ere this; (and now He has shown us) that He alone is truly benign, a true dispenser of grace."(Qur’an;52:28). When they talk among themselves, they remember how they spent their time during their life in this world. They also remember matters concerning other people and what became of them: One of them speaks thus, "Behold, I had (on earth) a close companion who was wont to ask (me) "Why, art thou really one of those who believe it to be true (that) after we have died and become mere dust and bones we shall, forsooth, be brought to judgement ?" (And) he adds, "Would you like to look (and see him)?" And then he looks and sees that (companion of his) in the midst of the blazing fire and says, "By God! Verily, thou hast almost destroyed me (too, 0 my erstwhile companion) - for bad it not been for my Sustainer's favour, I would surely be (now) among those who are given over (to suffering)"(Qur’an;37:51-57). Then God will bless them with the company of most beautiful girls: And (in that Paradise) We shall mate them with companions pure, most beautiful of eye(Qur’an;52:20). And (with them will be their) spouses, raised high: for behold, we shall have brought them into being, in a life renewed, having resurrected them as virgins, full of love, well-matched with those who have attained to righteousness(Qur’an;56:34 - 39). In these gardens will be mated of modest gaze, whom neither man nor invisible being will have touched ere them(Qur’an;55:56).
In that state of happiness they will call out, "Limitless art Thou in Thy glory, 0 God!" and will be answered with the greeting, "Peace!" And their call will close with (the words), "All praise is due to God, the Sustainer of all the worlds"(Qur’an;10:10). And they will say, "All praise is due to God, Who has guided us unto this. For we would certainly not have found the right path unless God had guided us! Indeed, our Sustainer's Apostle has told us the truth!" and (a voice) will call out unto them, "This is the paradise which you have inherited by virtue of your past deeds."(Qur’an;7:42). No weariness shall ever touch them in this (state of bliss) and never shall they have to forego it (Qur’an;15:48). And neither shall they taste death thereafter having passed through their erstwhile death.(Qur’an;44:56), ... and the angels will come unto them from every gate (and will say), "Peace be upon you, because you have persevered!" How excellent then, this fulfillment in the hereafter(Qur’an;13: 23-24). ... and there will be found all that the souls might desire, and (all that) the eyes might delight in. (Qur’an;43:71). Verily, this-this indeed-is the triumph supreme. For the like of this, then let them labour, those who labour (in God's way)(Qur’an;37:61-62).
To that then, let all such aspire as (are willing to) aspire to things of high account. (Qur’an;83:26). Oh Lord, Thy mercy we seek in everything, and thy pardon and forgiveness Verily, You are the One who pardons and forgives. Grant us refuge Oh Lord, from the torture of hell and grant us too a safe entrance into Paradise.
The Hell :
Generally when we think of Hell, the first notion that comes to our mind is that it, too maybe a fire like that of the worldly fire. But although they both belong to the species of fire, there is no comparison between the two. We can notice the vast difference between these two fires when we study carefully the description of it in the Holy Qur’an. If the fire of hell were the same as the fire we know, of this world, it would burn everything and reduce it to coal. In hell, however, there are trees, water and shade, but they are for the purpose of torture and suffering and not for comfort and luxury. If a person falls into a fire in this world, he meets instant death and is thus saved from the resultant pain and suffering. But a person who is condemned to the fire of hell will undergo eternal suffering: No end shall be put to their lives, so that they could die, nor shall aught of the suffering caused by that (fire) be lightened for them.(Qur’an;35 - 36). ... and every time their skins are burnt off. We shall replace them with new skins, so that they may taste suffering (in full). (Qur’an;4:56). As for the trees in hell, they are the trees of Zaqqum: the tree of deadly fruit... the (hellish) tree of deadly fruit. Verily, We have caused it to be a trial for evil doers: for behold, it is a tree that grows in the very heart of the blazing fire (of hell), its fruit (as repulsive) as Satan’s heads. (Qur’an;37: 62-64). And the food in hell will be the food of the sinful: like molten lead will it boil in the belly, like the boiling of burning despair. (Qur’an;44:43). And stinking water will be given to those who arrogantly deny the way of truth:... he shall be made to drink the water of most bitter distress, gulping it (unceasingly), little by little, and yet hardly able to swallow it. (Qur’an;14:17). So people in hell will be made to eat deadly fruit and drink stinking water, which they will, due to an insatiable thirst, drink again and again, rather like a camel. That water will boil in their stomachs like molten lead, causing all that is within their bodies, as well as their skins, to melt away. (Qur’an;22:20). And the garments which they will wear in hell will be garments of fire. (Qur’an;22:19). The shade in hell will be clouds of fire will they have above them and (similar) clouds beneath them. (Qur’an;39:16) shadows neither cooling nor soothing. (Qur’an;56:44). 158 Belief in the Day of Judgement This will be the fate of those who place more importance on material values and the pleasures they bring, and the fate of unbelievers who deny that there is an afterlife, For behold, in times gone by they were wont to abandon themselves wholly to the pursuit of pleasures, and would persist in heinous sinning and would say, "What' After we have died and become mere dust and bones, shall we, forsooth, be raised from the dead?". (Qur’an;56: 45 - 46); “Now as for those who (by their deeds) will have brought wretchedness upon themselves, (they shall live) in the fire, where they will have (nothing but) moans and sobs (to relieve their pain) therein to abide as long as the heavens and the earth endure unless thy Sustainer wills it otherwise: for verily, thy Sustainer is a sovereign doer of whatever He wills. (Qur’an;11:106-107).
Entry into Hell:
When the reckoning is over and judgement has been pronounced on unbelievers regarding their punishment in hell, groups of them will be led there. Hell itself will be 'furious' with them for persistent disbelief in God and the messages of the prophets. The keepers of hell will be baffled by the foolishness and arrogance of such people. In this context, the Qur’an states: When they are cast into that (hell), they hear its breath 'n drawing as it boils up, well-nigh bursting with fury; (and) every time a host (of such sinners) is flung into it, its Lepers will ask them, "Has no warner ever come to you?" that juncture they will confess, "Yes, a warner did indeed come to us, but we gave him the lie and Said 'Never has God sent down anything (by way of revelation!)’ “Thus the angels will tell them, "You (self-styled warners) are but lost in a great delusion". So they admit that they turned a deaf ear and refused to exercise their minds and that, had they taken heed of the preachings and contemplated both within themselves and the world around them, they would have found proof of God's existence and believed in Him, and would have followed the path shown by the prophets, and, as a consequence, would not have been condemned to hell. And they will add, "Had we but listened (to those warnings), or (at least) used our own reason, we would not (now) be among those who are destined for the blazing fire." (Qur’an;67: 7-10).
Hell as a Prison:
God the Almighty has described hell as abode: with seven gates leading into it,