Islam is a universal way of life and civilization

Stages of the Life Hereafter

Everyone is scared of dying and rightly so. Islamic doctrine holds that human existence continues after the death of the human body in the form of spiritual and physical resurrection.  There is a direct relation between conduct on earth and life beyond.  The afterlife will be one of the rewards and punishments which is commensurate with earthy conduct.  Allah says:

لَقَدْ كُنتَ فِي غَفْلَةٍ مِّنْ هَذَا فَكَشَفْنَا عَنكَ غِطَاءَكَ فَبَصَرُكَ الْيَوْمَ حَدِيدٌ

“You were heedless of this, so We have removed your veil, and your sight is sharp (on) this Day!” (Surah Qaf, 50:22)

All shall be judged one day and justice will be served. According to Islam, death is not the end. It is the beginning of a new and eternal stage in one’s life.   Allah says:

وَجَاءَتْ سَكْرَةُ الْمَوْتِ بِالْحَقِّ ذَلِكَ مَا كُنتَ مِنْهُ تَحِيدُ

“And the stupor of death will bring Truth (before his eyes): “This was the thing which you were trying to escape!” (Surah Qaf‎, 50:19)

Stages of Life in the Hereafter

1- Grave – Barzakh Life

The stage from the death of men in the world until they are resurrected after the apocalypse is called the life of grave. This life is also called “Barzakh life or Barzakh world” because it expresses the transitional period between the world and the hereafter. Barzakh means a drawback, barrier, or curtain between two things. It is not necessary to put the body of a man in the grave for him to live life in the grave.  Allah says:

لَوْ كَانَ فِيهِمَا آلِهَةٌ إِلَّا اللَّهُ لَفَسَدَتَا فَسُبْحَانَ اللَّهِ رَبِّ الْعَرْشِ عَمَّا يَصِفُونَ

“If (there) were in both of them gods besides Allah, surely they (would) have been So glorified (is) Allah, Lord (of) the Throne (above) what they attribute.” (Surah Al-Anbiya 21:22)

2- Soor (Trumpet) and Blowing of the Trumpet

The trumpet is an instrument blown by the angel Hazrat Israfel to start the apocalypse and after the apocalypse to resurrect people and to gather them in the gathering place. According to what the Quranic verses tell us Hazrat Israfel will blow the trumpet twice.  Allah says:

وَنُفِخَ فِي الصُّورِ فَصَعِقَ مَن فِي السَّمَاوَاتِ وَمَن فِي الْأَرْضِ إِلَّا مَن شَاءَ اللَّهُ ثُمَّ نُفِخَ فِيهِ أُخْرَىٰ فَإِذَا هُمْ قِيَامٌ يَنظُرُونَ 

“The Trumpet will (just) be sounded, when all that is 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!” (Surah Az-Zumar 39:68)

During the first blowing everything on the earth and in the heavens, except what Allah wishes, will be shaken fearing it and die and the apocalypse will take place. With the second blowing, everything will be resurrected and will run towards their Lord in order to gather in the gathering place. Let’s give one of these verses as an example:  Allah says:

 “The trumpet shall be sounded when behold! from the sepulchres (men) will rush forth to their Lord!”. (Ya Seen, 51)

3- Qiyama (Apocalypse)

Qiyama has two meanings: the first one is the breakdown of the order in the universe, everything turning upside down, destruction of everything and the end of the world.  Allah says:

“He (man) 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” (Al-Qiyama, 6-12)

The second is the resurrection of dead people and their walk towards the gathering place. Qiyama in the first sense will start with the first blowing of the trumpet by Hazrat Israfel, in the second sense with the second blowing. So Qiyama is a very important event that involves the death of all men and their resurrection. Allah says:

“O mankind! fear your Lord! For the convulsion of the Hour (of Judgment) will be a thing terrible! The Day ye shall see it, every mother giving suck shall forget her suckling-babe, and every pregnant female shall drop her load (unformed): thou shalt see mankind as in a drunken riot, yet not drunk: but dreadful will be the Wrath of Allah.” (Al-Hajj, 1-2)

Although the Quran mentions Qiyama often, it does not answer the questions about the time of it and emphasizes that no one except Allah has any knowledge about it. Our Prophet (PBUH) gives some information in his hadiths that there will be some signs of the Qiyama when it approaches.

4- Resurrection after death

During the history of mankind, the question of “death” occupied people’s minds in the past, it is occupying today and it seems that it will occupy in the future too. Man has the desire to live forever and does not want to die. However, no one can resist death and everybody becomes helpless against death. The Quran informs us that resurrection is possible by reason and that it will definitely take place in various ways:

a. A being that creates something out of nothing can create it again a second time. The Quran proves this creation by the following verses:

“And he(man) 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! He is well-versed in every kind of creation!”  (Ya Seen, 78-79)

b. A being that creates something difficult can definitely create something easily. The creation of the earth and heavens is more difficult than the creation of man.  Allah, who created the earth and heavens and holds them in the spaces without any support, is definitely capable of creating man again after his death.

 “Then, he whose balance (of good deeds) will be (found) heavy Will be in a life of good pleasure and satisfaction. But he whose balance (of good deeds) will be (found) light― Will have his home in a (bottomless) pit. ” (Al-Qaria, 6-10)

Furthermore, the first creation of man is more difficult than his second creation. Allah, who is capable of creating a man for the first time, is more capable of creating him for the second time. This meaning is stated in the Quran through the following verses:  Allah says:

 “See they not that Allah, Who created the heavens and the earth, and never wearied with their creation is able to give life to the dead?”  (Al-Ahqaf, 33)

Allah addresses us in the Quran so that we can understand; therefore He uses those statements. As a matter of fact, there is no difference between the creation of an atom and the whole universe.

c. Allah, who revives the earth that is dead, can revive man too.

 “And We send down from the sky Rain charged with blessing, and We produce therewith gardens and Grain for harvests; And tall (and stately) palm-trees, with shoots of fruit-stalks, piled one over another―  As sustenance for (Allah’s) Servants;― and We give (new) life therewith to land that is dead: Thus will be the Resurrection.” (Qaf, 9-11)

5- Gathering after Resurrection and Gathering Place

The gathering is Allah’s sending men to the gathering place after the resurrection for reckoning and bringing them together. The place where men gather is called the Gathering Place. There are a lot of verses in the Quran about gathering. We can give the following verse as an example.  Allah says:

“They will come forth― their eyes humbled― from (their) graves, (torpid) like locusts scattered abroad, Hastening, with eyes transfixed, towards the Caller!― “Hard is this Day!” the Unbelievers will say. ” (Al-Qamar, 7-8)

6- Receiving Book of Deeds

“Every man’s fate We have fastened on his own neck: on the Day of Judgment We shall bring out for him a scroll, which he will see spread open. (It will be said to him:) “Read thine (own) record: sufficient is thy soul this day to make out an account against thee.” (Al-Isra, 13-14)

The Books of Deeds, in which the good and bad deeds men did in the world were recorded, will be given to men in the gathering place for a reckoning. We do not know the true nature of these books. Allah says:

“(It will be said to him:) “Read thine (own) record: sufficient is thy soul this day to make out an account against thee.” (Al-Isra, 14)

Without a doubt, they do not resemble the books we have in the world. If we use the jargon of today’s technology, we can liken them to candid cameras that record the vision and sound and then show these recordings to viewers. Allah says:

“Were We then weary with the first Creation, that they should be in confused doubt about a new Creation?” (Qaf, 15)

The Books of Deeds will be given to the people of Paradise from the right side and the people of hell from the left side or from the back. Receiving the Book from the right side indicates good news that reckoning will be easy and receiving it from the left side indicates a hard reckoning. Allah says:

 “One Day He will gather them all together, and say to the angels “Was it you that these men used to worship?” (Saba, 40)

7- Reckoning

“O our Lord! cover (us) with Thy Forgiveness― me, my parents, and (all) Believers, on the Day that the Reckoning will be established!”   (Ibrahim, 41)

After men receive their books in the hereafter Allah will start reckoning in accordance with the records in those books, nobody will be treated with injustice. There are a lot of verses in the Quran related to this issue. Some of them are as follows:  Allah says:

 “That Day will every soul be requited for what it earned; no injustice will there be that Day, for Allah is Swift in taking account.” (Al-Mumin, 17)

The Prophet (PBUH) informed us that men will definitely be questioned of the following five things on the Day of Judgment:

  1. Where they earned their property
  2. Where they spent their life
  3. Mizan (Scale)
  4. Where they spent their youth
  5. Where they spent their property
  6. Whether they applied what they knew or not

“We shall set up scales of justice for the Day of Judgment so that not a soul will be dealt with unjustly in the least. And if there be (no more than) the weight of a mustard seed, We will bring it (to account): and enough are We to take account.” (Al-Anbiya, 47).

Mizan, which means scale and balance, is the measurement of the divine justice that weighs the deeds of everybody in the hereafter following the reckoning. Allah says:

“(O ye people!) And your creation or your resurrection is in no wise but as an individual soul: for Allah is He Who hears and sees (all things).” (Luqman, 28)

It is explained in these verses that Allah, who created the heavens and the earth can create a man more easily. It is also stated that since He was not incapable in the first creation, He will definitely not be incapable in the second creation, which is easier than the first one.

 “It is He Who begins (the process of) creation; then repeats it, and for Him, it is most easy.” (Ar, Room, 27)

Attention is attracted to the fact that men will be resurrected and come out of their graves. It is also emphasized that the creation of men out of nothing and their resurrection after death is as easy as the creation and resurrection of one man. Allah says:

“Then those whose balance (of good deeds) is heavy – they will attain salvation: But those whose balance is light will be those who have lost their souls; in Hell will they abide.” (Mumenoon, 102-103)

9- River and Pool of Kawthar

Sirat will definitely be in the form that Allah and His Messenger informed us and in the state that Allah knows and wishes. This bridge stretching across Hell to Paradise is in fact a bridge that man constructs during his life in the world with belief and good deeds. The deeds of a man in this world come as a bridge in front of him in the hereafter. It is stated in the Quran that everybody will come round to Hell: Allah says:

“Not one of you but will pass over it: this is, with thy Lord, a Decree which must be accomplished. But We shall save those who guarded against evil, and We shall leave the wrongdoers therein, (humbled) to their knees.”  (Maryam, 71-72)

Sirat bridge and the bridges in the world, the scale there and the scales here, the trumpet there and the trumpets and bugles here, the books there and the books here. Allah knows the true nature of them. Allah says:

“No intercessor (can plead with Him) except after His leave (hath been obtained).” (Yunus, 3)

Therefore we can only know the existence of the Sirat bridge through the revelation Allah sends to His Messenger. However, we cannot understand its true nature.

10- Sirat

Sirat is used to mean a bridge or road laid across Hell. Everybody, whether a believer or an unbeliever, will cross this bridge. Allah says:

“Not one of you but will pass over it: this is, with thy Lord, a Decree which must be accomplished. But We shall save those who guarded against evil, and We shall leave the wrongdoers therein, (humbled) to their knees.” (Maryam, 71-72)

Sirat will definitely be in the form that Allah and His Messenger informed us and in the state that Allah knows and wishes. This bridge stretching across Hell to Paradise is in fact a bridge that man constructs during his life in the world with belief and good deeds. Allah says:

“No intercessor (can plead with Him) except after His leave (hath been obtained).” (Yunus, 3)

11- Intercession (Shafaat):

It means for the believers who have sins to ask prophets, ulama (scholars) and martyrs, whom Allah allowed interceding, to pray and beg Allah for their forgiveness and for those who do not have any sins to ask for ascension to higher degrees.

The Quran gives special significance to intercession and connects it with the issue of oneness. Some of the Quranic verses related to this issue are as follows: Allah says:

“O Who is there can intercede in His presence except as He permitteth?” (Al-Baqara, 255)

Allah can consent to the intercession of only His slaves who deserve to be forgiven as a necessity of His divine justice.

12- Purgatory (Araf)

Araf is the name given to the high castle and tower separating Paradise and Hell. In other words, Araf is a buffer zone between Paradise and Hell, separating them. There are some disputes over who will be the people of Araf; there are two views that became prominent.

“ they offer no intercession except for those who are acceptable.” (Al-Anbiya, 28)

1. People who were not informed about the call of any prophets and children of polytheists who died very young.

2. Believers whose good deeds and bad deeds are equal. They will have to wait between Paradise and Hell before they enter Paradise.

13- Hell

“Indeed it throws about sparks (huge) as Forts As if there were (a string of) yellow camels (marching swiftly).” (Al-Murseaât, 32-33)

Hell is a place of torture where unbelievers will stay continuously and where sinful believers will be punished and stay temporarily in accordance with their sins.

“When it sees them from a place far off, they will hear its fury and its ranging sigh.” (Al-Furqan, 12)

As it happens in all stages of life in the hereafter, the spirit and the body together will suffer Hell torture. However, the pain, anguish, agony, torture, fire, etc cannot be likened to those in this world. Only Allah knows their true nature and inside; it is impossible for men to know them in this world.

14- Paradise

A paradise is a place in the hereafter which is adorned with various blessings and which believers will live eternally. Allah says:

“But give glad tidings to those who believe and work righteousness, that their portion is Gardens, beneath which rivers flow. Every time they are fed with fruits therefrom they say: “Why this is what we were fed with before” for they are given things in similitude; and they have therein companions pure (and holy), and they abide therein (forever).” (Al-Baqara, 25)

No doubt, the greatest blessing in Paradise is to receive the consent of Allah and to see Allah. The following is stated in the Quran related to this issue: Allah says:

 “…the greatest bliss is in the Good Pleasure of Allah: that is the Supreme Felicity.” (At-Tauba,  72)

On the other hand, believers in the hereafter will see Allah after they enter Paradise. There is no definite information about the true nature and quality of this sight. Allah says:

“Some faces, that Day, will beam (in brightness and beauty)― Looking towards their Lord.” (Al-Qiyama, 22-23)

Paradise and the life there is eternal and the people of Paradise will live there eternally. What makes Paradise Paradise and what makes life there valuable is the fact that it is eternal and immortal. Allah says:

“But those who deny their Lord they will have clothes cut out from fire; Over their heads will be poured out boiling water which will scald what is in their bodies as well as their skins. Every time they wish to get away from anguish, they will be forced back in.” (Quran Al-Hajj 22:19-21)

We should not forget that Paradise is obtained in this world. To obtain Paradise it is necessary to believe in the existence and oneness of Allah, His angels, His books, His prophets, Day of Judgment, decree, and destiny; to do good deeds in accordance with the Quran and the sunnah of the Prophet (PBUH) encompassed by the consent of Allah and to live in accordance with Islamic ethic. Allah says:

“They will be in the midst of a fierce hot wind of fire and in boiling water. And in the shades of black smoke. Nothing will be there to refresh or to please.” (Quran Al-Waqi`ah 56:42-44)

Paradise is for those who worshipped God alone, believed and followed their prophet, and lived moral lives according to the teachings of scripture.

The Importance Of Belief In The Hereafter

Life after death guarantees that people will be rewarded or punished for the deeds that they performed in this world – so it makes life fair. The hope of Paradise encourages people to do good, whereas the threat of Hell discourages them from evil deeds. Muslims believe that life is worthwhile no matter how difficult it may be because it leads to something better and eternal for the pious people. It is, therefore, a fundamental pillar of Islam.