Belief in Judgement Day

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In the Name of God, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful

 

Death is one of the few indisputable facts of life. Regardless of faith, race, status or age, we will all die. While the certainty of death is universally accepted, the question of what happens afterwards has been debated throughout history. Islam teaches that one’s life doesn’t end on earth; rather, it is followed by the eternal life of the hereafter. This pamphlet explains how this belief has a major impact on our earthly lives, while instilling hope for healing in a perfect world where God’s ultimate justice will prevail. 

Despite its inevitability, we get so absorbed in living that we forget about death. Our daily routines, the comfort of our homes and our relationships keep us so busy that we have little time left to ponder over the fleeting nature of this world.

Then, suddenly, we are forced to face the reality of our existence when a loved one is afflicted with a debilitating disease or we experience a shocking loss. Helpless, we are jolted by the frailty of life, leading us to question our priorities and reevaluate our lifestyles.

According to Islam, when confronted with a calamity, one should say, “To God we belong and to Him we shall return” (Quran 2:156). This invocation is also recited when someone dies. Reminding us of our origin and our ultimate destiny, it puts the purpose of our lives in perspective. God clearly states in the Quran, the divinely revealed message from God to all humanity, that He has created humankind to worship Him. Since worship is a comprehensive concept in Islam, consisting of specific rituals as well as general actions that promote good, it encourages people to conduct every aspect of their lives with God-consciousness.

Muslims believe they will return to God (Allah in Arabic) when they die. Therefore, instead of the end, death becomes part of a continuum which stretches into eternity.

Beyond this life — the hereafter

What happens after death? Does a world exist beyond this life? Is there such a place as heaven or hell? These are common questions we ask from time to time.

After all, the enigma of death stumps us. We’ve devised various ways of killing other humans. Yet, despite innumerable technological and medical advances, we still cannot prevent an individual from dying. Furthermore, unlike life which we experience daily, we really don’t have firsthand knowledge of life after death. Aside from some near-death incidents, no one has come back from the dead to tell us what they encountered.

Due to their faith in the One God who created this universe and sustains it, Muslims rely on divine guidance for glimpses of a reality invisible to human eyes. Divine guidance comprises prophetic examples and scriptural revelations. God sent prophets to guide humanity, such as Adam, Noah, Abraham, Moses, Jesus and Muhammad, the final prophet of God, peace be upon all of them. Moreover, He also revealed holy books, including the Torah, the Gospel and the Quran. (Learn more: Preservation of the Quran)

In keeping with the universal message of God, every prophet warned of the certainty of the afterlife and each of the divine books speaks of the existence of the soul. In the Quran, God promises, “Every soul will taste death. Then to Us will you be returned” (29:57).

On the Day of Judgment, every individual will be resurrected to account for their lives. God describes this event in the Quran, “On that Day, people will come forward in separate groups to be shown their deeds: whoever has done an atom’s weight of good will see it, but whoever has done an atom’s weight of evil will see that” (99:6-8).
God will weigh everyone’s good and bad actions according to His Mercy and His Justice, forgiving many sins and multiplying the reward for many noble deeds. One who excels in goodness will be rewarded generously, but one whose evils and wrongs outweigh his virtues will be punished.

Those who fulfilled their purpose in life and lived righteously will enter an eternal paradise of pure bliss. The people of heaven will reside in beautiful mansions, no longer suffering from fatigue, disease and old age. God will remove animosity and pain from people’s hearts, providing supreme healing in a world of abundance and luxury, of lush gardens and flowing rivers.

In contrast, those who die in a state of transgression against God or oppress others will be led to Hellfire. Despite all of God’s blessings, they neglected their ultimate purpose of leading their lives in accordance with His Will and Guidance. The Quran describes Hell as a place filled with immense suffering, with extreme temperatures, unquenchable thirst and blazing flames.

Truly, God wants each one of us to be salvaged in the afterlife. He has sent guidance and left signs for those who seek Him and reflect. At the same time, He has given us the choice to freely indulge in the world around us or to abide by His laws. In the Quran, God declares, “Why should God make you suffer torment if you are thankful and believe in Him? God always rewards gratitude and He knows everything” (4:147).

The Greater Plan: Day of Judgement

Belief in the soul and the afterlife gives a context to our current existence. Those who focus only on this immediate life miss out on the bigger picture. Indeed, they become heedless of their purpose in life. God reminds humanity, “The life of this world is merely an amusement and a diversion; the true life is in the Hereafter, if only they knew” (Quran 29:64).

Islam teaches that this life is simply a test to determine our place in the eternal life after death. Those who understand the reality ahead of them are aware that their ultimate fate after death is based on their actions in this life. Such individuals are thankful for all the blessings that God has given them and humbly worship Him while promoting goodness in all aspects of their lives. When a person embraces such a God-conscious way of life, their purpose extends beyond merely enjoying worldly pleasures.

Their life is one of submission to God and they seek to positively contribute to the world around them. All of their transactions with people, even animals and the environment, are rooted in this motivation. They are guided by the certainty that they will one day return to their Creator and be held accountable for their deeds. Although they have the freedom to live according to their whims, they limit their attachment to this brief and imperfect life, seeking an eternal paradise in the hereafter. (Read more: Ch. 75 of the Quran)

Why Believe?

Believing in the soul and the afterlife is foremost about having faith in the unseen. Just as our souls are intangible beings giving life to our physical bodies, the world we see around us is functioning based on an invisible system created by God who is Ever-Watchful and All-Aware. Muslims believe that God is also Just and He maintains a meticulous record of our deeds. We will be recompensed for our earthly lives in the hereafter where ultimate justice prevails.

Humans naturally seek justice in all aspects of their lives. When a person works, they expect to receive an appropriate salary. When an individual is harmed, they seek compensation. When someone helps another, they anticipate appreciation for their effort. Even though humans strive hard to establish justice, the reality is that this world will never be perfectly just. Many criminals go unpunished while the oppressed are denied basic rights. Do their lives simply dissolve without any accountability or fair dealing?

God proclaims in the Quran, “Do those who commit evil deeds really think that We will deal with them in the same way as those who believe and do righteous deeds, that they will be alike in their living and their dying? How badly they judge!” (45:21).

In the afterlife, the evil doers will not be able to escape the grip of justice and victims of worldly suffering will be recompensed for their pain. People who spent their lives responsibly, avoiding temptations to commit sins, will also be rewarded. As mentioned in the Quran, “God created the heavens and the earth for a true purpose: to reward each soul according to its deeds. They will not be wronged” (45:22).

According to Islam, one of the greatest injustices humans can commit is to deny God’s existence, add partners to Him or worship worldly ideals or materialistic goals. Islam teaches that God is the Creator, Sustainer and Nourisher of every being in the heavens and the earth. As His creation, it is His right that we worship and obey Him. He showers us with His blessings every day out of His love and mercy. Worshiping Him is an expression of gratitude to God, and ignoring Him or worshiping others is ungratefulness and a denial of His blessings.

If our man-made judicial systems punish people for committing injustices against other people, it is even more understandable that God would punish those who deny Him His rights and commit injustices against His creation. God says in the Quran, “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” (21:47).

God’s Mercy

As imperfect beings, we often make mistakes and commit wrong actions. While God does not expect perfection from us, He calls on us to strive to the utmost to worship Him and to live righteously. Out of His Mercy, God pardons whom He wills in the hereafter. God promises us in the Quran: “And those who believe and do righteous deeds – We will surely remove from them their misdeeds and will surely reward them according to the best of what they used to do” (29:7).

Muslims seek salvation in the hereafter by living a God-conscious and virtuous life in this world. The fear of accountability in the hereafter, along with hope in the promise of God’s ultimate justice, motivates them to orient their present lives around the comprehensive worship of God, the true purpose of human existence. In this way, they endeavor in this temporary life for eternal joy.

[To the righteous it will be said], “O reassured soul, return to your Lord, well-pleased and pleasing [to Him], and enter among My [righteous] servants, and enter My Paradise.” (Quran, 89:27-30)

16 Comments

  1. Can you remove the copy right for greater use please?

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  3. Adélaïde Snape Leroy says:

    Assalamu alaykum everyone :)

    I have great difficulties to understand the concept of the Day of Judgment and the after-life in Islam, could someone please answer the questions I'm gonna ask to clarify points which are still unclear to me?

    First, I have difficulty to understand why Allah would have created us to worship Him. Why creating beings only to worship Him as He doesn't need our worship? If worship only serves us, then what was His purpose in creating us?

    Second, as it is written on this page, "Their (Muslims') life is one of submission to God and they seek to positively contribute to the world around them. All of their transactions with people, even animals and the environment, are rooted in this motivation. They are guided by the certainty that they will one day return to their Creator and be held accountable for their deeds." Does it mean that when Muslims perform good deeds and help others, they do it only for their own sake (getting reward in the after-life)? Isn't it a bit selfish?

    Third and last, isn't it unfair to give eternal reward or punishment for what one has performed during only one life time? What is life time compared to eternity? Any finite number divided by infinity makes 0, which means that life (finite amount of time) corresponds to nothing (0) in the face of eternity (infinite amount of time). Why would Allah judge us for eternity because of what we performed in an insignificant period of time? And why only 2 options, eternal happiness or eternal tortures? How is the eternal hell compatible with Allah's quality of Al-Raheem, the Most Merciful?

    You have reached until here, so… sorry for writing so much and thanks for reading all this ^^. And thanks in advance to those who would clarify these points for me.

  4. Issah Musah says:

    According to Islam, when confronted with a calamity, one should say, “To God we belong and to Him we shall return” (Quran 2:156). This invocation is also recited when someone dies. Reminding us of our origin and our ultimate destiny, it puts the purpose of our lives in perspective. God clearly states in the Quran, the divinely revealed message from God to all humanity, that He has created humankind to worship Him. Since worship is a comprehensive concept in Islam, consisting of specific rituals as well as general actions that promote good, it encourages people to conduct every aspect of their lives with God-consciousness.

  5. Young Penese says:

    Allah is the only one……………

  6. Mr snape please God did not create man only to worship Him but to make man in charge of All His creation that is to take dominion over every thing. He also created man have fellowship with Him. Genesis 1:26.

  7. Mr snape please Judgement will not be based on good deeds but read Romans 3:21.

  8. I disagree with you, man is but a servant of God. He is not in charge of anything but protecting his own faith and soul from corruption. There were many creations before man and they existed only because God willed it.

  9. Ahmed Adam says:

    Dear Adelaide Snape (Peace be to you). Thank you for your thought-provoking questions. Hopefully, in the next few statements, you will find some (if not all) the answers that you are seeking, Insha-Allah (SWT).
    Your First Question: You are correct. Allah (Sub'ha'na'hu Wa Ta'ala) does not need our worship. The Worship is for our own benefit. Consider how many people are worshipping Allah (Sub'ha'na'hu Wa Ta'ala): everything that has been Created Glorifies and worships Allah (Sub'ha'na'hu Wa Ta'ala) all the time from the microscopic spinning electrons around the Atom, to the Majestic Spinning of the Billions of Galaxies. Every flower, every tree, every animal, every body of water worships Allah (Sub'ha'na'hu Wa Ta'ala). Even the Angels worship Allah (Sub'ha'na'hu Wa Ta'ala) all the time. However, in all of these examples, the objects worship Allah (Sub'ha'na'hu Wa Ta'ala) by default and out of Love to their Creator. So before the Creation of Man, everything in the Heavens and the Earth, worshipped Allah (Sub'ha'na'hu Wa Ta'ala) Alone, without associating any partners with Him. However, Allah (Sub'ha'na'hu Wa Ta'ala) then Created a very special Creature, called a Human Being. What makes this creature “special” is the powerful Brain, as well as the Freedom to Make Choices (Free Will). However, with this Great Gift of the Free Will, comes a huge responsibility which many humans themselves don’t even understand. Among the current Global Human Population (as at 23rd November 2014), the World Population is 7,3 Billion people. Christians comprise the largest number with 2,3 Billion people, while Muslims are second, with 2,1 Billion people. This means that out of the 7,2 people, only 2,1 Billion people are voluntarily and lovingly worship Allah (Sub'ha'na'hu Wa Ta'ala) out of a choice that they have made. The Purpose in Creating Humans is so that human beings can use their God-Given Intellect to ponder over the many Signs (traces) of Allah (Sub'ha'na'hu Wa Ta'ala) throughout the Earth and the Heavens, so that we can be in awe of His Creation, His Artistry, His Beauty and His Power. Sub’ha’nal’laah!

    Second, the reason why Muslims perform “good deeds” is to imbibe or absorb this quality trait within themselves and in their families and communities, without expecting any reward, except the Pleasure and Love of their Creator. Part of doing good deeds is the development of Aqh’laaq (building your character), which includes traits such as: having impeccable good manners; being polite; respecting your elders; avoid the use of vulgarities and swear words; being helpful in carrying parcels, or help someone cross the street or give some food to the starving street-side citizen. The purpose of these good deeds is to make us more hypersensitive to the needs and sufferings of other people. IT is far better to be a “good” person instead of being a selfish and arrogant person who only cares for himself (herself). It is important that even though Good deeds are important, they are not a guarantee to Paradise: it is only the Mercy of Allah (Sub'ha'na'hu Wa Ta'ala) that will Grant you access to Heaven.

    Third, as you correctly pointed out, our life on Earth is essentially Zero. It is for this reason, that the Qur’an keeps telling us that this world is a delusion; it is for play and amusement; the material possessions are simply chattels of deception. It is through the Mercy of Allah (Sub'ha'na'hu Wa Ta'ala) that He has made our Life so short; imagine living 950 years like Noah (peace be upon him) or living for thousands upon thousands of years? Whether we talk about 100 years on Earth or 1000 years on Earth, the ultimate result is Zero, when compared to the Eternity to follow. Why only Heaven and Hell? This is simple: when Adam (Alay'his Salaam) was Created, he was sent to Paradise with his wife: he did not have to earn his place in Paradise; nor was he placed in Hell. However, because of the minor slip, the place in Paradise is no longer guaranteed for every human being: now you have to earn your place to get re-entry into Paradise, your Original and Eternal Home. The whole basis of our life on Earth is based on the Formula: enjoin the good, and forbid the Evil. Shay’taan and his armies are the personification of evil. For Divine Justice to be meaningful, there has to be 2 options: it is not fair if everyone goes to Hell; it is not fair that everyone goes to Heaven. There are millions of innocent men, women, children and unborn babies who have been killed by unjustified wars, serial killers, rapists, torturers, home invaders; there are many “behind-the-scenes” collusions between corporate Giants related to fraud, tax evasion, price fixing, collusion etc. Such people are surrounded by expensive lawyers and have the police, prosecution and judges on their payroll. They assume that they have “got away with it”; Divine Justice reminds the Believer that all these actions in public and private and in secret bunkers, are all being recorded in the smallest detail and everything will be revealed on the Day of Judgement. That will be the day when the innocent victims will rejoy, since they have the unshakeable Faith that Allah (Sub'ha'na'hu Wa Ta'ala) will restore all the injustices that have ever bee carried out (this includes destruction of air, soil, oceans and rivers). On that Day, the mischief –makers will be filled with regret and woe, while the Believers will be rejoicing that Divine Justice has been accomplished. Can you imagine the joy of the parents of a 4 year old girl who was brutally tortured, raped, killed and dismembered, and no one was ever convicted of this Crime. The Day of Judgement levels the playing fields: there are no expensive lawyers, bodyguards, cell-phones or tips to “escape” whatever Punishment is due to you. The Greatest Punishment is reserved for those pwople who associate partners with Allah (Sub'ha'na'hu Wa Ta'ala). Allah (Sub'ha'na'hu Wa Ta'ala) is One: He has no wife, no parents, no sons, no daughters and no shareholders in His Domain.
    With Salaams and kind regards, Dr Ahmed Adam, South Africa.

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