Are there degrees of life? If yes, what are they?
There are five degrees of life.
The first degree of life is as we live here and now, which is bound
by certain conditions.
The second degree of life is manifested in the lives of Khadr and
Elijah. This second degree is to some certain extent free in that those who
have it can be present in different places at the same time, and their life
is not bound by the necessities that bind ordinary human life. Like us, they
may eat and drink at times but, unlike us, they do not have to. The experiences
that some godly persons who are able to discern the hidden truths have had with
Khadr are enough to illuminate and prove this degree of life. Further, one of
the spiritual degrees or stations which saints reach in their spiritual journeys
is called ‘the station of Khadr’. A saint who has attained this degree may meet
Khadr and be directly instructed by him. Indeed, it sometimes even happens that
one who holds this station is mistaken for Khadr himself.
The third degree of life is manifested in the lives of the Prophets
Jesus and Enoch, peace be upon them. These two prophets live in heaven free
of the necessities of human life, in their worldly (corporal) bodies which,
however, have acquired some sort of refinement and luminosity. The Prophet Muham-mad,
upon him be peace and blessings, is reported to have said: Jesus will come back
to the world before the end of time and follow the Shari‘a of Muhammad. This
hadith implies that the religion of the followers of Jesus, that is, Christianity,
will be purified of the polytheistic elements and superstitions that have found
a way into it over time, and will ultimately join Islam. Consequently, this
chosen way of God, or the true Religion will eradicate with ‘the sword of revelation’
the trends to disbelief and absolute materialism established by natural philosophy.
The fourth degree of life is the life of martyrs. Some Qur’anic verses
state explicitly that martyrs enjoy a higher degree of life than the dead who
are not martyrs. Since martyrs have sacrificed their life in His way, God Almighty
has granted them an intermediate life that resembles the worldly life but without
its pains and troubles. Martyrs do not feel the pangs of death. They do not
know themselves to be dead; instead, they consider themselves to be transferred
into a better world and enjoy perfect happiness. By contrast, the dead are aware
that they are dead, although their souls are eternal; also, the pleasures they
experience in the intermediate life are less than what is enjoyed by the martyrs.
The difference can be explained by this analogy:
In a dream, two men enter a palace as beautiful as Paradise. One of them
gets little pleasure because he is aware that this is only a dream and will,
accordingly, disappear when he wakes up. As for the other, he is not aware that
he is dreaming and therefore feels wholly contented and happy.
This explains the difference between the degree of enjoyment felt by the
dead and by martyrs in the intermediate world. Besides the relevant Qur’anic
verses, some Prophetic traditions and countless experiences undeniably prove
that martyrs do lead a life with some degree of consciousness, knowing themselves
to be alive. That life of martyrs is particularly well indicated in the experienced
reality that Hamza, again and again comes to the aid of those seek help from
him and carries forward some of their worldly affairs.
I had a student, called ‘Ubaid, who was a cousin of mine. He was martyred
in my company and on my behalf when we fought together. I had a true dream of
him. In my dream, I went underground into his tomb, where I found him enjoying
the degree of life of martyrs. He told me that he knew me to have died, and
himself to be living. He had cried much over me, he said, and built a fine house
underground in order to avoid the Russian invasion. This dream, together with
certain other signs, convinced me that martyrs do have, in some conditions,
a higher degree of life than the dead.
The fifth degree of life is the spiritual life of the dead. Indeed,
death is a changing of residence, a receiving of one’s discharge from worldly
duties with the soul set free. It is not complete annihilation into non-existence.
This degree of life is clearly established by such repeatedly observed facts
as the soul of some godly persons appearing in their human (material) forms,
and being seen by men who have insight into hidden truths. That the dead can
communicate with us in dreams or even in wakefulness is another proof of their