What are the benefits of belief in the resurrection and the afterlife?
The All-Compassionate Creator has made this world in the form of a festival,
a place of celebration and exhibition. He has decorated it with the most wonderful
inscriptions of His Names, and clothed each spirit with a body possessing suitable
and appropriate senses that allow the individual to benefit from the good things
and bounties in the festival. He sends each spirit to this festival for one
time. As it is very extensive in regard to time and space, He divided it into
centuries and years, seasons and days, and various parts. His animal and plant
creations promenade therein, especially during the spring and summer, when the
Earth’s surface is transformed into a vast arena of successive festivals for
all small creatures. This arena is so glittering and attractive that it draws
the gaze of angels, other inhabitants of the heavens, and spirit beings in the
higher abodes. For people who think and reflect, it is an arena for reflection,
and one so wonderful that the mind cannot de-scribe it.
However, the manifestations of Divine Grace, Mercy, and Liberality in this
Divine festival are counterbalanced by the Names of All-Overwhelming, All-Crushing,
and One Who Causes to Die through death and separation. This does not appear
to be in line with the all-embracing Mercy ex-pressed in
My Mercy encompasses all things. (7:156)
However, consider the following points:
- After each group of creatures has served its purpose and produced the
desired results, the All-Compassionate Creator causes most of them, by His
Compassion, to feel weariness and distaste with the world. He then grants
them a desire to rest and a longing to emigrate to another world. And so when
they are discharged from their duties (through death), He arouses in them
an enthusiastic inclination to return to their original home.
- The Most Merciful One bestows the rank of martyrdom on a soldier who dies
in the line of duty (defending sacred values), and rewards a sheep sacrificed
in His way with an eternal corporeal existence in the Hereafter. Given this,
His infinite Mercy assigns a specific reward and wage, according to their
nature and capacity, to other animate beings who perform their duties despite
hardship and death. Thus, these beings are not sad when death comes; rather,
they are pleased and look forward to it.
The world is continually enlivened through creation and predetermination,
and ceaselessly stripped of life through other cycles of creation, determination,
and wisdom. Death is not an extinction, but a door opening on a better, more
developed, and more refined life. The Qur’an presents death as something created
and therefore having existence (67:2). When death enters a living body, life
seems to depart. In reality, however, that organism is being elevated to a higher
degree. The death of a plant, the simplest level of life, is a work of Divine
artistry, just like their living, but one even more perfect and better designed.
When a tree seed “dies,” it appears to decompose into the soil. However, it
actually undergoes a perfect chemical process, passes through predetermined
states of re-formation, and grows into an elaborate, new tree. A “dead” seed
represents the beginning of a new tree, and shows that death is something created
like life and, accordingly, is as perfect as life.
Since fruit and animals, when consumed by people, cause them to rise to the
degree of human life, their deaths can be regarded as more perfect than their
lives. If this is true of plants, it must be true of people. As people are the
pinnacle of creation, their deaths must be more perfect and serve a still greater
purpose. Once individuals have died and been buried, they surely will be brought
into eternal life.
It discharges us from the hardships of life, which gradually become harder
through old age. It also opens the gates to reunion with many of our friends
who died before us.
- It releases us from worldly life that is a turbulent, suffocating, narrow
dungeon of space, and admits us into the wide circle of the Eternal Beloved
One’s mercy. As a result, we enjoy a pleasant and everlasting life free from
- Old age and other unbearable conditions are ended through death. Both
the elderly and their families benefit from this. For example, if your elderly
parents and grandparents were living in poverty and hardship, would you not
consider their deaths to be blessings? The autumnal deaths of insects is a
mercy for them, for otherwise they would have to endure winter’s harshness
and severity and be deprived of their lovers: lovely flowers.
- Sleep brings repose and relief, as well as mercy especially for the sick
and afflicted. Death, sleep’s brother, is a blessing and mercy particularly
for those afflicted with misfortunes that might make them suicidal. As for
the misguided, death and life are a torment within torment, and pain after
- Just as death is a blessing for a believer, the grave is the door to illuminated
worlds. This world, despite its glitter, is like a dungeon in comparison with
the Hereafter. To be transferred from the dungeon of this world to the gardens
of Paradise, to pass from the troublesome turmoil of bodily life to the world
of rest and the realm where spirits soar, to be free of the distressing noise
of creatures and go to the Presence of the Most Merciful—all of this is a
journey, indeed, a happiness, to be desired most earnestly.
- The All-Merciful One explains in His Scriptures, especially the Qur’an,
the true nature of the world and the life therein, and warns us that love
or attachment to either one are pointless.
The world and things have three facets. These are the following:
- Its first facet turns to the Divine Names and Attributes. Each created
thing is a manifestation of certain Divine Names and Attributes, such as Mercy,
Creativity, Grace, Provision, Favoring, Hearing, Seeing, or Speaking, and
so on. As this facet only mirrors those Names and Attributes, it does not
experience decay and death, but is continually refreshed and renewed.
- Its second facet turns to the Hereafter—the world of permanence. Being
like a field sown with the seeds of the Hereafter, seeds that will grow into
permanent “trees” with permanent fruits, this facet serves the World of Permanence
by causing transient things to acquire permanence. It also does not experience
decay and death, but life and permanence.
- Its third facet relates to our bodily desires. Many people love this facet,
which is, on the other hand, the market-place of sensible conscious persons
and a trial for the duty-bound. This facet is apparently the object of decay
and death. However, in its inner dimension, there are manifestations of life
and permanence to heal the sorrows brought by death, decay, and separation.
Why is love for this third facet not something to be approved?
The world is a book of the Eternally-Besought-of-All. Its letters and words
point not to themselves, but to their Author’s Essence, Names, and Attributes.
This being so, learn its meaning and adopt it; abandon its decorations and go!
- The world is a tillage for the Hereafter, so plant it to harvest in the
Hereafter. Pay attention to the crop that you will receive in the Hereafter,
and throw away the useless chaff.
- The world is a collection of “mirrors” that continually follow each other
to reflect their Creator and then pass on. Therefore, know the One Who is
manifested in them. See His lights, understand the manifestations of His Names
appearing in them, and love the One they signify. Cease your attachment to
“those fragments of glass” that are doomed to break and perish.
- The world is a moving place of trade. Do your business and leave. Do not
tire yourself in useless pursuit of caravans that leave you behind and ignore
- The world is a temporary place of recreation. Study it to take lessons
and warnings, but ignore its apparent, ugly face and pay attention to its
hidden, beautiful face looking to the Eternal All-Gracious One. Go for a pleasant
and beneficial recreation and then return. When the scenes displaying those
fine views and beautiful things disappear, do not cry or be anxious.
- The world is a guest-house. Eat and drink within the limits established
by the Munificent Host Who built it, and offer thanks. Act and behave in accordance
with His Law. Then depart from it without looking back. Do not interfere in
it, or busy yourself in vain with things that one day will leave you and are
no concern of yours.
Through such plain truths, He reveals the world’s real character and makes
death less painful. He makes death desirable for those awake to the truth, and
shows that there is a trace of His Mercy in all of his actions.
I was, on one occasion, sitting on the top floor of a hotel. The graceful
dancing of the leaves, branches, and trunks of the poplar trees in the fine
gardens opposite me, each with a rapturous motion like a circle of dervishes
at the touching of the breeze, pained my heart, grievous and melancholy at being
parted from the brothers and remaining alone. Suddenly I recollected the seasons
of autumn and winter and a heedlessness overcame me. I so pitied those graceful
poplars and living creatures swaying with perfect joy that my eyes filled with
tears. Since they reminded me of the separations and deaths beneath the ornamented
veil of the universe, the grief at a world full of deaths and separations pressed
down on me. Then suddenly, the light of the Muhammadan Truth came to my help
and changed that grief and melancholy into joy. Indeed, I am eternally grateful
to the person of Muhammad, upon him be peace and blessings, for the help and
consolation which came to me at that time, for only a single instance of the
boundless grace of that light for me, as for all believers and everyone. It
was as follows:
Picturing those blessed and delicate creatures to be trembling at death
and separation and going into non-existence in a fruitless season—which is
the view of the heedless—so heavily weighed on my feelings of passion for
permanence, love of beauty, and compassion for fellow-creatures and living
things, that it changed the world into a kind of hell and the mind into an
instrument of torture. Then, just at that point, the light which Muhammad,
upon him be peace and blessings, had brought as a gift for mankind lifted
the veil and showed in place of extinction, non-existence, nothingness, futility
and separations, meanings and purposes to the number of the leaves of the
poplars, results and duties which may be divided into certain sorts:
One sort of the duties of creatures relates to the Names of the Majestic
Maker. For example, just as if an engineer makes an extraordinary machine,
everyone applauds him, saying ‘What wonders God has willed! May God bless
him!’, so too, by carrying out its functions properly, the machine congratulates
and applauds its engineer. Everything, every living creature is a machine
of that kind, congratulating and applauding its Maker.
Another sort of purposes for the lives of things like poplar trees is that
they are each like a text, a book through study of which conscious living
beings acquire knowledge of God. Having left their meanings in the minds of
conscious beings, their forms in their memories and the tablets of the world
of symbols or immaterial forms, and on the records of the world of the Unseen
and in the sphere of existence, they depart from the material world and pass
into the world of the Unseen. That is, they are stripped of an apparent existence
and gain numerous existences pertaining to meanings, the Unseen and knowledge.
Indeed, since God’s existence and His Knowledge encompasses all things,
in truth, there is no room in the world of believers for non-existence, eternal
extinction, and annihilation and nothingness. As to the world of unbelievers,
it is full of types of non-existence, separations and extinctions. A widely
circulated proverb teaches this: For whom God exists, everything exists for
him; for whom God does not exist, nothing exists for him.
In short: Just as belief saves man from eternal punishment at the time
of death, so also it saves everyone’s particular world from the darkness of
extinction and non-existence. But unbelief, absolute denial of God in particular,
changes the pleasures of life to painful poi-sons, and terminates both man
and his particular world with death, casting him into dark pits like those
of Hell. Those who prefer the worldly life over the Hereafter should heed
this, and let them either find a solution for this or accept faith and save
themselves from fearful, eternal losses.
Glory be to You, we have no knowledge save that You have taught
us. Surely You are the All-Knowing, the All-Wise.
What follows demonstrates how belief in afterlife is essential for human
life, particularly social life, and summarizes one comprehensive proof from
among its numerous proofs, together with an explanation of how evident and indubitable
a matter it is:
Belief in the afterlife is the bedrock of social and individual human life,
the foundation of all felicity and achievement, because:
After belief in God, belief in the Resurrection has the primary place in
securing a peaceful social order. The one who does not believe that one day
he/she will be called to account for what he/she has done in the world, is not
usually expected to live an honest, upright life. But one who al-ways acts in
the conviction that he/she will give an account of his/her life before God in
the other world will certainly live a disciplined and upright life. The Qur’an
In whatever affair you may be, and whichever part of the Qur’an
you recite, and what-ever deed you do, We are witness over you when you are
deeply engrossed therein. Not an atom’s weight in the earth and in the heaven
escapes your Lord, nor is there any-thing smaller or greater, but it is in a
Manifest Book. (10:61)
Whatever we do is recorded by angels appointed to do that. In addition, God
has complete knowledge of all our deeds, intentions, thoughts, and imaginings.
An individual who lives in full consciousness of this will find true peace and
happiness in both worlds; a family and community made up of such individuals
will be as if living in Paradise.
Children are sensitive and delicate, very susceptible to misfortune,
and easily affected by what befalls themselves and their families. When a family
member dies or they are orphaned, their world darkens and they experience great
distress and despair. Of my sisters died during my childhood. I was so upset
that I frequently went to her grave and asked God from the bottom of my heart:
“O God! Please bring her back to life again and let me see her beautiful face
once more, or let me die so as to be reunited with her!” So, what else other
than belief in the Resurrection, in reunion with the loved ones who emigrated
to the other world, can compensate for the loss of parents, brothers and sisters,
and friends? Only when a child is convinced that his or her loved one has flown
to Paradise, to a much better life than this, and that one day they will be
reunited, will he or she find true consolation and begin to heal.
How can you compensate the elderly for their past years, their
long-ago childhood and youth? How can you console them for the loss of their
loved ones, friends, spouses, children or grandchildren who went to the other
world before them? How can you remove from their hearts the fear of death and
the grave, which is coming closer every day? How can you make them forget death,
which they feel so deeply? Can you console them with ever-new pleasures of life?
Only when they under-stand that the grave, an apparent open-mouth dragon waiting
for them, is really a door to another, much better world, or a lovely waiting-room
to that world, will they feel compensated and consoled for their losses.
The Qur’an voices the feelings of the old through Prophet Zechariah:
This is a mention of your Lord’s mercy unto His servant Zechariah;
when he invoked Him with a secret, sincere call, saying: “My Lord, my very bones
have become rotten and my head is shining with gray hair. My Lord! I have never
been disappointed in my prayer to You” (19:2-5).
Fearing that his kinsmen would not be sufficiently loyal to his mission after
his death, the Prophet Zechariah, asked his Lord for a son, an heir to his mission,
with that heart-rending appeal. This is the cry of all old people. Belief in
God and the Resurrection gives the old the good news: “Do not be afraid of death.
Death is not eternal extinction, but only a change of worlds, a discharge from
the distressing duties of the worldly life, and a passport to an eternal world
where all kinds of beau-ties and blessings are waiting for you. The Merciful
One Who sent you to the world, and has kept you alive therein for such a long
time, will not leave you in the darkness of the grave and dark corridors opening
on the other world. He will take you to His Presence and grant to you an eternal,
ever-happy life. He will bless you with bounties of Paradise.” Only such good
news can truly console the old and cause them to welcome death with a smile.
Humanity is a unique part of creation, for people can use their free will
to direct their lives. Free will is the manifestation of Divine Mercy. If our
free will is used properly by doing good deeds, we will be rewarded with the
fruits of Mercy. Belief in the Resurrection is a most important and compelling
factor that urges us to use our free will in the right way and refrain from
sin and from wronging and harming others.
When Caliph ‘Umar saw a young man bravely protest and resist
a wrong, he said: “Any people deprived of the young are doomed to extinction.”
Young people have a transforming energy. If you let them waste that energy in
trivial things and self-indulgence, you undermine your nation’s future. Belief
in the Resurrection prevents young people from committing atrocities and wasting
their energies on passing pleasures, and directs them to lead a disciplined,
useful, and virtuous life.
Belief in the Resurrection is a source of consolation for the ill
also. Suffering from an incur-able illness, a believing patient thinks: “I am
going. No one will be able to make me live longer. Fortunately, I am going to
a place where I will eternally recover my health and youth and everyone is doomed
to go howsoever.” It is on account of such belief that the beloved servants
of God, the Prophets and saints, have welcomed death with a joyful smile. The
Last of the Prophets, the Prophet Muhammad, upon him be peace and blessings,
uttered in his last minutes in the world: “O God! I am desirous of the eternal
company in the eternal world.” He had informed his Companions one day be-fore:
“God left to one of His servants the choice between enjoying the beauties of
the world as long as he wishes and what is with Him. The servant chose what
is with Him.”
The servant in question was the Messenger himself. The Companions understood
and burst into tears.
Similarly, when Caliph ‘Umar was ruler of a vast area stretching from the
western frontiers of Egypt to the Central Asia steppes, he prostrated to God
and sighed: “I can no longer fulfill my responsibility. Make me die and take
me to Your Presence!” This desire to go to the other world, the world of eternal
beauties, and being blessed with the vision of the Eternally Beautiful One caused
the Prophet, ‘Umar, and many others to prefer death to life in this world.
The world is a mixture of good and evil, right and wrong, beauty and ugliness,
and the oppressor and the oppressed. Many wrongs go unnoticed, and numerous
wronged people do not recover their rights. Only their belief in the Resurrection
into a world of absolute justice consoles such people. This belief prevents
them from seeking vengeance. The afflicted and those suffering misfortune also
find consolation, for they believe that whatever befalls them erases some of
their sins and that all that they have lost will be restored to them in the
Hereafter as a blessing, just as if they had given these items as alms.
Belief in the Resurrection changes a house into a garden of Paradise. In
a house where the young pursue their pleasures, children ignore religious sentiment
and practices, parents are engrossed in procuring ever more possessions, and
grandparents are sent to a poor-house or a nursing home, or left to shower their
love on pets instead of grandchildren. At least the pets show them love and
respect. In such a house, life is a heavy burden. Belief in the Resurrection
will remind everyone of their responsibilities toward each other, and will engender
a fragrance of mutual love, affection, and respect.
Belief in the Resurrection leads to mutual love and a deeper respect on the
part of spouses. Love based on physical beauty is temporary, and therefore of
little value. It usually disappears shortly after the marriage. But if the spouses
love each other and believe that their marriage is eternal, and that in the
other world they will be eternally young and beautiful, their love for each
other will not disappear when they age and lose their good looks. If family
life is based on belief in the Resurrection, that family will feel as if they
are living in Paradise. If a country’s social order is based on belief in the
Resurrection and the Day of Judgment, life in that country will be far better
than what Plato imagined in his Republic or al-Farabi (Alpharabios) in his
Al-Madinat al-Fadila (The City of Virtues). It will be like Madina in
the time of the Prophet, or the Muslim lands under the rule of Caliph ‘Umar.
One day a number of bright young people came to me, seeking an effective
deterrent to guard themselves against the danger arising from modern worldly
life, youth, and animalistic desires. As I had previously told other young people
who sought help, I also said to them:
Your youth will definitely disappear. If you do not restrict yourselves
within the limits of the lawful, it will be lost, and rather than its pleasures,
it will bring you suffering and calamities in this world, in the grave, and
in the Hereafter. If, under Islamic discipline, you use the blessings of youth
in gratitude, chastely and uprightly, and in worship, it will in effect remain
perpetually and be the cause of gaining eternal youth.
As for life, if it is without belief, or if belief, because of rebelliousness,
is ineffective, it will produce pain, sorrow, and grief far exceeding the
superficial, fleeting enjoyment and pleasure it brings. As an intelligent,
thinking being, a human being is (in contrast to animals) intrinsically connected
to the past and the future, as well as to the present time. He/she derives
both pain and pleasure from them. Since animals do not think, neither sorrow
arising from the past nor fear and anxiety concerning the future spoil their
present pleasure. But if a human being has fallen into misguidance and heedlessness,
sorrow arising from the past and anxiety about the future mar his/her particular
pleasure, diluting it with pain. Especially if it is an illicit pleasure,
then it is like an altogether poisonous honey. This means that, with respect
to the enjoyments of life, a human being is a hundred times lower than animals.
In fact, for the misguided, heedless people, their whole life and existence,
their whole world, consists of the day in which they find themselves. According
to their misguided belief, all of time past and all past worlds have gone
to non-existence. Their intellects, which connect them to the past and the
future, produce darkness for them. Accordingly with their lack of belief,
the future is also non-existent for them. The separation that become eternal
because of this non-existence continually darkens their lives.
In contrast, if they build their lives upon belief, then through the light
of belief, both the past and the future will be illuminated and acquire existence.
Like the present time, they provide, through belief, exalted spiritual pleasures
and lights of existence for their spirit and heart.
So, that is how life is. If you desire the pleasure and enjoyment of life,
animate your life with belief and adorn it with religious obligations. Maintain
it by abstaining from sin. As for the fearsome reality of death, which is
demonstrated by instances of death every day, in every place and time, I shall
explain it to you with a parable in the same way as I explained it to some
Suppose a gallows has been set up here in front of our eyes. Beside it
is a lottery office, one which gives tickets for truly high prizes. We are
here ten people, and willingly or unwillingly, shall certainly be invited
there. They may call us (since the appointed time is unknown) at any moment,
and say either: “Come and mount the gallows for execution!” or “A prize ticket
worth millions of dollars has come up for you; come and collect it!” While
we are waiting for either call, two people suddenly turn up. One of them holds
in his/her hand and offers some apparently very delicious, but in fact poisonous,
sweets, which he/she wants us to eat. The other is honest and solemn. He/she
enters behind the other, and says:
– I have brought you a talisman, a lesson. If you study it, and if you
do not eat the sweets, you will be saved from the gallows. With this talisman,
you will receive your ticket for the matchless prize. You see with your
own eyes that those who eat the sweets inevitably mount the gallows, and
furthermore, until they mount them, they suffer dreadful stomach pains from
the poison of the sweets. As for those who receive the ticket for the large
prize, it seems that they too mount the gallows. But millions of witnesses
testify that they are not hanged on the gal-lows; they use them as a step
to enter the prize arena easily. So, look from the windows! The highest
officials, the high-ranking persons concerned with this business announce
with loud voices: “Just as you see clearly with your own eyes those mounting
the gallows to be hanged, so also know with utmost certainty that those
with the talisman receive the ticket for the prize.
As in the parable, since the dissolute, religiously forbidden pleasures
of youth, which are like poisonous sweets, are the cause of losing belief—and
belief is the ticket to an eternal treasury and a document for everlasting
happiness—those who indulge in them are subject to death, which is like the
gallows, and to the tribulations of the grave, which is the door to eternal
darkness. The appointed hour of death is unknown. Therefore its executioner,
not differentiating between young and old, may come at any time to cut off
your head. If you have given up the religiously forbidden pleasures (which
are like the poisonous sweets) and acquired the Qur’anic talisman (belief
and performing religious obligations), 124,000 Prophets, upon them be peace,
together with innumerable saints, have pro-claimed that you will get to the
treasury of eternal happiness. They also have shown the signs and evidences
Youth will pass…
In short: Youth will pass. If it is wasted in indulgence, it results
in thousands of misfortunes and pains both in this world and the next. If
you want to understand how such youths end up in hospitals with mental and
physical diseases, mainly because of their abuse, and in prisons or hostels
for the destitute as a result of their excesses, and in bars because of the
distress provoked by their spiritual unease—then, go and inquire at the hospitals,
prisons, and cemeteries.
For sure, just as you will hear from most of the hospitals the moans and
groans of those ill from dissipation and debauchery resulting from the appetites
of youth, so also you will hear from the prisons the regretful sighs of unhappy
wretches suffering for illicit actions mostly resulting from the excesses
of their youth. Again, you will come to know that, as testified by the saints
who can discern the life of the grave, and affirmed by exacting scholars of
truth, most of the torments of the grave—that Intermediate Realm the doors
of which continuously open and shut for those who enter it—are the result
of misspent youth.
Also, ask the old and the sick, who form the majority of humanity. Most
certainly the great majority of them will answer you with grief and regret:
“Alas! We wasted our youth in frivolity, indeed harmfully. Be careful! Never
do as we did!” A human being who wastes his/her life for the sake of the illicit
pleasures of a short period of youth, subjects himself/herself to years of
grief and sorrow in this world, torment and harm in the Intermediate Realm,
and a severe punishment in the Hereafter.
So, you unfortunates who are addicted to the pleasures of worldly life
and, troubled about your future, struggle to secure it and your lives! If
you want pleasure, delight, happiness, and ease in this world, be content
with what is religiously lawful. That suffices for your enjoyment. You must
have understood from your experiences that in each pleasure forbidden by religion
lie a thousand pains. If the events of the future—for example, of fifty years
hence—were also shown in the cinema in the same way that they now show events
of the past, those who are now leading a dissipated life would weep with horror
and disgust at the things with which they entertain themselves.