Rotted away bones

Home Contents Search About us


Who will revive the bones when they are rotted away?

He said: ‘Who shall revive the bones when they are rotted away?’ Say: ‘He shall revive them, Who originated them the first time.’ He is Knower of all creation. (36:78)

An analogy: some individual assembles a huge army within one day before your eyes. If someone then said: ‘That individual has the power to re-assemble the troops in his army who dispersed them to their different rest, and re-order them in battalions’, and you answered: ‘I don’t believe it’, you know very well that your saying so would appear crazy. So too, the All- Powerful and All-Knowing, by His command ‘Be!’ and it is, out of nothing recorded and assigned to their places, as if they were an army, all the particles and the subtle constituents of the bodies of all animals and other animate creatures, and did so with perfect orderliness and balance; and He creates in every age, rather in every springtime, the hundreds of thousands of different species and groups of animate creatures that populate the face of the earth, each like an army. Surely such a Being can re-gather, with a single blast on the trumpet of Israfil, all the fundamental particles and original components that enjoy mutual acquaintance through their collective submission to the order of the body—which exceeds the order of any battalion. Were you then to say, ‘How is this possible?’, or were you to consider it improbable, would it not be irrational on your part?

In some places in the Qur’an, in order to impress upon the heart the wonder of that which He will accomplish in the Hereafter and to prepare the mind to accept and understand it, the All-Mighty presents to us the wonder of that which He accomplishes in this world by way of preparing us. In other places, He sometimes alludes to the wonderful deeds He will perform in the future and the Hereafter in such a fashion that we are convinced of them by analogy with the similar deeds we ob-serve in this world. One example is furnished by the verse,

Has not man seen that We have created him from a sperm-drop? Then lo, he is a manifest adversary. (36:77)

and the succeeding verses of the same sura. The Wise Qur’an thus establishes the matter of resurrection in seven or eight different forms.

It first directs man’s attention to his own origin, arguing: ‘You see how you progressed—from a drop of sperm to a drop of blood, to a blood clot suspended on the wall of the womb, from a suspended blood clot to a formless lump of flesh, and from a formless lump of flesh to human form—how, then, can you deny your second creation? It is just the same as the first, or even easier [for God to accomplish].’

God also refers to the great bounties He has granted to man, for example:

He Who made fire for you from the green tree. (36:80)

And He says to man: ‘Will the One Who has thus bestowed His bounty upon you, leave you free to behave in whatever way you wish and then enter in the grave to sleep permanently without rising again?’

The Qur’an also teaches us by the following similitude:

  • You see that trees come to life again and grow green. Your bones resemble dry branches, yet you refuse to recognize the likeness in the re-animation of those bones and regard their re-animation as utterly improbable.

The Qur’an also asks:

  • Is it conceivable that the One Who creates the heavens and earth should not have power over the life and death of man, the fruit of the heavens and earth? Do you seriously suppose that He would render futile and fruitless the tree of creation that He shaped with purposive wisdom in all its parts, by forsaking the high purpose and issue of that tree, man?

The Qur’an also says:

  • The One Who will restore you to life at the Resurrection is the One before Whom the whole creation together is like His obedient soldier: it bows its head submissively whenever it hears the command ‘Be!’ and it is.’
  • To create the whole spring is as easy for Him as to create an individual flower. To create all animals is as easy for His Power as to create a fly. None should defy or diminish His Power by daring to say: ‘Who will revive the bones?’
  • Then, by the verse,

    Glory be to Him in Whose hand is the dominion over all things. (36:83)
  • the Qur’an affirms that He controls everything and the key to all things is in His pos-session. He turns over night and day, winter and summer, with as much ease as if He were turning a page in a book. He is All-Powerful, Majestic. As if two stations, He closes up the world and opens the Hereafter. So, following from the arguments mentioned, To Him you shall be returned65, that is, He will bring you back to life from your graves, take you to the Plain of Resurrection, and judge you in His majestic Presence.

Examples in the world of God’s actions in the Hereafter

By making analogies to the Resurrection in worldly processes, these verses ready the heart and mind to accept the reality of the Resurrection. However, the Qur’an sometimes alludes to God’s actions in the Hereafter in a manner that draws attention to their worldly parallels—in this way no room may be left for doubt and denial. Examples are to be found in the suras initiated by the verses,

When the sun is rolled up. (81:1)

When the heaven is cleft asunder. (82:1)

When the heaven is torn asunder. (84:1)

In these suras, the All-Mighty alludes to the Resurrection and to the vast revolutions and Lordly deeds that shall take place at that time, in images that enable man to recall their worldly analogies—scenes that he has witnessed in autumn or spring—and then, with awe in his heart, man easily accepts what the intellect might otherwise refuse. Even to indicate the general meaning of the three suras just mentioned would take very long. Let us, then, simply take one verse as a specimen of the whole. The verse, When the pages are spread out, (81:10) implies:

The earthly example of the verse “When the pages are spread out”

With the Resurrection, everyone’s deeds will be revealed on a written page.’ This at first strikes one as very strange and quite incomprehensible. But as the sura indicates, just as the renewal of spring is a parallel to another resurrection, so too the ‘spreading out of the pages’ has a very clear parallel. Every fruit-bearing tree, every flowering plant has its properties and functions and deeds. It performs its worship according to the kind of its glorification of God and that is its manifesting His Names. Now, all of its deeds and the record of its life are inscribed in each of the seeds that is to emerge next spring in another plot of soil. With the tongue of shape and form, the trees or flowering plants [growing from the seeds that were buried in earth in the previous autumn] make eloquent ex-position of the life and deeds of their origin, that is, the original tree or flowering plant, and through the branches, twigs, leaves, flowers and fruits they produce, they spread out the page of its deeds. He Who says ‘When the pages are spread out’ is the same Being Who, before our eyes, achieves these feats in a very wise, prudent, efficient and subtle way, as is dictated by His Names the All-Wise, the All-Preserving, the All-Sustaining and Training, and the All-Subtle.1

Follow up other issues of the Resurrection by analogy with this, and deduce the truth if you are able. However, in order to help you reach the truth, I will add the following:

“When the sun is folded up.”

The verse When the sun is folded up, in addition to referring to a brilliant image by the phrasal verb ‘fold up’, also alludes to its parallel in the world.

First: The All-Mighty drew aside the veils of non-being, then of ether and the heavens to bring forth from His treasury of Mercy and show to the world a jewel-like lamp—the sun—to lighten that world. After closing the world, He will wrap that jewel again in its veils and remove it.

Second: The sun may be considered as an official charged with the task of diffusing light and alternately winding light and darkness round the head of the earth. Every evening that official is ordered to gather up his commodity—the light—and be concealed. That official sometimes does little business because of a veil of cloud and sometimes the moon also forms a veil before him, preventing him from carrying out his task completely. Just as that official regularly has his goods and ledgers gathered up in this world, so also one day will come when he will be relieved of his duties. Even if there were no reason for his dismissal, the two spots on his face—now small and liable to grow—may grow to the point that he—the sun—will take back, by the command of his Lord, the light that he wraps round the head of earth by God’s leave, and God will wrap that light round his own head, saying: ‘Come, you have no more duty to do concerning the earth. Journey to Hell, and burn there those who have worshipped you and thus mocked with faithlessness an obedient servant like you.’

With its dark, scarred face, the sun announces the decree: When the sun is rolled up.

1. Since the Qur’an addresses all times and peoples of different level of understanding, it could naturally not be expected to explicitly mention the recording of sounds and images on tapes and their being reproduced on cassette-players or TV screens. However, the recording of sounds and images and their reproduction on either cassette-players or TV screens are a decisive argument for the ‘spreading out of the pages of people’s deeds on the Day of Judgment.


Back | Home | Up | Next