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What is Islam?

     

Belief in the Last Day
Mohamed Helal 302

Belief in the Last Day

Belief in the Resurrection[1]
 

     That is, believing in the day of resurrection after death, and of the account and reward, either to Heaven or to Hell. What will happen on that day is unknown, except what is transmitted through the Qur’ān or hadith. Such affairs are of the unseen, in which Allah has commanded us to believe, as found in many verses of the Qur’ān and in the hadith.

Allah the Most High says,

“This is the Book in which there is no doubt, containing guidance for those who are mindful of Allah, who believe in the unseen, keep up the prayer, and spend out of what We have provided for them; those who believe in the revelation sent down to you [Muḩammad], and in what was sent before you; those who have firm faith in the Hereafter.” (Qur’ān, 2:2-4)

Allah the Most High also says,

“He is the One who originates creation and will re-originate it–this is even easier for Him.” (Qur’ān, 30:27)

In another verse, He says,

“The disbelievers claimed they would not be raised [from their death]. Say [Prophet], ‘Yes indeed you will! I swear by my Lord! You will be raised and then will be informed about everything you have done; that is an easy matter for Allah.” (Qur’ān, 64:7)

And again He says,

“Surely, the Hour will come; there is no doubt about that. Allah will raise the dead from their graves.” (Qur’ān, 22:7)

It is never known when the world shall come to an end, when the creation will be returned to Allah.

Allah the Most High says,

“They ask you [Prophet] about the Hour, ‘When will its appointed time be?’ Say, ‘My Lord alone has knowledge of it: He alone will reveal it when its time comes; heavy was its burden through the heavens and earth. Only all of a sudden will it come upon you.’ They ask you about it as if you were eager [to find out]. Say, ‘Allah alone has knowledge of when it will come, though most people do not know it.” (Qur’ān, 7:187)

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Eschatology (Sam`iyyat) [2]
 

Inference Approach to Eschatological Issues

     As made clear at the beginning of the doctrine of “Divinity” as part of the Islamic Articles of Faith, human reason can independently deduce theism and identify the Attributes of Perfection in general. In addition to their trust in the human instinct, which works as an alerting means guiding humanity to the existence of the Creator, theologians permitted the human reason a widely significant role in building arguments and inferences to substantiate the existence of the Maker insomuch that the rational arguments have become very common in this area. Their approaches varied in line with researchers’ different attitudes; some followed the approach of the early Muslim generations, others followed the example of the scholastic theologians and some followed in the footstep of the philosophers. As a result of the act of mind to draw effects with their causes, we have seen how easy the case of proving the existence of God is.

     Following this simple principle and applying it to the universe, as an effect and outcome will inevitably prove the existence of a Maker of the universe. Here, it is noticeable to assert that the existence of God is a rational case in the first place.[3] Such belief is not a doctrine that a believer receives from the Book or Hadith to keep in mind without any further activity in the sense that s/he can neither prove nor deny. Indeed, the human mind, as made evident, is well able, capable and authoritative in terms of the issue of the existence of God. As such, the scholars of theology have asserted that the Divine Existence is proven by rational evidence or is the fruition of human reasoning, which after contemplation and elaboration necessarily leads to a realization of the existence of the Creator. With regard to the eschatological issues, there is a special approach followed to substantiate their belief and found their faith. Before exploring the argumentative approach used in the eschatological issues, it is appropriate to review them by name. They mostly belong to the Last Day and its stages:

 Grave and Barzakh[4]

 Resurrection

 Reckoning

 Scales

 Siraat

 Paradise

 Hell

 Intercession

     A Muslim should generally believe in the facts of these issues. The question, however, is concerned with which approach a Muslim shall take to have faith in these issues; shall s/he take the way of human reason or another way? Indeed, the human reason is completely helpless when it comes to the vindication of these mentioned facts.[5] Unlike the issue of the existence of God, neither the Barzakh nor the events of the Last Day in all of its stages form any rational issue. As such, the knowledge of these issues is beyond the inborn knowledge. Likewise, they fall outside the perception of sensible matters, which a perceptive mind can reach. They all fall within the area of eschatology and metaphysics whose knowledge is entirely beyond the familiar methods of senses, minds and intrinsic nature. In consequence, the rational argument is of no avail with regard to the establishment of these facts of the unseen world. The only way left from which a human mind can receive certain information about these issues is Revelation or Shari’a. In other words, rational evidence is not the right way for humans to access knowledge of these facts. As far as this kind of knowledge is concerned, only the doctrinal texts of the Scriptures and the Prophets stand for acceptable means. Only revealed texts can stand as evidence in support of the belief in the actual undoubted existence of these matters. Here, the evidence lies in the news that the Prophet delivers from God.

     Belief in eschatological issues is a result of one’s belief in God and His Messengers. Evidently, to believe in God and His Messenger necessitates that you believe all the news told by the Prophet (PBUH) as part of the revealed message from God. When the Prophet (PBUH) tells that there are angels, resurrection, jinn, Paradise or Hellfire, it is indispensable to believe his statements and have firm faith in the facts he has delivered. Since belief in these issues is contingent on the news heard from the Prophets, they are called Sam‘iyyāt, i.e. eschatological matters only heard from Prophets. Never presume that since Sam‘iyyāt are proven by textual heard evidence that they must be in conflict with human intellect or with the main principles of human reasoning and its related approaches. Actually, the human intellect feels no qualm, conflict or contradiction when required to believe in life after death, accountability, judgment, reward and punishment, or paradise and hellfire.

     All the facts we hear about from the prophets in this area lie within the realm of rational possibility. Since the human reason cannot reach these facts in the future, it can neither deny nor oppose them. Really, a denier of these eschatological issues cannot provide any evidence to their impossibility or their being outside the area of occurrence. Sam‘iyyāt are all plausible issues, readily accepted by the human intellect and whose occurrence is intelligible when told by infallible Prophets who are unquestionably trustworthy.

1. Life in the Grave: Man has two forms of life; the first takes place in this world, which begins with human birth and ends when the human soul departs the body. The other life is that of the Afterlife; it begins with resurrection from graves and continues forever in Paradise or Hellfire. However, there is an intermediate period between these two forms of life, which is the life in the grave. It is called al-Ḥayat ul-Barzakhiyyah.[6] Barzakh signifies the barrier between two things; God Almighty says,

“There is a barrier behind all of them (who are dead) until the Day when they will be raised up.” (Qur’an, 23:100)

Two issues remain undiscussed, which are related to the life in graves, whose belief is unanimously agreed upon by all Muslims:

First: Questioning the dead by two angels

In support of this creed, the Prophet (peace be upon him) is quoted to have said, “When a servant of God is put into the grave, people turn away to depart her/him while s/he is still hearing the beats of their footsteps; then two angels will approach her/him and ask, “What do you say about this man (i.e. Muhammad)?” In response, the believer will say, “I bear witness that he is the servant of God and that he is His Messenger.” It will then be said to her/him, “Look upon your virtual place in the Fire. God has replaced it with a place in Paradise”. As such, s/he shall see them both. As for the unbeliever or the hypocrite, s/he will say in response to the two angels’ question, “Oh, I do not know. I used to say what people said.” It will be said to her/him, “May you never know or say! S/He will then be struck with an iron bar upon the head and scream with a voice that could be heard by everyone except for the human beings and the jinn.”[7]

Second: Grave’s Punishment and Reward

In support of this doctrine, God said about the punishment of the people of Pharaoh,

“They will be set before fire in the early morning and at nightfall, and on the Day when the Hour comes up, (it will be commanded), Make the People of the Pharaoh to enter into the strictest torment.” (Qur’an, 40:46)

     This verse displays two kinds of punishment: firstly, the punishment preceding the Day of Resurrection; it is a flaming fire ignited in the early morning and at nightfall. Secondly, there is a major punishment that follows the Day of Resurrection. The verse evidently tells that the first punishment takes place in the grave after burial and before the coming of the Last Hour.

     Another piece of evidence is also found in a Prophet’s statement; when one day he passed by two graves and referred to their inhabitants, saying, “They are experiencing punishment, even if their sins were not major ones: one of them never safeguarded himself from urine, whereas the other used to walk around spreading malicious gossips.”[8] The Prophet (PBUH) also said, “The Grave is nothing but a garden of Paradise or a pit of hellfire.”[9] In respect with the punishment of the Grave, Qadi ‘Aḍudiddīn al-Īji said, “Countless numbers of authentic prophetic statements prove it insomuch that the part they share reaches the degree of tawatur i.e. mass transmission, which avails certitude.”[10] In another context, he said, “As far as the Sunni creed is concerned, rise of the dead from their graves and the questions of the two angels, called “Munkar and Nakīr,” as well as the punishment that the unbeliever or the transgressor experiences in the grave are all part of the truthful doctrines that the early Muslim predecessors were unanimously in agreement on.”[11]

Belief in Resurrection

     Resurrection signifies the act of giving life back to the dead people and returning their souls to their bodies in the manner they had been in this world in order to call them accountable for their deeds and to be reward or punish them. In other words, resurrection is the return of the cells of the body to each other after their decomposition and mixture with dust. The soul then comes back to the body again. To sum up, resurrection comprises two steps:

1. A return of bodies to the previous status that preceded the occurrence of death.

2. A return of souls to the bodies as they had been in this world. These two steps constitute resurrection whereby life is given to the dead people to rise up from the graves.

Deniers of Resurrection

     A group of materialists and atheists of the past and present times deny resurrection. Despite their different locations and times, they hold it unlikely that life might be given back to the dead people or that they may rise up from their graves to be called into account for what they had done in this world. Denying resurrection is a type of atheism and is a result of denying the existence of Divinity and denying the Divine Omnipotence. Furthermore, this denial is an expression of short-sightedness and disorder in addressing major facts. Actually, the materialist deniers have no evidence whatever to prove their claim. Nothing is there but their conjectural exclusion of any ability which can bring about the return of life to bodies after they had fallen into decay and become cells in the dust. We can summarize the specious arguments of the materialist deniers of resurrection as follows:

1. It is unlikely that the decayed cells of bodies -currently dust- may turn to assume a human form with sight, senses and mind as it were in this world. Briefly, an inanimate dusty material is unlikely to become a living being again.

2. It is unlikely that a thing can restore life after suffering annihilation. When the entity of a thing suffers annihilation and decay, it is impossible, in their view, for it to exist again. For the materialists, death annihilates the very existence of the human soul. They hold that, like bodies, the souls perish and annihilate by death. However, this spurious argument is based on a paradoxical principle of the materialist philosophy: the human body is nothing but a composition of material parts and organs. As such, when these parts end, other human dimensions follow them and nothing is left there for resurrection or new creation to occur after death:

“When we are dust, will we surely be (raised) indeed in a new creation?” (Qur’an, 13:5)

“When we die and become dust (will we come back)? That is a far return!” (Qur’an, 50:3)

“They will say, ‘Will we surely be turned back to our former state, even when we become decayed bones?’.” (Qur’an, 79: 10-11)

“He has said, ‘Who will give life to the bones (after) they are rotten?’” (Qur’an, 36: 78)

“Does he promise you that when you die and become dust and bones that you will be brought out (of the graves)? Away, away with whatever you are promised! Decidedly, there is nothing except our present life. We die and we live, and in no way will we be made to rise again.” (Qur’an, 23: 35-37)

“They said, “Is it true that when we are bones and decomposed remains that we will indeed be made to rise again (as) a new creation?” (Qur’an, 17:49)

Qur’anic Evidence against Deniers of Resurrection

     Reviewing the Qur’anic verses on the assertion of resurrection, we first observe the Qur’anic accurate presentation of the specious arguments of the deniers of resurrection. The Qur’an blames them for narrow-mindedness and recklessly quick judgments. They only denied resurrection because they restricted their minds and perceptions to sensible phenomena and apparent causes and effects. If they skipped narrow material limits, they would eventually believe in God and acknowledge His Omnipotence. As far as the Qur’an is concerned, all the statements and arguments that the materialists have raised against belief in resurrection are nothing but conjecture and imagination; they have no connection whatever to real knowledge. Indeed, it is a form of disorderly thought that rose from invalid analogies in which the Afterlife is compared to the present life, although the two forms of life are radically different in all aspects:

“Have you seen him who has taken to him his prejudice to be his god? God let him go astray, although he had some knowledge, but He sealed his hearing and his heart and enveloped his eyesight. Who will then guide him ever after God? Will you then not be mindful? They have said, ‘In no way is there anything except our present life; we die and we live, and in no way is there anything that causes us to perish except Time.’ In no way do they have any knowledge about that; decidedly they do nothing except surmise.” (Qur’an, 45:23-24)

“In case you would wonder, then (really) wondrous is their saying, ‘When we are dust, will we surely be (raised) indeed in a new creation?’ Those are they who have disbelieved in their Lord and those will have the shackles on their necks, and those will be companions of the Fire; they are therein eternally (abiding).” (Qur’an, 13: 5)[12]

     The Noble Qur’an is assertively substantiating the fact of resurrection as one of the clear facts for which both revelation and sound reasoning bear witness. More often, the Qur’an describes “resurrection” as an undoubted fact as the deniers of resurrection cannot produce any trace of evidence in support of their denial. As such, the Qur’an uses two effective methods to prove resurrection:

(A) One is passive in which the Qur’an exposes the emptiness of the deniers of resurrection and their inability to set up any argument for their claims.

(B) The other is active whereby the Qur’an cites several plain arguments to refute the claims of the deniers of resurrection and, meanwhile, vindicate its occurrence.

Noticeably, the Noble Qur’an addresses two groups of deniers of resurrection:

The first group believes in divinity but denies God’s Omnipotence to give life to the dead people and raise them from graves.

The second group denies belief in God altogether and, consequently, resurrection.

     For the first group, they regard resurrection as a kind of superstition and ancient tales told to them and to their ancestors in the past. However, no case of resurrection ever happened as promised by prophets and messengers. In reply to this group, the Noble Qur’an spots their contradictory argument; they believe in God acknowledging His Dominion over the earth and the heavens with whatever they have and assert His All-Encompassing Omnipotence, then they still deny that He can give life to dead people and resurrect them. Actually, once a person recognizes the absolute powers of the Divine Omnipotence’s suitability for creation and recreation, then one’s refusal to acknowledge its competence to resurrection is a form of self-contradiction.

“They said, ‘When we die and become dust and bones, will we indeed be made to rise up again? Indeed, we and our fathers have already been promised this earlier; decidedly this is nothing except myths of the earliest (people).’ Say, ‘To whom does the earth belong, and whoever is in it, in case you know?’ They will say, ‘To God.’ Say, ‘Will you not then be mindful?’ Say, ‘Who is the Lord of the seven heavens and the Lord of the Ever-Magnificent Throne?’ They will say, ‘To God (all that belongs).’ Say, ‘Will you not then be pious?’ Say, ‘In whose hand is the dominion of everything, the one who gives protection while He is in no need of protection by anyone, in case you know?’ They will say, ‘To God (all that belongs).’ Say, ‘However then are you bewitched? No indeed, (but) We have come up to them with the Truth, and surely they are indeed liars.” (Qur’an, 23: 82-90)

     As for the other group, the atheists, the Qur’an refuted their specious arguments in detail. It is possible to summarize the Qur’anic counterevidence on this issue as follows:

1. The first creation testifies to recreation; dust was evidently made into man and the repetition is logically possible. In this argument, the Qur’an refutes their first specious argument that a decayed human body is unlikely to become a living being again. Here, the Qur’an draws their attention to the fact that resurrection is a recreation following the example of the first creation. Actually, deniers of resurrection acknowledge that the source of human existence is dust, which is a spiritless and inanimate substance. However, they become living creatures endowed with mind, spirit, hearing, sight and perception. In other words, the deniers of resurrection recognize the human’s first creation from dust and confusingly dismiss the idea of resurrection from dust as impossible:

“O you humankind, in case you are suspicious as to the resurrection, then surely We create you from dust, thereafter from a sperm-drop, thereafter from a clot (i.e., embryo), thereafter from a chewed up morsel in shapely created form and other than shapely created (from) that We make (it) evident for you.” (Qur’an, 22: 5)

“They said, ‘Is it (true) that when we are bones and decomposed remains that we will indeed be made to rise again (as) a new creation?’ Say, ‘Be stones, or iron, or (some) creation from among that which is (yet) greatly (admired) in your breasts!’ In response, they will soon say, ‘Who will bring us back?’ Say, ‘The One Who originated you the first time.’ Then, they will wag their heads at you and they will say, ‘When will it be?’ Say, ‘It may be drawing near.’” (Qur’an, 17:49-51)

     The indication of these two Qur’anic verses aims to refute the pseudo-arguments of the deniers of resurrection, who hold it impossible for the decayed body to return to life as it had been in this world.

2. The first creation is made of nothing whereas the second creation is a mere repetition

     In this argument, the Qur’an alerts the deniers of giving life to the vanished and decayed body that the first creation is simply made of nothing! All humankind acknowledges this fact: each human being certainly knows that his existence has a beginning before which s/he had been completely nothing:

“Has there come upon man a while of (an) era when he was not a thing to be remembered?” (Qur’an, 76:1)

     Given this fact, why do the deniers of resurrection dismiss human return to life as impossible? What difference is there between human’s two conditions and lives before creation in this world and recreation after death? The Qur’an here alerts that sound minds are more likely to believe in resurrection than in the first creation. Simply, the first creation rises from total nullity in which the human being has not the least trace of existence whereas resurrection is just a repetition of an already existed being. Undoubtedly, the One Who can create from perfect nullity is worthier of returning life to the decayed being; after all, repetition is easier than initiation:

“Man says, ‘When I have (already) died, will I indeed be eventually brought out alive?’ Does not man remember that We had created him earlier and that he was nothing?” (Qur’an, 19: 66-67)

“He has struck for Us a similitude and forgotten his creation. He has said, ‘Who will give life to the bones (after) they become rotten?’ Say, ‘He will give them life, (He) Who brought them into being the first time, and He is Ever-Knowing of every (kind) of creation.’” (Qur’an, 36: 78-79)[13]

“He is (the One) Who begins creation; thereafter He brings it back again, and it is much simpler for Him. He has the Most Exalted similitude in the heavens and the earth, and He is the Ever-Mighty, the Ever-Wise.” (Qur’an, 30: 27)

     In his commentary on this verse, Imam ur-Razi said, “Repetition of the creation (i.e. resurrection) is really easier than the origination of creation. Evidently, doing something for the first time may prove difficult but repeating it is normally easier…Origination includes the processes of creation and formation, whereas resurrection is a mere formation. Undoubtedly, one-step process is lighter than a two-step process.”[14] God Almighty says,

“Have they not seen that God, Who created the heavens and the earth and did not falter by their creation, is (always) Determiner over giving life to the dead? Yes, indeed, surely He is the Ever-Determiner of everything.” (Qur’an, 46: 33)

“Did We then falter by the first creation? No indeed, (but) they are in confoundedness as to a new creation.” (Qur’an, 50:15)

     Such verses illustrate plainly that the initiator of the first creation is undoubtedly able to repeat it again in the new creation without the least difference in ease. It is nothing but His Command “Be” and it is.

Belief in Gathering

     Gathering is an event that takes place on the Last Day following the stage of resurrection. It signifies the act of gathering the creations and driving them to the destined area where they will wait for accountability and judgment of disputes.[15] Asserting this doctrine, God Almighty states:

“The Day (when) the earth is cloven from above them as they (go forth) swiftly; that is mustering easy for Us.” (Qur’an, 50:44)

“We muster them so that We do not leave out any one of them.” (Qur’an, 18: 47)

“By your Lord, indeed, We will definitely muster them along with devils; thereafter indeed We will definitely present them (i.e., the disbelievers and the devils) forward around Hell abjectly kneeling.” (Qur’an, 19: 68)

     The Prophet (peace bu upon him) also says, “You will be assembled barefooted, naked and uncircumcised: ‘As We began the first creation, We shall repeat it.’” (Qur’an, 21:104) The first to be clothed on the Day of Resurrection will be Prophet Abraham, the Friend of God.”[16]

Belief in Reckoning, Deed Records, Scales, and Siraat [Bridge over Hell-Fire]

     It is essential to believe in four events of the Last Day. Al-Hisāb, i.e. reckoning, refers to divine judgment of people calling them accountable for their deeds, following their return to life after death, and questioning them in a manner only known to God.[17] God says,

“Near to humankind has drawn their reckoning, and they, in (a state of) heedlessness, are veering away.” (Qur’an, 21:1)

God also says,

“By your Lord, indeed We will definitely ask them all together, concerning whatever they were doing.” (Qur’an, 15: 92-93)

     Reckoning will be easy for some people and strictly difficult for others. Again, reckoning of some people will be gently in secrecy between a servant and His Lord, while others will suffer the shame of open reckoning witnessed by all.

     Records of deeds refer to the sheets in which the deeds of human beings are written down, including their beliefs, obligations and the like. People will receive their records of deeds with their hands; some with their right hands and others with the left, whereas still others will receive them from behind their backs. In this regard, God Almighty says:

“As for one whose book is brought to her/him in the right hand, s/he will then say, “(Now), here you are! Read my book.” (Qur’an, 69:19)

“As for one whose book is brought to her/him in the left (hand), s/he will then say, ‘Oh, I wish my book had not been brought to me. (Qur’an, 69:25)

“As for one who is brought his book behind the back, then s/he will call for detriment, and then will roast at Blaze.” (Qur’an, 84: 10-12)

It is also essential to believe in the Scales (mizān) and the weighing of one's deeds, as God says,

“We will lay down the equitable scales for the Day of Resurrection, so that not one soul will be done injustice concerning anything; even in case that be the weight of one grain of mustard-seed, We will come up with it. Sufficient are We for reckoners.” (Qur’an, 21:47)

He also says,

“Weight upon that Day is true (one); so the ones whose scales weigh heavy, then those are prosperous.” (Qur’an, 7:8)

     It is also an obligation to believe in Sirāt, which is a type of bridge set across a hellfire road leading to Paradise over which all people must pass, the earliest and the latest. As such, the people of paradise will safely pass over to paradise, whereas the companions of hellfire will miserly fall to hellfire:

“Decidedly not anyone of you (there is), except that s/he will go (herded) down to it [hellfire]; for your Lord, that has been a thing decreed, a sure necessity. Thereafter, We will safely deliver the ones who were pious and leave behind the unjust (ones), (abjectly) kneeling.” (Qur’an, 19: 71-72)

     The passage of people across the Sirat Bridge reveals their different ranks, conditions and deeds: “Some will pass over it (Sirat bridge placed on hellfire) as quick as the blink of an eye; some as quick as lightening; some as quick as winds; some as quick as running horses; some as quick as camel riders; some will run fast; some will walk and some will crawl across it. Others will be clutched forcibly and consigned to hellfire, since the Bridge is equipped with commanded hooks determined to seize categories of sinners because of their evildoings.” In illustration of this event, the Prophet (peace be upon him) says, “The Sirat Bridge will be placed over hellfire. I, with my followers, will be the first to pass over it. No one but the Messengers will be allowed to speak on that day. Yet, on that day, the Messengers will only say, ‘O God! Safety! Safety!’ Hellfire will have long hooks similar to the thorns of Sa‘dan (a thorny desert plant)… However, no one knows their sizes except God. They will seize people on account of their misdeeds.”[18]

Belief in Intercession

     Shafa‘ah, i.e. intercession, is the title of an Islamic doctrine signifying the act of appealing earnestly on others' behalf to bring about their salvation in the Hereafter. It is a form of accepted supplication. The Qur’an makes mention of shafa‘ah in several contexts:

“Who is there that intercedes for His Providence except by His Permission?” (Qur’an, 2:255)

“They do not intercede except for those with whom He is divinely satisfied.” (Qur’an, 21:28)

“Upon that Day intercession will not profit, except for one whom the All-Merciful has given permission, and with whose speech He is satisfied.” (Qur’an, 20:109)

     These Qur’anic verses are a clear indicative of the doctrine of Shafa‘ah, because for it to deny the occurrence of unpermitted Shafa‘ah implies that Shafa‘ah is allowed with permission. Evidently, the Qur’an proves this doctrine. Occurrence of Shafa‘ah has two conditions:

First: God's Permission to the intercessor to do Shafa‘ah; no one, whoever that may be, can undertake it without the permission of God.

Second: God's Satisfaction with the statement and action of the undertaker of Shafa‘ah. In other words, the one on her/his behalf intercession is made must be a believer; otherwise, no intercession may be accepted if s/he is a disbeliever or a polytheist. For example, God did not accept the prayers of Prophet Abraham for his disbelieving Father. Likewise, God did not accept the supplication of Prophet Noah for his son. When the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) besought God for disbelievers, He said to him,

“Ask forgiveness for them or do not; in case you ask forgiveness for them seventy times, God will never forgive them; that (is) for that they disbelieved in God and His Messenger; and God does not guide immoral people,” (Qur’an, 9:80)

     The merit of intercession is granted to Prophets for their peoples, to good people for the sinners and to fellow religious people for one another. It is narrated in al-Bukhari and Muslim that all people will have to cross the Bridge but only the righteous people will safely pass; some believing sinners will fall into Hellfire. As such, righteous believers will say, “Our Lord! Those are our fellow men; they used to pray with us, fast with us and do good deeds with us." In response, God will say, "Go and bring forth those who have a Dinar's (coin’s) weight of faith in their hearts.”[19]

Prophet Muhammad's Intercession for Muslims

     A Muslim believes that the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) will intercede for Muslims; He says, “I will be the first of people to intercede concerning Paradise and I will be the Prophet with the greatest numbers of followers.”[20] Indeed, the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) will have numerous forms of Shafa‘ah as follows:

1. Major Intercession: This is a universal intercession whereby the Prophet (PBUH) intercedes for all people of al-ḥashr, i.e. the Gathering, on the Last Day. The distress suffered by people will be too grave for them to endure; they will stand there for too long. As such, they will resort to the prophets, beseeching them for intercession with God to relieve them of this distressful situation and to set judgment amongst them to get relief and rest from distress and pains. In response, each prophet will excuse himself and feel wary to intercede with God. Eventually, they will go to the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) who will intercede for them. Immediately, God will accept his intercession and relieve people from this distressful situation. This kind of intercession is not limited to the followers of the Prophet (PBUH) but it is generally applicable to all humankind, believers and unbelievers. Since all people are relieved by this intercession and get benefit from it, it is called “ash-shafa‘atu l-Kubra” i.e. the Major Intercession or “ash-shafa‘atu l-‘uẕma”, i.e. the Great Intercession. It is also called the Honored Position, which the Prophet encouraged us to mention in our supplications following the call to prayers, so God will grant it to His Prophet: “Raise him (Prophet Muhammad) to an Honored Position which You have promised him.” It is a very special position only appropriate to a Prophet in line with God's Promise:

“…so that your Lord may raise you to an Honored Position.” (Qur’an, 17: 79)

2. Intercession admitting people of paradise into it[21]

These two kinds of intercession are only confined to the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him).

3. Intercession for doers of major sins, those who are consigned to a deserved punishment in hellfire. This intercession relieves them perfectly before torment or releases them out of the torment in case they are cast into it. It is not confined to the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH), as other prophets, martyrs, believers and righteous people have their shares in it.

Ibn Taymiyah averred that the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) is granted three kinds of intercessions.

The first intercession will take place in the Plain of Resurrection and God will pronounce His Judgments in response to this intercession. The Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) undertakes this glorious intercession after all prophets including Adam, Noah, Abraham, Moses, and Jesus the son of Mary, had expressed their inability to undertake it.

The second intercession will take place for the people of Paradise to allow them entry to Paradise. Both these forms of intercessions are exclusively granted to the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH).

The third form of intercession will be in relation to the ones whose deserved punishment is to be cast into Hell. The Prophet Muhammad (PBUH), other prophets and righteous people have their share in undertaking this intercession. They will intercede for those who are deservedly judged to enter Hellfire to relieve them from punishment before casting them into it and for those who have been already cast into it to be taken out.[22]

Belief in Paradise and Hell

     A Muslim has to believe in Paradise and Hell as the ultimate destination of all creation, humankind and jinn. Their life must eventually come to its destination, either in Paradise or in Hell where immortal happiness or immortal wretchedness begins. Qur’anic verses describing Paradise and its pleasures illustrating Hell and its punishments are numerous. As far as Paradise and Hell are concerned, the Muslim should believe in the following:

1. Paradise and Hell are materially extant facts. The enjoyments or punishments are equally tasted by both souls and bodies as proved by the Qur’anic verses in relation to this issue:

“Therein is a running spring, and upraised settees;, goblets are set forth there, and cushions ranged; carpets are outspread;” (Qur’an, 88: 12-16).

“Companions of the right; what are the companions of the right? [They will be] among the lote trees with thorns removed, banana trees layered [with fruit], shade extended, water poured out, fruit, abundant [and varied], neither limited [to season] nor forbidden, [upon] beds raised high. Indeed, We have produced them [i.e., the women of Paradise] in a [new] creation.” (Qur’an, 56: 27-34).

Likewise, in relation to illustration of Hell, the Qur’an states:

“Faces upon that day will be submissive, laboring, toiling— roasting at a Fire burning hot; watered from a hot boiling spring. No food will be brought for them except from cactus thorn; not to plum pen and of no avail against hunger.” (Qur’an, 88: 2-7)

     These Qur’anic descriptions leave no trace of doubt that both Paradise and Hell are real places in which life is sensible and perceptible, so the human body will have its share of enjoyment or punishment along with the soul, which will also experience joy or torture.[23]

2. All Muslims are unanimously in agreement that the enjoyment of Paradise is eternally everlasting. However, there is disagreement as to the eternity of Hell. The majority of Muslims hold the view that, like Paradise, Hell is eternally everlasting. Nevertheless, a group of scholars are of the opinion that the Qur’an has no ‘conclusively evident statement’ indicating the eternity of Hell; it only declares everlasting residence of disbelievers therein, which comes true by their residence in Hell so long as it exists. To sum up, there is no decisive statement in the Qur’an declaring the eternity or cessation of Hell.”[24]

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What is the conception of resurrection and final accountability in Islam? [25]
 

     Denial of the hereafter is not something new to this age. From early times, there have always been deniers of Prophets who accused them of madness because of their call to the belief in Resurrection and final accountability on the Day of Judgment. Those people would mock at nations believing in Prophets, saying,

“Away, away with whatever you are promised! Decidedly, there is nothing except our (present) lowly life. We die and we live, and in no way will we be made to rise again.” (Qur’ān, 23: 36-37)

     Unfortunately, our era gives validity to materialism and promotes the idea that religion has no logic grounds. Therefore, atheism has become prevalent nowadays. As such, people are heedless of the hereafter and devote themselves mostly to this temporal life. They rarely think seriously of the hereafter in conferences or view it as a basic truth. I do believe that having faith in the hereafter is one of the necessary requirements of faith in Allah. The belief in Allah’s existence requires the belief in His Omnipotence to bring the world back for its original state and to call all to accountability for their deeds:

“The Day every self will find whatever it has done of charity presented (forward) and whatever it has done of odious deeds. It would want that there were a far span between it and such deeds. Surely, Allah bids you beware Himself and Allah is Ever-Compassionate with (His) servants” (Qur’ān, 3: 30).

     Logically speaking, a peasant could replant a land again after harvest and an engineer could re-design a demolished house. Therefore, it is no difficulty on the part of the Creator to bring back the world when it has reached its defined end,

“They said, ‘Is it (true) that when we have become bones and decomposed remains, that we will indeed be made to rise again (as) a new creation?’ Say, ‘Be you stones, or iron, or (some) creation from among that which is (yet) greatly (admired) in your breasts!’ Then they will soon say, ‘Who will bring us back?’ Say, ‘The One who originated you the first time.” (Qur’ān, 17: 49-51)

     Had this been merely an unproved promise from the Creator of this universe, I would surely have believed it. Allah's great and miraculous creation reflects adequately this fact. Tens of thousands of embryos come out every minute with full organs and senses from wombs to life as divinely decreed.

     Could parents make up that being themselves? Who can create such sperm bearing physical and moral genetic features? Who can create the mother's egg with forefathers' features?

“So, have you then seen what you ejaculate? Is it you who create it or are We the Creators?” (Qur’ān, 56: 58-59)

     The creation of life in human, animal, and plant worlds is frequently repeated. Why do we repudiate the possibility of resurrection whose counterparts are repeated in the universe? Allah rebukes those who are intentionally oblivious to this fact,

“Indeed, you have already known the earliest bringing into being; if only you would have been mindful!” (Qur’ān, 56: 62)

     A widespread of ignorance is not a proof of its authenticity. Therefore, those denying Resurrection are really heedless or ignorant! Read this wise Qur’ānic call,

“O you man, surely you are exerting yourself to your Lord with great exertion. Then you will be meeting Him. So, as for him who is brought his book in his right (hand), then he will eventually be reckoned an easy reckoning and he will turn over to his family pleased. And as for him who is brought his book beyond his back, then he will call for detriment, and he will roast at a Blaze.” (Qur’ān, 84: 6-12)

     Life in this world cannot establish full justice. There are many ignorant criminals who are still being glorified. Meanwhile, there are geniuses who are being humiliated. Seventy-two thousand Arab Palestinian and Lebanese Muslims were killed in the recent war. Let us assume that the Arabs regained victory after long or short periods of years. Those criminals will have been dead at that time. Moreover, their descendants may be forgiven for such crimes, as Saladin did in the past. Alternatively, many may suffer punishment while they are innocent.

     The norms of the universe are beyond our logic. They have victims lost in their perpetual motion. The hereafter, however, is full of interesting incidents.

     A person, for instance, may be of high rank according to worldly standards, but valueless in the hereafter because of his sins. Some people descend from the summit to the bottom and vice versa,

“When the Event befalls, there is no lying about its befalling; Lowering (some), raising (others).” (Qur’ān, 56: 1-3)

     The hereafter represents the truth; it corrects the worldly situations with absolute justice. Allah deferred such full justice for a certain time. The hereafter reckoning should be an integral part of this worldly life, which requires endurance of difficult tests and trials.

     According to a Divine Ḥadīth, Allah answers the call of the oppressed, saying, “By My Might, I will help you (against the wrongdoer) even if it is after a while.” Similarly, Allah says regarding the victory of the believers over the unbelievers,

“So turn away from them for a while. And behold them; then they will eventually behold. Do they then seek to hasten Our torment? So when it comes down in their courtyard, then how odious will be the morning of them that are constantly warned! And turn away from them for a while.” (Qur’ān, 37: 174-178)

     In these statements, “for a while” is repeated twice in a similar context, because, unlike us, Allah does not hasten, but decrees according to His Wisdom. Moreover, Allah's universe codes are beyond our limited thinking. He has the absolute justice. According to Allah's just laws of reward and punishment, no weight of an atom of good or evil is lost or forgotten.

     To Islam, the Day of Judgment and resurrection has two stages: First: the world's collapse when, for instance, stars will give no light. The Messenger of Allah says, “Whoever wishes to look at the Day of Resurrection, as if he was seeing it with own eyes, then let him recite: ‘When the sun shrouded in darkness’ (Qur’ān, Ch. 81), ‘When the heaven is cleft sunder’ (Qur’ān, Ch. 82), and ‘When the heaven is split asunder.” (Qur’ān, Ch. 84)

     The panic at that time will be overwhelming to such an extent that people will be seen as drunk, though they are not drunk. The Hour will come suddenly while people engaged in their daily life affairs like selling and buying. Allah (may He be Exalted) says,

“They say, ‘When will this promise be, in case you are sincere?’ In no way are they awaiting anything except one shout to take them (away) as they are in constant adversaries. Then they will not be able to make any testament, nor will they return to their families.” (Qur’ān, 36: 48-50)

     The second stage is that of accountability for one's deeds done by all people from the beginning of creation until the end of worldly life. They will be mobilized to be rewarded or punished according their deeds!

     ‛Aliy ibn Abi-Țālib was asked, ‘How can Allah judge people on one day while they are so many?’ He replied, “In the same manner as He sustains them all on one day while they are many.” I think that time on that day will vanish like astronauts’ weightlessness. Immortality requires the absence of time. Allah Almighty will make people in general awareness enabling them to perceive the outcomes of deeds. This is similar to the case of a person watching to a recorded tape of his own actions. They will also perceive the ruling of Allah regarding their deeds. Then, every person will meet his just destiny:

“That is the day to which humankind is to be gathered, and that is a Day to be witnessed. And in no way do We defer it except to a term (already) fixed. The Day it comes up, no one will speak except by His permission. So (some) of them are wretched, and (some) happy.” (Qur’ān, 11: 103-105)

     Reward and punishment will be both physical and spiritual because man's deeds are done through the mechanisms of mind and body. Qur’ānic texts regarding the torture in the Hellfire or the blessings of Paradise should not be interpreted metaphorically. In fact, there is no justification for such a misleading interpretation.

     The material aspect in man is not to be looked down at as deviant philosophies uphold. Therefore, humans may enjoy both the material and the spiritual pleasure in Paradise. However, the spiritual aspect takes much priority for achieving Allah’s ever Contentment and attending the glories of divinity, “Surely the constantly-benign will indeed be in Bliss, on couches looking (about). You recognize in their faces the bloom of Bliss.” (Qur’ān, 83: 22-24) May Allah honor and bless us!

What is the meaning of barzakh and its significance in Islam?

It is widely known to believers that man is created from two different elements.

First: the body created from earth that eats from its products to grow up.

Second: the spirit divinely breathed into that body. He is neither an animal nor an angel. Man's entity is a mixture of contraries: physical instincts, and mental and emotional lofty faculties.

Dying, the human body comes back to earth from which it was grown and nurtured,

“Thereof We created you, and We will bring you back into it, and We bring you out of it on another occasion (i.e., a second time).” (Qur’ān, 20:55)

     However, the spirit has another unknown abode. We do not perceive the would-be relationship between it and the body. Would they depart one another? Would such spirit get back to the same body or another similar one upon resurrection? We have no clear-cut answers to those questions. Yet, we are sure that the human being will not perish! It departs from one world to another while maintaining full sense and consciousness. Though losing ears and eyes, it still can fully hear and see.

     Many people may be skilled in physical logic while they have limit or zero spiritual logic. Allah tells us that martyrs, although killed in battlefields and their bodies may be torn, are still alive despite their apparent death. According to the Qur’ān, they have five important characteristics:

1. They are still alive!

2. They are in noble neighborhood (gathering) near to the Lord of all worlds.

3. They are dwelled in a good dwelling and have good provisions.

4. They are pleased with their position and substantial divine grants given to them.

5. They are free from worries about their relatives or friends who are still alive and are sure that the earth's righteous living people will soon meet the heaven's righteous living people.

This finds support in the following Qur’ānic verse,

“Do not ever reckon the ones who have been killed in the way of Allah (as) dead; no indeed, they are alive in the Providence of their Lord, by Him provided. Exulting with what Allah has brought to them of His Grace, and cheered at the tidings (are) the ones who have not yet joined them, (who are) behind them that no fear shall be on them, nor will they grieve.” (Qur’ān, 3: 169-170)

Allah also says,

“Do not say of whomever are killed in the way of Allah ‘(they are) dead.’ No indeed; they are alive but you are not aware.” (Qur’ān, 2:154)

     Accordingly, we do not perceive this, only because we have limit audio and visual apparatus. This is further supported by the rule that ignorance of the existence of a certain thing does not entail nullifying its existence. Dead people are as similar as people's movement from one place to another. They travel to the hereafter where they will be resurrected to be taken to reckoning on the Great Day of Judgment.

Such intermediate or intervening stage is called barzakh[26] as mentioned in the Qur’ānic verse,

“Until when death comes to one of them, he says, ‘Lord! Return me, so that possibly I will do righteousness in that which I have left (behind).’ ‘No way! surely it is (only) a word he says, and beyond them (i.e., all humankind) is an isthmus until the Day they are made to rise again.’” (Qur’ān, 23: 99-100)

This is likened to the act of policemen with criminals when initially investigating and imprisoning them until they face a great trial in a court.

     The righteous barzakh fate is also similar to the genius scholars who are in neat room in wait for a reward for their scientific efforts. The righteous and the evil people are not alike. Evil people may be tortured temporarily in barzakh till the Day of Judgment. On the contrary, righteous people may have delight on the first barzakh day as the case with the martyrs whose souls would be green birds in lanterns suspended from the Throne, roaming freely in Paradise.

     Therefore, death is a journey from an earthly-seen life to an unseen life we are only told about. The companions of the Prophet realized this fact and were very certain of it. When Bilal was about to die, his wife screamed: What a calamity! Very happy with his would-be fate, Bilal screamed, "What a blessing! Tomorrow I will meet my beloved ones, Muḩammad and his Companions!

     In fact, death is a movement from a continually developing place. The death spheres receive generations coming back including grandfathers and their descendants. Hence, death-world is continuously expanding. It shows the outcomes of peoples' deeds and their moral status. It does not mean increasing numbers of graves, but rather means that descendants follow predecessors. All are in wait for the Great Resurrection.

Barzakh life begins when the soul quits the body. Contemplate on Allah's saying,

“If you could see, as the unjust (people) are in the perplexities of death and the Angels are stretching out their hands, "Get yourselves out! Today, you are recompensed with the torment of degradation for what you were saying against Allah other than the truth, and for waxing proud against His signs.” (Qur’ān, 6:93)

On that day, the punishment for contriving lies against Allah will be inflicted without delay.

Man has come to this life naked (i.e. having nothing), then he will leave it having no property, post or position or power,

“Indeed you have come to Us singly, as We created you the first time, and you have left whatever We granted you behind your backs.” (Qur’ān, 6:94)

     As much as being tyrant, man faces a fatal critical fate in the hereafter at the hands of powerful torture-angels for his corruption and tyranny. Therefore, at first stages of barzakh or on the first days in the grave, sinners are beaten and insulted so much. There will be no need for an initial trial for a sinner has been captured while dying on resisting the truth and fighting against its upholders: Messengers and righteous people. An evident example of this is the story of Pharaohs,

“The Fire. They will be set before it in the early morning and at nightfall, and on the Day when the Hour (comes) up, “Make the family of Pharaoh to enter into the strictest torment.” (Qur’ān, 40:46)

     Another example of this is the arrogance of Qurayshi pagans who died while fighting against the Prophet (Allah's peace and blessings be upon him) in the Battle of Badr:

“If you could see the Angels as they take up the ones who disbelieved, striking their faces and their hind parts and (saying), ‘Taste the torment of the burning. That (is) for what your hands have forwarded, and for that Allah is not in the least unjust to (His) slaves.’” (Qur’ān, 8: 50-51)

     The transgressors' dead bodies have been collected in an empty well. The Prophet stood at it and called loudly, “Have you found what your Lord promised to be true? Indeed I have found what my Lord promised me to be true.” They (the companions) said, 'O Messenger of Allah, are you calling out to people who have turned into rotten corpses?' He said, 'You do not hear what I say any better than they do, but they cannot answer.’”

     We cannot perceive the fate dead people are facing or similar unseen matters because the world of the dead is too big and dreadful. No soul will escape its way to Barzakh and a fatal recompense of its deeds whatever compassion its relatives, close friends, and followers have for it. Contemplate the status of the moribund person and the failure of those around him to save him:

“Had it been that when (the self of the dying person) reaches the gullet at that while of time you (sit) looking on. We are nearer to him than you, but you do not behold. Then had you been (sure) that, in case you are other than being doomed, make it return, if (ever) you are sincere?” (Qur’ān, 56: 83-86)

     It is beyond the scope of this context to expatiate on the meanings of verses and define those who are too nearer to the dead people than us! Human beings are helpless in confronting the authority of death and the phases of its judgment. Although death exposes life, our love of the latter blinds us. Our forgetfulness of recompense is more grievous and bitter! The dead, the scriptures tell, never come back to life. Even the martyrs of Uhud suffer the same destiny.

     Therefore, stories about spirits of the dead people coming back and telling people of their fate are untenable and suspicious. I have examined some of those stories attributed to speaking spirits and they are nonsense. They may be made by devils to trick humans!

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What about the signs of the Last Day as mentioned in the Prophet’s sayings (Ḥadīth)? [27]
 

     Before the end of life and the disappearance of all the aspects of life on this planet, many queer occurrences will take place. Some of them are pertaining to the Muslim nation which has long been entrusted with the task of guiding people, a mission that has never been properly accomplished. Other such events pertain to humanity at large; those human beings Allah has created in order for them to worship Him alone, but they rather preferred to follow their whims that enslaved them instead.

     By the end of history, materialistic progress will reach its peak and there will be abundance of money. Before the end of days, the earth will give out its hidden treasures to those for them they had long been saved. As if earth seems to have been fed up with such treasures, gold and silver will then be granted freely to those still living on its face. Therefore, naked barefooted vagabonds would vie with one another in the construction of high-rise buildings. There will be lots of skyscrapers, and ordinary people will be enjoying the luxury of kings’ lives! It is revealed in the following verse:

“When the earth has taken on its decoration and has adorned itself and its population surmise that they (are able to ) determine its course, Our command comes up to it by night or daytime, so We make it mown-down as if it did not flourish before.” (10:24)

Allah also says,

“And when the earth will be widely extended, and will cast forth what is in it and will void itself, and will listen (submissively) to its Lord” (84:3-4); and it will be truly bound to (do so).

     This is also mentioned in a Prophetic Hadith about the signs of the Last Hour: “The wealth will pour forth to such an extent that no one will accept it; a slave woman would give birth to her mistress and naked barefooted shepherds (poor people) would compete with one another in the construction of high buildings”.

     Some have mistakenly thought that such words make Islam appear as a religion that rejects the idea that the poor can make such improvements and become leaders. Certainly, this is a refuted falsehood since it is well-known that the Arabs themselves, the pioneers of the Muslim civilization, were mostly poor people who took pasturing as their main profession. It is not the poor who are meant, but rather the wicked people who progress through twisted unlawful ways, and hence they are granted positions of which they are unworthy. This is deducted from other Prophetic sayings such as the following Hadith: “The Last Hour will not come till the happiest member of a community is wicked and a descendant of equally wicked people”, i.e. the evil worthless members of a community. In another version of this Hadith, different wording is used: “The Last Hour will not come till the wicked are the only remaining who will inherit the earth’s treasures”; in still another version states, “The Last Hour will not come until there is no one on its face who declares his faith by saying ‘Allah, Allah’.”

     In fact, authority corruption is the worst type of corruption at all because it is through which that wicked people can destroy the moral codes and this, in turn, leads to bloodshed and slander. Most probably, this kind of corruption will plague the Muslim nation more than any other one. It was narrated that while the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) was busy in a discussion with his companions, a man asked, “When will the Last Hour come?” After the Messenger finished his discussion, he said: “Who asked that question?” The man replied, “It is me, O Messenger of Allah”. The Messenger (PBUH) said: “When leadership is given to people who are unworthy of it, then expect the Last Hour”. Unfortunately, those types of corruption exemplified in social and political disloyalties are deeply rooted in our history and they are likely to become more prevalent and more serious by the end of history. By the same token, one can come across a ruler whose father died in utter poverty while he happened to have gained power and authority. Ironically, the father’s unfulfilled dream was simply to ride a donkey, while the son now travels by planes which are also used to carry sweet and candies for his grandsons at the expense of his poor people and from the money allocated for them! Islam has really been plagued by such rulers and the like of them. Sham on them!

     There is lots of Hadiths that refer to the signs of the Last Hour. The following is an explanation for some of them. One of such signs is the descent of Jesus, the son of Mary. We, Muslims, reject the falsehood that makes of him a god or the son of God. This fact is mentioned in the Holy Qur’an:

“Decidedly he (Jesus) is nothing except a Servant We have favored, and made a similitude to the children of Israel.” (Qur’an, 43:59)

Allah also says,

“And surely he (Jesus) is indeed knowledge (indicating the closeness) of the Hour; so definitely do not wrangle about it, and closely follow Me. This is a straight path.” (Qur’an, 43:61).

     The previously-mentioned verses only allude to the return of Jesus shortly before the coming of the Last Hour. This sign, only implicitly referred to by the Holy Qur’an, is explicitly mentioned in a Holy Hadith. The Messenger of Allah (PBUH) said: “(I swear) By Him in Whose hand my life is, the son of Mary will soon descend among you as a just judge. He will break crosses, kill swine and abolish Islamic tax (Jizyah)”. Why would he then descend? So that he himself will prove the falsehood of the belief held by many that he is claimed to be a god.

     In another Hadith, it is mentioned that Jesus would descend amongst the Muslims, his true followers, with whom he would fight the crusaders, defeat them and topple their state. On the authority of Jābir ibn ‛Abdullāh, he said, “I heard the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) say, ‘A section of my people will not cease fighting for the Truth and will prevail till the Day of Resurrection. Then Jesus, son of Mary, will then descend among the Muslims and their leader would invite him to lead them in prayer, but he would say, ‘No, some amongst you are commanders over the others’.” This is in honor from Allah for this Muslim nation. This Hadith indicates that Jesus will not call for a new religion, for Islam is the concluding religion. As apparent form the Holy Qur’an, Jesus is now dead and there is not a single proof on the authenticity of those opinions paradoxically claiming that he is still alive somewhere on earth or in Heavens. I personally opt for this opinion of which most of the Muslim scholars have approved.

     Some other narrated Hadiths talk about another sign of the Last Hour which is the appearance of Dajjāl (the False Messiah or Anti-Christ). He would be the last of a chain of impostors and liars similarly claiming to be Allah’s messengers who receive His revelation or some sort of Mahdiy (claiming to be rightly-guided apostles) who are linked to and supported by Him. This is mentioned in the Holy Hadith: “The Last Hour will not come until there would arise about thirty impostors and liars, each one of them claiming that he is a messenger of Allah”. The last one of such imposters will be a Jew, a man of knowledge and power. He will probably claim that he is God himself. This does not sound odd when we are told that one of those imposters called Bahaa had dared to claim that he was the incarnation of God. Allah says,

“… those who wish to separate Allah from His Messengers.” (Qur’an, 4:150)

     The Prophetic tradition (Sunnah) warns against Dajjāl and his holocaust. It warns people against following the footsteps of this ugly one-eyed sort of a monster. There are many Hadiths about and his sedition which should be separately discussed. In this context, what concerns me most is that Hadith in which the Prophet (peace be upon him) said, “I have fears regarding my nation because of the misleading false leaders”. He also said, “In my nation there would be thirty liars and imposters who will all claim that they are prophets. I am the seal of the Prophets and there is no prophet after me”. The number is not literally meant but it indicates that there would be lots of such imposters who claim that they receive Allah’s revelation so as they can make of themselves leaders under the cloak of religion. There is definitely no revelation after the Seal of Prophets, Muhammad (PBUH). Those disguised under the cloak of religion outnumber those deceivers who play tricks just for mundane gains. In most cases, they are followed by big fans who are infatuated by them and who see them as doing miracles as if they were bewitched and obliged to obey their orders blindly by a magic spell. Nevertheless, our religion addresses people’s minds through an everlasting miracle directed to humanity at large (i.e. the Holy Qur’an).

     Those misleading leaders are the oppressors and dictators. Since such people, and the like of them, took authority, there has been a severe deviation in our history resulting from a discrepancy between knowledge and authority, or rather a separation between politics and culture. As a result, knowledge was divided into two branches; we have either Sufis who do not belong to any jurisprudence school or tough jurisprudents who are lacking in emotions as if they have no hearts! This deviation has increased to the extent that some Sufis began to lose their honesty and dedication. They came to be called founders of schools of Sufism. Faithful Jurisprudents, likewise, were succeeded by mere imitators who lack the sense of their predecessors and, therefore, they could neither figure out the wisdom implied in a given religious text nor carved to voice new religious opinions pertaining to any new religious dilemma! Both of them are shamefully lacking in handling worldly matters and mundane affairs. Consequently, it was inevitable that the Muslim nation had to be defeated by its enemies due to materialistic collapse and moral degeneration! I do remember a friend of mine saying, “The Europeans and Americans hate the Jews, but they scorn the Arabs! Why not? What is it worthy of respect that belongs to us?”

     In this context, another Hadith should be mentioned. The Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) said, “The people will soon summon one another to attack you as people when eating invite others to share their dish”. Someone asked, “Will that be because of our small numbers at that time?” He (PBUH) replied, “No! You will be numerous at that time; but you will be scum and rubbish like that carried down by a torrent; and Allah will take fear of you from the breasts of your enemy and cast wahn (enervation) into your hearts”. Someone asked, “What is enervation, Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him)? He (PBUH) replied, “Love of the world and dislike of death”.

     Another sign of the coming of the Last Hour is a rise of the sun from the west. The Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) said, “The Last Hour will not come before the sun rises from its place of setting. When it rises there and the people see it, all those who are on earth will believe. At that time, belief will not be accepted from anyone unless he has already believed, nor will anyone earn righteousness through such sudden faith”.

     Indeed, the regularity and monotonous rhythm of the cosmic system has long deceived the simple-minded human beings and blurred their visions so that they are blind to the power of their Lord who controls and operates this system. Due to this myopic vision, they just say that it is simply the natural course of life! They should have used their minds and consulted their hearts that could have led them to acknowledge the truth. Suddenly, when this familiar redundancy is over, they wake up in utter astonishment confessing: We now acknowledge the owner of this firmly-controlled cosmic system. Alas, it will then be of no benefit! After the occurrence of this astonishing astronomical sign of the sun’s reversed route, faith will no longer be accepted from a disbeliever, or good deeds from a corrupt person. The rise of the sun from the west is within Allah’s power Who causes other planets and stars to move regularly in their galaxies in complete compliance and submissiveness to the will of their Creator. There is no wonder then as He is the One Who has created them and He alone can strip them off their light and heat if He wills. When will this happen? It will happen when the Last Hour comes. Allah says in the Holy Qur’an,

“When the sun will be rolled up (i.e., folded; compressed). And when the stars will be turbid… A soul will then realize what it has brought forth.” (Qur’an, 81: 1-2…14)

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[1] Shaikh ‛Aṭiya Ṣaqr, Former Chairman of Al-Azhar Fatwa Committee, “Understanding Islam”, Al-Azhar Center for Translation (ACT), 2017, p. 34.

[2] Prof. Aḥmad Muḥammad Aṭ-Ṭayyeb, Grand Imam of Al-Azhar, “Essential Features of Islam”, Al-Azhar Center for Translation (ACT), 2017, p. 84-106. Though eschatology is its nearest English equivalent, Sam‘iyyat generally involves traditional religious tenets that are indemonstrable by way of reason. This is unlike eschatology, which is not only limited to issues related to the ultimate destiny of humankind. [Translator’s note]

[3] For Mu‘tazilite theologians, vindicating the existence of God and monotheism as well as the Divine Justice is only proved by means of human reason. The Shar‘ia texts then support and strengthen the conclusions of human reason. In other words, the texts do not stand as independent proofs for faith in this area. Simply, the truthfulness of the texts is a corollary of the establishment of monotheism and divine justice as well as the impossibility of attributing a lie to the Lord. As such, belief in monotheism and divine justice precedes belief in the truthfulness of the texts.

[4] Barzakh is an Arabic term used to refer to the intermediate period between the mortal life in this world and the immortal life in the Hereafter. (Translator’s note)

[5] However, rational arguments may be cited in support of all these issues, with the exception of the issue of resurrection.

[6] ‘Abdel-Halīm Ahmadi, al-‘Aqīdatu l-‘Islamiyyatu: Khaṣa’iṣuha wa ‘Athaaruha, (Islamic Belief: Features and Effects), p. 214.

[7] Fath ul-Bari, 3: 165, 188, 191.

[8] Al-Bukhari, Kitab ul-Wuḍū’, Chapter on “Cleaning after Urination”, 3:123.

[9] Tuhfat ul-Ahwazi Bi-Sharh it-Tirmidhi, 7: 160; Chapter on “Description of the Day of Resurrection”, (Hadith no. 2527).

[10] Al-Mawaqif: with the commentary of al-Jurjāni, 2:450.

[11] Ibid, 2:451.

[12] In their contemplation of the Qur’anic statement, “Those will have the shackles on their necks,” some Qur’anic exegetes hold that unbelief is like shackles and fetters that prevent one from reaching the correct knowledge. Forms of the shackles of disbelief include one’s overwhelming inclination to this world, worship of wealth, submission to personal desires and forgetfulness of God. All of these shackles lead a person to disbelief and denial. See al-Razi, Tafsīr, 19:10; Tafsīr ul-Mizān, 11:300.

[13] It is said that the man intended in this context is Ubay Ibn Khalaf. It is narrated that he once came to the Prophet (PBUH) with decayed bones in hand, which he crushed into pieces and threw it in the air, saying, “O Muhammad, do you claim that God will bring this back to life? In reply, the Prophet (PBUH) said, “Yes! God will cause you to die and resurrect you and, then, consign you to hellfire.” Ibn Kathīr’s Tafsīr ul-Qur’ān il-‘Aẓīm, 3: 581.

[14] Ibid, 25:119; when it comes to the Divine Omnipotence, all the existent things are equally the same; no thing is easier than the other. As such, the relative difference stressed in the noble verse only speaks of the perspective of our variable relative abilities that differ from an act to another; some are relatively easy and others are easier while some others are relatively difficult and others are more difficult. See the commentary of the author, 2:441.

[15] ‘Adnān Zarzūr, Dirasātun fi l-Fikri l-‘Islamiy, p. 212.

[16] Ibn Hajar’s Fath ul-Bari, 11: 234; the followers of different religions are unanimously in agreement that gathering the bodies is possible. However, philosophers have denied return of dead people to life, although they believe in final reward, punishment, paradise and hell. For them, only the souls will enjoy pleasures or suffer painful punishment, because the souls do not experience annihilation after death. This denial of philosophers is based on their principle that ‘Returning life to nonexistent things is impossible.’ Indeed, the controversial issue of returning nonexistent creatures to life is equally used as evidence by believers, as well as by deniers, of resurrection in justification of their respective stands. However, this principle of philosophers directly conflicts with the Qur’anic verses and authentic prophetic statements. Further to this point, scholastic theologians also held different views as to the return of bodies to life; do they return to life after nullity or after decay and decomposition into pieces in dust. See Imam al-Ghazali, Tahafutu l-Falasifah. Ed. Sulayman Donia, (Cairo: Dar ul-Ma‘arif), p. 308; al-Jurjaniy, Sharhu l-Mawaaqif, 2:442.

[17] Yahya Hashim Farghal, Asasiyyaaut l-‘Aqidaiti l-‘Islamiyyah, (Abu Dhabi: Maktabat ul-‘Ayn,), p. 117.

[18] Badr ud-Dīn al-‘Ayniy, Sharhu Saheeh il-Bukhariy. Chapter on “Merits of Prostration” (Beirut: Dar ul-Fikr, n.d.), 2:82; Saheeh Muslim. “Chapter on Faith”, (Beirut: Dar ul-Ma‘rifah), 1:113.

[19] M. Fuad Abdel-Baqi, al-Lu’lu’u wa l-Marjan, Kitabu ul-‘Imān, (Hadith: 115), 1:45-46.

[20] Saheeh Muslim, Chapter on “Faith”, (Beirut: Dar ul-Ma‘rifah), 1:130.

[21] They are only admitted into paradise after the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) enters it first. See ‘Abdul-Halīm Ahmadi, op. cit., p. 245.

[22] There is no difference amongst scholastic theologians about the first two kinds of intercession. However, they disputed over the third kind: intercession for the doers of major sins to relieve them from Hellfire before torment or take them out of it. Mu‘tazilite theologians have denied this intercession and some of them confined it to the doers of minor sins, rather than of major sins. Denial of the Mu’tazilites has come as a result of their belief in Necessary Accomplishment of Promises and Threats: “Protect yourselves against a Day (when) no one will recompense for another in anything and no intercession will be accepted from it.” (Qur’an, 2:48); “In no way will the wrongdoers have any intimate (friend) or any constant intercessor to be obeyed.” (Qur’an, 40: 18); “In no way will intercession of the intercessors profit them.” (Qur’an, 74:48) The Sunni School have made it plain that these verses were revealed in relation to the doers of major sins is. In support of this doctrine, the Prophet (peace be upon him) says, “My intercession will be for the doers of major sins among my people.” (Narrated by Ibn Majah, Kitab uz-Zuhd, vol.2, Hadith no. 4311). See, e.g., Qadi ‘Abdel-Jabbar, Sharh ul-Usūl il-Khamsah, p. 688 ff.; al-Juwayni’s al-Irshād, 394 ff.

[23] It is well known that Ibn Sīna (Avicenna) only believed in spiritual enjoyment or punishment to the exclusion of physical ones. Imam al-Ghazali related that Ibn Sīna denied physical Hell and Paradise, interpreting all physical descriptions revealed in the Qur’an as examples of similes given only to illustrate spiritual pleasures or torments to the minds of the mass. In this context, Imam al-Ghazali asserted that, “This attitude goes against the doctrines of the majority of Muslims.” Al-Ghazali refuted this philosophical trend incontrovertibly. See, al-Ghazali, Tahafutu l-Falasifa. 6th edition, p. 283 ff.

[24] Mahmūd Shaltūt, al-‘Islamu ‘Aqīdatan wa Sharī‘ah, p. 44. Ibn Taymiyah and Ibn al-Qayyem favor this opinion. For more information on this issue, see Muhammad Ibn Isma‘īl al-Amīr al-Ṣan‘ani, Raf‘ ul-Astāri li-Ibṭāli ‘Adillati ‘il-Qa’līna bi-Fanā’ in-Nār. (Beirut: al-Maktab al-Islami, 1984); al-Būṭi, Kubr al-Yaqīniyyāt il-Kawniyyah, p. 291-294.

[25] Muḩammad El-Ghazāli, “A Hundred Questions on Islam”, Al-Azhar Center for Translation (ACT), 2017, p. 34.

[26] It is an intermediary stage between the material or phenomenal world and the world of pure spirits. 

[27] Muḩammad El-Ghazāli, “A Hundred Questions on Islam”, Al-Azhar Center for Translation (ACT), 2017, p. 306.

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