Afterlife (Ma’ad)

As other axioms, afterlife (Ma’ad) is one of the first requisites for stepping into the religion of Islam and is defined as the existence of another world that creatures enter after their death, where they experience an eternal life. It is noteworthy that the belief in receiving revelation and prophethood (Nubuwwah) builds the foundation of this axiom; in other words, one cannot find acceptance in afterlife unless he comes to faith in prophethood and more importantly, monotheism (Tawhid).

 

 

Nevertheless, prophets didn’t come to impose the idea of Ma’ad on their followers, rather led people’s mind to ponder on this issue and recognize its validity. The reason for this concept to be considered as an axiom is that Islam not only wants us to have faith in afterlife dependent on the belief in prophethood, but also through individual and conscious investigation.

 

 

How to Find Faith in the Afterlife?

 

Aside from revelations that prophets received, there are some other ways and proofs for coming to believe in afterlife which is the result of the intellectual and scientific efforts of human beings, including: the knowledge of God, universe and human’s soul. Here we will briefly introduce each of these ways.

 

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1. God’s Attributes  

 

This argument which is based on the axiom of monotheism (Tawhid) -God exists and is the only One and should be accepted through rational thinking -  , claims that God cannot be considered perfect and wise, unless we believe in the existence of a world beyond this material world, an afterlife. In other words, without afterlife the whole creation will become meaningless and vain.

 

 

If we find a wisdom governing the universe, then it necessitates the existence of another world which complements creation and forms a part of it. But why? We justify this issue based on God’s attributes.

 

 

Divine Justice

 

God is just and has built the foundation of universe, heaven and earth on Justice. Human’s life, also, is placed within this just order; therefore, God’s justice requires every creature to be endowed with what they deserve in order to avoid denying their right.

 

 

The reward of many good deeds is not obtained in this world, just as many sins that cannot be punished thoroughly during this earthly life. Accordingly, since this world is limited and does not have the capacity to provide human beings with their deserved rewards or punishments, another world with infinite and unlimited time must exist in order to make up for the rights that people have not acquired in this world.

 

 

Divine Wisdom

 

Wisdom is attributed to one whose deeds are always purposeful and would result in a specific and clear goal. Therefore, the wise God does not commit any absurd or nonsensical deed, otherwise his action would be the result of his ignorance and lack of knowledge.

 

 

Moreover, the creation will not be meaningless, if it leads to eternity; if the creatures have been created for eternity and permanent endowment from God, then it shows an existence – as opposed to nothingness, inexistence – and continuity, thus it would not be absurd.   

 

 

In addition, he has created every creature for a special purpose and has provided them with the means of reaching it. If He has endowed them with certain desires and capacities, then surely He has anticipated the appropriate answer for them, too.

 

 

For instance, in response to the urge for thirst or hunger in animals, He has created water and food in order to satisfy this need of them. Similarly, He has bestowed upon human beings the desire for immortality and eternal perfections; most of us feel the urge for eternity and unending life, as well as everything good in its best way.

 

 

If there were no way of reaching these desires, then why would God have placed them in human beings? These feelings do not fit into this earthly life and cannot be satisfied here; our All-wise God has for sure devised a plan for mankind to fulfill these needs, that is creating a world where they are able to experience everlasting life and achieve what they long for in their perfect forms.

 

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2. Universal Phenomena

 

Looking around, we can find many instances that remind us of Resurrection and revival of human beings in the afterlife. The very first thing that comes to mind when we think about the creation of universe, is that the same power and wisdom that has created this world, also has the power and ability to create another one. When we compare this power to our own capabilities, the occurrence of afterlife seems far-fetched, however by the omnipotent being who has brought this world into life, this act is not at all infeasible.

 

 

Moreover, we are faced with many incidents in this world, on a daily basis, which are fairly similar to what will happen in the afterlife; we have seen them so many times that we have got used to their happening and consider them typical and insignificant, however at a closer look, we can find out the systematic and repeated order that governs the universe.

 

 

We constantly experience the cycle of life and death in nature with the change of seasons, that with the coming of winter and autumn everything - trees, flowers, etc. - on earth seems to be dying, and by spring, the sky sends its drops of rain to awake the hibernating earth and bestows a new breath on it.

 

 

Considering God’s power, the afterlife thus is neither impossible to happen, nor something beyond our understanding or illogical based on the events that take place in the universe.

 

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3. Human Being’s Soul

 

What we as human beings consider as our “self” or “I” is in fact a fixed and permanent fact. This “I” is actually the soul in mankind which is an immaterial and unchanging reality and has every action of the body under its control.

 

 

The axiom of afterlife cannot be accepted unless one has a belief in the existence of a soul in human beings independent of their body, which is responsible for their conscious choices and deliberate actions. Otherwise the belief in afterlife is not possible, since if we see human beings as only this body that would be destroyed and diminished by death, then we cannot expect them to be revived exactly as the same; the human being that will be brought to life again would be for sure a different creature.

 

 

The only valid assumption would be that when a person dies his soul continues to exist until it returns to the body. Accordingly, the issue of afterlife is justifiable through the knowledge of human being’s reality which leads us to consider him as an immortal and infinite being.

 

 

 

Furthermore, as it was mentioned above, human beings are endowed with certain capacities - desire for immortality, to have eternal perfections - which are not fully compatible with the characteristics of this world and require another world for their fulfilment. If there were no resurrection for human beings, then his creation would be pointless from the very beginning, since his perfection has not manifested itself in this world and the means of receiving this goal would become useless and in vain. 

 

 

To conclude, the aim of creation is going back toward God and to attend His final judgment among His creatures on the Resurrection Day; everything in this world has been created to return to its God, reach eternity and never fail to exist.

 

 

They have come to life in order to pursue the path to their perfection and ultimately join God Almighty. It is noteworthy that afterlife is not considered as dependent and the result of this world, but rather as a necessity and introductory for this earthly life; God has created this Universe, especially human beings with their extraordinary capacities - the power of mind, the urge for seeking God and joining Him, etc.-, for becoming immortal in the afterlife and reaching the summit of their capabilities and eternal bliss; thus this world only provides the ground for the ultimate goal of creation. Afterlife is the final destination of creation and this world is only a temporary dwelling.