Almost everyone is scared of death; Even those who may commit suicide in a specific mental condition. If a physician tells us that we have an unknown disease and we will only live for a few more months, we would panic and stop living our normal life (we might live better or worse).
The reason that makes most of us scared of death is that we think all the things that we have tried to gain in this life, such as our belongings, our beloveds, our success, and experiences are going to disappear after death. Or that there is still a lot for us in this world to experience, achieve and enjoy.
However, this fear of death is mostly because the other world and the life after death are quite unknown to us, but if we come to understand the afterlife, we may even become eager to fulfill our duties in this life and get ready to travel to the other world.
Now, let’s see if it is true that we will lose everything after death and also what Islam says about death and the life after it.
Having faith in the afterlife (Ma’ad) is so important that it is one of the pillars of Islam. The main reason is that it is by believing in the fact that we will be resurrected after death and we will be held responsible for all of our actions, that we are careful about our manners and behaviors in this worldly life. It is mainly this idea that shapes our lifestyle and our relations with God, people, environment, etc.
We usually take the earthly life very seriously, as if there is nothing more significant than our goals, actions, and relations in this world. Although the way we live in this world is significant and it is our worldly actions that shape our lives in the hereafter, the Quran emphasizes that the real life is to come: “The life of this world is nothing but diversion and play, but the abode of the Hereafter is indeed Life (itself), had they known!” (29:64)
“Then He made him die and buried him” (80: 21).
After we are dead and buried in a grave, our grave phase starts. But how is this phase?
It is narrated that “the grave is either a garden from heaven’s gardens or a corner of hell” .
When the dead person is buried, he will not feel suffocated, but he will experience a sort of pressure that is indescribable for people in this world as if he is being squeezed to pass a needle hole. This pressure would work as a purifier for believers but unbelievers has nothing but pain and sorrow .
This pressure does not belong to those people who are buried, but every dead person will have this experience, even if they are dead hung or burnt into ashes. The pressure belongs to the soul, and every soul will go through the experiences of the afterlife .
But does everyone experience the grave pressure? It is narrated from Imam Sadiq (AS) that only very few people will be saved from going through this pressure .
Some of the reasons that will increase the grave pressure are backbiting, gossiping, disrespecting parents, usury, immorality, unpleasant manner towards family and friends, devastating the rights of other humans, etc. , while behaving based on Islamic teachings and ethics will reduce the grave pressure.
When the dead person is buried, his/ her soul will leave the body but will still stay close to it. So he/she can see the burial ceremony and what is going on around. When his/ her relatives leave the grave, he/she finds him/herself alone in the dark and small grave.
Here, people are divided into three groups: perfect believers, complete atheists, the middle ones. The first group will start their heavenly life right away, the second group will start their eternal life in hell, and the middle that includes the majority of people will remain in hope and fear until the Resurrection Day when their situation will be determined .
The first and the second group will experience the grave questioning by two angels; Nakir and Munkar so that they quickly start their eternal life in heaven or hell. But the third group will not be questioned until the Judgment Day .
It is narrated from Imam Sadiq (AS) that limbo (Barzakh) means human’s grave from the time he dies until the day he is resurrected . We know that most human bodies will be destroyed after some time in the grave, but what happens to the soul?
Based on the fact that the limbo (Barzakh) is a place between this life and the other life, and that all human beings, even those who are burnt to ashes or those who are hunted and eaten by animals will experience the limbo (Barzakh), we can conclude that the life in the grave -mentioned as limbo (Barzakh) life- is not limited to the grave. So what and how is limbo (Barzakh) life?
Right after death, the human soul directly enters a new life in which he/she can feel everything. They can have pleasure and sorrow which is based on their actions and behaviors in their worldly life.
Therefore, human experiences two lives after death. One is the limbo (Barzakh) life that would end like our earthly life: “And before them is a barrier until the day they will be resurrected” (23:100), and the other is the eternal life that starts on the Day of Resurrection and people may go to eternal hell or eternal heaven based on their worldly actions .
“And because the Hour is bound to come, there is no doubt in it, and Allah will resurrect those who are in the graves.” (22: 7)
The Day of Resurrection does not only belong to human beings. All creatures will be resurrected on that day . On the Day of Resurrection, people will be queued to be questioned about their actions and to be sent to their eternal place. This day is not like our worldly days that are 24 hours. But as stated in the Quran “He directs the command from the heaven to the earth; then it ascends toward Him in a day whose span is a thousand years by your reckoning” (32: 5). And in another verse, it is stated that: “The angels and the Spirit ascend to Him in a day whose span is fifty thousand years” (70: 4).
Imam Sadiq (AS) was asked: “why is that in one verse Allah says that the Day of Judgment is equal to a thousand years and in another verse, it is said to be equal to fifty thousand years?” Imam (AS) answered: “On the Day of Resurrection there are fifty stops, each of them equals a thousand years of this world” .
It is on this day that people face their worldly actions: “The day when every soul will find present whatever good it has done; and as for the evil, it has done, it will wish there were a far distance between it and itself. Allah warns you to beware of [disobeying] Him, and Allah is most kind to [His] servants” (3: 30).
Unlike limbo (Barzakh) in which people wait to be resurrected and transported to a new world, the afterlife, which comes after the Day of Resurrection is eternal. Unlike this world in which we have to work and gain for the next life; in the eternal heaven there is no tiredness, nor sorrow, nor pain, nor hardship; “to remain in them [forever]; they will not seek to leave it for another place” (18: 108).
So, in the afterlife, people may become eternal in heaven or hell [i]. However, not all of those who go to hell will be eternal there, as it is narrated from the Imam Sadiq (AS) that “on the Day of Resurrection, God will expand His mercy so generously that even Iblis (Satan) will be greedy to receive it .
The role of remembering death in improving the worldly life and therefore the life in the hereafter is very important. Imam Ali (AS) says: “when deciding to do evil actions, remember death as it destroys the pleasures and weakens the desires” . But what is the most important benefit of remembering death?
If we do not believe in another life and remember death as the end of existence, then many things in life may sound vain for us, and we may even lose our motivation to keep on having a good life. But when we believe that there is another life which is the real life, our actions in this world become more meaningful and targeted. Allah says in the Quran: “Did you suppose that We created you aimlessly and that you will not be brought back to Us?” (23: 115)
When we believe that there is no life after death, we might face many anxieties, disappointments and live an aimless life. But keeping in mind that whatever we do is being seen by God and recorded by Him, we will have more motivation to do good things, even if no one in this world cares about us.
“They say, ‘There is nothing but the life of this world: we live, and we die, and nothing but time destroys us.’ But they do not have any knowledge of that, and they only make conjectures… Say, ‘It is Allah who gives you life, then He makes you die. Then He will gather you on the Day of Resurrection, in which there is no doubt. But most people do not know” (45: 24-6).
[i] Read about the concept of eternal life here: http://blog.holymoodpictures.com
- Allamah Majlesi, Bihar al-anwar, vol. 6. Chapter Sakarat al-mawt, narration No. 19
- Bahmanpour, Mohammad Saeed, (2012) Naseem- e Abadiyyat, p. 34
- Shaikh Al-Sadouq, Man la yahzuruhu Al-faqih, vol. 1, p. 279
- Allamah Majlesi , Bihar Al-Anwar, vol. 6, p. 260
- Allamah Majlesi , Bihar Al-Anwar, vol. 5, p. 265
- Bahmanpour, Mohammad Saeed, (2012) Naseem- e Abadiyyat, p. 41
- Allamah Majlesi Bihar al-anwar, vol. 6. Chapter Ahwal-e barzakh, narration No. 116
- Mutahhari, Murtaza, Life after death, Vol. 3, p. 504
- An’aam (6), Verse No. 38
- Allamah Majlesi Bihar al-anwar, vol. 7, p. 126
- Allamah Majlesi , Bihar Al-Anwar, vol. 7, p. 287
- Nahjul balagha, sermon No. 99
Judaism in Islam is considered as one of the most significant monotheistic religions, and many verses of Quran are dedicated to describing the fate of the followers of this religion. In different verses of the Holy Quran, when Allah wants to mention people of Moses, He calls them “Children of Israel” (Bani-Israel). The reason for which is that they were the generation of Prophet Jacob or Israel (PBUH), who at the time of Prophet Joseph (PBUH), migrated to Egypt and settled there for years .
After Pharaohs gained power in Egypt, they started violence against the immigrant generation of Israel by “slaughtering their sons and sparing their women” (28: 4).
Then after so many years, during which Bani-Israel were waiting for a deliverer, Moses was appointed to save them and deliver them from Egypt to the holy land: “O my people, enter the Holy Land which Allah has ordained for you, and do not turn your backs, or you will become losers’” (5: 21). They did not accept to enter the holy land as they were afraid of the people of that land. Therefore, they lost their opportunity and were wandering in the deserts for years. There was no promise that if children of Israel do not act according to God’s orders, they will still inherit the holy land.
“We dispersed them into communities around the earth: some of them were righteous, and some of them otherwise, and We tested them with good and bad [times] so that they may come back” (7: 168).
Like any other monotheistic religion that has good or bad followers, the followers of Judaism are either virtuous or sinful according to the above verse of the Holy Quran.
The bad Jews, mainly known to be Zionists, are those who are committing great sins and have huge racist beliefs. Since they believe they are the higher race and others are somehow their properties. Zionism is not a religion, but a political branch that tries to gain power using any tools, even the religion of Jews.
The Holy Quran introduces all prophets as Muslims . Quran strongly defends Jewish believers like the believers of other religions; “Indeed the faithful, the Jews, the Christians and the Sabaeans - those of them who have faith in Allah and the Last Day and act righteously—they shall have their reward from their Lord, and they will have no fear, nor will they grieve” (2: 62).
Quran confirms the book of Moses and says: “We sent down the Torah containing guidance and light” (5:44). And in another verse, it says: “Yet before it, the Book of Moses was a guide and mercy, and this is a Book in the Arabic language, which confirms it…” (46: 12).
Although Quran confirms that all the prophets were from God and they had the same message, the problem, according to the Quran, is that the book of Moses was distorted by those ignorant and arrogant followers of him.
Accordingly, Islam was sent down to the followers of all prophets and the people of all nations and lands as a final and most complete religion, which was fundamentally the same as their religion. But all true believers and true followers of prophets should now be united in the way of worshipping One God and follow the book of Muhammad (PBUH), who has been mentioned in their books (7: 156-7).
God also warns Muslims that when they wish to convey His messages to the followers of other prophets, they should be respectful towards them: “Do not argue with the People of the Book except in a manner which is best, except such of them as are wrongdoers, and say, ‘We believe in what has been sent down to us and in what has been sent down to you; our God and your God is one [and the same], and to Him do we submit’” (29: 46).
As mentioned in the article on monotheism, from the Islamic point of view, the followers of other religions should realize the perfectness of Islam “despite the distorted image of Islam” in today’s world. They need to reach complete faith based on a firm understanding of Islam as the last and the complete way of life .
Since Jews were waiting for the last prophet and when some of them found him rise from among Arabs and not from amongst themselves, they denied him, since they had this thought that Islam must belong to a specific land or specific people, and it cannot be a complete universal religion for all lands at all times.
God mentions the rabbis with so much respect in the Quran and expects them to enlighten their people in worshipping one God and not to be fighting against each other while they worship the same God: “We sent down the Torah containing guidance and light. The prophets, who had submitted, judged by it for the Jews, and so did the rabbis and the scribes, as they were charged to preserve the Book of Allah and were witnesses to it...” (5: 44).
Going through the story of Prophet Moses (PBUH) and explaining it in details in the Quran had two major reasons:
1. Since when Muhammad was assigned as a prophet, Jews annoyed him in every possible way, God kept sending revelations regarding their past actions and their behavior towards Prophet Moses from whom they had seen many miracles.
2. The story of Jewish people and how they saw the miracles of their prophet and yet, they kept denying him, is repeatedly explained in the Quran, to be a lesson for Muslims. Muslims should remember that they had hard times, too, like the Jews, and they should not become arrogant because the last prophet was raised amongst them. Muslims should not make complaints against God’s orders, and by remembering the history of Jews, they should keep in mind that if they decline Allah’s commands, they will lose their opportunities since blessing is given to those who are God-wary:
“If the people of the towns had been faithful and God-wary, We would have opened to them blessings from the heaven and the earth. But they denied; so We seized them because of what they used to earn” (7: 96).
- The Quran, Yousof (12), 93
- The Quran, Al-Shourea (42), 13
- jews in Islam
Following the discussions on the concept of responsibility in Islam and Muslims' duties towards other human beings, this article reviews the duties towards the teachers, students, and young and older adults.
Teachers are acknowledged and valorized in Islam. It is said that God, angels, earth inhabitants and even the small ants in their nests and the fish in the seas, all salute the mentors who invite to goodness . Imam Ali (AS) said that whoever has taught me a word has made me “his slave”[i] . Regarding the Islamic resources, the rights of the mentor over the students are:
to be polite and grateful to the mentor, and honor him\her ;
to sit down politely in his\her presence such that to face him\her directly ;
to listen carefully to him\her and forget anything else during the session except what the mentor explains ;
not to answer the questions that the mentor has been asked about and let him\her to reply ;
to lower your voice when talking to him\her  as a means of showing the respect for him\her;
to ask in order to know and not to annoy the mentor or to mock him\her  and then to listen carefully to the answer of the question ;
not to talk and whisper to anybody in his\her presence  otherwise the mentor feels being ignored;
not to talk behind other people’s back with him\her  since this is an unpleasant act which also bothers the audience ;
not to let others insult the mentor or lie about him\her ;
not to reveal his\her deficiencies and to tell others about his\her positive characteristics .
Seeking knowledge is such important in Islam that according to Prophet Muhammad (PBUH&HP), trees, winds, clouds, seas and stars, plants and everything that the sunshine falls on, all ask for mercy for whoever seeks knowledge . Also, the Prophet (PBUH&HP) said that whoever seeks knowledge is beloved by God, angels, and prophets and good for them on the judgment day . Of the rights of the knowledge-seekers over their mentor are:
To be kind to them ;
To be humble and flexible to them ;
To know their names and some details about each of them . This helps to maintain a better relationship and consequently to better teach and educate them;
To respect their character and to consider their words and thoughts ;
To equally love them and pay attention to them . In this regard, mentors are almost like judges in Islam;
To teach with serenity and dignity , therefore, his\her lessons impress their mind and soul ;
To be tolerant of them and answer their questions properly ;
To consider and support kindly the newcomers ;
To honestly tell if he\she does not know the answer to a question  instead of saying what he\she is not sure about;
Of the rights of young people over older adults and their responsibility in Islam are:
To be kind to them ;
To be engaged in their education and training ;
To ignore and forgive their mistakes and hide their deficiencies ;
To tolerate them, be patient with them and help them in difficulties ;
If the young people do something wrong because they are naive, the older adults should not reveal that ;
To avoid arguments and conflicts with them .
The responsibility in Islam of the younger people toward the elderly include:
To respect them since they are older than you ;
If they argue with you, do not react unpleasantly ;
If you accompany each other on the way, do not overtake them ;
If they do not know about something, do not humiliate them ;
And, if they ignore you because you do not know something, keep calm and do not react as they are older than you .
[i] The word “slave” here does not mean servant, but is used to valorize the mentor and emphasizes the importance of respecting him\her.
[ii] Knowledge-seeker is used as a more general word than a student to cover whoever seeks knowledge.
- M. B. Majlisi, “Bihar al-Anwar”, vol. 61, p. 245
- M. Naraqi, “Jami' al-Sa'adat”.
- Imam Zayn al-'Abidin (AS), “Treatise On Rights (Risalat al-Huquq)”.
- “Nahj al Balaqa”, I. 320.
- Ibn Babawayh, “Ilal Al-Shara'I”, vol. 2. p. 334.
- H. al-Daylami, "Irshad al-Qulub", p. 164.
- M. Shoueiri “Jami’ al-Akhbar”, p. 37.
- Al-Shahid al-Thani, “Munya al-murid fi adab al-mufid wa al-mustafid”, p. 190-219.