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Belief in the Hereafter
The Hereafter
Javed Ahmad Ghamidi
(Tr. by:Dr. Shehzad Saleem)

إِذَا زُلْزِلَتْ الْأَرْضُ زِلْزَالَهَا  وَأَخْرَجَتْ الْأَرْضُ أَثْقَالَهَا  وَقَالَ الْإِنسَانُ مَا لَهَا  يَوْمَئِذٍ تُحَدِّثُ أَخْبَارَهَا بِأَنَّ رَبَّكَ أَوْحَى لَهَا يَوْمَئِذٍ يَصْدُرُ النَّاسُ أَشْتَاتًا لِيُرَوْا أَعْمَالَهُمْ فَمَنْ يَعْمَلْ مِثْقَالَ ذَرَّةٍ خَيْرًا يَرَه  وَمَنْ يَعْمَلْ مِثْقَالَ ذَرَّةٍ شَرًّا يَرَه (٩٩: ١-٨)

[They should remember the Day] when the earth is shaken the way it should be shaken, and it casts forth its burdens. And man cries out: “What is the matter with her?” On that Day, she will narrate all her story at the intimation of your Lord. On that Day, men will issue forth individually so that their deeds can be shown to them. Then whoever has done the smallest bit of good he also shall see it, and whoever has done the smallest bit of evil, he also shall see it. (99:1-8)

Belief in the Hereafter is one of the most important tenets of Islam. It occupies the central position in the preaching mission of prophets. It is on the foundation of this belief that the pillars of sharī‘ah, virtue and righteousness stand. Prophethood is also based on it. A nabī (prophet) is a nabī because he actually foretells this nabā’ azīm (great news). [1] A rasūl (messenger) is a rasūl because he brings the message of its advent. John (sws) and Jesus (sws), Moses (sws) and Abraham (sws) all have proclaimed it. The Torah tacitly refers to it and the Psalms clearly mentions it. In the Gospel, Jesus (sws) has warned that on the Day of Judgement only those people will enter the Kingdom of Heaven who will please his father in heaven. The Qur’ān is a bearer of warning and glad tidings for this Day. It says that the manner in which people wake up from sleep (39:42), the manner in which rain enlivens a dead and desolate terrain (7:57; 35:9), the manner in which a whole human being comes into existence from a mere drop of water (75:3-40), in the same manner mankind will be made to rise one day from their graves. Raising up mankind on that Day would not be of any bother for the Almighty. When the addressees of the Qur’ān expressed their wonder on being re-created and inquired after the being who would enliven these decayed bones, the Almighty replied in the Qur’ān (36:78) that the very being Who created them the first time would create them again. This whole process is as easy for Him as uttering a word for us is:

فَوَرَبِّ السَّمَاء وَالْأَرْضِ إِنَّهُ لَحَقٌّ مِّثْلَ مَا أَنَّكُمْ تَنطِقُونَ (٢٣:٥١)

I swear by the Lord of heaven and earth that this shall definitely come [with the same ease] as you speak. (51:23)

The Qur’ān says that it is man’s own nature, his quest for justice and his awareness of good and evil that requires the coming of a Day of Judgement. If God is just and fair then such a day must come. His providence, mercy, power and wisdom as well as His laws and practices all entail that man face a day of accountability. Without belief in such a day, religion is mere wishful thinking. The concepts of virtue, piety, justice, reward and punishment become baseless. Without such a day, the universe has no purpose and can only be regarded as the play place of divine forces.

The testimonies, indications, sites and events of this day are described both in the Qur’ān and the Hadīth. In the following paragraphs, these details are mentioned.

The Testimonies

The first thing is man’s awareness of good and evil. It is because of this awareness that his chiding conscience rebukes him on every evil. It is a small court of justice which is found within every person which delivers its unbiased verdict at all times. Whether he accepts it or not, a person is able to clearly listen to this verdict after every blemish that emanates in his thoughts and deeds; this continues until he becomes so deeply involved in evil that this evil completely surrounds his faculties thereby lulling the calls of his conscience to sleep. This internal system of rebuke is a testimony of his own inner-self and is called the testimony of the rebuking-self. The Qur’ān presents it and tells man that he will not be left unaccountable for whatever he does. He should know that just as there exists a lesser abode of judgement within man, similarly a greater abode of judgement will one day be set up for the whole world; when it takes place, he will be held accountable before his Lord and rewarded and punished accordingly on the basis of his deeds. If a person denies such a day of accountability, then it is like denying himself and playing mischief before one’s conscience:

لَا أُقْسِمُ بِيَوْمِ الْقِيَامَةِ وَلَا أُقْسِمُ بِالنَّفْسِ اللَّوَّامَةِ أَيَحْسَبُ الْإِنسَانُ أَلَّنْ نَجْمَعَ عِظَامَهُ بَلَى قَادِرِينَ عَلَى أَنْ نُسَوِّيَ بَنَانَهُ بَلْ يُرِيدُ الْإِنسَانُ لِيَفْجُرَ أَمَامَهُ يَسْأَلُ أَيَّانَ يَوْمُ الْقِيَامَةِ فَإِذَا بَرِقَ الْبَصَرُ وَخَسَفَ الْقَمَرُ وَجُمِعَ الشَّمْسُ وَالْقَمَرُ يَقُولُ الْإِنسَانُ يَوْمَئِذٍ أَيْنَ الْمَفَرُّ كَلَّا لَا وَزَرَ إِلَى رَبِّكَ يَوْمَئِذٍ الْمُسْتَقَرُّ يُنَبَّأُ الْإِنسَانُ يَوْمَئِذٍ بِمَا قَدَّمَ وَأَخَّرَ بَلْ الْإِنسَانُ عَلَى نَفْسِهِ بَصِيرَةٌ وَلَوْ أَلْقَى مَعَاذِيرَهُ (٧٥: ١-١٥)

[They think that the Day of Judgement will never be]; By no means! I present as evidence the Day of Judgement itself. And [they think that the Day of Judgement is a far-fetched reality]. By no means! I present as evidence this reproaching soul [within you]. Does man think that We will not be able to bring together his bones? Why not? We can put together his very finger tips. [No this is not so]; in fact [the truth is that] man wants to be mischievous before his [conscience]. He asks: “When will the Day of Judgement be?” But on the day when the sight is dazed and the moon eclipsed and the sun and the moon brought together, this very man will say: “Whither to flee?” – No! there is no refuge now! Towards your Lord that Day is the resting place. On that Day will man be informed what he sent forth and what he left behind. [No he cannot deny it]; in fact, he himself is a witness upon his own self however much he may put up excuses. (75:1-15)

The second thing is the nature of man by virtue of which he likes justice and dislikes injustice. No doubt, in spite of this dislike he still perpetrates injustice but this is not because he is not able to distinguish justice from injustice or that he likes the latter – it is because he loses his balance and poise by being overcome with desires and emotions. All of us know that a person may want to steal from another person’s house but he would never like someone to steal from his own house; he may kill someone but would never like that anyone take his life or that of his relatives. Similarly, a person may be dishonest in weighing his merchandise for others but would never be happy if others are dishonest with him in this regard. If one asks these thieves, killers and swindlers about their actions they would confess that each of these is a crime and should be eliminated. Thus no one in his senses can regard good and evil to be equal or that both be dealt with in the same manner. The Qur’ān presents these facts and asks the rejecters of the Day of Judgement:

أَفَنَجْعَلُ الْمُسْلِمِينَ كَالْمُجْرِمِينَ مَا لَكُمْ كَيْفَ تَحْكُمُوْنَ (٦٨: ٣٥-٣٦)

Are We to deal with those who submit to Us as We deal with those who transgress? What is the matter with you? What is this judgement you give? (68:35-36)

The third thing is the incompleteness found both in man and in this world. From whatever aspect these two are seen, it is clearly evident that in every single part of theirs the great power and wisdom of their maker is apparent. In everything great meaningfulness, matchless order and sequence, unrivalled mathametical perfection and symmetry, extra-ordinary thoroughness and immense beauty of creativity astounds one’s intellect. On the other hand, if one tries to understand both of them in their totality, one sees great incompleteness and lack of purpose in them. We have already alluded to each and every aspect of this earlier on. After this, there can only be two possibilities: first, to regard this world as a meaningless place and come to the conclusion that it is the workmanship of a merry-maker and nothing more; second, to understand it in combination with a Day of Judgement and that eternal kingdom of God which has been so vehemently been affirmed and declared by His prophets. What is the verdict of intellect? Every person can comprehend:

أَفَحَسِبْتُمْ أَنَّمَا خَلَقْنَاكُمْ عَبَثًا وَأَنَّكُمْ إِلَيْنَا لَا تُرْجَعُونَ  فَتَعَالَى اللَّهُ الْمَلِكُ الْحَقُّ لَا إِلَهَ إِلَّا هُوَ رَبُّ الْعَرْشِ الْكَرِيمِ (٢٣: ١١٥-١١٦)

Do you think that We have created you in vain and that to Us you would never be returned? So very lofty is the status of God, the true king. There is no god but Him, the Lord of the glorious throne. (23:115-116)

وَمَا خَلَقْنَا السَّمَاء وَالْأَرْضَ وَمَا بَيْنَهُمَا لَاعِبِينَ  لَوْ أَرَدْنَا أَن نَّتَّخِذَ لَهْوًا لَّاتَّخَذْنَاهُ مِن لَّدُنَّا إِن كُنَّا فَاعِلِينَ (٢١: ١٦-١٧)

And it was not for gaming and sport that We created the heavens and the earth and all that lies between them. Had it been Our will to create a game, We could have found one near at hand if We wanted to do this. (21:16-17)

Imām Amīn Ahsan Islāhī, while interpreting these verses, writes:

Mentioned here is the reason that if after this world there is no Day of Judgement, it has always remained in existence and will continue like this forever, whether anyone does virtuous deeds or bad ones or does oppression or justice and its Creator is unconcerned about the good and evil found in it, then this only means that He has created an amusement to entertain Himself: He will amuse Himself with it till whenever He likes and when gets bored He will just end it and create some new amusement for Him for His enjoyment and pastime. The verse therefore stresses that the heavens and the earth and what is between them have not been created for amusement. From the very way it is, this world bears testimony to the fact that it has been created by a just, wise and merciful being. It is not an object of amusement for a merry-maker or a warring place of supernatural beings or a theater of a deity; in fact every single object of this wisely created world bears witness that its creator has created it with a great purpose and it is an obvious requirement of His justice and wisdom that a day come when this purpose is fulfilled.[2]

The fourth thing is the attributes of God the effects of which are evident in every speck of this universe. The attributes of providence and mercy in particular need one’s attention. After witnessing the extra-ordinary arrangement made by the Lord of this world to nurture and nourish man, how can a person of intellect think that his Lord will leave him unaccountable and how can it be expected from the merciful and gracious God to not punish people who have made this world a place of oppression and injustice. For this very reason, the Qur’ān has pointed out at a number of places that the Day of Judgement is the consequence of God’s providence and mercy, power and wisdom. After professing belief in God, no one can deny it.

In Sūrah An‘am, it is said:

كَتَبَ عَلَى نَفْسِهِ الرَّحْمَةَ لَيَجْمَعَنَّكُمْ إِلَى يَوْمِ الْقِيَامَةِ لاَ رَيْبَ فِيهِ (١٢:٦)

He has made mercy mandatory on Himself. He will definitely gather you to take you to the Day of Judgement about which there is no doubt. (6:12)

In Sūrah Nabā’, it is said:

أَلَمْ نَجْعَلْ الْأَرْضَ مِهَادًا وَالْجِبَالَ أَوْتَادًا وَخَلَقْنَاكُمْ أَزْوَاجًا وَجَعَلْنَا نَوْمَكُمْ سُبَاتًا وَجَعَلْنَا اللَّيْلَ لِبَاسًا وَجَعَلْنَا النَّهَارَ مَعَاشًا وَبَنَيْنَا فَوْقَكُمْ سَبْعًا شِدَادًا  وَجَعَلْنَا سِرَاجًا وَهَّاجًا وَأَنزَلْنَا مِنْ الْمُعْصِرَاتِ مَاءً ثَجَّاجًا لِنُخْرِجَ بِهِ حَبًّا وَنَبَاتًا وَجَنَّاتٍ أَلْفَافًا إِنَّ يَوْمَ الْفَصْلِ كَانَ مِيقَاتًا (٧٨: ٦-١٧)

[They should behold:] Have We not made the earth a cradle and made the mountains [its] pegs? And not created you in pairs? And not made your sleep a means of comfort [for you]? And not made the night a clothing [for you] and the day a time to earn [your] livelihood? And not built above you seven sturdy [skies]? And not placed [in them] a glowing lamp [this sun]? And not sent down abundant water from dripping clouds that We may bring forth grain and vegetation and gardens of luxurious growth? [All this clearly testifies that] indeed the Day of Judgement has an appointed time. (78:6-17)

In Sūrah Qāf, it is said:

أَفَلَمْ يَنظُرُوا إِلَى السَّمَاء فَوْقَهُمْ كَيْفَ بَنَيْنَاهَا وَزَيَّنَّاهَا وَمَا لَهَا مِن فُرُوجٍ  وَالْأَرْضَ مَدَدْنَاهَا وَأَلْقَيْنَا فِيهَا رَوَاسِيَ وَأَنبَتْنَا فِيهَا مِن كُلِّ زَوْجٍ بَهِيجٍ  تَبْصِرَةً وَذِكْرَى لِكُلِّ عَبْدٍ مُّنِيبٍ  وَنَزَّلْنَا مِنَ السَّمَاء مَاء مُّبَارَكًا فَأَنبَتْنَا بِهِ جَنَّاتٍ وَحَبَّ الْحَصِيدِ  وَالنَّخْلَ بَاسِقَاتٍ لَّهَا طَلْعٌ نَّضِيدٌ  رِزْقًا لِّلْعِبَادِ وَأَحْيَيْنَا بِهِ بَلْدَةً مَّيْتًا كَذَلِكَ الْخُرُوجُ (٥0: ٦-١١)

Have they never observed the sky above them how We have fashioned and adorned it and [do they not see that] it is flawless. And We have spread the earth and set upon it mountains and brought forth in it all kinds of beautiful plants as an insight and reminder for every person who turns [towards the truth]. And We sent down blessed water from the skies with which We thence brought forth gardens and the harvest grain, and tall palm-trees stacked with clusters of dates as a means of sustenance for men and from it We enlivened a dead piece of land. Such shall you rise [from the earth]. (50:6-11)

Imām Amīn Ahsan Islāhī, while explaining these verses, writes:

Here the Almighty has directed the attention of the rejecters of the Day of Judgement towards the obvious signs of His power, providence and wisdom which can be observed all around man. These signs are enough to create insight and strike a reminder in a person who has a heart which has the ability to turn towards the truth.

First, the Almighty has directed man’s attention to His great power and wisdom: have they not seen the sky above them how it has been raised high and decked with stars? It is a miracle of God’s power and wisdom that the immeasurable sky is free from the slightest of flaws. The implication is that how is it impossible for someone whose immense power and wisdom they see above them to create them again?

After this, besides His power and wisdom, the Almighty has directed man’s attention to the tremendous system of providence and sustenance found around him. He is asked to observe how the Almighty has spread out the earth beneath their feet and to maintain its balance how He has nailed mountains into its expanse and how great a variety of fodder has He caused to grow from the earth. These plants which provide man with sustenance are also a means of satisfying his aesthetic taste. The implication is that can it be difficult for someone to re-create mankind from dust whose great signs of power, wisdom and providence they are witnessing all around them? Will the Almighty who has made elaborate arrangements for their sustenance leave them to eat, drink and be merry and never ask them of these blessings? [3]

The fifth thing is the manifestation of God’s judgement in this very world. It has been explained earlier that once the rusul (messengers) of God communicate the truth to their people to the extent that they are left with no excuse to deny it, a miniature Day of Judgement is witnessed for these people in this very world. The reward and punishment which is to take place for people on the basis of their faith and deeds on the Day of Judgement takes place for the addressees of a rasūl in this very world. The progeny of Abraham (sws) has been made an example of this worldly reward and punishment for centuries. For them the law of God is that if they adhere to the truth and present this truth in its original form to all the people of the world and if these people reject this truth, then the progeny of Abraham (sws) would be granted sovereignty by God over them and if they deviate from the truth then the Almighty punishes them through their very addressees by making them subservient to them in humiliation. Both branches of Abraham’s progeny: the Israelites and the Ishmaelites, at the moment, are facing this punishment. We have already referred to the Qur’ānic verses which mention this divine law. Therefore, this lesser Day of Judgement is an undeniable proof of the greater Day of Judgement of which the prophets of God inform us.

(Translated from Ghamidi’s Mīzān by Shehzad Saleem)

[1]. This is a reference to the words of a Qur’ānic verse (78:2).
[2]. Amīn Ahsan Islāhī#, Tadabbur-i Qur’ān, 2nd ed., vol. 5 (Lahore: Faran Foundation, 1986), 132.
[3]. Amīn Ahsan Islāhī#, Tadabbur-i Qur’ān, 2nd ed., vol. 7 (Lahore: Faran Foundation, 1986), 538.


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