Is belief in the Hereafter required in Islam ?


Is belief in the Hereafter required in Islam ?

It is not only required, but also inevitable. Everything has a soul; this world’s soul is the hereafter. What would this world be without the hereafter if not a soulless body? Just like a body stenches once the spirit leaves it, so would the worldly life spread unbearable odor without the Hereafter.

One could argue that everything is bipolar: seen and unseen, and moral and material. But one argument is firm: the unseen and moral aspects of anything is much more valuable, influential, larger, stronger, and permanent than its visible and material aspects. Spirit’s relation to body, reason’s relation to muscles, electricity’s relation to cables, and energy’s relation to matter are cases in point.

Any belief system based on revelations recognizes the life in the Hereafter as the real life. The worldly life is ephemeral and temporal.

Whatever is temporal, it is unstable, impermanent, and imperfect. Every entity has a soul. The world’s soul is human beings.

The world without the Hereafter would be a body without spirit and soul. The Qur’an calls this worldly life “game and entertainment”; only coupled with the hereafter does this world acquire meaning and purpose.

What is the essence of belief in the Hereafter ?

1. Belief in the hereafter is belief in justice: Belief in the hereafter is belief in the Recompense Day, when the human being is held accountable before his Lord for every single action, however insignificant, committed during lifetime on Earth.

2. Belief in the hereafter is a comfort for an active conscience: No conscience would rest if those who commit injustice and oppression could get away with it and were not held accountable. Holding both good and evil in equal esteem would be tantamount to punishing good-doers and rewarding evildoers.

3. Belief in the hereafter is belief in human dignity: The difference between humans and other creatures is the eternal life humans will live after resurrecting from death.

If death were the end of humans’ life, then they would be no different from the common worms. In such a case, there would be no meaning or sense in pondering over such existentialist questions as “Where did I come from? Why do I exist? Where am I going to?” that only humans are capable of asking.

4. Belief in the hereafter is belief in the seriousness of this life: This world is the field for the next life: whoever is concerned about good harvest, they better cultivate soil properly.

What is the purpose of belief in the Hereafter ?

Belief in the hereafter is the second requirement in Islam after belief in Allah. The Qur’an refers to these two beliefs together so often that a revelation-inspired reason cannot imagine one existing without the other. But why is it so?

Because if it were not so, there would be no concrete equivalent of belief in Allah in one’s life. Abstract belief in Allah can become a realistic moral guide in humans’ life only when coupled with belief in the hereafter. The human is responsible before Allah. The foundation of one’s consciousness of responsibly before Allah—“al-taqwah”—is precisely this belief.

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Because only when one believes in the hereafter, when he/she is held accountable for deeds in the worldly life, does “consciousness of Allah” lead him/her to “consciousness of morality” in word and deeds. Responsibility is a conscientious choice, while irresponsibility rests on the opposite pole.

In a world where both the deliverer of water and the smasher of the pitcher are held in the same esteem, there would certainly be no volunteers to deliver water. Similarly, those who live in accordance with boundaries Allah established and those who live listening only to their desires cannot be equal: “Is then he who strives after Allah’s goodly acceptance like unto him who has earned the burden of Allah’s condemnation and whose goal is hell? – and how vile a journey’s end.” (‘Ali `Imran 3:162)

What are the reward and punishment, and Paradise and Hell in the Hereafter, according to the Qur’an ?

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The reward in the hereafter is Paradise, while the punishment is the Hellfire. The Qur’an speaks about Paradise in detail. Here are several âyahs:

“But as for him who, after guidance has been vouchsafed to him, cuts himself off from the Apostle follows a path other than that of the believers – him shall We leave unto that which he himself has chose, and shall cause him to endure hell: and how evil a journey’s end!” (Nisa’ 4:115)

“Let it not deceive thee that those who are bent on denying the truth seem to be able to do as they please on earth: it is [but] a brief enjoyment, with hell thereafter as their goal – and how vile a restingplace! Whereas those who remain conscious of their Sustainer shall have gardens through which running waters flow, therein to abide: a ready welcome from Allah. And that which is with Allah is best for the truly virtuous.” (‘Ali `Imran 3:196-198)

“And [as for all such believers,] no human being can imagine what blissful delights, as yet hidden, await them [in the life to come] as a reward for all that they did.” (Sajdah 32: 17)

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“As for those who attain to faith and do righteous deeds – gardens of rest await them, as a welcome [from Allah], in result of what they did; but as for those who are lost in iniquity – their goal is the fire: as oft as they will try to come out of it, they will be thrown back into it; and they will be told, ‘Taste [now] this suffering through fire which you were wont to call a lie!’” (Sajdah 32:19-20)

“[But,] behold, as for those who say, ‘Our Sustainer is Allah,’ and then steadfastly pursue the right way – upon them do angels often descend, [saying:] ‘Fear not and grieve not, but receive the glad tiding of that paradise, which has been promised to you! We are close unto you in the life of this world and [will be so] in the life to come; and in that [life to come] you shall have all that your souls may desire, and in it you shall have all that you ever prayed for, as a ready welcome from Him who is much-forgiving, a dispenser of grace!’” (Fussilat 41:30-32)

“And so, Allah will preserve them from the woes of that Day, and will bestow on them brightness and joy, and will reward them for all their patience in adversity with a garden [of bliss] and with [garments of] silk.” (‘Insan 76:11-12)

“But whenever he prevails, he goes about the earth spreading corruption and destroying [man’s] tilth and progeny: and Allah does not love corruption. And whenever he is told, ‘Be conscious of Allah,’ his false pride drives him into sin: wherefore hell will be his allotted portion – and how vile a resting-place!” (Baqarah 2:205-206)

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“And immortal youths will wait upon them: when thou seest them, thou wouldst deem them to be scattered pearls; and when thou seest [anything that is] there thou wilt see [only] bliss and a realm transcendent.” (‘Insan 76:19-20)

“[On that Day,] verily, hell will lie in wait [for those who deny the truth] a goal for all who are wont to transgress the bounds of what is right! In it they shall remain for a long time. Neither coolness shall they taste therein nor any [thirst quenching] drink only burning despair and ice-cold darkness: a meet requital [for their sins]!” (Naba’ 78:21-26)

What does the Qur’an say about “eternal salvation?”

Concerning the notion of “eternal salvation,” the Qur’an has the following to say to those who believe in the Qur’an and other believing groups:

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“It may not accord with your wishful thinking – nor with the wishful thinking of the followers of earlier revelation – [that] he who does evil shall be requited for it, and shall find none to protect him from Allah, and none to bring him succor, whereas anyone – be it man or woman – who does [whatever he can] of good deeds and is a believer withal, shall enter paradise, and shall not be wronged by as much as [would fill] the groove of a date-stone. And who could be of better faith than he who surrenders his whole being unto Allah and is a doer of good withal, and follows the creed of Abraham, who turned away from all that is false – seeing that Allah exalted Abraham with His love? For, unto Allah belongs all that is in the heavens and all that is on earth; and, indeed, Allah encompasses ev erything.” (Nisa’ 4:123 126)

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