Life After Death In Islam Essay

Islamic Beliefs on the Soul

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Islamic Beliefs on the Soul
According to few verses from the Qur'an, the creation of humans involves Allah "breathing" souls into them. This intangible part of an individual's existence is "pure" at birth. It has the potential of growing and achieving nearness to God if the person leads a righteous life. At death, the person's soul transitions to an eternal afterlife of bliss, peace and unending spiritual growth until the day of judgement where both the body and soul are reunited for judgement at which point the person is either rewarded by going to heaven if they have followed God's commands or punished if they have disobeyed him.
From the Hadith we understand that Allah assigns an Angel to "breathe" soul into an embryo after 40 days of pregnancy.
Generally, it is believed that all living beings comprise two aspects during their existence: The physical (being the body) and the non-physical (being the soul). The non-physical aspect, namely the soul, is one's soul-related activities like his/her feelings and emotions, thoughts, conscious and sub-conscious desires and objectives. While the body and its physical actions serve as a "reflection" of one's soul, whether it was good or evil, and thus "confirms" the extent of such intentions. The soul enters heaven, not the body.
The soul does not die but when it separates from the body at the death of the body, the soul gets a taste of death.  In our life of probation on this earth, God tests our virtue and faith, by many things; some are tested by calamities, and some by the good things of this life.  If we prove our true mettle, we pass our probation with success.  In any case all must return to God, and then will our life be appraised at its true value.
Allah describes the process of death in many sections of the Quran, Allah says:
When the soul comes out of the body and reaches the last step – the throat - you look at the dying person but you never see what surrounds him.  If the dying person was good in his first life he will be rewarded by paradise, if he was bad and unbeliever he will go to hell to stay forever.
Allah describes the soul in the Quran by saying, "The Soul comes to the life by an order from me, and you – the people - have little to know about it."
The souls of the deceased people do not disappear after death, these souls are living in the so called “Barzakh”, waiting for the Day of Judgment, but the bodies spoil on earth (ground).

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  The souls of the deceased people have connections with the live people - by permission of Allah - this connection can be done in sleeping where the souls of the deceased people meet the souls of the sleeping people. The deceased souls can send messages and tell the sleeping people’s souls about their life and some future events, which must happen exactly. Then the souls of the sleeping people come back to body, and the souls of the deceased people stays in Barzakh.
The Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) said, "The deceased people know the visitors to their graves, as Allah sends their souls to their graves during visiting."

The Soul in Islam Philosophy
The Existence of the Soul
All Muslim philosophers concerned themselves with the subject of the soul. Muslim philosophers recognised that the first issue that confronts the human mind with regard to the soul is its existence. We infer the existence of the soul from the fact that we observe bodies that perform certain acts with some degree of will. These acts are exemplified in taking nourishment, growing, reproducing, moving and perceiving. Since these acts do not belong to the nature of bodies, for this nature is devoid of will, they must belong to a principle they have other than bodies. This principle is what is called ‘soul’.
This argument is intended to prove the existence of the animal soul, which includes the plant soul. The soul is the source of acts performed by the will, not inasmuch as it is ‘a substance’ (an independent entity), but inasmuch as it is ‘the principle of such acts’. The rational soul, on the other hand, need not look outside itself to infer its existence. It is aware of its existence with immediacy, that is, without any instruments.

Compared to Christian View

Muslims and Christians both believe that a person is not just made from his or her mind and body, there is also the soul. They both believe that each person has an immortal soul (cannot die) which cannot be seen and makes people different from each other, however Christians believe that only humans were given souls as they were in the image of God whereas Muslims believe that humans, plants and animals have souls too. Christians believing that animals don’t have souls allows them to eat meat normally, but because Muslims believe that animals do have souls, they have to sacrifice the animal properly in order to eat the meat. Christians believe that people were made in the image of God meaning that God put something of his own divine and everlasting nature into each person, which is the soul, but Muslims don’t believe that exactly as they believe animals and plants have souls too. Both Muslims and Christians both believe that the soul was put into the body during birth, and the soul leaves the body at death.



Life After Death

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What is going to happen to us when we will die? Some people never considered what it could happen to them after life. For many people, death is a redoubtable event because they do not know what to expect after their death. However, other persons, such as religious people are conscious of what to expect after their death because of their beliefs. Each religion has different ideas and different ways of looking life. Death, therefore, is viewed by different religions in many ways. Although, different religions have a distinct conception of death, they all have something in common: they all give hope to people. Among all different religions in the world, four of the most common ones - Catholic, Jewish, Islamic, and Hindu- view death in different ways.
     One way in which death can be viewed comes across the Catholic religion. The Catholic believers look life after death in a prospective of three different worlds, such as Hell, Purgatory, and Paradise according to the deeds committed during life. If a person during his or her lifetime committed any sins, this person’s next world will be the Hell. The traditional view in which people refer to hell can be found in the book written by Dante Alighieri, “La Divina Commedia”. The book states that the formation of Hell was given by the crash of Lucifer (the angel that wanted to be better than God) from the sky onto the earth. Crashing on the Earth in Jerusalem, his head formed an upside down cone inside the Earth. This is where is located the Hell. In the Hell, people pay for their sins with different penitences (12-13). For instance, a person that committed homicide will freeze in a lake frozen by the breath of Satan (XXXIV canto). If a person during his or her life commits any sins but asks for forgiveness, then he or she will go to the Purgatory. The purgatory is represented by an island with a mountain (23). One source states that “Purgatory is very similar to Hell; the main difference is that one will eventually be released from torture. The souls that go in the Purgatory are tortured with fire. These souls remain in purgatory until they become sufficiently purified to enter heaven”(2). For example, if a soul in the purgatory asks for forgiveness and pays the punition with some tests, the soul will be released and moved immediately to Heaven (2).

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If a person during his or her life does not commit any sins, then he or she will go to the Paradise. The light of God illuminates the Paradise. There, the souls are totally purified and they can rest in peace. “In the Paradise, embodying the knowledge of divine mysteries bestowed by Grace, who leads the soul through the successive ascending levels of Heaven to the Empyrean, where the soul is allowed to glimpse, for a moment, the glory of God”(Divina Commedia, 27). Therefore, death is viewed in the Catholic religion in a prospective of three different worlds: Hell, Purgatory, and Paradise.
     Death can be viewed in the Jewish religion. In the Jewish religion, when somebody dies there will be eternal existence determined by the moral behavior and attitude during his or her course of life. “Afterlife is seen as a way to reflect the ultimate justice of human existence”(Joseph Telushkin, 2). When a person make sins in his or her life, his or her soul will be punished in a place called “Gehenna”. However, since God is filled with mercy and love, punishment is not to be considered eternal. Punishment might be self-determined on the basis of suffering in kind the suffering the person brought about (Telushkin, 3).



     Another way in which death can be viewed is described in the Islamic religion. For Muslims, life in this world is not everything; in the contrary, beyond death lies eternal life. One source explains that the final day of life every person accounts for what he or she has done in her life (World Religions index, 3). ‘Every man ‘s actions have we hung around his neck, and on the last day shall be laid before him a wide-open book’ (3).
In addition, for Muslims the divine decree is Allah. According to Chris Richard, the author of the book “World Religions”, “All the laws that govern the universe belong to Allah, and He controls the destiny of all things, including the time and the place of each person’s birth and death: all things issue from Allah, whether sweet or bitter “. “The rightness will be rewarded with the bliss of Paradise”(Richard, 155) . Heaven is depicted in terms of worldly delights. For instance, who fallowed and accepted Allah’s guidance will be rewarded with the bliss of Paradise. In the contrary, those who refuse to accept and fallow Allah’s guidance in this present life will suffer painful punishment in hell fire.
Therefore, death can be viewed in the Islamic religion.
     Death can also be viewed in the Hindu religion. Hindu considers that they have many incarnations ahead of them before they can find final salvation. There are three main concepts in the Hindu religion: Samsara, Moksha, and Karma. The concept of Samsara is the belief on the cycle of birth, death, and rebirth. According to Chris Richard, “ The universe is also subject to cynical processes of change, from birth to death and re-creation”(32). In this context there are three functions if God, such as Brahma, the creator, Vishnu, the preserver, and Shiva, the destroyer (32). All worldly existence is subject to the cycle of samsara. Chris Richard explains a Hindu story that describes to great effect the state of being caught up in samasara (32). This story talks about a man, in a jungle infested by wild beasts, trying to escape falls in a deep pit. Fortunately, he hangs onto some creepers, avoiding a hungry elephant hunt the top of the pit and a serpent at the bottom waiting for him to drop. Even as he realizes that his life cannot last long, the man sees two mice, one black and one white, gnawing away at the creepers. At the edge of the pit is a honeycomb dripping honey, giving him sustenance. Such sweetness makes him forget the perils, but it is short- lived (32). Chris Richard states that in this pessimistic parable, the man is the soul and the jungle is existence. The wild elephant and the serpent represent death, while the mice are symbols of time, the dark and light halves of the lunar month. The honey represents pleasures, which are temporary and trivial in the midst of numerous perils (32). In addition, liberation from samsara can be found only through the pursuit



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