I was conversing with a Christian minister about religion. He then asked me what happens to people when they die, from an Islamic perspective. I answered that we go to God to be judged. He said, “yeah, but are you guys floating around somewhere till Judgement Day and then you’ll know your outcome?” I said, “no, we go to God and await our judgement.” To be honest i wasn’t fully knowledgable as to exactly what happens after death.The minister was trying to show how much better it was to be a Christian (what he implied) since once you die in Christianity you go to Jesus and the Father. Basically, you are saved and have no worries. What surprised me is when I asked him about Judgement Day. His answer was that “that’s for everyone else, not us, we are saved.”
My question is: can you elaborate on what happens from the moment of death? I know we get asked the three questions (please cite them, if possible) and await our destiny. But what else happens? We die, then what? Where do we “wait” until earth passes and Judgement Day comes? Give as much detail as possible. How would you have answered the minister?
Before reading our answer to your question, please refer to one of our previous responses to a related question, titled: “What Happens after Death?”
It is clear that as a result of the test during the life of this world, people will be clearly divided in three groups: 1) those, who excel in piety, truthfulness, justice and submission to God; 2) those, who excel in transgression, rejection and are clearly averse to accepting God’s truths; and 3) those, who are neither clearly among the first nor clearly among the second group.
As for the first two groups, these are people, who are themselves witnesses upon their own behavior. These are people, whose ultimate destiny – whether it be heaven or hell – is decided during the life of this world and they start enjoying or suffering the fruits of their deeds, immediately after death. If falling in the first category, they shall be in a state of blissful slumber till the Day of Rising, while if falling in the second category, they shall be in a state of torturous slumber till the Day of ultimate Rising.
The fate of the third category of people, which apparently would be the largest in number in the Hereafter, would be decided on the Day of Judgment. Such people, till the Day of Rising will be in a state of dreamless sleep till the Day of Rising.
It should, nevertheless, be kept in mind that whichever category a person may be in, the waiting period from his death till the Day of Reckoning would be insignificant for him, as he would not have any sense of the passing time.
This seems to be the case, as derived from the Qur’an and the various narratives ascribed to the Prophet (pbuh). There is no reason, why the situation may have been any different in the previous revelations of God.
A person may conveniently ascribe to any idea regarding the life, which is yet to come. Everyone will know the reality, as it unfolds itself. The minister has presented the point of view, which is generally considered to be proposed by the Christian Theology. The important question to ask is: whether this idea is based on the teachings of the Christ or not.If yes,then the minister should give references from Bible.
Hope this helps.