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Bases of belief in the Hereafter

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Question

How do you prove to a Muslim or a non-Muslim that the Day of Judgment actually exists or is coming?

Regards

Reply

Before explaining the bases on which the Qur’an has evidenced the Day of Judgment, we must first consciously realize whether the present setup of the world and our lives require a Judgment Day or not. To fully understand this point, take the example of clean and clear water – one of the great blessings of God that we enjoy in our daily lives. We can fully appreciate this great blessing of God, because we have, at one time or another practically experienced or observed thirst and have quenched it with water. Had we never experienced thirst, we would never have realized the great blessing entailed in water and its quality of quenching our thirst.

On the other hand, if we had experienced thirst, in the same way as we now do, and yet had not found water (or anything similar to it), with which we could quench our thirsts, this would indeed have created a vacuum in our lives. We would then have searched the earth, the mountains, the skies and everything that existed around us to find something which would quench our thirsts. We would have carried on this search till the time that we either found something which would satisfy our need (thirst) or discovered a plausible explanation for the strong need that exists within us and yet remains non-existent in our environment.

We so strongly trust the providence and mercy of our Creator that we know that there is no real need in us, which our Creator has not provided for. If we required a delicate balance of various gases in the atmosphere to survive, we were provided with that delicate balance in our environment; if we required particles of food to maintain our health, we were provided with a variety of tasty and healthy foods; all our physical requirements were provided for to the ultimate. There is not a single requirement that exists within us, which is necessary to maintain our lives, which is not provided for in our environment.

But then, there is a set of needs that exist within us, yet which remain unanswered:

Our desires know no limits, yet the opportunities available to us are extremely limited; Given good health and the desirable environment, we would like to live on forever, yet there is nothing more certain in my life than death; From the day we become conscious, we are taught to strive for a blissful future, yet our present is always blemished by the thoughts of ‘what could have been’ and ‘what might be’; Our conscience condemns us for every wrong that we do, yet we have to bear the heavy costs of every step that we take in the right direction; We are told that justice would ultimately prevail, yet justice, in its absolute sense, is impossible to secure in this world, no courts of law, no legislations, no governments can provide us with absolute justice. Yet we crave for it.

These are only some of the glaring vacuums in our lives. These are some of the pressing needs that we find implanted in our hearts and souls, yet since time immemorial our search continues for ways of satisfying these needs.Here is how Quran give reasons in favour of day of judgement;

According to the Qur’an, the life of this world is a testing ground for man. As a requirement of the test, this life is only a temporary phase in man’s existence. The scope of this test is primarily moral. During this test, man has been bestowed with the knowledge of ‘good’ and ‘evil’, which subsequently has been further strengthened by God, through His prophets and messengers. During this test, man is required to do ‘right’, even if it entails material and emotional costs, and to refrain from doing ‘wrong’, even if this restraint deprives him of immediate gains. This test shall soon be terminated. At the end of this test, man will have to face its results. The ‘good’ and the ‘bad’ that remain mixed and indistinguishable during the life of this world, shall on that day be separated from each other. Both shall meet separate ends. Those, who, during the life of this world, ignored the call of their conscience and that of the prophets and messengers of God, shall have to face the dire consequences of their deeds; while those, who stood by the truth with patience and perseverance, shall have all their needs and requirements completely fulfilled and shall remain in the eternal bliss of God’s Paradise, forever.

Keeping this basic concept of the Day of Judgment in mind, let us now take a look at the bases for the belief in the Hereafter, as given in the Qur’an:

Day of Judgment as a Requirement of God’s Basic Attributes

The Day of Judgment is evidenced on the basis of God’s obvious attributes from two separate perspectives. Firstly, the Qur’an emphatically states that the Day of Judgment is a necessary requirement of God’s mercy, providence, wisdom and justice. Secondly, God’s omnipotence and omniscience are referred to evidence the fact that God can, as required by His basic attributes, organize a Day of Judgment.

As a Requirement of God’s Mercy

According to the Qur’an, the Hereafter is an obvious requirement of God’s abounding and continuing mercy.

If life were to end at death, it would be as if God has discontinued his mercy for man. This, according to the Qur’an is clearly contrary to the requirements of the continuing nature of God’s mercy and is, therefore, obviously, incorrect.

Another aspect, which can easily be derived from the referred idea, is that it is primarily to reward the pious and the loyal that the Day of Judgment shall be established. The punishment of the transgressors is not the primary purpose of the establishment of the Day of Judgment, but is, in fact, its corollary. The Qur’an says:

كَتَبَ عَلَى نَفْسِهِ الرَّحْمَةَ لَيَجْمَعَنَّكُمْ إِلَى يَوْمِ الْقِيَامَةِ لاَ رَيْبَ فِيهِ الَّذِينَ خَسِرُوا أَنْفُسَهُمْ فَهُمْ لاَ يُؤْمِنُونَ (الأنعام 6: 12)

He has made mercy binding upon Himself; He would, therefore, definitely gather you till the Day of Resurrection in which there is absolutely no doubt. But those, who have completely lost their souls shall not believe in it.

As a Requirement of God’s Providence

As has been stated earlier, because of the temporary and testing nature of the life of this world, it was essential that ‘good’ and ‘bad’ deeds should not immediately follow their respective consequences. If the reward and punishment of ‘good’ and ‘bad’ respectively were to follow immediately, it would then, for all practical purposes, have refuted the test. It is, thus, the temporary and testing nature of this life, which requires that the referred vacuums be left unfilled during this life. This, however, does not mean that these vacuums would remain agape forever. The Provident Creator, who has arranged for the fulfillment of all the necessary requirements of man, has made an unblemished arrangement for the fulfillment of these requirements, as well.

How can man bring himself to even imagine that the all-encompassing providence, which has catered for all the physical needs and requirements of all that enjoys existence, would be unmindful of man’s moral and spiritual needs and requirements? Thus, a lack of belief in the Day of Judgment is, in fact, a refusal to trust God’s Providence.

As a Requirement of God’s Wisdom

According to the Qur’an, all of God’s decisions and actions are based on His unblemished wisdom. God does not do anything, which lacks wisdom. The Qur’an emphatically states that if everything was to end at death, it would imply that all the magnificent structure of this vast universe and all the brilliance entailed in man, was without any wisdom. It forcefully states that the Day of Judgment is what makes the present existence meaningful. Rejecting the Day of Judgment is like saying that God takes pleasure in man’s miseries and his unfulfilled needs, requirements and desires. The Qur’an strongly refutes this idea and declares that God has not created this vast universe for His entertainment. He has created this universe for a wise and meaningful end. He would definitely bring about the Day of Judgment to fulfill this wise and meaningful end.

As a Requirement of God’s Justice

According to the Qur’an, the Day of Judgment is also an obvious requirement of God’s justice. As has been stated earlier, for the purpose of making the test in the life of this world possible, ‘good’ and ‘bad’ deeds are not, generally, followed by their respective consequences. This, however, does not mean that God would allow this lack of distinction between ‘good’ and ‘evil’ to exist forever. Even though man has sometimes been prone to rejecting the quality of justice for God, in view of His apparent indifference toward ‘good’ and ‘evil’, yet the Qur’an strongly refutes this idea. How can the Creator, Who has implanted within us a sense of justice and Who has directed us to always decide with justice, be Himself void of all sense of justice? The Qur’an refutes this idea as mere stupidity.

The Qur’an says:

أَفَنَجْعَلُ الْمُسْلِمِينَ كَالْمُجْرِمِينَ مَا لَكُمْ كَيْفَ تَحْكُمُونَ (القلم 68: 35 – 36)

Will We make the obedient and the criminals alike? What is wrong with you? How do you judge?

God’s Omnipotence & Omniscience

Even though the attributes of mercy, providence, wisdom and justice require God to set-up a Day of Judgment, yet man has traditionally found the possibility of the setting-up of such a universal Day of Judgment, as propounded by Divine religions, hard to accept. Once a person has died and has disintegrated into dust and bones, how can he be brought back to life? What kind of a record-keeper can maintain the record of billions of deeds of trillions and trillions of people that have inhabited the earth since the beginning of time? These two questions have generally been the stumbling block for those, who, even in the face of the strong requirement for the Day of Judgment, could not accept its possibility.

The answer to these questions lies in the attributes of ‘Omnipotence’ and ‘Omniscient’:

According to the Qur’an, if God could bring man to life once, then why would it become impossible or even difficult for Him to do so once again? The Qur’an says:

وَلَقَدْ عَلِمْتُمُ النَّشْأَةَ الْأُولَى فَلَوْلاَ تَذَكَّرُونَ (الواقعة 56: 62)

You are already aware of the first creation, then why are you not reminded [of God’s powers]?

At another instance, the Qur’an says:

أَفَعَيِينَا بِالْخَلْقِ الْأَوَّلِ (ق 50: 15)

Has the first creation [completely] drained Us of Our powers?

As for the records of the deeds of men, the Qur’an says that God’s knowledge not only encompasses man’s deeds but also the ideas that arise in his mind. The Qur’an says:

وَلَقَدْ خَلَقْنَا الْإِنْسَانَ وَنَعْلَمُ مَا تُوَسْوِسُ بِهِ نَفْسُهُ وَنَحْنُ أَقْرَبُ إِلَيْهِ مِنْ حَبْلِ الْوَرِيدِ (ق 50: 16)

We created man and We are even aware of the seductions of his heart; and We are closer to Him than even his life-vein.

Furthermore, the deeds of man are not only safely stored in God’s knowledge, but are also being carefully recorded by two of his angels put in-charge of each person. The Qur’an says:

مَا يَلْفِظُ مِنْ قَوْلٍ إِلَّا لَدَيْهِ رَقِيبٌ عَتِيدٌ (ق 50: 18)

He [i.e. man] does not even utter a word, but it is recorded by a sentinel by him, who is prompt in recording.

On the Day of Judgment, this comprehensive record of each individual shall be placed in front of him. The Qur’an says:

وَوُضِعَ الْكِتَابُ فَتَرَى الْمُجْرِمِينَ مُشْفِقِينَ مِمَّا فِيهِ وَيَقُولُونَ يَاوَيْلَتَنَا مَالِ هَذَا الْكِتَابِ لَا يُغَادِرُ صَغِيرَةً وَلَا كَبِيرَةً إِلَّا أَحْصَاهَا وَوَجَدُوا مَا عَمِلُوا حَاضِرًا وَلَا يَظْلِمُ رَبُّكَ أَحَدًا (الكهف 18: 49)

And the Book [of the record of deeds] shall be placed. Then you shall see these criminals in extreme terror of what shall be recorded in it. And they shall say: Woe to us! What kind of a book is this? It misses out on nothing – big or small – but encompasses it all. And they shall find each of their deeds present in it. And your Lord shall not be unjust to anyone.

Signs & Indications of the Day of Judgment

Besides the foregoing bases of belief in the Hereafter, mentioned in the Qur’an, the Qur’an has also pointed out toward a few phenomena, which not only substantiate, but also serve as signs and indications of the approaching Day of Judgment. Some of these signs are explained below:

Man’s Nature

The Qur’an has strongly pointed toward man’s inherent knowledge of ‘good’ and ‘evil’ as an indication of the fact that man shall soon be faced with accountability and reward or punishment.

The Qur’an says:

وَنَفْسٍ وَمَا سَوَّاهَا فَأَلْهَمَهَا فُجُورَهَا وَتَقْوَاهَا قَدْ أَفْلَحَ مَنْ زَكَّاهَا وَقَدْ خَابَ مَنْ دَسَّاهَا (الشمس 91: 6 – 9)

The human soul and the way it has been adorned – with the inspiration of what is right for it and what is wrong – bears witness that whoever purifies it, shall succeed and whoever corrupts it, shall fail.

The Qur’an further points out that it is not merely the knowledge of ‘good’ and ‘evil’, which is entailed in man, but man is also endowed with a strong conscience, which encourages and acknowledges his ‘good’ deeds and discourages and condemns him for doing ‘evil’.

This knowledge and conscience of man, in combination are not only an indication of the fact that man’s Creator is not indifferent toward ‘good’ and ‘evil’, but is also an inherent evidence of the fact that ‘good’ and ‘evil’ should meet separate ends.

Creation in Complementary Parts

The Qur’an has pointed-out toward the nature of God’s creation during the life of this world as another indication of the fact that a Day of Judgment is required for the moral completing of the life of this world. The Qur’an says that nothing in the life of this world is self-sufficient and independent. All phenomena in the life of this world is designed in such a way that a unit taken independent of the other seems to be incomplete, seeking completion through the combination of its complementary part. For instance, ‘human being’ is divided into the ‘male’ and the ‘female’ gender. Taken independent of each other, both have gaping vacuums in them. These vacuums are filled only when the two complement each other. Similarly, the phenomenon of ’24-hour day’ is divided into the complementing parts of ‘day’ and ‘night’. The Qur’an says:

وَمِنْ كُلِّ شَيْءٍ خَلَقْنَا زَوْجَيْنِ لَعَلَّكُمْ تَذَكَّرُونَ (الذاريات 51: 49)

And each of the things We have created is divided in complementing parts. [We point this out to you,] so that you be reminded [of the complementing part of the life of this world].

The Qur’an points out the fact that just as any other part of a phenomena, if taken independent of its complementing part, is incomplete, the life of this world has gaping moral vacuums in it and is in search of its complementing part, for its completion. This complementing part for the life of this world, according to the teachings of the prophets and messengers of God, is the Hereafter.

These are some of the major bases and indications of the life hereafter and the Day of Judgment, which the Divine religions want us to believe.

I hope this helps.

UIUK

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