Roots of Religion: Qiyamat
By the grace of the Almighty and with the blessings of Hazrat-e-Hujjat (a.t.f.s.) we shall discuss the last topic in our series of Usul-e-Deen. At every step of our discussion we shall progress by seeking the help and guidance of Allah, the Almighty and Hazrat-e-Wali-e-Asr (a.t.f.s.).
In all divine religions the belief in Qiyamat is fundamental. It is a belief, without which, the structure of religion becomes meaningless. Religion has been sent with this very purpose, that man treads on the path of perfection, in the light of religious laws. Without the belief in Qiyamat (the hereafter) to practice and adhere to the laws is purposeless and meaningless. To practice on a few worldly laws and regulations is not possible without the help of some authority (police, court of law, etc), then how is it possible to practice on religious laws which are so comprehensive and are related to the outward as well as the inward being of man? What is that power and belief that will keep man away from transgression and disobedience? What is that power, which will keep man’s base desires under control?
Ancient nations/people and belief in Qiyamat
If we browse through the pages of history, we will come across signs from which we shall see that even the ancient people believed in the hereafter. This in itself is the best proof that the belief in the hereafter is in the innate nature (fitrat) of man.
Besides the desire to remain alive and disgust towards destruction is also very much a part of man’s innate nature. This indicates that man desires to remain alive even after death and this immortality is not possible without the belief in Qiyamat.
Ancient Egypt (Misr) and belief in Qiyamat
The Egyptian culture is regarded as among the most ancient. From the Egyptian history we understand that they believed in Qiyamat. They believed that as just we experience grief and sorrow in this world, man’s life after death will also bring grief and sorrow. They used to bury food and other provisions along with the corpse with the belief that it would prove useful in the next life. They used to make a hole in the grave so that the soul could easily enter and exit.
Zoroastrians and the belief in Qiyamat
Belief in Qiyamat is also prevalent among the Zoroastrians (Majoos). According to their teachings when the lifespan of the earth terminates, Qiyamat will occur. On this Day, good and bad will be accounted for. Accounting will begin shortly after death. In Qiyamat every person – virtuous or an evil doer, will have to traverse over a bridge. This bridge will be above hell and it will join heaven at the end. One who is able to negotiate the bridge will enter heaven. On this bridge the deeds of every soul will be weighed on a scale. If the person’s good deeds outweigh the bad ones, he will go to heaven. If his sins are heavier than the good deeds, he will be thrown into hell. The virtuous will cross over this bridge very easily, whereas the evil ones will struggle and will fall in hell. (Tarikh-e-Jaame-e-Adyaan – translated by Ali Asgar Hikmat). The belief in Qiyamat is clearly a part of the Zoroastrian belief.
Torah and the belief in Qiyamat
Although Qiyamat is not clearly pointed out in the Torah it does hint towards it. In Judaism the focus is largely towards this world. However, with a little research we come across signs, which point towards the belief in Qiyamat. Following are a few examples:
- Fear Allah and protect His laws. This is the main duty for a person, because God will take the account of every good and bad deed.
(Jaama-e-Sulaiman verse 13-14, chap. 12)
- God is the One Who gives life and death. He is the One who makes us enter the grave and causes us to come out. God is the One who makes us poor and rich. He gives us respect and degradation.
(Book One Samuel, verse 7-8, chap. 2)
- Many people who are buried under the earth, will be raised. They are for the everlasting life and there are others for eternal disgrace and degradation. Wise people will be shining like the lighted sky, and those who guide others towards the path of justice – they will always remain like the stars.
(Book of Daniel chap. 12 verse 3-4)
Qiyamat – A rational necessity
We have already mentioned that the belief in Qiyamat is in the innate nature of man. The belief existed in all the nations and people, and more so in all divine religions. In this section we shall discuss about Qiyamat from the rational point of view.
- Everyday thousands of people are born and thousands leave this world. Is there an aim for this life and death? Is there no aim? Do men come in this world only for spending a few years here, eating, drinking and then abandoning it after death? Is there no other reason or objective for his birth? No, his birth is never aimless. We realise this when we look at the universe or even at our selves. We realise that there is nothing that is useless or vain, for instance – the heart, brain, liver, stomach, kidneys, etc., all these organs serve a purpose. The existence of each organ has its aim. Such systematic and perfect aim, that we are perplexed at its working. Is it possible that each organ has an aim, while the entire structure is aimless? The aql (intellect) of a person refuses to accept it. Man’s intellect sees that the existence of a person starts from sperm and gradually reaches to the stage of maturity. In this way the journey towards perfection continues. It is clear from this that man’s life is not limited to this worldly life, but there is a life in the hereafter, which is its true aim, without which this worldly life is useless and vain.
The Holy Quran has very nicely drawn our attention towards this fact:
‘What! Did you then think that we had created you in vain and that you shall not be returned to us?’
(Sura-e-Mo’minoon : 115)
‘Does man think he is to be left to wander without an aim? Was he not a small seed in the seminal elements, then he was a clot of blood, so He created (him) perfect. Then He made of him two kinds, the male and female. Is not He able to give life to the dead.’
- The good and the bad deeds of a person do not benefit or harm Allah in anyway. It is not incumbent upon Allah to praise or give reward to a person for his good deeds, because whatever good deeds a person performs, he does it with the strength and power given to him by Allah. Allah is the One, Who has created man and everything necessary for him. Due to this fact a person performing good deeds cannot demand anything from Allah, but since he has not done any wrong, Allah will not punish him as it will be against His justice.
This also applies to the sinners, but in a different way. It is not compulsory for Allah to punish an evildoer. Allah can deal with a sinner as He pleases and man has no say in the matter. If someone deals unjustly with you, it is not obligatory on you to punish him. If you want you can forgive him or if you want you can punish him. The kind of punishment you want to give also depends on you – the choice is yours. But the point is that all the people are not virtuous nor are all people bad, both these categories of people exist in this world, sinners as well as virtuous ones. To deal with these two distinct categories of people in the same manner and to consider them at the same level, is against the basic tenets of justice. The aql of man does not accept the good and the bad to be at par (i.e. equal). When there are two different kinds of people, there have to be two different ways of dealing with them. Quran has narrated in a very good way regarding the clear judgement of wisdom.
‘And We did not create the heavens and the earth and is what is between them in vain, that is the opinion of those who disbelieve. Then woe to those who disbelieve on account of the Fire. Shall we treat those who disbelieve and do good like the mischief makers in the earth? Or shall we make those who guard (against evil) like the wicked?’
(Surae Suad, verse 27-28)
- Allah, the Almighty has sent the prophets (a.s.) for the success and prosperity of the people and along with them he has revealed the laws and commands so that they invite the people to act upon it. There is no doubt that all these laws and commands are for our benefit. It is for their benefit that they act upon it, and if they do not act on it they are the losers.
Even then the people look upon these commands with disgust and feel that they are obstacles in the path of their ambitions and desires. Actually they cannot comprehend the simple fact that to act upon one’s desire leads to destruction and to follow the commands leads to success. They give preference to short-term benefits over the everlasting ones.
Even if the laws and commands are made well-known, it is no guarantee that it will be acted upon. For instance, we all are aware about the traffic rules and the consequences of disregarding them. Yet the awareness of these rules is not a sufficient guarantee that they will be followed, unless and until the punishment and reward for disregarding/following the rules are made clear.
Once we acknowledge the laws and commands, we see that the virtuous ones are not getting the reward of their good deeds nor are the evildoers being punished for their crimes. We see that the virtuous and the evildoers, the believers and infidels are all benefiting from the bounties of this world, in fact the evildoers and infidels are taking greater benefit of the worldly bounties. So obviously this world is not the place of reward and punishment. Then the question is ‘Are the record of deeds been closed for ever in this world?’
How can it be that a believer has given up his life in the path of Allah’s obedience and will not get any reward for it? And the infidels have spent their lives disobeying Allah and His commands and have not been chastised for it? On these grounds, it is necessary that there should be another world after this world. A world where all the dead are resurrected to life and each one is given his due for the deeds of this world.
‘On that day men shall be made to come out of their graves in groups so that they can see their deeds. So he who has done an atom’s weight of good shall see it. And he who has done an atom’s weight of evil shall see it.’
(Sura-e-Zilzal : 7-8)
For obeying the divine command and for effecting the reward and punishment the existence of Qiyamat is necessary. Due to the fear of Qiyamat alone a person will resist the temptation to sin and will not submit to his desires. The thought of Qiyamat wakes the person up from his sleep in the early hours of the morning and he presents himself in the presence of his Lord for prayers. He is prepared to fast in the scorching heat and fulfill his religious-financial obligations (khums, zakat) despite an intense attachment towards wealth. If there had been no Qiyamat – neither heaven nor hell, then except for the prophets (a.s.) and their successors (a.s.) none would have adhered to religion and its commands.
- It is an accepted fact that belief and good deeds are the result of goodness and perfection. On the other hand, disbelief and sins originate from degradation and vice. It is also a fact that true belief and good deeds which are the cause of salvation is not in this world – similarly for disbelief and sins. It is so because this world is a place for performing actions. It is a place of examination. The result of the actions is not witnessed in this world itself. Then will all deeds go in vain and man will not achieve his objective? When goodness demands a solution, then there will definitely be an answer for it. When all solutions and answers to all issues of life are available then it is not possible that the answer to faith and deeds, disbelief and sins are not available and these acts are in vain. There is an answer to it and that answer is Qiyamat. In Qiyamat the reward of good deeds and correct belief will be in the form of heaven, and the chastisement of disbelief and sins will be in the form of hell. In short, the intellect (aql) supports the belief in Qiyamat. Without this belief, neither is the aim of creation realized nor are the obedient ones distinguished from the disobedient ones. If the belief in Qiyamat does not exist there is no guarantee that the people will follow the laws nor will they prefer belief over disbelief.
Quran and the belief in Qiyamat
In the holy Quran, Qiyamat has been discussed in many places. On numerous occasions events and topics related to Qiyamat have been narrated. The highest number of verses in the Quran after Tauheed are related to Qiyamat. Approximately 1,300 verses related to Qiyamat have been revealed in the Quran.
The noble Quran very clearly outlines the belief in Qiyamat. It is narrated in Sura-e-Nisa, verse 87
‘Allah, there is no God but He – He will most certainly gather you together on the Resurrection Day, there is no doubt in it, and who is more true in word than Allah?’
In this verse, the verse begins with Tauheed and afterwards it talks about Qiyamat most emphatically. How clear is the tone and how decisive is the context? So also in Sura-e-Tagabun verse 7, it is mentioned
‘The disbelievers think that they shall never be raised, say: Aye! By my Lord! You shall most certainly be raised, then you shall most certainly be informed of what you did, and that is easy for Allah.’
In this verse also the Quran has clearly refuted the view of the disbelievers who believe that we shall not be raised. The Quran declares that not only will we be raised again, but we will be informed about our deeds. For more emphasis, the last sentence needs to be read attentively ‘to be brought to life the second time’. This concept is difficult in the eyes of the disbelievers but this is easy for Allah
Disbelievers and the belief in Qiyamat
The disbelievers do not accept the belief of Qiyamat and that we will be raised once again after death. They cannot digest that it is possible to come back to life a second time. Due to this the disbelievers used to make fun of people who would talk about coming back to life again.
‘And those who disbelieve say: Shall we point out to you a man who informs you that when you are scattered the utmost scattering you shall then be most certainly (raised) in (to) a new creation? He has spread a lie against Allah or there is madness in him.’
At times the disbelievers would associate Qiyamat with mirage, meaning that it is not a reality.
And if you say: Surely you shall be raised up after death, those who disbelieve would certainly say: This is nothing but clear magic.’
The noble Quran has proved the belief in Qiyamat in various ways:
- Allah’s Power and Authority
It is not something difficult or impossible for Allah to bring back the dead.
‘Have they not considered that Allah, Who created the heavens and the earth and was not tired by their creation, is able to give life to the dead? Aye! He has surely power over all things.’
(Sura-e- Ahqaf : 33)
In this way Allah’s power has been constantly emphasised upon in different Quranic verses. Nothing is easy or difficult for Allah, everything is the same for Him. Aspects of ease and difficulty are related to human beings, in accordance with the capacity they posses.
- First creation.
For those who reject Qiyamat, Allah has drawn their attention towards their initial creation. Remember the time when you were not worth mentioning, (non-existent) then We gave you life, so can We not give you life again?’ In Sura-e-Yasin, Allah proves this in a very beautiful manner, typical of the Quran.
Abi b. Khalaf brought a decayed bone in the presence of the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.). He crushed it with his fingers and questioned the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.): ‘who can give life again to this crushed bone (dust)?’
‘And he strikes out a likeness for Us and forgets his own creation. Says he who will give life to the bones when they are rotten?
His objection has been summarized in just the two words (complete).
Allah replies in the next verse:
‘Say: He will give life to them Who brought them into existence at first, and He is cognizant of all creation.’
- Life to the dead earth
It is similar to the previous example of human beings coming back to life again. The Quran makes the people realise this fact by giving another wonderful example. In addition to rational arguments, it gives an example that man can relate to and experience first hand. Quran describes the seasons of spring and autumn. In autumn we have seen how the earth turns lifeless. It is completely dry and parched and there is no scope of growing anything on it. But in the springtime, everything starts blossoming. The earth miraculously turns green and becomes very pleasing to the eye. We witness these changes time and again, but do not pay any heed to it. If we look at the spectacle of autumn and spring and reflect on it, we will realise that the matter of Qiyamat is very similar to this spectacle and it is as if the as we are witnessing Qiyamat itself time and again. After witnessing this transformation of autumn and spring, can there remain any doubt regarding Qiyamat?
‘And Allah is He Who sends the winds so they raise a cloud, then We drive it on to a dead country, and therewith We give life to the earth after its death; even so is the quickening.
(Sura-e-Fatir : 9)
The noble Quran has compared Qiyamat to the enlivening of the earth with rain. If Allah does not send down the rain, then who can give life to the dead earth? This concept is also underlined in Sura-e-Hajj : 5, Sura-e-Araf : 57, Sura-e-Qaf : 19, Sura-e-Zukhruf : 11.
- Birds coming back to life
The holy Quran advances many proofs to impress upon mankind the belief of Qiyamat. It discusses the enlivening of birds at the beckoning of Hazrat Ibrahim (a.s.) with Allah’s permission. The Quran has narrated this incident in Sura-e-Baqarah : 260:
Remember the time when Ibrahim said,
‘My Lord show me how Thou gives life to the dead. He said, ‘What! And do you not believe? He said, "Yes, but that my heart may be at ease. He said: Then take four of the birds, then train them to follow you, then place on every mountain a part of them, then call them, they will come to you flying.’
- Human beings being raised after death
We have already mentioned instances of the dead earth coming back to life by sprucing forth vegetation, as well as birds and now we shall talk about an incident from the Quran where humans were raised after being dead for many years.
‘Have you not considered those who went forth from their home, for fear of death and they were thousands, the Allah said to them, "Die" again He gave them life. Surely Allah is gracious to people…"
(Sura-e-Baqarah : 243)
Here Allah has not given life to one or two people, but to thousands. There cannot be a better and more effective proof of Allah’s domination and supremacy and His power to enliven the entire mankind in Qiyamat.
The noble Quran has established the occurrence of Qiyamat with reasoning as well as illustrations from history and daily life. This is so that there remains no doubt about this matter in the minds of skeptics.