Death and the Life After Death

Through religious doctrine, humanity has been shown a glimpse of what we will experience at the moment of death and the life after death. The Quran reveals some of the secrets surrounding the soul,

“It is Allah who takes away the souls at the time of their death, and those that die not during their sleep. He keeps those souls for which He has ordained death and sends the rest for a term appointed. Verily, in this are signs for people who think deeply.” (39:42)

In another verse, the spirit (soul) has been introduced in the following manner, “And they ask you concerning the spirit. Say,

‘The spirit, it is one of the things, the knowledge of which is only with my Lord, and of knowledge, you mankind have been given only a little.’” (17:85)

For the believers, the departure of the soul will be peaceful, God says,

“It will be said to the pious: ‘O you in complete rest and satisfaction! Come back to your Lord – you yourself well-pleased and also well-pleasing to Him! Enter then among my honored servants, and enter my Paradise.’” (89:27-30)

The Quran reveals that a person who is near death will become aware that he or she is going to die. For those who are destined for Hell, the parting of the soul will be accompanied by severe pain. The moment of death is described in the Quran as,

“Nay! When the soul reaches the collarbone, and it will be said, ‘Who can cure him and save him from death?’ And he, the dying person, will conclude that it is the time of departing, and he is shrouded; the drive on that day will be to your Lord.” (75:26-30)

When the deceased is buried, the soul will accompany their physical body to the grave. The soul will then be questioned therein by two angels concerning their lifetime actions, deeds, and faith. The soul will then remain alongside the body. Although the body will perish, the soul will remain living until the time of one’s resurrection on the Day of Judgment.[1]

Islam believes that before the time of Resurrection and the Day of Judgment, the souls of people in their graves will either live in comfort or distress before ultimately entering Heaven or Hell. This abode is called Barzakh. The life of Barzakh can be described as a small form of paradise or hell. A person’s faith, whether good or bad, will determine the atmosphere of Barzakh, namely, pleasant or unpleasant.[2]

Once, Prophet Jesus sent two messengers to the city of Antioch to call the people towards monotheism and the worshipping of the One God. One of the men of that town embraced the faith and followed the messengers. The king of the land ordered him to be killed. As the righteous man was dying he said,

“Verily I have believed in your Lord. So listen to me.” When the disbelievers were about to kill him, he heard a voice which said: ‘Enter paradise.’ He said, “Would that my people knew what my Lord Allah has forgiven me and made me one of the honored ones.”(36:25-27)

The paradise that the man had entered was the small form of paradise called Barzakh.

The descriptions of the small hell and the ultimate Hell are very vivid and painful in the Quran, and one description states,

“Evil torment encompassed the Pharaoh [and his people]—the fire: they are exposed to it morning and afternoon [in the Barzakh], and on the day when the Hour will be established [Hell].” (40:46)

[1] See Quran 56:1-56.
[2] Quran 36:26-27.

Discovering Islam by Sayed Moustafa Al-Qazwini

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