The Day of Judgment in Islam
By: Professor Maqsood Jafri
As justice is the main concern of Islam it is necessary that people should get justice in this world and the world hereafter. It sounds natural and logical that everyone should reap what he has sown. One should receive the fruit of his deeds. If one has sown flowers he should pluck flowers. If one has sown thorns he should pick thorns. Virtues breed virtues and vices breed vices. The Day of Judgment in the Quran has been also named as the Day of Reckoning, the Day of Resurrection, the Dooms day or the Day of Accountability. The account of the deeds of everyone is being maintained. Islamic concept of two angels maintaining the record of ever word and movement is scientific. The video has solved this mystery. The alpha and beta rays have special role in photographic process. The Gamma rays play their own part. It is a great lesson. If through material rays we can preserve activities there should be no doubt about our record preserved by the special divine agencies. The Quran in Sura “The Friday Prayers” announces: “The death from which you flee will truly overtake you; then will you be sent back to the knower of the things secret and open; and He will tell you (the truth) of the things you did.”(62:8)
Everybody’s record is being maintained during his life period. It is very accurate record. The day of judgement is the day of justice. No body will be wronged. His limbs will be his witness. He will see his record and his video film will be shown to him. Everyone will be rewarded or punished according to his deeds. The Quran in Sura “The Israelite” says; “Everyman’s fate we have fastened on his own neck. On the Day of Judgment we shall bring out for him a scroll, which he will see spread open. Read thine record sufficient is thy soul this day to make out an account against thee”. (17:13-14).
As the literal meaning of Arabic word used for the Day of Judgment “Qayamah” is to raise up, hence the question arise as to why they should be raised up after demise. There are three reasons for “Qayamah”. (a) It is the demand of natural and divine justice that everyone should get the result of his life examination. As in academies one is given result of his tests, similarly everyone must get the result whether he passes or fails. About the examination of Life in Sura “The Bee” the Quran says: “Whoever works righteousness, man or woman, and has Faith, verily to him we will give a new life, a life that is good and pure, and we will bestow on such their reward according to the best of their actions.” (16:97). (b) Had there been no concept of the Day of Judgment there would have been no human morality. Might is right would have become the law of the day. Atheists are of two types. The ideological atheist and the practical atheist. The practical atheist is the one who claims to have a religious faith but in practical life he acts otherwise. It is my considered opinion that the man who believes in God and fears God can never be a sinner or a transgressor. Hence to maintain the supremacy of Right over Might we must believe in the concept of the Day of Judgment. The concepts of Hell and Heaven are very essential to keep balance in human conduct. The tyrants, the oppressors, the murderers and the aggressors must be punished. If they escape in this world because of their power, pelf and influence they must be punished on Doomsday. Abraham must be rewarded and Nimrod must be chastised. Moses must be rewarded and Pharaoh be punished. Hussain be rewarded and Yazid be punished. It is divine justice and God promises that. In the Quran in Sura “Abraham” about the virtuous and righteous people God says; “But those who believe and work righteousness be admitted to gardens beneath which rivers flow. To dwell therein for aye with the permission of their lord.”(14:23). (c) All the prophets have promised this day. They were sooth – sayers. They were divinely appointed. They were not liars. They were the messengers and warners sent from God. We must believe in their words and vows. We have no reason to reject or refute them. They valiantly, patiently and boldly bore the inflictions and excesses. They were tortured. They were persecuted. They were executed. But they never bowed before tyrants and vicious forces. Their steadfastness and perseverance testifies the truth of their mission when such truthful people believed in the Doomsday, we have no reason to disbelieve in which they believed. Now let us briefly discuss the Quranic logic about the Day of Judgment. The Quran refutes the plea of the unbelievers who say that how it can happen. After death when we will be turned into dust, then how can we resurrect? The Quran in Sura “Yasin” announces; “Does not man realize that we created him from a seed of fluid? Yet he does not believe and forgets even his own creation. He says as to who could revive the decayed bones back to life from nonentity.” (36:79). After giving the argument of first birth the Quran gives the second argument. It says: “one of the clear divine signs is that you see the earth dead and motionless, but as soon as Allah pours rain on it, it comes to life and becomes fertile and green. Allah who revives the dead earth to life will also revive the dead man to life. Allah is able to do all things: (41:39). Then in Sura “Saad” the Quran gives third argument on the basis of Justice. It is related to the Islamic concept of Good and Bad. The Quran says: “We have not created the heavens and the earth and all that is between them in vain, though this is the belief of the infidels. Woe to the disbelievers; they will suffer the torment of the Hellfire. Do we consider the righteously striving believers equal to the evil doers in the earth? Are the pious ones equal to those who openly commit sins?” (38:27-28).
These are the Quranic arguments about the Day of Judgment which no same person can reject. In verse 20 of Sura The Iron, in verse 20 of Sura Winding Sand Tracts and in verse 200 of Sura The Heifer the necessity of the Day of Judgement is mentioned. In Sura Mominun in verse 100 about ‘Barzakh’ (purgatory) the Quran says: “After death people will be behind Barzakh until the day of their resurrection. (23:100). According to the Quran it will be a great blast and earthquake. On the Day of Judgment people will emerge from their graves and congregate. The unbelievers will be raised with black faces and the righteous one with bright faces. The virtuous will be given the book, result sheet in to their right hands and the evil doers will be given in to their left hands. It will be an eternal life. May Allah grant us guidance to do good deeds and abstain from evil deeds!
(The writer is an eminent speaker and scholar on Islam. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org)
1. Those who are martyred in the Way of Allah remain alive for ever. (The Prophets and Imams are superior than the martyrs; and as such, they are also alive). About the martyrs Allah says in the Qur'an:
“And think not those who are slain in the way of Allah, to be dead; nay! Alive they are with their Lord; are being sustained, rejoicing for those who have not yet joined them from behind them, that no fear shall come to them nor shall they grieve. They rejoice in the grace from Allah and (His) bounty, and in the fact that Allah does not (allow) the reward of the believers to be lost.” (Qur'an, 3:169-171).
2. The souls of the believers always look forward for the gifts from their near and dear ones, and especially so on Fridays and Friday eve. This gift may be in the form of prayers, alms, and other good deeds done on their behalf; one may also perform any Sunnat deed and pray to Allah to give its Thawab (Reward) to one's dead.1
3. The souls are sometimes allowed to visit their relatives who are alive. So far as the believers are concerned, there is no doubt about their visit. According to many Ahadith, even that believer who has the lowest rank is allowed to visit his relatives once every Friday. Those above him in rank may be allowed more frequently.
According to some Ahadith, even some unbelievers are allowed to visit their relatives so that their sorrow and grief may increase by seeing those relatives in disbelief and sin and realizing that they also would be punished in Akherat if they persisted in rejecting Islam and Iman.2
4. It must be mentioned here that the souls of the unbelievers remain in punishment and are not free to do any mischief to any one. Therefore, the idea of some people that this or that person became a ghost after his death is sheer superstition. There is no basis to accept such beliefs, prevalent in Hinduism.
Of course, there are Jinns, and among them, according to the Qur 'an, there are some evil ones also. But it does not mean that the evil Jinns have no other interest except teasing the East African residents of Indian origin. It is really surprising to listen to such lamentations that 'I have chronic headache, and so and so (a Sheikh, or Amil, or sorcerer) has said that a very evil Jinn (Kalkail, Dardail or some such name) is upon me.'
The belief in magic or sorcery is prevalent in Africa, and the East African Shias also have some Hindu background (as they have originated from India), and unfortunately, the people who came to guide them in religious matters from Iran (and lately from India) found this ready belief in ghosts (and evil Jinn) conducive to their material gains. The result is that if, for example, there is a dispute between a husband and wife, each party tries to obtain the most effective 'Hirz” to subjugate the other party. (Incidentally, it would be the most expensive also!) Neither of them would think of amending oneself to win the heart of the spouse. The result, of course, is Divorce.
Of course, there are many 'Hirz' taught by our Imams, which may be seen in Biharu'l-anwar3and many of them are 'Sahih' (Correct). But the writers of 'Hirz' today do not confine themselves to those correctly narrated Ahadith; and what is more despicable is their selling their 'Hirz' and turning it into a merchandise. Who has ever heard that spiritual benefits could be sold and bought?
Before we go further, it is advisable to mention some Ayats of the Qur'an with their interpretations.
5. “Until, when death overtakes any of them, he says, 'O Lord; cause me to return (to life), so that I may do that which is right which I had neglected.' By no means. Verily these are (mere) words which he speaks (he will not change his ways) and behind them there is a bar (partition) until the day they shall be resurrected” (Qur'an, 23:99-100).
This Ayat describes the sorrow, shame and grief of the unbelievers, when they face death. At that time they desire to be returned to life, so that they may amend the ways of their lives and become virtuous. Of course, such wish will not be granted to them. But by telling the believers what the unbelievers would ardently wish, Allah reminds the believers not to waste the opportunity of doing good, lest we also should wish like that at the approach of death.
6. “Allah shall confirm them who believe, by the steadfast word (of faith) in this life and the next one; but Allah shall leave the wicked into error; and Allah does what He pleases” (Qur'an, 14:27)
It means that Allah keeps the believers steadfast in their faith in this life by the Creed of the Unity of Allah, and will keep them firmly on the path of Paradise in Qiyamat by the same Creed.
But according to the interpretation of our Imams (A) , the word 'next world' in this Ayat refers to the grave. Accordingly, this Ayat refers to questioning in the grave. It says that Allah will keep the believers steadfast in the grave because of their Creed. This help from Allah needs no further explanation because we have seen how Allah by His Grace, exempts them from questioning if the Talqin has been recited for them, or if they have died on Friday or Friday eve. Even when they are questioned, Allah sends Hadhrat Ali (A) to help them at that time. In this way their faith is confirmed.
As for others, Allah leaves them in their error in the grave, because they rejected the divine guidance in this life.
7. “They (the unbelievers) shall say (on the Day of Resurrection). 'O Lord, thou hast given us death twice, and thou hast twice given us life; and we confess our sins; is there, therefore, any way to get forth (from retribution)?” (Qur'an, 40:11)
According to many traditions, two deaths and two lives mean death in this world, then resurrection in the grave for questioning, then death in the grave after questioning, then resurrection on the Day of Reckoning.
According to others, it refers to Raj'at (Return), which is briefly mentioned in ch. 36.