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Bodily Resurrection

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Shi'a Beliefs
Tawhid (Monotheism) Tawhid of EssenceTawhid in AttributesTawhid in ActionsTawhid in Worship
Other Beliefs TawassulShafa'aTabarruk
Divine Justice
Bada'Amr Bayn al-Amrayn
Infallibility'Ilm al-ghaybMu'jizaIntegrity of the Holy Qur'an
InfallibilityWilaya'Ilm al-ghaybOccultation of Imam al-Mahdi (a) (Minor Occultation,Major Occultation) • Reappearance of Imam al-Mahdi (a)Raj'a
AkhiraBarzakhBodily ResurrectionSiratTatayur al-KutubMizanHashr
Other Outstanding Beliefs
Ahl al-Bayt (a)The Fourteen InfalliblesTaqiyyaal-Marja'iyya al-DiniyyaTawalliTabarri

Bodily resurrection or al-Ma'ad al-Jismani (Arabic: المعاد الجسماني) is an Islamic doctrine according to which a human being will be resurrected on Dooms Day (Qiyama) with both of his or her body and soul. This is a belief over which all Muslims have consensus, though there are disagreements about its features and qualities. According to a popular view among scholars of Kalam, the very physical body in this world will be resurrected on Dooms Day. To support their view, they appeal to Quranic verses and hadiths. Islamic philosophers have different views about bodily resurrection, from a philosophical denial of the phenomenon to a version of bodily resurrection according to which human beings will be resurrected with bodies different from their material or physical bodies in this world, such as Mithali (imaginal) or Hurqaliyayi bodies. According to Islamic philosophers, it is intellectually compromised to believe the apparent implications of the Quranic verses and hadiths. In order to solve the disagreement between the view of philosophers and the apparent implications of the Quran and hadiths, Mulla Sadra has propounded the theory of bodily resurrection with Mithali bodies.


The word "Ma'ad" (Arabic: المعاد) literally means return or where people return to. In the terminology of the scholars of Kalam, the word means resurrection—the return of the dead to life in the afterlife—which is of two sorts: bodily (Arabic: جسمانی, Jismani), and spiritual (Arabic: روحانی, Ruhani).

In this approach, the doctrine of the bodily resurrection is essential to Islam, the denial of which leads to infidelity. According to this doctrine, human beings are composed of a soul and a body. When their this-worldly life ends, they go to the world of Barzakh. When the Dooms Day arrives, they go back to life with both of their bodies and souls, and they go to God for an evaluation of their actions in this world. If they were righteous during their mundane lives, they will be blessed by heaven, and if they were wrong-doers, they will be punished by the hell.


Different theories have been proposed about the bodily resurrection. Some people deny the doctrine, and some people have accepted it. Proponents of the doctrine differ, in turn, over what bodily resurrection will be like. Here is an outline of such theories:

The return of the very mundane material body: scholars of Kalam have appealed to the apparent implications of the Quranic verses and hadiths to show that on Dooms Day, the very body one had during his or her life in this world or something like it will be resurrected together with his or her soul.

The conjunction of the soul with a Mithali body: in order to reconcile evidence from the Quran and hadith with philosophical principles, Mulla Sadra presented a new theory about bodily resurrection. According to this theory, after its separation from the material body, the human soul will create a body for itself which is congenial to the worlds of Barzakh and Qiyama and is nonetheless qualitatively similar or indistinguishable from its this-worldly or mundane body. The Mithali body is not identical with the mundane body, rather it is just qualitatively similar to it, and while it has material features (such as shape and size), it is not material (it has no matter—no mass or volume).

The return of the elemental body to the immaterial soul: some proponents of the Transcendent Philosophy of Mulla Sadra, such as Aqa Ali Zunuzi, maintain that, unlike what Mulla Sadra thinks, the body is not created in the afterlife by the soul. Instead, the mundane body (the one we have in this world) continues its development and perfection after its separation from the immaterial soul. This substantial motion continues to the point where the body is so developed that it can be conjoined with the immaterial soul once again. Therefore, in the afterlife, it is not the soul that returns to the body; rather it is the body that develops towards to the soul and returns to it.

Bodily resurrection with a developed elemental body: other proponents of the Transcendent Philosophy, such as Sayyid Abu l-Hassan al-Rafi'i al-Qazwini, take Mulla Sadra's view to be in direct contradiction with the apparent implications of Quranic verses and hadiths. According to his own view, the human soul attaches to a Mithali body after its separation from the material body. And when the elements of the material body undergo a natural evolution and are capable of appearing in the afterlife, the bodily resurrection occurs. The afterlife body is created by the earth and mundane materials, and it can be adapted to the afterlife through a gradual development, so that it can be attached to the immaterial soul.

Resurrection with a Hurqaliyati body: according to the view propounded by Ahmad b. Zayn al-din b. Ibrahim al-Ahsa'i, the founder of Shaykhiyya sect, human beings have two physical bodies. The first one is the mundane body they have in this world, which will turn into earth after death and will be destroyed. The second one is not visible; it is the Tinat (nature or temperament) that survives the destruction of human bodies in graves. At the time of death, the soul is separated from the first body, but the second body survives and attaches to the soul in the afterlife. The resurrection will occur with this latter body, and it is the body with which people go to heaven or hell.

Origin of Controversies

Some disagreements about the bodily resurrection have their origin in some objections to the doctrine. Some people accept these objections, believing that the material, elemental body does not return to existence after the death, but some people try to counter the objection in different ways. Some evidence for the doctrine of the bodily resurrection are intellectual or philosophical, and some are from the tradition of Quranic verses and hadiths. And some objections to the bodily resurrection include: the impossibility of reappearance of non-existents (or I'ada al-Ma'dum), the Eater and the Eaten objection, and the impossibility of metempsychosis (or Tanasukh.

The second origin of controversies are the different views concerning the nature of human beings. Thus people, such as Islamic philosophers, who believe that human beings have immaterial souls, accept only the spiritual resurrection. Some people who deny the immaterial soul, such as scholars of Kalam, subscribe only to the bodily resurrection, and some people, such as atheists (who take the human beings to be identical to its body), deny both the bodily and the spiritual resurrections.

Quranic Verses

There are three verses of the Quran regarding cases of reviving the dead which might be appealed to in favor of the bodily resurrection:

These cases might show the possibility of the bodily resurrection.

Moreover, there are some Quranic verses referring to the dead coming out of their graves in the resurrection, such as verses 24 and 25 of Sura al-A'raf and verses 66-68 of Sura Maryam, as well as verse 7 of Sura al-Hajj.


In order to explain the bodily resurrection in terms of the Quranic verses and hadiths, there are some points to be taken account of:

  • According to the apparent implications of such textual evidence, the elemental, material body returns with its main parts.
  • The afterlife and the mundane bodies are exact, indistinguishable duplicates, rather than being identical.

According to hadiths, whatever turns into earth or whatever is eaten by animals will not be missed in divine knowledge. All the earths (to which human bodies have turned) will be reassembled and by the leave of God, it will go where the soul is, regaining its previous human shape and form, and finally attaching to the soul. According to some other hadiths, though people's bones and flesh turn into earth, their Tinat (the nature) or the main parts from which the person was created will survive. These parts that can never be destroyed will regain their previous shape in the afterlife.

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