Resurrection

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Resurrection (Arabic: معاد, Ma'ād) is one of the roots of faith in Islam and means the return of people after death into life in the day of judgment (qiyama). According to this belief, all of people will become alive in the day of judgment and their actions will be judged in the presence of God and they will be requited.

Resurrection has a great importance in Islam and nearly one third of Qur'an is about the resurrection and subjects related to it.

Believing in the resurrection has a great effect in the manner of life and causes people to do more good and avoid evil.

Resurrection could be imagined in two ways: spiritual resurrection, bodily resurrection.

The most important objections proposed about the subject is about the rational possibility of resurrection; some of which are: the objection of the eater and the eaten, the objection of returning the extinct, and the objection about the knowledge and the power of God.

Qur'an mentions some instances of resurrection in order to prove the possibility of resurrection. Proving the rational possibility of resurrection is possible using rational reasons, like: the reason of the creation (fitra), the reason of wisdom, the reason of justice, and the reason of mercy.

Ibn Sina (Avicenna) and Peripatetic philosophers don't consider the bodily resurrection rationally provable, but according to hadith believing in it is necessary. Mulla Sadra tried to reconcile the philosophy and religious sources about the bodily resurrection, with the theory of imaginal body.

Concept

Ma'ad (Arabic: معاد) means to return; and in the term of theologians, means the livening of people after death, and in the judgment day (qiyama) their actions will be judged and the righteous people will reach their reward and the bad people will meet their punishment.[1]

Importance

Believing in the resurrection effects the life in two ways:

  • Personal life: the main motive of the person's actions is to fulfill the one's needs and wishes, and ultimately to reach an eternal happiness without any suffering. But the behavior of a person is related to the recognition of the goals of life. If someone assumes that the life is only limited to the worldly life, he will put all his efforts in order to reach the worldly joys and to benefit the most from the rich of the world. In contrast when someone recognizes himself upper than the worldly life and does not acknowledge the death as the end of life, and considers his actions as a road to reach his eternal happiness in the afterlife (akhira), plans his life in a way to be the most beneficent for his eternal life.
  • Social life: the belief in the resurrection, has a great effect in the social life and the mutual behavior of people. Believing in the next life and the eternal reward and punishment, has a great effect in regarding the other's rights and helping the poor. When this belief is accepted in a society, there will be less pressure needed for implementation of the justly rules and for preventing cruelty. Obviously if this belief was globally accepted, the international struggles would be less.

The importance of the belief in the resurrection is to the extent that even the monotheism, if not accompanied by believing in the resurrection, is not enough for giving a direction to one's life. This is the reason of the emphasis of the Abrahamic religions on resurrection and the especial effort of divine prophets in the strengthening of the belief in hearts of people.[2]

Soul

The correct imagination of resurrection is only possible when the true realization of the soul is achieved. In the divine view, the soul is something other than the body and its attributes.

It is necessary to note and admit some points about the soul:

  • The soul exists
  • The soul is something substantive, not one of the phenomenon of the body.
  • The soul can live independent to the body and remains alive after death of the body.
  • The combination of the soul and the body is not a combination in which with the death of one side, the other side also dies, but the soul is the main part of the existence of human and as far as the soul lives, the identity and the character of the person is preserved.

This is the reason why changing the material of the body cells does not interfere the unity of the person; because the true criterion of the unity of a human, is the unity of his soul. The soul is taken by the angel of death ('Izra'il), while the body gradually rots and disappears.[3]

In Qur'an (32:10-11), mentioning the existence of the soul, answers the objection of deniers of resurrection:

Theories

Denial of resurrection

Some of the old theologians thought that, the resurrection means the returning of the extinct. They thought that when a human dies, he completely disappears and becomes extinct; so when the religions announce about the resurrection it means that the human after becoming extinct, will be returned.[4]

Proving the resurrection

Those who believe in this vary in some branches:

Spiritual resurrection: Islamic Peripatetic philosophers not only considered the bodily resurrection improvable, but also because of rational objections, recognized it as unacceptable. They believed that the resurrection is the return of the soul, without the body, because the body is destroyed after death and only the soul remains. Yet according to Ibn Sina (Avicenna) the greatest Islamic Peripatetic philosopher, although it is rationally unprovable that the body returns in the day of judgment, but because the Prophet (s) had announced it, this is a proof and it must be believed.[5]

Bodily resurrection: According to this view, the whole reality of man is his body and after death it decomposes. in the Judgement Day, this body by divine knowledge and power will reconstruct. In this view there is no resurrection for soul.[6]

Spiritual and Bodily resurrection: There are three view in this regard:

Return of the Soul to the Worldly Body: Theologians referring to Qur'an and Hadith, believe that in the qiyama day, this worldly body or another body like it, will be resurrected with the soul.[7]

Bodily resurrection with the imaginal body: Mulla Sadra faced two points: in one side, Qur'an and Hadith, clearly speak about the return of the body of people, and in the other side, considers the resurrection with the worldly body rationally unprovable, because of some objections -like the objection of the eater and the eaten-, so with the theory of the imaginal body he reconciled the two.[8]

Return of body to the soul: Some of followers of Hikmat al-Muta'aliyya believe that in the judgment day, body will not construct by the self but it is the body which continue to move and improve. This movement continue until the body gain the capability of returning to the soul in the Judgement Day.[9]

Proving the Resurrection

There are two kinds of reasons for proving the resurrection. The first, proves the necessity of the other world, and the second, proves the possibility of the resurrection. Some of the reasons are mentioned in Qur'an and Hadith.

Reasons of the Necessity of the Resurrection

Reason of the Creation (Fitra)

The reason consists of some premises:

  • Every human, by creation (fitra), has a desire for permanence.
  • No desire in human is null, because God is wise and the wise does not do anything null.
  • The worldly life is not permanent
  • So it is necessary to be a permanent world, in which the desire of human to permanence is satisfied.[10]

Reason of Wisdom (Hikma)

The reason consists of some premises:

  • Human and the world are creations of God
  • Creations of God are not null
  • God had created the world in manner that the most goodness possible is accomplished.
  • The material world, is a mixed of good and bad that are in struggle with each other.
  • Human, has an immortal soul and can reach a permanent goodness.
  • If the life is limited to this world, the aim of God from the creation of the world is not fulfilled, because there's no benefit in making a thing, then destroying it.

So knowing that God is wise, it is necessary to exist another world beyond this worldly life, so that the aim of the creation is satisfied. Specially that there are many difficulties in this worldly life, so even if the permanent continuation of the worldly life was possible, it was not compatible with the wisdom of God.[11]

The reason is mentioned in Qur'an (44:38-41):

Reason of Mercy

  • The mercy of God covers all of His creatures;
  • Covering of the God's mercy to all of creatures requires that every creature has a chance to activate its talents;
  • Human achieves the maturity and gains the ability to benefit from spiritual gifts;

This world, because of its limits, does not have the capacity of the spiritual gifts.

So there have to be another world in which everyone can benefit from the results of the maturity he has achieved.[12]

In Qur'an (6:12) this reason is mentioned:

Reason of Justice

  • One of the attributes of God is the Just;
  • In the worldly life people have free will to choose between good and bad actions;
  • Some people have used their freedom to worship God and service of others; and in contrast, there are criminals who have chased their lust in their lifetime and have committed the worst sins;
  • The divine justice of God requires that everyone sees the results of his actions, good people get rewarded, and the bad get their punishment.
  • This world does not have the capacity that people see the requital of their actions; as most of people do not see the punishment or the reward of their actions in their life;

Therefore, as this world is for the test of people and fulfilling the tasks God had appointed them to; there must be another world for the appearance of the results of the actions of people, so that the justice of God is fulfilled.[13]

In Qur'an, in some verses, the difference of the good people and the bad, and their different destinations, is mentioned (45:21-22):

Reasons of the Possibility of the Resurrection

In Qur'an different occurrences of the dead returning to life is mentioned, so that the believers in Qur'an are assured that the resurrection is possible and feasible, and God is able to do it.

The cases of the dead became alive mentioned in Qur'an are:

Companions of the Cave:

The story of the companions of the cave is mentioned in Qur'an, Allah introduces the reason of their second life and the discovery of people about them, for that people know that there is no doubt about the occurrence of the resurrection.

Resurrection Miracles of Jesus

In Qur'an the miracles of Jesus ('Isa) (a) is mentioned, that he was rising the dead, with the permission of God (3:49):

Budding of the Plants

The budding of the plants in the spring after they became dry in the autumn is similar to the resurrection of human after the death.

Qur'an (30:50) considers the budding of the plants as an example of the rising of the dead:

Also there are other instances of the resurrection mentioned in Qur'an.

Resurrection in Qur'an

Importance of the Resurrection in Qur'an

More than one third of the verses of Qur'an, are about the eternal life; these verses could be categorized in seven categories:

  • Verses state the necessity of believing the afterlife (akhira)[14]
  • Verses state the harsh results of rejecting the resurrection.[15]
  • Verses mention the eternal gifts of the paradise[16]
  • Verses mention the punishments of the hell[17]
  • Verses note the connection of good and bad actions with the destination in the afterlife
  • Verses describe the possibility and the necessity of the resurrection
  • Verses answered the questions and objections of the deniers of the resurrection
  • Verses state that the root of all the crimes and the deviances is the denial of the resurrection.[18]

Most of the dialogues and advices of the prophets to their people was on the subject of the resurrection. Their effort to prove the resurrection was even more than monotheism; because the resistance of people in accepting this subject is more than other beliefs.

Roots of the Denial of the Resurrection

In Qur'an's view, the root of some people's denial of the resurrection is:

  • Materialism: In the view of materialists, every incorporeal subject is denied.
  • Tendency to irresponsibility: the psychological motive of tendency to irresponsibility and immorality, causes the denial of the resurrection; because believing in the resurrection and the day of judgment is a powerful factor for feeling responsibility and accepting the moral limitations and self-controlling; in the opposite, denying the resurrection opens all the gates to all of evil (Qur'an, 75:5):
  • Some theoretical objections: there has been some rational objections about the possibility of the resurrection.

Answer of Some Objections

Objection of the Eater and the Eaten

According to the objection of the eater and the eaten, which is one of the oldest objections about the bodily resurrection, if a person eats another person, in the time of the resurrection, will the eaten parts be in the body of the eater or in the body of the eaten? Either way, the body of one of them will not be resurrected completely. The Peripatetic philosophers, referring the objection, believed that the bodily resurrection is not rationally provable. But the theologians attempted to answer the objection. Most of the theologians, differentiated between the basic and non-basic parts of body, and claimed that the basic parts of human body never become part of the body of another. Mulla Sadra, proposing the theory of the imaginal body, which is not a subject to the question, offered another expression of the bodily resurrection.[19]

Objection of the Returning of the Extinct

One of the objection discussed about the resurrection is that when a human dies, his body becomes extinct. Then, if the resurrection is true, so God has to return something that is extinct; and because the return of the extinct is rationally impossible, so is the resurrection.

In Qur'an the objection and its answer is mentioned (32:10-11):

So the resurrection is the return of the existing soul not something extinct.

Objection about the knowledge and the power of God and the ability of body

In the objection, it is stated that every action need a doer and also an object to which the action be applied. If the resurrection is going to be done, in one hand there must be someone with enough knowledge and power to do so, and in the other hand the body must have the ability to be returned, while the life has its own conditions which becomes available gradually, like an embryo in a womb with appropriate conditions, to gradually becomes complete and turns into a human; but in a body which is dead and disjointed such a condition is not present so it cannot come back to life.[20]

Qur'an answered the objection in some verses, in some, compared the resurrection to the germination of seeds from the soil, and in some other compared the resurrection with the first creation of human (22:5); and so mentions the infinite knowledge of God and His power to resurrect the people; so it is possible that a rotten body which is turned into soil rises and comes back to life:

About the ability of the dead body for becoming alive again, it must be said that the rules and the system present in the world is not the only system possible, and the rules and causes known in the world are not the only rules and causes for the occurrences, as there have occurred many extraordinary occurrences like the livening of dead people and animals, some of which are mentioned in Qur'an.[21]

Qur'an (20:51-52) says about the infinite knowledge of God:

See also

Notes

  1. Khatami, Farhang, vol.1 p.204
  2. Misbah, Amuzish-i 'aqayid, p.339-341
  3. Misbah, Amuzish-i 'aqayid, p.350-357
  4. Razi, Al-Arba'in, vol.2 p.39
  5. Ibn Sina, Al-Shifa, p.423; Razi, Al-Arba'in, vol.2 p.55
  6. Khush Suhbat, Ma'ad jismani, p.38
  7. Hilli, Al-Bab al-Hadi 'ashr, p.207; Razi, Al-Arba'in, vol.2 p.55
  8. Mulla Sadra, Al-Hikma al-muta'aliya, vol.9 p.189-200
  9. Kadiwar, Majmu'i Musannafat Hakim Aqa 'Ali Mudarris Tehrani, vol.2 p.93
  10. Fayd Kashani, 'Ilm al-yaqin, vol.2 p.827; Khomeini, Sharh chihil hadith, p.186
  11. Misbah, Amuzish-i 'aqayid, p.364-365; Sa'idi mihr, Amuzish kalam, vol.2 p.274; Hilli, Kashf al-murad, p.258
  12. Rabbani Gulpaygani, 'Aqayid istidlali, vol.2 p.190
  13. Misbah, Amuzish-i 'aqayid, p.366
  14. Qur'an 2:4; 27:3
  15. Qur'an 17:10; 25:11; 34:8; 23:74
  16. Qur'an 55:46-78; 56:15-38; 76:11-21
  17. Qur'an 69:20-27; 67:6-11; 56:42-56
  18. Qur'an 38:26; 32:140
  19. Mulla Sadra, Al-Hikma al-muta'aliya, vol.9 p.190-191
  20. Misbah, Amuzish-i 'aqayid, p.380
  21. Misbah, Amuzish-i 'aqayid, p.380

References

  • The material for this article is mainly taken from معاد in Farsi Wikishia.
  • Khatami, Ahmad, Farhang-i 'ilm-i kalam. Tehran: Nashr Saba, 1370
  • Misbah Yazdi, Muhammad Taqi, Amuzish-i 'aqayid. Tehran: Chap wa Nashr-i Bayn al-Milal, 1377
  • Razi, Fakhr al-Din al-, Al-Arba'in fi usul al-din. Cairo: Maktaba al-Kulliyat al-Azhariyya, 1986
  • Ibn Sina, al-Husayn b. 'Ali, Al-Shifa. Qom: Maktaba Ayatullah Mar'ashi, 1404
  • Khush Suhbat, Murtada, Ma'ad-i jismani az manzar-i 'Allama Tabataba'i ba ta'kid bar tafsir-i al-mizan. Ma'rifat-i Kalami mag. N.12 p.35-56 1393
  • Hilli, al-Hasan b. Yusuf al-, Al-Bab al-hadi 'ashr ma'a sharhayh al-nafi' yam al-hashr wa miftah al-bab. Tehran: Mu'assisa Mutali'at Islami, 1365
  • Mulla Sadra, Sadr al-Din Muhammd, Al-Hikma al-muta'aliyya fi al-asfar al-arba'at al-'aqliyya. Beirut: Dar Ihya' al-Turath, 1981
  • Kadiwar, Muhsin, Majmu'i Musannafat Hakim Mu'assis Aqa 'Ali Mudarris Tehrani. Tehran: Mu'assisa Ittila'at, 1378
  • Fayd Kashani, Musin, 'Ilm al-yaqin fi usul al-din. Qom: Bidar, 1418
  • Khomeini, Ruh Allah, Sharh-i chihil hadith. Mu'assisa Tanzim wa Nashr Athar Imam Khomeini, 1378
  • Sa'idi Mihr, Muhammad, Amuzish-i kalam-i Islami. Kitab-i Taha, 1385
  • Rabbani Gulpayigani, 'Ali, 'Aqayid-i istidlali. Nasayih, 1380