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Resurrection

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Maʿād or Resurrection (Arabic: معاد) is one of the roots of faith in Islam and means the return of people after death into life on the Day of Judgment (qiyama). According to this belief, all of the people will be resurrected on 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.

Concept

Ma'ad (Arabic: معاد) means to return; and in the terminology of theology, it 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 receive their punishment.[1]

Importance

Believing in the resurrection influences 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 on the social life and the mutual behavior of people. Believing in the next life and the eternal reward and punishment, has a great effect on 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 just rules and for prevention of 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 accidents for the body.
  • The soul is independent from the body and remains alive after the body decomposes.
  • 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 the replacement of the body cells does not compromise 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 decomposes and disappears.[3]

The 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 one dies, one 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 resurrection hold various opinions as follows:

  1. Spiritual resurrection only: 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 on the Day of Judgment, but because the Prophet (s) had announced it, this is a proof and it must be believed.[5]
  2. Bodily resurrection only: 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]
  3. Spiritual and Bodily resurrection: This view is a kind of combination between previous theories. Supporters of this view explain their idea differently:
Main article: Bodily Resurrection
  1. The return of soul to the very mundane material body
  2. The return of the soul to the etheric body
  3. The return of the elemental body to the immaterial soul
  4. The return of the soul to a developed elemental body
  5. The soul creates a body for itself adaptive to its attributes and the world after the Resurrection
  6. Resurrection with a Hurqaliya'i body

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 the 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 to be eternal.
  • No desire in human is null, because God is wise and the wise does not do anything null.
  • The worldly life is not eternal
  • So it is necessary to have a permanent world, in which the desire of human to be eternal is satisfied.[7]

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 has created the world in such a manner that the most goodness possible is accomplished.
  • The material world, is a mixture of good and evil 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, there must be another world beyond this worldly life, so that the aim of the creation is satisfied, especially due to 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.[8]

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 one has achieved.[9]

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

Reason of Justice

  • One of the attributes of God is Justice;
  • 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 serve 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 the 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 people to see the results of their actions, so that the justice of God be fulfilled.[10]

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

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

Companions of the Cave:

The story of the companions of the cave is mentioned in the 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 the 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 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 the Qur'an such as the resurrection of birds for Prophet Ibrahim (a) and resurrection of 'Uzayr, one hundred years after death.

Resurrection in the Qur'an

Importance of the Resurrection in the 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 that state the necessity of believing in the afterlife (akhira)[11]
  • Verses that state the harsh results of rejecting the resurrection.[12]
  • Verses that mention the eternal gifts of the paradise[13]
  • Verses that mention the punishments of the hell[14]
  • Verses that note the connection of good and bad actions with the destination in the afterlife
  • Verses that describe the possibility and the necessity of the resurrection
  • Verses answered the questions and objections of the deniers of the resurrection
  • Verses that state that the root of all the crimes and the deviances is the denial of the resurrection.[15]

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 the 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. On the contrary, denying the resurrection opens all the gates to all of evil (Qur'an, 75:5):
  • Some theoretical objections: there has been some theoretical objections about the possibility of the resurrection due to some ambiguity in resurrection and how it will occur.

Answer to 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 becomes the food for 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. Based on this objection, the Peripatetic philosophers believed that the bodily resurrection is not rationally provable. But the theologians attempted to answer the objection. Most of the theologians, differentiated between the primary and secondary parts of body, and claimed that the primary 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 this objection, offered another expression for the bodily resurrection.[16]

Objection of the Returning of the Extinct

One of the objections discussed about the resurrection is that when a human dies, his/her 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, on the one hand, there must be someone with enough knowledge and power to do so, and on 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 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.[17]

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 the Qur'an.[18]

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. Fayd Kashani, 'Ilm al-yaqin, vol.2 p.827; Khomeini, Sharh chihil hadith, p.186
  8. Misbah, Amuzish-i 'aqayid, p.364-365; Sa'idi mihr, Amuzish kalam, vol.2 p.274; Hilli, Kashf al-murad, p.258
  9. Rabbani Gulpaygani, 'Aqayid istidlali, vol.2 p.190
  10. Misbah, Amuzish-i 'aqayid, p.366
  11. Qur'an 2:4; 27:3
  12. Qur'an 17:10; 25:11; 34:8; 23:74
  13. Qur'an 55:46-78; 56:15-38; 76:11-21
  14. Qur'an 69:20-27; 67:6-11; 56:42-56
  15. Qur'an 38:26; 32:140
  16. Mulla Sadra, Al-Hikma al-muta'aliya, vol.9 p.190-191
  17. Misbah, Amuzish-i 'aqayid, p.380
  18. 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