|Tawhid (Monotheism)||Tawhid of Essence • Tawhid in Attributes • Tawhid in Actions • Tawhid in Worship|
|Other Beliefs||Tawassul • Shafa'a • Tabarruk|
|Bada' • Amr Bayn al-Amrayn|
|Infallibility • 'Ilm al-ghayb • Mu'jiza • Integrity of the Holy Qur'an|
|Infallibility • Wilaya • 'Ilm al-ghayb • Occultation of Imam al-Mahdi (a) (Minor Occultation,Major Occultation) • Reappearance of Imam al-Mahdi (a) • Raj'a|
|End Time • Hereafter • Barzakh • Embodiment of Actions •Bodily Resurrection • Al-Sirat • Tatayur al-Kutub • Mizan • Hashr|
|Other Outstanding Beliefs|
|Ahl al-Bayt (a) • The Fourteen Infallibles • Taqiyya • Marja'iyya • Tawalli • Tabarri|
|From Death to Resurection|
The Hereafter or Ākhira (Arabic: الآخرة) is the world after death, or the world after this world. The Hereafter is contrasted to the life in this world. The belief in the Hereafter is deemed a principle of Islam, which means that those who do not believe in the Hereafter do not count as Muslims. The Quran emphasizes the significance of the Hereafter, and the belief in life after death has been a tenet of all religions. It is said that more than one third of Quranic verses are concerned with the afterlife or the Hereafter.
In Islamic theological books, the Hereafter is referred to as resurrection, for which transmitted and rational evidence is cited. Muslim scholars have adduced Quranic verses to show that the Hereafter is a world totally different from this world. They attribute specific features to it, including eternity, the distinction between the virtuous and evil-doers, seeing the outcomes of one’s deeds, and enjoyment of blessings in accordance with one’s merits.
Some Muslim scholars maintain that the Hereafter begins once life in this world comes to an end, but others believe that the Hereafter exists at present—simultaneously with life in this world—and indeed, it encompasses this world.
- 1 The Nature of the Hereafter
- 2 The Significance of the Belief in the Hereafter
- 3 Arguments for the Existence of the Hereafter
- 4 Characteristics of the Hereafter and Its Difference from This World
- 5 The Scope of the Hereafter
- 6 Quranic and Hadith Recommendations about the Hereafter
- 7 Bibliography
- 8 See also
- 9 Notes
- 10 References
The Nature of the Hereafter
Literally, the term al-akhira (the Hereafter) means the final, the subsequent, or the other. It refers to another world that comes after this world. The Quran describes the afterlife or post-mortem life as the Hereafter (104 times). It sometimes uses phrases such as “the abode of the Hereafter” and “the Last Day.”
The Significance of the Belief in the Hereafter
The belief in the Hereafter is a principle of the religion and a requirement for being a Muslim. That is, those who deny the Hereafter do not qualify as Muslims. According to Murtada Mutahhari, the second major doctrine—after monotheism—to which all prophets have called people is the belief in the Hereafter.
According to Muhammad Taqi Misbah Yazdi, more than one third of Quranic verses are concerned with the Hereafter. The Quran refers to the belief in the Hereafter as a tenet of all prophetical messages. Quranic verses describe the belief in the Hereafter as one of the three tenets of Islam, along with beliefs in God and in the prophet. There is a consensus among all Islamic denominations to the effect that the belief in the Hereafter is an essential of the religion; that is, those who do not believe in it do not count as Muslims.
In Islamic theological books, the Hereafter is discussed in terms of the “principle of resurrection or the return.” There are other issues associated with the Hereafter, including the barzakh (the purgatory), the resurrection, the bridge of sirat, reckoning (hisab), intercession, the Heaven, and the Hell, which figure in the Quran, hadiths, and the writings of Muslim scholars. According to the Quran, a Muslim should believe in all these.
Arguments for the Existence of the Hereafter
Muslim scholars hold that the main argument for the existence of the Hereafter consists in transmitted or textual evidence, including the revelation. That is, the fact that the prophets are infallible, and they report about the existence of the Hereafter and call people to this belief, is evidence for the existence of the Hereafter. A case in point is verse 7 of Qur'an 64: “Say, ‘Yes, by my Lord, you will surely be resurrected.”
According to Murtada Mutahhari, there are other non-transmitted or non-textual means by which one might prove the existence of the Hereafter. At least, they constitute evidence or signs for its existence. He mentions three such means:
(1) knowledge of God, (2) knowledge of the world, and (3) knowledge of the human spirit or soul.
Philosophical arguments presented by theologians for the existence of the Hereafter include the argument from divine wisdom and the argument from divine justice.
The argument from divine wisdom runs as follows: it would be incompatible with the divine wisdom if He limited the human life, which is capable of eternity, to life in this world. This is because God has created human beings so that they could attain the greatest possible excellence or perfection, and this could not be realized in this world, because the existential value of afterlife perfections is incomparable to that of this-worldly perfections.
The argument from divine justice proceeds as follows: since the virtuous and evil-doers do not see their proper rewards or punishments in this world, God’s justice requires the existence of another world in which each person receives what they deserve.
Characteristics of the Hereafter and Its Difference from This World
According to Murtada Mutahhari, there are dozens of Quranic verses concerning issues associated with the Hereafter, including life after death, the day of resurrection, how the dead would be resurrected, the scale, reckoning, records of people’s deeds, the Heaven, the Hell, and the eternity of the Hereafter. Muslim scholars have adduced Quranic verses to show that the Hereafter is radically different from this world and its governing order.
In the Hereafter, all people who were born from the beginning to the end of the creation will live at the same time. People in the Hereafter are either absolutely happy or absolutely miserable, the former are provided with whatever they wish to have, and the latter suffer from everything they see as bad or painful. However, life in this world is a mixture of life and death, privilege and deprivation, misery and happiness, suffering and comfort, and sorrow and delight.
The following are other characteristics of the Hereafter in accordance with Quranic verses and hadiths:
- Eternity: According to Quranic verses, the Hereafter is eternal or endless. For instance, verse 34 of Qur'an 50 states that, in the Hereafter, inhabitants of the Heaven are given the good tidings that “This is the day of immortality.” Moreover, in Ghurar al-hikam, Imam 'Ali (a) is quoted as saying that “this world comes to an end, while the Hereafter is eternal.”
- The distinction between the virtuous and evil-doers: According to Quranic verses, in the Hereafter, the virtuous will be separated from evil-doers: "And ‘Get apart today, you guilty ones!’" "and the faithless will be gathered toward Hell, o that Allah may separate the bad ones from the good "Those who are wary of their Lord will be led to paradise in throngs." "and drive the guilty as a thirsty herd towards hell"
- Seeing the outcomes of one’s deeds: According to Quranic verses, people will see the outcomes of their deeds in the Hereafter: "and that he will soon be shown his endeavour" "So whoever does an atom’s weight of good will see it, and whoever does an atom’s weight of evil will see it.
- Merit-based privileges: In contrast to this world, in the Hereafter everyone would have what they deserve to have. According to a hadith from Imam 'Ali (a), “circumstances of this world are governed by incidents, while those of the Hereafter are governed by people’s entitlements.”
The Scope of the Hereafter
There is a disagreement over the scope of the Hereafter: some people believe that it begins with a person’s death and his or her entrance in the world of barzakh (the purgatory). On the other hand, those who maintain that barzakh is not part of the Hereafter say that the latter begins when the world of barzakh comes to an end. Furthermore, theologians believe that the Hereafter occurs in the temporal future of this world; that is, it begins once life in this world comes to an end altogether. However, Muslim philosophers believe that the Hereafter exists at present; that is, it exists alongside life in this world. In other words, the Hereafter is a world with a higher-ranking existence than that of this world, and thus, it encompasses the latter. A Quranic verse adduced by these philosophers is verse 49 of Qur'an 9: “indeed hell besieges the faithless.”
Quranic and Hadith Recommendations about the Hereafter
There are recommendations about the Hereafter in Quranic verses and hadiths, including the following:
- The life of the world is nothing but play and diversion, and the abode of the Hereafter is surely better for those who are Godwary. Do you not exercise your reason?
- This is the abode of the Hereafter, which We shall grant to those who do not desire to domineer in the earth nor to cause corruption, and the outcome will be in favour of the Godwary.
A book is written about the Hereafter by Shaykh 'Abbas Qummi, a scholar in the fourteenth/twentieth century, under Manazil al-akhira (Stations of the Hereafter). In this book, he describes the stages of the Hereafter in the following order: death, grave, barzakh, resurrection, and sirat (the bridge). The book also talks about the scale (mizan), reckoning, and punishments of the Hell. It recommends certain worships and moral manners for an easier experience of these afterlife stages.
Manazil al-akhira was written in Persian, and it has been translated into Arabic, English, Turkish, and Urdu.
- Qur'an 36:59.
- Qur'an 8:36-37.
- Qur'an 39:73.
- Qur'an 19:86.
- Quran 53:40-41.
- Quran 99:8.
- Āmidī, Ghurar al-ḥikam, p. 148.
- Qur'an 6:32.
- Qur'an 28:83.
- Āmidī, Abū l-Fatḥ ʿAbd al-Wāhid b. Muḥammad al-. Ghurar al-ḥikam wa durar al-kalim. Edited by Muṣṭafā Dirāyatī. Qom: Daftar-i Tablīghāt-i Islāmī, 1st edition, 1366 Sh.
- Ibn Abi al-Jumhūr, Muḥammad b. ʿAlī. ʿAwālī al-liʾālī al-ʿazīzīyya fī al-aḥādīth al-dīnīyya. Edited by Mujtabā Irāqī. Qom: Dār Sayyid al-Shuhadāʾ, 1405 AH.
- Ibn Shuʿba al-Ḥarrānī, Ḥasan b. ʿAlī. Ṭuḥaf al-ʿuqūl. Edited by Ali Akbar Ghaffari. Qom: Jāmiʿat al-Mudarrisīn-i Ḥawza-yi ʿIlmiyya, 1404 AH.
- Khurāsānī, ʿAlī. Ākhirat In Daʾirat al-maʿārif-i Qurʾān-i karīm (Encyclopedia of Qurʾān-i karīm ). Volume 1. Qom: Būstān-i Kitāb, Fifth edition, 1382 Sh.
- Makārim Shīrāzī, Nāṣir. Tafsīr-i nimūna. Tehran: Dār al-Kutub al-Islāmiyya, First edition, 1374 Sh.
- Misbāḥ Yazdī, Muḥammad Taqī. Āmuzish-i ʿaqāʾid. Second edition. Tehran: Amīr Kabīr, Eighteenth edition, 1384 Sh.
- Mujtahid shabistarī, Muḥammad. Ākhirat In Dāʾirat al-Maʿārif-i Buzurg-i Islāmī (The Great Islamic Encyclopedia ). Volume 1. Tehran: Markaz-i Dāʾirat al-Maʿārif-i Buzurg-i Islāmī, Secound edition, 1374 Sh.
- Muṭahharī, Murtaḍā. Majmūʿa-yi āthār. Tehran: Intishārāt-i Ṣadrā, Seventh edition, 1377 Sh.
- Shaʾrānī, Abu l-Ḥasan, Qarīb, Muḥammad. Nathr-i ṭūba; Lughatnāma-yi Qurān karīm. Edited by Muḥammad Riḍā Ghīyāthī. Qom: Bunyād-i Farhangī-yi Mahdī-yi Mawʿūd, First edition, 1389 Sh.
- Ṭabāṭabāʾī, Sayyid Muḥammad Ḥusayn al-. Al-Mīzān fī tafsīr al-Qurʾān. Qom: Daftar-i Intishārāt-i Islāmī, 1417 AH.