Satan creates many doubts and the most dangerous doubt that arises in the mind of man and makes him a loser in this world and in the hereafter is with regard to the life after death. A great source of virtue and righteousness, in addition to other means and sources, is belief in the hereafter. When a person regards the hereafter and all that concerns it as a mere tale or story, then it may be taken that he has been rejected and has lost both worlds. The fear of the hereafter makes a person anxious and afraid and drives him to the true fountain of understanding. True understanding cannot be achieved without the fear of God. Remember, therefore, that the arising of doubt concerning the hereafter puts faith in danger and makes a person’s end uncertain.
[Malfuzat, vol. I, pp. 53-54]
Three States of Existence
According to the Holy Qur’an, there are three states of existence. The first is the world, the name of which is the first creation and the house of earning. In this world a person earns good or ill. There is progress in good in the hereafter, but that is through the pure grace of God. It has nothing to do with a person’s effort. The second state of existence is called Barzakh (Purgatory). In Arabic idiom Barzakh is that which is situated between two things. As this state of existence lies between the first creation and the resurrection, it is called Barzakh. This expression has always been used for the intervening state. It thus is a great testimony in support of the existence of the intervening state…
Barzakh is the state when the temporary human formation is dissolved and the soul and the body are separated from each other…
Though this mortal body is separated from the soul after death, yet in the intervening state every soul is temporarily invested with a body so that it might experience the result of its actions. That body is not like the earthly body, but is prepared from light or darkness according to the actions of each person. It might be said that in that state a person’s actions serve as his body. In the Word of God, this is mentioned several times and some bodies are described as bright and some as dark, which are prepared from the light or from the darkness of actions. This is a mystery but is not beyond reason. A perfect person can acquire a bright body in this very life, apart from his earthly body, and there are many illustrations of it in the state of visions. It is difficult to explain this to a person whose mind is not keen, but those who have some experience of the state of visions would not look upon a body which is prepared from actions with wonder or incredulity, but would appreciate this explanation.
This body which is created from actions becomes a source of the recompense of good and evil in the state of Barzakh. I have experience of this matter. I have often, in a state of complete wakefulness, met some dead persons in a vision and I have observed the bodies of some wicked and misguided persons which were so dark as if they had been compounded of smoke. I am personally acquainted with this condition and I affirm emphatically that as God Almighty has said, everyone is bestowed a body after death, which is either bright or dark. It would be a mistake to seek to prove these fine truths through the agency of reason alone. It should be realized that as the eye cannot demonstrate the taste of something sweet and the tongue cannot see anything, in the same way, the knowledge of the hereafter which is gained through visions cannot be tested by reason. God Almighty has appointed separate means for the perception of that which is hidden. Then seek everything through its proper means and you will find it.
It should be remembered that in His Word God has described as dead those who are involved in vice and misguidance and has described the virtuous as alive. The means of life of those who are heedless of God, for instance, eating and drinking and following their passions, are cut off and they do not partake of spiritual sustenance. Thus they are truly dead and will be alive only to suffer punishment. Allah the Glorious has pointed towards this mystery as He says:
1. ARABIC VERSE – Ta Ha, 20:75
مَنْ يَأْتِ رَبَّهُ مُجْرِمًا فَإِنَّ لَهُ جَهَنَّمَ لَا يَمُوتُ فِيهَا وَلَا يَحْيَا 1
The portion of him who comes to his Lord a sinner is hell; he shall neither die therein nor live. But those who love God Almighty do not die on death as they carry their sustenance with them.
Barzakh is followed by a state of existence which is called resurrection. At that stage every soul, good or bad, righteous or disobedient, will be granted a definite bodily form of its own. That day has been appointed for the perfect manifestation of God when every person shall become acquainted fully with the existence of his Lord and shall arrive at the extreme point of his recompense. No one need wonder how God will accomplish this for He has power and does whatever He wills, as He has said Himself:
2. ARABIC VERSES – Ya Sin, 36:78-80
أَوَلَمْ يَرَ الْإِنْسَانُ أَنَّا خَلَقْنَاهُ مِنْ نُطْفَةٍ فَإِذَا هُوَ خَصِيمٌ مُبِينٌ () وَضَرَبَ لَنَا مَثَلًا وَنَسِيَ خَلْقَهُ قَالَ مَنْ يُحْيِي الْعِظَامَ وَهِيَ رَمِيمٌ () قُلْ يُحْيِيهَا الَّذِي أَنْشَأَهَا أَوَّلَ مَرَّةٍ وَهُوَ بِكُلِّ خَلْقٍ عَلِيمٌ ()2
3. ARABIC VERSES – Ya Sin, 36:82-84
أَوَلَيْسَ الَّذِي خَلَقَ السَّمَاوَاتِ وَالْأَرْضَ بِقَادِرٍ عَلَى أَنْ يَخْلُقَ مِثْلَهُمْ بَلَى وَهُوَ الْخَلَّاقُ الْعَلِيمُ () إِنَّمَا أَمْرُهُ إِذَا أَرَادَ شَيْئًا أَنْ يَقُولَ لَهُ كُنْ فَيَكُونُ () فَسُبْحَانَ الَّذِي بِيَدِهِ مَلَكُوتُ كُلِّ شَيْءٍ وَإِلَيْهِ تُرْجَعُونَ ()3
[Islami Usul ki Philosophy, Ruhani Khaza’in, vol. 10, pp. 402-407]
A New Body is Bestowed in the Grave
Islam sets forth the high philosophy that everyone is bestowed a kind of body in the grave which is necessary for experiencing delight and torment. We cannot say for creation of what material that new body is made, for this mortal body becomes dead and no one has observed it coming alive in the grave. The earthly body is often cremated or is preserved in museums and is kept outside a grave for long periods. If this body were to come alive, people would observe it and yet the Holy Qur’an affirms that a dead person comes alive. One has, therefore, to accept that a dead person is revived with a body which we cannot see. May be that that body is created from the imperceptible qualities of this body. After that body is bestowed, human faculties are revived as this second body is much finer than the first body. It experiences visions very widely and all the realities of the hereafter become visible to it as they are. Wrongdoers then suffer not only a physical torment, but also a torment of despair. Thus it is an agreed principle of Islam that the torment or comfort of the grave is also experienced through a body, and this is the demand of reason also inasmuch as experience has affirmed that the spiritual faculties of man do not manifest themselves without a body.
[Kitab-ul-Bariyyah, Ruhani Khaza’in, vol. 13, pp. 70-71]
Nature of the Hereafter
The hereafter is a reflection of this world, and the consequences of faith and disbelief that appear spiritually in this world would be demonstrated physically in the hereafter. God, the Glorious, has said:
4. ARABIC VERSE – Bani Isra’il 17:73
مَنْ كَانَ فِي هَذِهِ أَعْمَى فَهُوَ فِي الْآَخِرَةِ أَعْمَى 4
He who is blind in this world shall be blind in the hereafter.
We should not be surprised at this and should reflect how spiritual matters are personified in a dream and the matter is even more surprising in a vision when spiritual matters take on physical shape before our eyes. Very often in complete wakefulness one meets those souls who have passed away from this world, and they appear in their original bodies wearing the clothes of this world and they talk and the holy ones out of them convey news about the future, by God’s command, and those news are fulfilled in fact. Often in complete wakefulness a sweet drink or some fruit which is very delicious comes to hand in a vision. This humble one has experience of all this. I have personal experience that some delicious food or fruit or sweet drink comes into view and is put into one’s mouth by a hidden hand and one enjoys its delicious taste while one continues to talk to other people and one’s senses continue to work. Not that it is an illusion or baseless fantasy. Instead Allah, Whose station is:
5. ARABIC VERSE – Ya Sin, 36:80
بِكُلِّ خَلْقٍ عَلِيمٌ 5
He demonstrates by way of example a kind of creation and birth in this very world.
This is testified to in every age by those who possess insight. Why should one wonder at the personified creation which will be seen in the hereafter when the scales of deeds would be beheld and the narrow bridge will be seen and many spiritual matters will take on physical forms? Is it beyond the power of Him Who has shown this system of personified creation in this world to those who possess insight to exhibit it in the hereafter also? These personifications have a relationship with the hereafter. When this personified creation is demonstrated to the purified people in this world, which is not a place of manifestation of complete cutting asunder, why should it not become visible in the hereafter which is a state of complete and perfect cutting asunder from the world.
It should be remembered that all those wonders of which a veiled one reads in the verses of the Holy Qur’an, which relate to the hereafter, are disclosed in visions to a person possessing insight, in this very world. Those whose insight does not penetrate to the reality wonder at these statements and often objections arise in their minds with regard to them that all these matters appear to them opposed to truth and reason, such as the sitting of God Almighty on His Throne on the Day of Judgement, the standing of angels in rows, the weighing of deeds in scales, the crossing of the narrow bridge by people, the slaughtering of death like a sheep after the Judgement, the appearance of deeds like handsome or ugly people and the flowing of streams of milk and honey in paradise, etc.
[Malfuzat, vol. III, pp. 61-62]
The condition of a person after death is nothing new. It is a clear representation of his life in this world. The condition of a person’s beliefs and actions, righteous or unrighteous, is hidden inside him in this world and its poison or antidote influences him in a secret way. In the life after death all these will become manifest. One experiences a sample of it in dreams. In a dream, one observes the conditions which prevail at the time in one’s body. When one is heading towards high fever, one beholds fire and flames of fire in one’s dream and when one is about to suffer from influenza, one finds oneself in water in a dream. Whatever disorder one’s body is ready for is personified in one’s dreams. The same is the case in the life after death. As a dream produces a change inside us and demonstrates our spiritual condition in a physical form, the same will happen in the life after death and our deeds and their consequences will be physically demonstrated and whatever we carry with us from this world in a hidden manner will all appear openly on our countenances on that day. As a person views diverse forms of images in a dream and never considers that they are images, but believes them to be real, the same will happen in the life after death. Through these images, God Almighty will demonstrate a new power. As His power is absolute, then, even if we do not talk of images, it will be true and absolutely correct to say that, by the grace of God, it is a new creation. God Almighty says:
6. ARABIC VERSE – Al-Sajdah, 32:18
فَلَا تَعْلَمُ نَفْسٌ مَا أُخْفِيَ لَهُمْ مِنْ قُرَّةِ أَعْيُنٍ 6
No one, who performs good deeds, knows what a variety of favours lie in store for him.
Thus God describes those bounties as hidden, no specimen of which is to be found in the world. It is obvious that the bounties of the world are not hidden from us and that we are well acquainted with milk and pomegranates and grapes and we always eat them. This shows that those bounties will be of a different type and will have nothing in common with these except the name. He who considers paradise as a collection of worldly bodies wholly misunderstands the Holy Qur’an.
[Islami Usul ki Philosophy, Ruhani Khaza’in, vol. 10, pp. 396-398]
1. The Holy Quran, 20:75
2. Does not man see that We have created him from a mere sperm-drop? Yet lo! He is an open quarreller! And he coins similitudes for Us and forgets his own creation. He says, ‘Who can quicken the bones when they are decayed?’ Say, ‘He, Who created them the first time, will quicken them; and He knows every kind of creation full well.’—Ya Sin, 36:78-80
3. Has not He Who created the heavens and the earth the power to create the like of them? Yea, and He is indeed the Supreme Creator, the AllKnowing. Verily His command, when He intends a thing, is only that He says to it, ‘Be!’, and it begins to be. So Holy is He, in Whose hand is the kingdom of all things. And to Him will you all be brought back.—Ya Sin, 36:82-84
4. The Holy Quran 17:73
5. ‘He knows every kind of creation full well.’—Ya Sin, 36:80
6. The Holy Quran, 32:18