Death and the Afterlife

Dead Recall This Life

Dead Recall This Life (Bashir Ahmad Orchard) Life on this planet is as evanescent as a dream; but just as the experiences in the nocturnal world are later recalled in wakefulness by the conscious mind so are actions in this world recalled by the soul in the Hereafter. The Holy Quran teaches that after death the soul knows that its new condition is an embodiment of earthly thoughts and actions just as in this world radiant or ill health are embodiments of the food we eat or the thoughts we nurture. Wholesome food taken in correct measure enters the stomach and intestines where through the process of digestion it becomes transmuted into an intangible yet visible manifestation known as sparkling health; and likewise improper food is converted into ill-health. This similitude may be imperfect but is able to illustrate how, through quite a different process, the soul develops into a new creation in the Hereafter being an embodiment of its condition in this world. The following Quranic passages confirm that the dead recall this life: “Until when death comes to one of them, he says entreating, ‘My Lord, send me back that I may do righteous deeds in the life that I have left behind.’ Never, it is but a word that he utters. And behind them is a barrier until the day when they shall be raised again.” (23:100, 101). “Those whom the angels cause to die while they are wronging their souls. Then will they offer submission, saying ‘We used not to do any evil.’ ‘Nay, surely, Allah knows well what you used to do. So enter the gates of Hell, to abide therein.’ Evil indeed is the abode of the proud.” (13:29,30). 30 REVIEW OF RELIGIONS “And Hell is brought near that day; on that day man will remember, but of what avail shall that remembrance be to him? He will say, ‘O would that I had sent on some good works for my life here!'” (89:24, 25). The soul possesses the faculty of memory for were this not so then its new birth in the Hereafter would be as meaningless as the doctrine of reincarnation. Memory is the medium by which a person remains conscious of his identity. He who completely loses his memory does not even know who he is or from whence he came. He sheds his former identity and commences to acquire a new one because he has no knowledge of his existence prior to the moment he lost his memory. This truth exposes the purposeless theory of reincarnation for if a person has no knowledge of his former existence then he knows not whether his form of rebirth on this planet is a reward or punishment. It is only natural, therefore, that the Holy Quran reveals that after death the wicked and the righteous will be cognisant of the course they trod in this world thereby retaining knowledge of their identity and the cause of their condign requital: “And every man’s works have We fastened to his neck; and on the day of Resurrection We shall bring out for him a book which he will find wide open. ‘Read thy book. Sufficient is thine own soul this day as reckoner against thee’.” (17:14, 15). Every soul is conscious of its former existence in this world; and woe to those who waste away their lives unmindful of the purpose for which they were created; while blessed, indeed, are those who strive to win the pleasure of God by moulding their lives in conformity with the tenets of the Holy Quran and the commandments of the Holy Prophet Muhammad (May peace and blessings be on him) for they will find their peace and rest in the bosom of God. They are the ones whose light shall run before them in paradise and shall be constantly advancing from one stage of enlightenment to a higher one. (57:13). The Holy Quran does not teach that the things of the next world are of a material nature, therefore a ‘wide open book’ is not to be interpreted literally. It is true that in the Holy Quran descriptions of heaven and hell have sometimes been likened to the things of this world but they are metaphorical in meaning. This is evinced from the following verse: “But whoso is blind in this world will be blind in the Hereafter — nay even more astray from the way.” (17:13). DEAD RECALL THIS LIFE 31 This passage means that those who are blind to spiritual truths in this world will be blind in the Hereafter in as much as the light and joys of paradise will be hidden from them until such times as Almighty God out of His Infinite Mercy removes the scales from their eyes; for Islam teaches that Divine punishment is not everlasting. Every soul will recall the events of this life after death; and this review has been referred to as a wide open book. This truth is not difficult to understand and appreciate in the light of the extraordinary retentive power of the subconscious mind which borders on the miraculous. It has been well established that the subconscious mind is endowed with the power of perfect memory whereby it records in detail every event experienced from the earliest days of mental activity as indelibly as every scene is captured by the camera and every word preserved by the tape recorder. If the mind has the power of recording all the events and experiences of life then should such a wonder be beyond the capacity of the eternal soul? The following incidents reveal that the subconscious mind is endowed with a remarkable memory which seems almost uncanny. “Dr. Prince once gave a young man a newspaper and told him to read short items near the centre of the page. After reading the item several times, the young man was asked to repeat as closely as he could the wording of the item he read. He was able to recall the item with a fair amount of accuracy. “Then, under hypnosis, he was asked the same question. Not only was he able to repeat the item word for word, he was able to repeat — word for word — the contents of the entire page. Every single item on that page had impressed itself on the memory of the supraconscious. Yet the man had only read the one item and concentrated on it, expecting to have to recall its wording. “In a third unusual experiment Dr. Prince had a young woman walk past one display window of a large department store. Some time later she was asked what articles had been shown in the window. This she was unable to do. She explained that she had been looking straight ahead when she passed the window and had only caught a slight glimpse of it out of the corner of her eye. “How could she be expected to have seen or remembered anything on display in that window, she protested. But placed under hypnosis she proved to be quite mistaken. She had seen quite clearly what was in the window and had seen it with the Supraconscious, not the conscious level of the mind. Questioned again in hypnosis, she described the entire window display in minute detail.” (The Magic Power of Your Mind: W. A. Germain). 32 REVIEW OF RELIGIONS The invisible forces of thought existed even before the creation of the universe for it is an attribute of God which manifests itself behind every form of creation and which will continue to operate even after the extinction of the universe. Memory is an expression of thought; and as the forces of thought are operative in both the ethereal and material realms, the capacity of the departed soul to recall the events of this life is consistent with reason. All Praise belongs to Allah the Lord of all the Worlds. Quran on preaching Say, “0 People of the Bookl Come to a word equal between us and you —that we worship none but Allah, and that we associate no partnerwith Him, andthatsome of ustake notothersfor Lords beside Allah”. But if they turn away, then say “Bear witness that we have submitted to God”. (3:65.) Call unto the way of thy Lord with wisdom and goodly exhortation and argue with them in a way that is best.’ (16:126.) But speak to him a gentle word, haply he might take heed or fear. (20:45.) And warn thy nearest kinsmen. (26:215.) And argue not with the People of the Book except with what is best as an argument, but argue not at all with such of them as are unjust. And say, “We believe in that which has been revealed to us and that which has been revealed to you, and our God and your God is One, and to Him we submit.” (29:47.) And who is better in speach than he who invites men to Allah and does righteous deeds and says “I am, surely, of those who submit?” (41:34.) And good and evil are not alike. Repel evil with that which is best. And lo, he, between whom and thyself was enmity, will become as though he were a warm friend. (41:35.) And keep on exhorting; for verily, exhortation benefits those who would believe. (51:56.)