Death and the Afterlife

Life after Death

Life after Death (Muhammad Zafrulla Khan) Life after death is a subject on which sure knowledge can be gained only through revelation. The Prophet has said: “The conditions of the life after death are such that the eye has not seen them, nor has the ear heard of them, nor can the mind of man conceive of their true reality.” Even through revelation man can acquire knowledge of the life after death only in the language of symbol and metaphor. All illustration of the conditions of that life can be by way of similitude only. Man’s life on earth is not in itself a perfect whole: it is incomplete: it lacks fulfilment. Too often it seems to come to an end like a snapped ribbon, leaving loose ends flapping idly. If there is nothing to follow, the co- ordination of values in this life would have little meaning and, indeed, would become almost impossible. There would be no accountability and consequently no responsibility. More than that, there would be no consummation of the deepest yearnings of the human soul. Such realisation as is possible is this life is only a twilight experience. Islam insists on belief hi the life after death. There are several matters of belief which Islam regards as essential, but belief in the life after death is concomitant with belief in the Existence of God (5:70). Failing belief in the life after death there is no faith at all. The absence of such behef is almost a negation of, and inconsistent with, belief in a Wise Creator. Too often has man been apt to say: “There is no life other than our present life. We were without life and now we live; but we shall not be raised again” (23:38). “Man says: ‘What! When I am dead shall I be brought forth alive?1 Does not man remember that We created him before, when he was naught?” (19:67-68). Man, and indeed the whold universe, has been brought into being from a state of nothingness. It is idle to contend that inasmuch as our observation merely confirms that man dies and his body disintegrates, therefore his personality and his existence come to a final end with death. Man’s very coming into existence is proof that there is the possibility of continuation. When the fact of man’s having been brought into existence through a long process is viewed against the existence of a Wise and LIFE AFTER DEATH 25 Ail-Powerful Creator, the conclusion is inevitable that man was created for a purpose, and the fulfilment of that purpose demands a continuation of life. “They say: ‘When we shall have become bones and broken particles shall we be really raised up as a new creation?’ Say: ‘Be ye stones or iron or some created thing which appears hardest in your minds, even then shall you be raised up.’ Then will they ask: ‘Who shall restore us to life?’ Say: ‘He Who created you the first time. They will then shake their heads at thee and say: ‘When will it be?’ Say: ‘Maybe it is nigh. It will be at the time when He will call you.’ And then you will respond praising Him, and you will think that you have tarried but a little while” (17:50-53). It is a misconception that a continuation of life beyond this life must involve the assembly of a dead body’s bones and particles after everything has disintegrated and decomposed, so as to reconstitute the body. The body, which is developed for terrestrial existence, is fashioned for the conditions of this life. Life after death cannot and does not mean that the dead will be reassembled and reconstituted upon the earth. Even if that were possible, the earth could not hold a billionth fraction of them. Consequently, the decomposition and disintegration of the human body is completely irrelevant to the possibility of life after death. The Quran draws attention to the phenomena of sleep and dreams to illustrate that man is capable of undergoing experiences and receiving impressions without physical participation in space and time. These experiences being part of this life, the connection between the soul and the body is no doubt maintained while the experiences last; though their physical co-relations are transformed. There is, as it were, complete realisation that the total organism, body and soul, is participating in them. The Quran states: “Allah takes souls unto Himself at death, and during their sleep the souls of those who do not die. Then He retains those on which He has passed a decree of death, and sends the others back for a named period. Therein are Signs for those who reflect” (39:43). The admonition to reflect over the Signs which this phenomenon draws attention to is a clear indication that man can derive an understanding of the nature and reactions of the soul and its condition after death by pondering over his experiences during sleep. During sleep the body reposes comfortably in bed, in a reduced state of vitality, while the soul undergoes experiences and receives impressions which leave a slight or deep impress upon it, according to the intensity of the experience. Some of these experiences are vivid enough to leave a permanent impress upon the personality. These experiences are not confined to dreams, when the functions of the body have been reduced to a minimum, and the person undergoing the experience is utterly unconscious of anything outside the dimensions of the experience itself. In many cases, people undergo similar experiences in a state of complete wakefulness, though for the moment there 26 REVIEW OF RELIGIONS is, as it were, a withdrawal from other activity, mental or physical. These are generally described as visions. Dreams and visions, however, must not be confused with the effect produced upon a person’s consciousness when he is under hypnotic or mesmeric control or influence. That is an altogether different kind of experience, and it is now well established that such influences and control can be acquired, developed, and exercised through concentration and practice, like any other power or skill. The Quran invites attention to physical birth into this life for the purpose of illustrating the process of rebirth through which the soul passes after death: “Does not man see that We have created him from a mere drop of seed? Yet behold, he is given to constant arguing. He coins similitudes for Us and forgets the process of 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, He who produces for you fire out of the green tree, and behold, you kindle from it. Has not He Who created the heavens and the earth power to create the like of them?’ Yea, and He is indeed the Supreme Creator, All-Knowing” (36:78- 82). Attention is here drawn to the process of man’s own creation for the purpose of this life. The flesh, the bones, the muscles, the blood, the brain, and indeed all the faculties and the whole complicated and yet wonderfully co-ordinated machinery of the human body constituting a complete microcosm is all potentially contained in less than a millionth part of a drop of fluid. The Wise Creator knows what He is doing. In accord with the manifold provisions that He has already made, the drop of fluid in due course experiences a new creation at birth and matures into an intelligent human being, capable of the highest attainments in every field of life. The centre of the whole process is the soul. The body is an essential part for the purpose of life in the conditions of this world. Up to a point, the soul and the body together constitute a unit and are indissoluble; then dissolution comes and that is the end of life upon earth, but that is not the end of life itself. At death the functions of the body come to an end, and except for considerations of decency and respect for the dead, it is immaterial how the body be disposed of. The soul then enters upon a process of rebirth, during the course of which it acquires a new frame, and the result is another organism for the purposes of the new life. Thus “the bones are quickened,” but they are quickened out of the soul itself. “He knows every kind of creation full well” indicates that this “quickening of the bones” will be a new kind of creation. The Wise and Ail-Powerful Creator Who created man from an insignificant drop of fluid and created the whole universe for the fulfilment of the purpose of human life has power to endow the human soul with the capacity to develop into a new organism; and He has power to transport the soul into another universe in which it may find its complete fulfilment. “Verily, We created man from an extract of clay; then We placed him as a LIFE AFTER DEATH 27 drop of seed in a safe depository, then We fashioned the clot into a shapeless lump; then We fashioned bones out of this shapeless lump; then We clothed the bones with flesh; then We developed it into another creation. So blessed by Allah, the Wisest of Creators. Then after that you must surely die. Then on the day of resurrection will you be raised up” (23:13-17). “Then We developed it into another creation” refers to the stage when the body is quickened by the soul. After death, the soul undergoes the same process to be “developed into another creation”. At death, with reference to the fuller life awaiting it, the soul is, so to speak, in the condition of the sperm drop. It passes through a state which may be compared metaphorically to the womb, where it develops the faculties that may be needed in, and would be appropriate to, the conditions of the Hereafter. Its birth into a new life after passing through the process of developing its faculties to a certain degree, is the resurrection. Even before that stage is reached, the soul is alive in the conditions of its new existence and is endowed with incipient responses, like those of an embryo in the womb. “Does man think that he is to be left to himself, without purpose and uncontrolled? Was he not a drop of fluid emitted forth, then he became a clot, then God shaped and proportioned him, then He made of him a pair, male and female. Has not such a One the power to raise the dead to life?” (75:37-71). There can be only one answer to that question: “Yea, for He is the All-Knowing Creator.” Those who reject the life after death do so because they refuse to let reality influence their judgement. They are too arrogant to admit the possibility of even the Creator having power over them to continue their existence in the Hereafter and to call them to account for what they did in this life. “Your God is One God. As to those who do not believe in the Hereafter, their hearts are strangers to truth, and they are full of arrogance. Undoubtedly, Allah knows what they conceal and what they disclose. Surely, He loves not the arrogant. When it is said to them: ‘What think ye of that which your Lord has revealed?’ they say: ‘Mere fables of the men of old'” (16:23-25). He who is still hard to convince is admonished: “Man is self-destroyed: How ungrateful! From what does He create him? From a drop of seed! He creates him and proportions him; then He makes the way easy for him; then He causes him to die and assigns a grave to him; then when He pleases, He will raise him up again” (80:18-23). The grave here does not mean the tomb in which the body is interred. Not all bodies are buried in tombs; many are cremated, some are devoured by wild beasts, some perish in a conflagration, some drown in water. The grave refers to the phase through which the soul passes after death, and in which it continues till resurrection, which corresponds to the phase through which the embryo passes in the womb while it develops the organs and faculties appropriate to its life upon earth. 28 REVIEW OF RELIGIONS That the soul is not without feeling and perception even during that stage appears from the following: “Those whom the angels cause to die while they are wronging their souls will offer submission, saying: ‘We used not to do any evil.’ Nay, surely Allah knows well what you used to do. Then enter the gates of hell to dwell therein. Evil indeed is the abode of the arrogant” (16:29-30). Similarly, with regard to the righteous it is said: “For those who do good there is good in this world, and the home of the Hereafter is even better. Excellent indeed is the abode of the righteous. . . . To those whom the angels cause to die while they are pure they will say: “Peace be unto you! Enter heaven because of what you used to do” (16:31-33). It is obvious that the conditions of the life after death, though capable of being expressed to some degree in terms of human speech, have not the same character as the conditions of this life. Compared with the conditions of this life, they are purely spiritual, and yet they are so manifested that they felt and experienced and realised with far greater intensity than are the conditions of this life in the course of existence here. It is not possible with our present faculties to realise the true nature of the conditions of the life after death. All that is possible is to attempt some approximate, intuitive understanding of them. As the Prophet has said, it is not possible for the mind of man to conceive of the true reality of these conditions. The Quran states: “No soul knows what bliss is kept hidden for it as a reward for its good works” (32:18). A study of the Quran reveals that each human being through his or her conduct during this life develops certain qualities or defects in the soul which render it capable of the appreciation and enjoyment of the conditions of the life after death or which cause it to react painfully to those conditions. We see, for instance, that a healthy organism reacts agreeably to the conditions of this life and finds joy and happiness in them. A defective or diseased organism reacts painfully to those conditions of this life which affect it. For instance,-the light of the sun, refreshing to healthy eyes and a great source of delight on account of the facilities it provides for human intercourse and the performance of daily tasks and occupations, and the beauties that it reveals, becomes a source of intense pain and discomfort to one with sore eyes, so much so that if they are not quickly shielded from the bright rays of the sun they may suffer permanent injury and even loss of sight. The same applies in respect of the other senses: hearing, smell, taste, touch, sense of heat and cold, and the muscular sense. Similar is the case with the spiritual senses. The reactions of the soul in the life Hereafter will be governed by the condition in which it enters upon that life. A diseased soul will react painfully, very painfully, to the conditions of the life after death. It may suffer indescribable tortures, according to the degree to which its faculties have become diseased during its life on earth. A healthy soul will react joyfully to all the conditions of the life to come. “We call to witness the soul and its perfect proportioning. He revealed to it what is LIFE AFTER DEATH 29 wrong for it and what is right for it. The one indeed will surely prosper who purifies the soul, and the one who corrupts it will be ruined” (91:8-11). The same concept is expressed in a different manner. “Verily, he who comes to his Lord a sinner, for him is hell; he shall neither die therein nor live” (20:75). This means that he who enters upon the life after death with a diseased soul will have to face prolonged suffering, from which he will not be able to obtain release through complete extinction, for the soul is immortal, and does not suffer extinction; nor will he be, during this period of suffering, in the full enjoyment of life, for his existence will be only a series of miseries and torments. “But he who comes to Him as a believer, having acted righteously, for such are the highest ranks: Gardens of Eternity, beneath which streams flow; they will abide therein forever. That is the recompense of those who keep themselves pure” (20:76-77). Those who keep their souls pure, that is, those who develop their spiritual faculties in this life into a state of purity which is the state of perfect health for the soul, will experience spiritual reactions that are blissful, the intensity of the reactions depending upon the degree of attunement achieved by the soul in this life. The whole concept is well illustrated in the Quran, where the consequences of certain types of conduct in this life are described as defects and shortcomings that will affect the soul in the life after death. For instance, the Quran says that he who is blind in this life will be blind in the life after death, and will find himself even more astray (17:73). This obviously does not mean that a person who is physically blind in this life will be spiritually blind in the next. Blindness here means spiritual blindness. He who has failed to develop spiritual insight in this life will be blind in the life to come. For instance: “How many a city have We destroyed which was given to wrongdoing, so that it is fallen down on its roofs, and how many a well is deserted and how many a lofty castle is in ruins! Have they not travelled in the land, so that they may have hearts wherewith to understand, and ears wherewith to hear? For indeed it is not the eyes that are blind, but it is the hearts which are in the bosoms that are blind” (22:46-47). This shows clearly that the failure to observe, to ponder, and to take heed gradually deprives a person of spiritual insight. He becomes spiritually blind. Such persons, when brought face to face with the consequences of their neglect or indifference, will exclaim: “Had we but listened and exercised our judgement we should not have been among the inmates of the blazing fire” (67:11). He who develops the faculty of observation and reflects over what he observes and draws the right conclusions therefrom, has his spiritual insight sharpened and he will enter upon the life to come in a state capable of experiencing the utmost delight in reaction to the conditions of that life. Again, it is stated that those who are placed in authority and misuse that authority, thus creating disorder in the land instead of strengthening and cementing human relationships, will be afflicted with spiritual deafness and 30 REVIEW OF RELIGIONS blindness (47:23-24). Persistence in such a course deprives a person of the faculty of appreciating good advice given to him or of drawing a lesson from his own observations and reflections. He becomes haughty and arrogant, and cannot tolerate any questioning of his own judgement or any criticism of the manner in which he exercises authority. In the same way, whoever turns away from Divine guidance and closes his eyes to it is bound to lose his spiritual sight. He may pride himself on his sharp perceptions and clear insight and may even consider himself above the need of any guidance, but by turning away from Divine guidance he is in effect destroying his spiritual insight. “Whoso will turn away from My Reminder, his will be a strait life, and on the Day of Resurrection We shall raise him up blind. He will say: ‘My Lord, why hast Thou raised me up blind, while I possessed sight before?’ God will say: ‘Thus it must be. Our Signs came to thee and thou dost disregard them. In like manner will thou be disregarded this day”‘ (20:125-127). The Quran explains that all human action leaves an impress upon the soul and that the soul when it enters upon the life to come carries the sum total of this impress with it, and reacts in that life accordingly. The record of a person’s acts and their consequences will be presented to him, as in an open book, and he will be told to read his book and to follow the course that it lays down for him. His reactions will be determined by his record. He will himself render an account of the manner in which he spent his life on earth and that very account will constitute his reward or his punishment. “Every man’s works have We fastened to his neck; and on the day of resurrection We shall place before him a book which he will find wide open. It will be said to him: ‘Read thy book; sufficient is thine own soul this day as a reckoner against thee.’ He who follows the right way follows it only for the good of his own soul; and he who goes astray, goes astray only to his own loss. No bearer of burden shall bear the burden of another” (17:14-16). The state of the organs with which the soul will enter upon its new life will correspond to the spiritual condition of its faculties at the time of death, and their reactions to the conditions of the new life will be manifested accordingly. These reactions will be patent and irrefutable proof of the person’s conduct and actions in this life. A spiritually defective and diseased ear or eye or tongue or skin shall, through its reactions to the conditions of the new life, bear witness to the evil use to which it was put in this life. “When they face the torment their ears, and their eyes, and their skins will bear witness against them as to what they used to do. They will say to their skins: ‘Why bear ye witness against us?’ These will reply: ‘Allah has made us to speak as He has made everything else to speak.’ He it is who created you the first time, and unto Him have you been brought back. You did not apprehend that your ears and your eyes and your skins would bear witness against you; nay, you thought that even Allah did not know much of what you did. That notion of LIFE AFTER DEATH 31 yours, which you entertained concerning your Lord, has ruined you. So now you have become of those who are the losers” (41:21-24). It is emphasised that the consciousness of living every moment of one’s life in the sight of God is the most effective deterrent against wrongdoing and the most potent incentive toward righteous action. Those who live their lives in the full consciousness of being in the sight of God every moment shall enter upon the new life in perfect spiritual health and all their reactions will be joyful. “Those who fear their Lord will be conducted to the Garden in groups, until, when they approach it, and its gates are opened, its keepers will say to them: ‘Peace be upon you; you have attained to the state of bliss, so enter it, abiding therein.5 They will say: ‘All praise belongs to Allah; who has fulfilled His promise to us, and has bestowed upon us this vast region for an inheritance, permitting us to make our abode in the Garden wherever we please.’ How excellent, then, is the reward of the righteous workers” (39:74-75). Heaven and hell are not separate, defined and divided regions, but exist, as it were, coextensively. The Quran says that the extent of heaven is equal to the whole extent of the heavens and the earth (57:22). Someone once asked the Prophet: “If heaven occupies the whole extent of the heavens and the earth, then where is hell?” He replied with another question “When there is day, where is night?” Night, of course, means the absence of light. Hell means a state of’the soul whose faculties are defective or diseased and whose reactions, consequently, are painful in contrast with the pleasant and agreeable reactions of a healthy soul. It is true that the phraseology employed constantly creates in the mind physical images, but in the conditions of human existence in this life that is inescapable. The only language that man can understand is the language to which he is accustomed. It is only by means of paraphrase and explanation that an effort can be made to bring the human mind closer to some understanding of these conditions, the reality of which is indeed beyond the ken of man. The Quran explains that the conditions of the life after death will constitute symbolical representation of man’s thoughts, designs, and actions in this life, and will be the consequences, or fruits thereof. “Give glad tidings to those who believe and act righteously, that for them are Gardens beneath which streams flow. Whenever they are given a portion of the fruits therefrom they will say: ‘This is what was given as aforetime’; and upon them will be bestowed gifts in resemblance” (2:26). This shows that when the righteous are presented with the fruits of the Garden in the life to come, they will recognise them as something of which they have had enjoyment in this life also. They will be reminded of the spiritual joys experienced in this life, and they will recognise the resemblance between them and the fruits presented to them in Paradise. In the same way it is stated that in the life after death the righteous will be able to choose the kind of fruit they prefer and the kind of meat they 32 REVIEW OF RELIGIONS desire. The meat referred to is “the flesh of birds” (56:21-22). Now, “bird” in the phraseology of the Quran also means “conduct” or “action” (17:14). Here again the reference to fruits and the flesh of birds clearly signifies the consequences or the fruits of righteous action. “The similitude of the Garden promised to the righteous is: Therein are streams of water which corrupt not; and streams of milk of which the taste changes not; and streams of wine, a delight to those who drink, and streams of pure honey. In it will they have all kinds of fruit, and forgiveness from their Lord” (47:16). The verse begins by saying that this is a similitude of the Garden promised to the righteous. The streams and their contents signify certain spiritual qualities or conditions. For instance, water signifies prosperity of every kind; milk signifies knowledge of Divine attributes; wine signifies man’s love for God (which is why we often hear of a person being drunk or intoxicated with joy or with love of a person or of God); and honey signifies the Grace and Mercy of God. In connection with the mention of wine in this context, it should be remembered that this wine is not liquor. The Quran describes it as “sparkling, white, delicious to the drinkers, wherein there is no intoxication nor will they be exhausted thereby” (37:47-48). Again: “Out of a flowing spring, no headache will they get therefrom, nor will they be intoxicated” (56:19-20). Conversely, the torments of the wicked are described as “Allah’s kindled fire, which rises over the hearts,” which again clearly means that these are the consequences of evil conduct which, through the operation of Divine law, assume the quality of kindled fire rising over the heart, constituting a torment for the heart (104:7-8). The Quran states, for instance, that hell has seven gates (15:45). Hell not being a defined, physical region, “gates” in this context can only mean ways of approach or means of entrance. The words “seven” and “seventy” are often used in Arabic as meaning several or many. But even if seven be taken as having a precise significance in this context it may be said that the torments associated with the concept of hell will be experienced through seven senses: sight, hearing, smell, taste, touch, the feeling of heat and cold, and what may be called the muscular sense, or feeling of fatigue. The Quran refers to the various torments which might be experienced by a diseased soul. When the transgressors see the torment they will realise that all power belongs to God and that God is severe in punishment (2:166). They will hear its raging and roaring from afar (25:13). They will drink boiling water; they will sip it and will not be able to swallow it easily (14:17-18). They will taste neither sleep nor pleasant drink save boiling water and a fluid that stinks (78:25-26). Their food will be dry, bitter, thorny herbage; it will neither nourish nor satisfy hunger (88:7-8). Hell will be for them a bed as well as a covering, so that the torment will affect them through the sense of touch (7:42). When they are thrown into a confined place chained together, they will wish for death, but LIFE AFTER DEATH 33 death will not come to them (25:14). Their drink will be either boiling or intensely cold, both difficult to swallow, and various kinds of other torments of a similar nature they shall endure (38:58-59). There will be chains and iron collars imposing the torment of close confinement (76:5). Some faces on that day will be downcast, lined, weary (88:3-4). But the greatest torment will be that God will not speak to them, nor look at them, nor purify them (2:175; 3:78). This will be the most terrifying and the most tormenting of their experiences. Then they will realise as never before how completely they have placed themselves at the pole opposite to the purpose of their creation, which is to become an image or a manifestation of the attributes of God (51:57). On the other hand, the conditions in which the righteous will find themselves, and their reactions to those conditions, will be pleasant and agreeable in respect of every one of their faculties and senses. Their faces will reflect joy; they will be well pleased with their labour (88:9-10). They will hear no idle talk, nor any falsehood (78:36), nor anything vain, but only “Peace” (19:63). They will be welcomed with greetings of peace (25:76). “They will not hear therein any vain or sinful talk, except only the word of salutation, ‘Peace, peace'” (56:26-27). The angels will greet them with: “Peace be on you. You have arrived at a joyful state, so enter it, and dwell therein forever” (39:74). They will not feel the unpleasant effects of heat or cold (76:14). God will provide for them a pure drink (76:22). They will dwell among gardens and springs (15:46). Fatigue and lassitude will not touch them (15:49). They will enjoy perfect comfort and the fragrance of happiness (56:90). They will ever be in rapture (76:12). Their faces will exhibit the freshness of bliss, and they will be given to drink of a pure beverage, sealed with musk (83:25-27). They will be in the midst of a vast kingdom of bliss; and they will say: “All worthiness of praise belongs to Allah, Who has fulfilled His promise to us, and has bestowed upon us this domain for an inheritance, making our abode in the Garden wherever we please” (39:75). The supreme triumph, however, will be the realisation of having won the pleasure of Allah (3:16; 57;21). “Their Lord gives them glad tidings of Mercy from Him and of His pleasure” (9:21). “Allah has promised to those who believe, men and women, Gardens beneath which streams flow, wherein they will abide, and delightful dwelling places in Gardens of Eternity, and the pleasure of Allah (3:16;57:21). “Their Lord gives them glad tidings of Mercy (9:72). “Allah is well pleased with them and they are well pleased with Him” (9:100). One important question in connection with the conditions of the life after death is whether they will be permanent and everlasting or will come to an end. The Quran teaches that while the rewards and joys experienced in the life after death will be everlasting and ever intensifying, the pains and torments will come to an end; all mankind will ultimately find admission to the Grace and Mercy of God. We have been told that mankind has been created 34 REVIEW OF RELIGIONS for the purpose of becoming the manifestations of God’s attributes (51:57). That being the Divine purpose, it follows that it must be fulfilled in respect of everyone. God says: “I will inflict My punishment on whom I will; but My Mercy encompasses all things” (7:157). Indeed, mankind has been created for the fulfilment of God’s Mercy (11:120). When pain, punishment, and torment will have achieved their purpose, which is curative, and is in itself a manifestation of God’s Mercy, Divine Mercy will then enable each human being to react joyfully to the conditions of the life after death. The Prophet has said that a time will come when hell will be empty, and the cool breezes of God’s Mercy will blow through it. Duration in the Hereafter is within God’s knowledge alone and He alone knows how long any particular condition will last. It is common experience that periods of j oy and happiness seem to race by, while moments of pain and anxiety appear unending. Pain and torment will appear long, for the torment suffered under the operation of Divine law will be severely felt, and no alleviation of it may be in sight. But eternity is infinite, and in each case a stage will be reached when torment will cease, pain will disappear, and all will be joy. As the experience of pain and punishment will be corrective and reformatory, each succeeding stage will bring an amelioration, but so long as the process is incomplete, the over-all reaction will continue to be painful. The Quran states that the punishment of evildoers will appear to be unending, but it will in fact be terminated when God wills (11:108). The joys of the life after death are also subject to God’s Will, but with respect to those, God’s Will has been announced; they are a “gift that shall not be cut off” (11:109). For the righteous there is an “unending reward” (95:7). Thus there will be continuous progress for all in the life after death. Those under sentence will work out their sentence, not as a penance, but as a curative process designed to cure the soul of the defects and disorders accumulated in its life upon earth and to bring it into a state of purity and health in which it can react with joy and pleasure to the conditions of the life after death. The righteous will be continuously praying for, and seeking the perfection of, their light (66:9). They will be greeted by their Lord with: “O, soul at peace, return to thy Lord; thou well pleased with Him, and He well pleased with thee. So enter thou among My chosen servants, and enter thou My Garden” (89:28-31). In these words the righteous are told that because of their unending quest for knowledge of the attributes of God — that they may become perfect manifestations of those attributes-—-heaven is a state of being in which there is continuous progress and continuous action. Because the attributes of God are without limit, man’s seeking to become the perfect manifestation of God’s attributes will be endless.