The Grave

16 The Grave (Hazrat Mirza Bashir-ud-Din Mahmud Ahmad ) The Holy Quran indicates that God Himself sends every human being to his grave. The earthly grave to which the dead body is consigned is no more than the physical symbol of the grave to which the soul is consigned. The burial of the dead which involves the digging of the grave, bathing of the body and wrapping it in a shroud are things done by relatives and friends of the deceased. The soul itself is consigned to its befitting grave by God Himself. I have gathered from the Holy Quran that the soul of every human being, whatever may be his or her station in life, will be consigned to this grave after death.There is a grave (maqbara) in the next life for the meanest and the humblest, just as there is for the most powerful and the mightiest in accordance with one’s merits and demerits. There are graves of this kind for those who play great roles and for those who pass away unknown, and for those who die by fire, drowning or consumed by wild beasts. No one under any circumstance will be exempted. As I have stated the meaning of the grave according to the Holy Quran is meant the state or state of being where the human soul resides after it has left this world through the door of death. Whether the souls are of believers or those of disbelievers, they are all kept in this place. While it is mentioned in the Traditions that disbelievers will be punished in the grave, it is in the one I have explained and not in the earthly pit which is filled in with earth. It has been recorded that some foolish people, in their mistaken zeal, opened up the graves of some of the hypocrites to see if they contained a window opening into hell. When they opened these graves they found, of course, no trace of any such windows. They had made a serious error. If the punishment of one’s sins was connected with the earthly grave then the Parsees would escape punishment for they do not bury their dead. Nor do the Hindus; and those who are drowned in the sea and are never retrieved also are not buried in earthly graves. We should also remember that it so happens sometimes that a large number of people are buried together in one large grave. How would the windows opening into hell be opened in graves of this kind? All of those buried may not be equally deserving of hell-fire. Moreover, it often happens in large towns that old graves are filled up and forgotten during the course of time. New graves are dug on the sites of the old ones. Supposing a man deserving to be sent to hell is buried somewhere and in course of time his grave is forgotten and filled in, and a new grave is dug on the same spot for THE GRAVE 17 •someone deserving paradise. What would then happen? This superficial interpretation of what happens in the grave is too foolish to deserve consideration. The proper interpretation of the meaning of the grave is the place where the souls are kept after they have passed through the experience of death. Further support for this view is found in the following passage of the Holy Quran:- That is because Allah is Self-Subsisting and All-Sustaining, and that it is He Who brings the dead to life, and that He has power over all things; And because the Hour will certainly come, there is no doubt about it, and because Allah will raise up those who are in the graves.(22: 7,8) Should the graves mentioned here be intended to mean the earthly excavations in which the dead are buried, then it would mean that at the time of the final Resurrection only Muslims would be called back to life because mostly they have graves of this kind while millions upon millions who have been cremated do not have such graves. It is not correct, therefore, to interpret the graves mentioned here to be the earthly ones dug in the ground. What is meant is the place or state in which the souls are kept after they have passed through the experience of death, irrespective of the manner of their death. It is possible that a non-Muslim might raise the objection that Allah will raise up those who are in their graves reveals the ignorance of the Holy Prophet Muhammad, peace be on him, because all those who die are not buried in the ground. They may say he did not know that there are people who burn their dead and therefore the statement in the Quran is wrong. This is a misconceived objection. We have every reason to believe that the Holy Prophet knew that some people meet their death through drowning, burning, or by being devoured by animals etc. These are fairly common causes of death about which no intelligent man such as a traveller or a merchant of those days would be expected not to know. The Holy Prophet, therefore, knew as well as anyone else that many people are not buried after they die. They lie in no earthly grave. When, therefore, we read in the Holy Quran that Allah furnishes every human being with a grave it is absolutely clear that the meaning of it is not of a worldly and material nature but a state of existence in which the soul is 18 REVIEW OF RELIGIONS kept from the time of death until the Day of Resurrection. It should also be remembered that the critics of the Holy Quran often try to prove that Muhammad, peace be upon him, borrowed this thing and that thing from the Christians or the Jews thereby proving that he was well informed about the environment in which he lived. At the same time they say that he was an ignorant man. Both cannot be true. Cases of this kind only prove that such objections are the result of blind, unreasonable prejudice seeking chances to say something to discredit Islam and the Holy Prophet Muhammad, .peace be on him. The Holy Prophet knew perfectly well that the followers of some religions cremated their dead. He is reported to have said: Among the Israelites there was a dying man who gathered his relatives and friends around him and said to them: Do not bury me when I am dead but make a pile of fuel and burn me so that my flesh be burnt andbones be left. They should be scattered when a strong wind is blowing. After his death the people did as they had been directed. Later God asked the man why he had done this? He replied: I was an extremely sinful man, my Lord, and I thought that you get hold of my remains then I would receive a terrible punishment. It was my plan not to leave behindmy remains for this reason. Then God said to him: If you were afraid of Me to that extent, I forgive you your sins. This Tradition verifies the fact that the Holy Prophet knew that some people cremate their dead instead of burning them. The grave prepared by God for every human soul is in the most strict and scrupulous accordance with deeds and achievements of that soul. On this point there is no possibility of any error like on earth where wicked people are often depicted as being good and righteous and vice-versa. The grave prepared by God embodies a record of even the minutest actions, not on their face value, but on the basis of their ultimate and intrinsic worth and on the value of intentions and motives behind them. In this respect we read in the Holy Quran: And the Book of their deeds will be placed before them, andthou wilt see the guilty ones fearful of what is therein, and they will say, ‘O woe to us! what kind of-Book is this ! It leaves out nothing, small or great but has recorded it.’ And they will find all that they did confronting them, and thy Lord does not wrong anyone. (18:50) THE GRAVE 19 In another place in the Holy Quran God says that man’s own hands and feet will bear evidence against him on the Day of Judgement, as though everything he had said or done had been preserved on tape which would be brought forward to bear witness. It should also be remembered that all these recordings would be given a true and proper assessment irrespective of the surface values which, in human affairs on this earth, prove to be so misleading. To everyone a proper reward. This record and its accurate assessment is precisely embodied in the grave which God prepares for every human soul according to its desserts. God says in the Holy Quran: Thy Lord will certainly repay them in full, according to their works. He is surely well Aware of all that they