The True Promised Home: The Hereafter
It should be evident to anyone with wisdom and conscience that none of the objects that exist, none of the events that transpire, and none of the laws that abide in this universe are either vain or purposeless. the structure and endurance of the universe, as we have shown in previous chapters, are based on very delicate balances. Those balances demonstrate as a matter of unquestionable fact that the universe was CREATED. That being so, can it be said that this universe was created in vain?
A purpose is sought in even the smallest act committed by someone dwelling on this earth, which does not even occupy as much room as a dust particle among billions of galaxies. So, how reasonable can it be to claim that the entire universe was created in vain?
Allah informs people that they have not been created in vain:
Did you then think that We had created you in jest, and that you would not be brought back to Us (for account)? (Surat al-Mumenoon, 115)
The existence of life on earth is made possible by a train of countless miraculous phenomena extending from the Big Bang to atoms, from atoms to galaxies, and from galaxies to our own planet. Life on earth is such that its every need is subtly planned for and created in the most suitable way: the sun in the sky providing all the needed energy, provisions stored under the ground, and a world furnished everywhere with millions of species of plant and animal varieties. Despite all the extraordinary events we have described, people still can reject the existence of their Creator. Considering it reasonable to be shaped into a man from a sperm, these people do not believe that they will be resurrected after death as informed in the Qur'an, and make irrelevant remarks. Allah has pointed in the Qur'an to the twisted reasoning of the unbelievers and has given them the answer:
And he makes comparisons for Us, and forgets his own (origin and) Creation: He says, "Who can give life to (dry) bones and decomposed ones (at that)?" Say, "He will give them life Who created them for the first time! for He is well-versed in every kind of creation!" (Surah Ya-Seen, 78-79)
Allah–"He Who created Death and Life"–has created everything in the universe for a specific purpose and thus explained the purpose of man's creation: "that He may try which of you is best in deed: and He is the Exalted in Might, Oft-Forgiving." (Surat al-Mulk, 2) As explained in the verse, this world is a place of trial and, as such, it is temporary. There is an end for all people as well as for the world, the time of which is predestined by Allah. People are responsible for living the short-lived lives given to them according to the terms set by Allah and described to them in the Qur'an. in the hereafter they shall have their reward for what they have done here.
The Everlasting Penalty
We have described in the course of this book the manifest signs of Allah's existence, the advocates of the system that relies on rejecting Allah, and the kind of social context they seek to establish. Everything that has been discussed so far is concerned with "the life of this world". However, what follows death, that is, the "hereafter" also deserves serious consideration.
Those who labour to advance the systems that rely heavily on disbelief in Allah offer a distressful life to their followers in the world. These people will also cause their adherents to suffer a grievous penalty in the hereafter. There, they will by no means show the close attention they used to show to those foolish people who followed them in the world. On the contrary, there, they will only mind saving themselves as stated in the following verse:
Every soul that has sinned, if it possessed all that is on earth, would fain give it in ransom... (Surah Yunus, 54).
The attitude of those who champion disbelief in the world is also expressed in other verses:
Every time a new people enters, it curses its sister-people (that went before), until they follow each other, all into the Fire. Says the last about the first: "Our Lord! it is these that misled us: so give them a double penalty in the Fire." He will say: "Doubled for all": but this you do not understand. Then the first will say to the last: "See then! No advantage have you over us; so taste you of the penalty for all that you did! "(Surat al-Araf, 38-39)
As is evident, it does not really make much difference whether one is a member of those who are foremost in disbelief or of those who lag behind. As a result, both groups suffer a great loss and deserve an everlasting penalty for the sins they have committed in the world. in the Qur'an, Allah has described in detail the spirits and the circumstances that these people will have and the penalty they will suffer on the day of resurrection, the day of account, and in hell.
The Day of Resurrection
When Allah mentions the day of resurrection in the Qur'an, He calls it " the day that the caller will call (them) unto something not known…" (Surat al-Qamar, 6) the terror of this day is something that human beings cannot know because they have never encountered anything like it.
Only Allah knows the arrival time of that day. People's learning about this day is limited to what is related in the Qur'an. the day of resurrection will come all of a sudden when nobody expects it.
This day may seize people when they work in their office, sleep at their home, talk on the phone, read a book, laugh, cry or drop their children off at school. Furthermore, this seizure will be so horrifying that no one will have seen anything like it in his lifetime.
The day of resurrection starts with the sounding of the trumpet (Surat al-Muddaththir, 8-10). When this sound is heard all over the world, those who have not used the time given to them by Allah for gaining His good pleasure will be seized by a great fear. Allah describes in the Qur'an the horrifying events that will happen on that day:
Nay, the hour (of judgement) is the time promised them (for their full recompense): and that hour will be most grievous and most bitter. (Surat al-Qamar, 46)
As the verses relate, the sounding of the trumpet is followed by a great tremor and a roaring so violent as to deafen the ears. in the intensity of this din, the mountains start to shake and slide with the earth beneath them (Surat al-Zalzala, 1-8).
Mountains are crumbled to atoms and become a scattered dust (Surat al-Waqia, 5). At that moment, people very well understand how trivial are the things that they have hitherto cherished. All the material values they have pursued throughout their lives suddenly vanish:
Therefore, when there comes the great, overwhelming (event),- the day when man shall remember (all) that he strove for, and hell-fire shall be placed in full view for (all) to see. (Surat an-Naziat, 34-36)
On that day, even the mountains made up of stones, earth and rocks are dispersed like carded wool (Surat al-Qaria, 5) Man now becomes aware that this power is not the power of nature. for on that day, nature also is laid low. A tremendous fear and horror rule over all that happens that day. People, animals, and nature are all overwhelmed by this horror. People see that the oceans burst forth (Surat al-Infitar, 3) and that they are set on fire (Surat at-Takwir, 6).
The heavens start shaking just like the earth and they start to be torn away, in a way hitherto unwitnessed. the usual blue colour of the sky that people are accustomed to is transformed and resembles molten brass (Surat al-Maarij, 8). On this day, everything in the sky that used to give light is suddenly darkened; the sun is folded up (Surat at-Takwir, 1), the moon is cleft asunder (Surat al-Qamar, 1), and the sun and the moon are joined together. (Surat al-Qiyama, 9)
Pregnant women lose their children because of the horrifying fear of that day. the fear makes children hoary-headed (Surat al-Muzammil, 17). Children run away from their mothers, women from their husbands, and families from one another. Allah tells the reason in the Qur'an:
At length, when there comes the deafening noise, that day shall a man flee from his own brother, and from his mother and his father, and from his wife and his children. Each one of them, that day, will have enough concern (of his own) to make him indifferent to the others. (Surah Abasa, 33-37)
The Day of Account
After all the events have taken place on the day of resurrection as described above, the "trumpet" is sounded for the second time. This sound is the outset of the day on which everyone will be resurrected. That day the earth becomes thick with people who are raised up from their graves where they were perhaps buried hundreds and thousands of years ago. the resurrection of people on that day and the state of perplexity they will be in are revealed by the Qur'an:
The trumpet is sounded, when behold! from the sepulchres (men) rush forth to their Lord! They say: "Ah! Woe unto us! Who has raised us up from our beds of repose?"... (A voice will say:) "This is what (Allah) Most Gracious had promised. and true was the word of the messengers!" It is no more than a single blast, when they are all brought up before Us! Then, on that day, not a soul is wronged in the least, and you are but repaid the meets of your past deeds. (Surah Ya-Seen, 51-54)
On that day, all the things that people declined to think about, that they were not willing to understand, and that they fled from are laid bare. They no longer have any means of escape or denial.
The moment these people, with the stamp of ignomity on their faces, and heads fallen, emerge from their graves and assemble, the earth shines with light and the book of each one is brought by and by to be given to him.
On this day of meeting, when enormous throngs of people hitherto unseen come together, the conditions of the believers and of the unbelievers are certainly different. in the Qur'an, this is related as follows:
Then he that will be given his record in his right hand will say: "Ah here! read you my record! I did really understand that my account would (one day) reach me!" and he will be in a life of bliss. (Surat al-Haaqqa, 19-21)
And he that will be given his record in his left hand, will say: "Ah! Would that my record had not been given to me! and that I had never realised how my account (stood)! Ah! Would that (death) had made an end of me! of no profit to me has been my wealth! My power has perished from me!" (Surat al-Haaqqa, 25-29)
On this day, not an atom's weight of injustice is done to anyone. Everyone is paid back in full to recompense for his deeds in the world. A day of dire difficulty for unbelievers, this day is the one on which their eternal life in hell becomes certain.
The following verses clearly reveal what awaits, on the Day of Account, those who insisted on denying Allah throughout their lives and who followed the callers of futile intentions at the Day of Accounting:
And the trumpet is blown, and all who are in the heavens and all who are in the earth swoon away, save him whom Allah wills. Then it is blown a second time, and behold them standing waiting! and the earth shines with the light of her Lord, and the book is set up, and the prophets and the witnesses are brought, and it is judged between them with truth, and they are not wronged... and every soul is paid back fully what it has done, and He knows best what they have done. and those who disbelieve are driven unto hell in troops: until, when they arrive, there, its gates will be opened. and its keepers say, "Did not messengers come to you from among yourselves, rehearsing to you the signs of your Lord, and warning you of the meeting of this day of yours?" the answer is: "True". But the decree of punishment has been proved true against the unbelievers!. (To them) is said: "Enter you the gates of hell, to dwell therein: and evil is (this) abode of the arrogant!". (Surat az-Zumar, 68-72)
The greatest sin one can commit is to rebel against Allah, the Creator and Giver of Life. Created to be a servant to Allah, man, if he conflicts with the purpose of his creation, naturally deserves a punishment befitting his wrongdoing. Hell is the place where this punishment is administered. Most people spend their whole lives in a kind of intoxication without thinking about this at all. One of the most important reasons for this intoxication is their inability to make a correct assessment of Allah. Many people esteem Allah for his affectionate, merciful and forgiving attributes; they do not feel a deep and heartfelt fear of Allah as they are supposed to. This causes these people to be insensitive to the commands and counsels of Allah. Allah particularly forewarns people in the Qur'an about this danger:
O mankind! Guard against (the punishment of) your Lord, and fear (the coming of) a day when no father can avail aught for his son, nor a son avail aught for his father. Verily, the promise of Allah is true: let not then this present life deceive you, nor let the chief deceiver deceive you about Allah. (Surah Luqman, 33)
Truly, Allah, Possessor of the most beautiful names and attributes, is affectionate, merciful, and forgiving. However, it must also be remembered that Allah, at the same time, is everlastingly Just, the Subduer of all, and the Compeller; that Allah is close to the believers but remote from idolaters, unbelievers and hypocrites; that He is the Lord of retribution; and that hell is the place where His latter attributes will most perfectly be embodied.
People, for some reason, have superstitious beliefs on this subject. They assume that after they die, they will go to hell to pay for the sins they committed in the world, but will then go on to paradise after their punishment is over and abide there for ever. Allah, however, informs us in the Qur'an that life both in hell and paradise will last eternally and that no one will be released from either unless Allah so wills.
And they say: "The fire shall not touch us but for a few numbered days:" Say: "Have you taken a promise from Allah, for He never breaks His promise? Or is it that you say of Allah what you do not know?" Nay, those who seek gain in evil, and are girt round by their sins, they are companions of the fire: Therein shall they abide for ever. But those who have faith and work righteousness, they are companions of the garden: therein shall they abide for ever. (Surat al-Baqara, 80-82)
People will there encounter such torments as fire, heat, darkness, smoke, narrowness, blindness, constriction, hunger, thirst, festering water, boiling water, and the poisonous tree of zaqqum. in addition to physically injurious penalties, they will also suffer a great spiritual torment that mounts right to the hearts. (Surat al-Humaza, 5-9). the dreadful torments that people who disregard Allah's existence will undergo in hell are described in detail in the Qur'an. the verses reveal how important this subject is for man. the wrath of hell is so great that it cannot be compared to any distress in this world. Allah describes in the Qur'an this terrible finale that awaits the unbelievers:
By no means! He will be sure to be thrown into that which breaks to pieces, and what will explain to you that which breaks to pieces? (It is) the fire of (the wrath of) Allah kindled (to a blaze), which mounts (right) to the hearts: It shall be made into a vault over them, in columns outstretched. (Surat al-Humaza, 4-9)
Some faces, that day, will be humiliated, labouring (hard), weary. entering into the blazing fire, made to drink, of a boiling hot spring. No food will there be for them but a bitter dhari' which will neither nourish nor satisfy hunger. (Surat al-Ghashiya, 2-7)
For the rejectors we have prepared chains, yokes, and a blazing fire. (Surat al-Insan, 4)
This is the hell which the sinners deny: in its midst and in the midst of boiling hot water will they wander round! (Surat ar-Rahman, 43-44)
But those who reject (Allah)––for them will be the fire of hell: No term shall be determined for them, so they should die, nor shall its penalty be lightened for them. Thus do We punish every ungrateful one! Therein will they cry aloud (for assistance): "Our Lord! Bring us out: we shall work righteousness, not the (deeds) we used to do!"–"Did We not give you long enough life so that he that would should receive admonition? and (moreover) the warner came to you. So taste (the fruits of your deeds): for the wrong-doers there is no helper." (Surah Fatir, 36-37)
Those who will be gathered to hell (prone) on their faces, they will be in an evil plight, and, as to path, most astray. (Surat al-Furqan, 34)
When it (the blazing fire) sees them from a place far off, they will hear its fury and its raging sigh. and when they are cast, bound together into a constricted place therein, they will plead for destruction there and then! "This day plead not for a single destruction: plead for destruction oft-repeated!" (Surat al-Furqan, 12-14)
The True Home Promised to the Believers: Paradise
Now no person knows what delights of the eye are kept hidden (in reserve) for them–as a reward for their (good) deeds. (Surat as-Sajda: 17)
Paradise is the place promised to believers for their belief in Allah and for their devotion to Him. Paradise, as described in many verses, is a place enveloped in many kinds of blessings and it is a residence of eternal bliss. Allah awards the believers with paradise as compensation for their deeds in the world.
Paradise is a place where the "Merciful" (the mercy of Whom is exclusively for the believers, the Most Merciful, Who awards those who properly use His blessings with more superior and eternal blessings) attribute of Allah is revealed. Paradise, therefore, is a home of delight that harbours every thing that a person's soul may desire and even more as described in the verses.
In some people's minds, the word "paradise" conjures up rather limited notions, for they suppose paradise to be a place of merely natural beauty, such as a delightful meadow. There is, however, a great difference between this limited notion and the paradise described in the Qur'an.
In the Qur'an, paradise is described as a place containing everything a person may desire:
There will be there all that the souls could desire, all that their eyes could delight in: and you shall abide therein. (Surat az-Zukhruf, 71)
In another verse we are told that in paradise there is even more than what man could want:
There will be for them therein all that they wish, and more besides in Our presence. (Surah Qaf, 35)
In other words, contrary to general belief, paradise has numerous blessings to offer, blessing such as remained unseen by human beings throughout their lives in this world and even unimaginable to them. Believers will be granted eternal life in paradise in return for their obedience to Allah in the life of this world and for their having lived according to His wishes.
The paradise that is promised to the believers is described in various verses:
But give glad tidings to those who believe and work righteousness, that their portion is gardens, beneath which rivers flow. Every time they are fed with fruits therefrom, they say: "Why, this is what we were fed with before," for they are given things in similitude; and they have therein companions pure (and holy); and they abide therein (for ever). (Surat al-Baqara, 25)
The righteous (will be) amid gardens and fountains (of clear-flowing water). (Their greeting will be): "Enter you here in peace and security." and We shall remove from their hearts any lurking sense of injury: (they will be) brothers (joyfully) facing each other on thrones. There no sense of fatigue shall touch them, nor shall they (ever) be asked to leave. (Surat al-Hijr, 45-48)
For them will be gardens of eternity; beneath them rivers will flow; they will be adorned therein with bracelets of gold, and they will wear green garments of fine silk and heavy brocade: They will recline therein on raised thrones. How good the recompense! How beautiful a couch to recline on! (Surat al-Kahf, 31)
Verily the companions of paradise shall that day have joy in all that they do; They and their associates will be in groves of (cool) shade, reclining on thrones; (Every) fruit (enjoyment) will be there for them; they shall have whatever they call for; "Peace!"–a word (of salutation) from a Lord Most Merciful. (Surah Ya-Seen, 55-58)
As to the righteous (they will be) in a position of security, among gardens and springs; dressed in fine silk and in rich brocade, they will face each other; so; and We shall join them to fair women with beautiful, big, and lustrous eyes. There can they call for every kind of fruit in peace and security; nor will they there taste death, except the first death; and He will preserve them from the penalty of the blazing fire, as a bounty from your Lord! that will be the supreme achievement! (Surah ad-Dukhan, 51-57)
But those who believe and work deeds of righteousness–to them shall We give a home in heaven, lofty mansions beneath which flow rivers, to dwell therein for aye; an excellent reward for those who do (good)! (Surat al-Ankaboot, 58)
A Warning to Those Who Would Be Saved From Endless Torment
Surely, everyone is free to live as he wishes in this world and to choose the path he wants. Nobody has the right to exercise compulsion over another. Yet, as those who believe in the existence and eternal justice of Allah, it is our solemn duty to warn those people who would reject Allah and who are unaware of their current state and course. Allah has informed us of the seriousness of the state of these people:
Which then is best? –he that lays his foundation on piety to Allah and His good pleasure?– or he that lays his foundation on an undermined sand-cliff ready to crumble to pieces? and it crumbles to pieces with him, into the fire of hell. and Allah does not guide people that do wrong. (Surat at-Tawba, 109)
People who deliberately turn their back on the words of Allah, or who unconsciously reject their own Creator, will have no means of salvation in the hereafter. If they do not repent and be guided to Allah, Who created them, they will suffer the greatest penalties possible. the eternal penalty awaiting them is stated thus in the Qur'an:
But those who reject Our signs, they are the (unhappy) companions of the left hand. On them will be fire vaulted over (all round). (Surat al-Balad, 19-20)
The way of relief from the eternal penalty and to deserve eternal paradise is evident:
To have sincere faith in Allah before it is too late.
To spend one's life seeking His good pleasure.