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Eschatology
 
Belief in resurrection and afterlife (ma`ad) is one of the pillars of Islam, and its denial is tantamount to rejecting amr and nahy (enjoining and prohibiting), wa`d and wa`id (promise and threat), and prophecy and revelation; in other words, the wholesale denial of religion. Over one fourth of the Quran is, in one way or another, related to the notion of resurrection and afterlife. In a number of verses, the infidels (kuffar, sing. kafir) are described as those who deny the truth of resurrection, while no mention is made of their rejection of tawhid and prophecy (Asra’ 17: 10). This implies that if one were to reject the reality of resurrection, his belief in the divine unity and other principles of faith would be insufficient to justify his religiosity. This is the reason behind verse 26 of the Surah of Sad (38) which considers losing sight of the Judgment Day to be the root cause of ignorance. The good deeds of a Muslim also bear fruit only if he has belief in the hereafter, for without such belief all his actions would be rendered futile (Naml 27: 53; A`raf 7: 147). Ajal, or death, is the first step towards entering ma`ad, or afterlife. Ajal refers to the time of a man’s death, upon which he does not perish, but is transformed from this world to the next. Death is a return to God, when man’s soul is completely separated from his body by God or angels who guard it safely (Zumar 39: 42; Sajdah 32: 11; An`am 16: 61).
After death man enters upon a new life in the world of barzakh (isthmus) and remains there until the Day of Judgment (Mu’minun 23: 100). Some verses of the Quran imply that in barzakh men enjoy rewards and suffer punishments commensurate to their actions in their previous life (Hud 11: 105 – 108; Mu’min 40: 46; Al-i `Imran 3: 169 – 170). The Judgment Day opens with the sounding of the Trumpet (Sur), which both takes lives and revives them. With the first blowing all on the earth and in the heaven (angels), except a few, fall in a faint (Zumar 39: 68). It is then that the world comes to an end and the heaven and earth are torn into pieces (Haqqah 69: 13 – 15). Thus, the coming of the Day of Resurrection is attended by tremendous events: the sun and the stars darken, and the earth is torn asunder by quakes and the shattering of mountains. In the Hadith, these events are referred to as ashrat al-sa`ah (the conditions of the Hour). In sum, on that day, the system of the world undergoes a dramatic change and is supplanted with a new order. The Quran and Hadith point to the fact that all the affairs of life will be different from their present forms. The second blowing of the Trumpet causes men to rise up from the dead (Ya-Sin 36: 48 – 52) and to hurry toward God in droves (Ya-Sin 36: 51). They will then wait in bewilderment as to their fate (Zumar 39: 68). On that day all means will prove ineffective: wealth (Haqqah 69: 28) kinship (`Abas 80: 34), friendship (Dukhan 44: 41), or any other instrument (Shawra 42: 47). Then, all veils are brought down and ghayb and shahadah will become one and the same (Qaf 50: 22; Tariq 86: 9; Mu’min 40: 16).
It should be noted that, unlike what is believed by some regarding spiritual resurrection, many Quranic verses and hadiths clearly indicate that men rise up on the Day of Judgment with their bodies (Infitar 82: 4; Hajj 22: 7). Verses 8 and 9 of the Surah of A`raf assert that on the Resurrection Day men’s actions are weighed and that the good deeds are determined as heavy while the bad deeds are proven light. This may be due to the longevity of the former and the evanescence of the latter (Ra`d 13: 17). The deeds are weighed by the scale of divine justice (Anbiya’ 21: 47). Those whose actions weigh heavy in the scale of justice will gain salvation and be rewarded with heaven, while those with lighter deeds will suffer the punishment of hell (Mu’minun 23: 102 – 106).
According to verses 13 and 14 of the Surah of Asra’ (17) the records of men’s deeds are written in books that are hanging from their necks. The reckoning of everyone’s actions will be carried out based on his record. In other words, that which will bring salvation or damnation to a person accompanies him at all times. The book in fact comprises the very actions of every man which God will hold up in front of him on Judgment Day. However, this book does not bear any resemblance to its corporeal counterparts in that it contains the essence of a man’s actions and reflects every minute detail. Thus, in the court of divine justice actions are personified and no room is left for justification and excuse (Kahf 18: 49; Al-i `Imran 3: 30).
Sirat is another stage of the Resurrection Day. Sirat (path) is a road which extends over or within hell (Nisa’ 4: 168 – 169; Saffat: 37: 22 – 25). This is a path that traverses the entire hell and one that every man, good and bad, has to cross over (Maryam 19: 68 – 72). In the end, God saves the righteous and sends the sinners to hell. However, not all sinners are destined to hell, and not all who go to hell remain there for eternity. At the last minute, prophets and angels intercede on behalf of those who are to be sent to hell as well as those who have been there for some time. In any event, those in heaven or in hell only reap the consequences of their actions (Ya-Sin 36 – 54). In the Quran, heaven is depicted in a language of symbols and metaphors (Ra`d 13: 35; Muhammad 47: 19) and in terms that are agreeable to man, such as dignity, virtue, beauty, sensual pleasures, and companionship of the good and the beautiful. Hell, on the other hand, is painted in dire terms: fire and suspension between life and death (Ta-Ha 20: 74), drinking boiling water and eating the abominable zaqqum (Dukhan 44: 43).
 
* source: Gorji , Abolghasem "Islam Entry" The Great Islamic Encyclopedia. Ed. Kazem Musavi Bojnourdi.Tehran: The Center of Great Islamic Encyclopaedia , 1989-, V.8 ,pp.406 - 407
 
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