Satan creates many doubts and the most dangerous doubt that arises in the mind of man and makes him a loser in this world and in the hereafter is with regard to the life after death. A great source of virtue and righteousness, in addition to other means and sources, is belief in the hereafter. When a person regards the hereafter and all that concerns it as a mere tale or story, then it may be taken that he has been rejected and has lost both worlds. The fear of the hereafter makes a person anxious and afraid and drives him to the true fountain of understanding. True understanding cannot be achieved without the fear of God. Remember, therefore, that the arising of doubt concerning the hereafter puts faith in danger and makes a person's end uncertain (Malfoozat, Vol. I, pp. 51--52).
According to the Holy Quran, there are three states of existence. The first is the world, the name of which is the first creation and the house of earning. In this world a person earns good or ill. There is progress in good in the hereafter, but that is through the pure grace of God. It has nothing to do with a person's effort.
The second state of existence is called barzukh (Purgatory) . In Arabic idiom barzukh is that which is situated between two things. As this state of existence lies between the first creation and the resurrection, it is called barzukh. This expression has always been used for the intervening state. It thus is a great testimony in support of the existence of the intervening state....
Barzukh is the state when the temporary human formation is dissolved and the soul and the body are separated from each other.... Though this mortal body is separated from the soul after death, yet in the intervening state every soul is temporarily invested with a body so that it might experience the result of its actions. That body is not like the earthly body, but is prepared from light or darkness according to the actions of each person. It might be said that in that state a person's actions serve as his body. In the Word of God, this is mentioned several times and some bodies are described as bright and some as dark, which are prepared from the light or from the darkness of actions. This is a mystery but is not beyond reason. A perfect person can acquire a bright body in this very life, apart from his earthly body, and there are many illustrations of it in the state of visions. It is difficult to explain this to a person whose mind is not keen, but those who have some experience of the state of visions would not look upon a body which is prepared from actions with wonder or incredulity, but would appreciate this explanation.
This body which is created from actions becomes a source of the recompense of good and evil in the state of barzukh. I have experience of this matter. I have often, in a state of complete wakefulness, met some dead persons in a vision and I have observed the bodies of some wicked and misguided persons which were so dark as if they had been compounded of smoke. I am personally acquainted with this condition and I affirm emphatically that as God Almighty has said, everyone is bestowed a body after death, which is either bright or dark. It would be a mistake to seek to prove these fine truths through the agency of reason alone. It should be realized that as the eye cannot demonstrate the taste of something sweet and the tongue cannot see anything, in the same way, the knowledge of the hereafter which is gained through visions cannot be tested by reason. God Almighty has appointed separate means for the perception of that which is hidden. Then seek everything through its proper means and you will find it.
It should be remembered that in His Word God has described as dead those who are involved in vice and misguidance and has described the virtuous as alive. The means of life of those who are heedless of God, for instance, eating and drinking and following their passions are cut off and they do not partake of spiritual sustenance. Thus they are truly dead and will be alive only to suffer punishment. This is indicated in the verse: The portion of him who comes to his Lord a sinner is hell; he shall neither die therein nor live (20: 75) But those who love God Almighty do not die on death as they carry their sustenance with them.
Barzukh is followed by a state of existence which is called resurrection. At that stage every soul, good or bad, righteous or disobedient, will be bestowed a body. That day has been appointed for the perfect manifestation of God when every person shall become acquainted fully with the existence of his Lord and shall arrive at the extreme point of his recompense. No one need wonder how God will accomplish this for He has power and does whatever He wills, as He has said:
Does not man know that We have created him from a mere sperm- drop? Then he becomes a persistent disputer; He invents explanations concerning Us and he forgets the process of his own creation. He asks: Who will quicken the bones when they are decayed? Tell them: He Who created them the first time will quicken them. He knows well every type of creation.... Has not He Who created the heavens and the earth the power to create the like of them? Yea, and He is indeed the Supreme Creator, the All-Knowing. His power is such that when He intends a thing, He says concerning it: 'Be'; and it is. Thus Holy is He in Whose hand is the kingdom over all things. To Him will you all be brought back (36: 78-84) (Islami Usul ki Philosophy; Now printed in Ruhani Khazain (London, 1984), Vol. 10, pp. 88-93).
Islam sets forth the high philosophy that everyone is bestowed a body in the grave which is necessary for the perception of delight and torment. We cannot say from what material that body is prepared. This mortal becomes naught and no one has observed that which comes alive in the grave. The earthly body is often cremated or is preserved in museums and is kept outside a grave for long periods. If this body were to come alive, people would observe it and yet the Holy Quran affirms that a dead person comes alive. One has, therefore, to accept that a dead person is revived with a body which we cannot see. May be that that body is created from the imperceptible qualities of this body. After that body is bestowed, human faculties are revived as this second body is much finer than the first body. It experiences visions very widely and all the realities of the hereafter become visible to it as they are. Wrong-doers then suffer not only a physical torment, but also a torment of despair. Thus it is an agreed principle of Islam that the torment or comfort of the grave is also experienced through a body, and this is the demand of reason also inasmuch as experience has affirmed that the spiritual faculties of man do not manifest themselves without a body (Kitabul Bariyyah (Qadian, Ziaul Islam Press 1898); Now printed in Ruhani Khazain (London, 1984), Vol. 13., pp. 70-7I).
The hereafter is a reflection of this world, and the consequences of faith and disbelief that appear spiritually in this world would be demonstrated physically in the hereafter. God, the Glorious, has said: He who is blind in this world shall be blind in the hereafter (17:73). We should not be surprised at this and should reflect how spiritual matters are personified in a dream and the matter is even more surprising in a vision when spiritual matters take on physical shape before our eyes. Very often in complete wakefulness one meets those souls who have passed away from this world, and they appear in their original bodies wearing the clothes of this world and they talk and the holy ones out of them convey news about the future, by God's command, and those news are fulfilled in fact. Often in complete wakefulness a sweet drink or some fruit which is very delicious comes to hand in a vision. This humble one has experience of all this. I have personal experience that some delicious food or fruit or sweet drink comes into view and is put into one's mouth by a hidden hand and one enjoys its delicious taste while one continues to talk to other people and one's senses continue to work. This is not at all imagination, but is a specimen of the creation of God concerning Whom it is said that He has knowledge of every type of creation (36: 80). This is testified to in every age by those who possess insight. Why should one wonder at the personified creation which will be seen in the hereafter when the scales of deeds would be beheld and the narrow bridge will be seen and many spiritual matters will take on physical forms? Is it beyond the power of Him Who has shown this system of personified creation in this world to those who possess insight to exhibit it in the hereafter also? These personifications have a relationship with the hereafter. When this personified creation is demonstrated to purify people in this world, which is not a place of manifestation of complete cutting asunder, why should it not become visible in the hereafter which is a state of complete and perfect cutting asunder from the world. It should be remembered that all those wonders of which a veiled one reads in the verses of the Holy Quran, which relate to the hereafter, are disclosed in visions to a person possessing insight, in this very world. Those whose insight does not penetrate to the reality wonder at these statements and often objections arise in their minds with regard to them that all these matters appear to them opposed to truth and reason, such as the sitting of God Almighty on His Throne on the Day of Judgment, the standing of angels in rows, the weighing of deeds in scales, the crossing of the narrow bridge by people, the slaughtering of death like a sheep after the Judgment, the appearance of deeds like handsome or ugly people and the flowing of streams of milk and honey in paradise, etc. (Malfoozat, Vol. III, pp. 6I-62).
The condition of a person after death is nothing new. It is a clear representation of his life in this world. The condition of a person's beliefs and actions, righteous or unrighteous, is hidden inside him in this world and its poison or antidote influences him in a secret way. In the life after death all these will become manifest. One experiences a sample of it in dreams. In a dream, one observes the conditions which prevail at the time in one's body. When one is heading towards high fever, one beholds fire and flames of fire in one's dream and when one is about to suffer from influenza, one finds oneself in water in a dream. Whatever disorder one's body is ready for is personified in one's dreams. The same is the case in the life after death. As a dream produces a change inside us and demonstrates our spiritual condition in a physical form, the same will happen in the life after death and our deeds and their consequences will be physically demonstrated and whatever we carry with us from this world in a hidden manner will all appear openly on our countenances on that day. As a person views diverse forms of personifications in a dream and never imagines that they are personifications, but believes them to be realities, the same will happen in the life after death. God Almighty will demonstrate a new power of His true personifications. As that power is perfect then, even if we do not describe it as personification, it would be true to say that it has a new creation through the power of God. God Almighty says: No one knows what bliss is kept hidden from them (32: I8). Thus God describes those bounties as hidden, no specimen of which is found in the world. It is obvious that the bounties of the world are not hidden from us and that we are well acquainted with milk and pomegranates and grapes and we always eat them. This shows that those bounties will be of a different type and will have nothing in common with these except the name. He who considers paradise as a collection of worldly bodies wholly misunderstands the Quran (Islami Usul ki Philosophy; Now printed in Ruhani Khazain (London, 1984), Vol. 10, pp. 82-84).
The Holy Quran divides into three the conditions that one encounters after death and there are three Quranic insights about the hereafter.
The first is that the Holy Quran repeatedly states that the hereafter is nothing new but that all its spectacles are the reflections of this worldly life, as it is said: Every person's doings have We fastened firmly to his neck; and on the Day of Judgment, We shall place before him a book which he will find wide open. (17: I4) This means that the hidden effect of a person's actions will be displayed on the Day of Judgment in the shape of an open book. The word bird has been here used metaphorically for deeds. For every deed, good or bad, flies away like a bird and its labour or its delight disappears and only its foulness or fineness remains in the hearts.
It is a Quranic principle that every action has its hidden impress. Every action of a person attracts Divine action corresponding to it which preserves the quality of that action and does not let it disappear. Its impress is inscribed upon the heart and the countenance and the eyes and the hands and feet. This is the hidden record of actions which will be made manifest in the life to come.
At another place it is said with regard to those who are admitted to paradise: Keep in mind the Day when thou wilt see the believing men and believing women, their light running before them and on their right hands (57:13); that is to say, the light of faith which is bestowed in a hidden manner upon the believers will on that day be seen openly running before them and on their right hands. At another place the wicked have been addressed:
The desire of increase in worldly possessions beguiles you till you reach the graves. You will soon come to know the vanity of your pursuits; again, you will soon come to know how mistaken you are. If you only knew with the certainty of knowledge, you would surely see hell in this very life. But you will see it with certainty of sight in the life to come, and then you will surely be called to account, on that day, in respect of the worldly favours conferred on you (102:2-9) (Islami Usul ki Philosophy; Now printed in Ruhani Khazain (London, 1984), Vol. 10, pp. 86-88).
The second insight which the Holy Quran has set forth with regard to the life after death is that in the hereafter all those matters that were spiritual in this world will be physically personified whether in the state of barzukh or in the state of resurrection. One of the relevant verses is: He who is blind in this life shall be blind in the hereafter and even more astray (17: 73). This means that the spiritual blindness of this world will be felt physically in the other world. At another place it is said: The angels will be commanded: Seize him and fetter him; and cast him into hell, and bind him with a chain the length of which is seventy yards (69:31-33). These verses show that the spiritual torment of this world will appear in physical form in the hereafter. The collar of worldly desires which had bent a person's head towards the earth will appear manifestly in the second life. In the same way the chain of worldly desires will be seen round the feet. The burning sensation of worldly desires will be seen as a fiercely flaming fire. A disobedient person has inside of him a hell of worldly desires and feels the burning of that hell in his failures. When he is cast away from his mortal desires and is confronted with eternal despair, God Almighty will cause this despair to appear to him as physical fire. As He has said: A curtain will be drawn between them and that which they desire (34: 55). This will be the root of the torment. The direction to bind him with a chain the length of which is seventy yards is an indication that a disobedient one often attains the age of seventy years. Very often he is granted seventy years of active life leaving out of account his childhood and his extreme old age. The miserable one passes these seventy years caught in the desires of this world and does not wish to be free of this chain. Thus God Almighty says that the seventy years that he passed in his devotion to the world will be personified in the hereafter as a chain, the length of which will be seventy yards, each yard corresponding to a year. It should be remembered that God Almighty imposes no distress from Himself upon a person, but confronts him with his evil deeds. At another place it is said: Proceed towards a shelter which has three sections, neither affording shade nor protecting from the blaze (77: 31-32) . In this verse by the three sections are meant the wild and the animal and the speculative faculties. These three faculties, of those who do not cast them into the moral mould and do not coordinate them, will be manifested on the Judgment Day as if they are three branches without leaves which can afford no protection from the blaze in which they will burn. Concerning the dwellers of paradise it is said: Call to mind the day when thou wilt see the believing men and believing women with their light running ahead of them and on their right hands (57: 13); that is to say, the light of the believers that is hidden in this world will be manifested running ahead of them and on their right hands.
In The Hereafter Spiritual Conditions
Will Become Visible
Another verse says: Call to mind the day when some faces will be bright and some faces will be gloomy (3: 107). At another place it is said: The Garden promised to the righteous has rivers of water that is not corrupted; and rivers of milk of which the taste changes not; and rivers of wine full of delight for those who drink; and rivers of pure honey (47: 16) . At this place it is clearly stated that paradise may be understood as having endless streams flowing with these things. The water of life which a person possessing insight drinks spiritually in this life will be present overtly in the life to come. The spiritual milk of which he drinks spiritually like a suckling babe in this world, will be seen openly in paradise. The wine of the love of God with which he was spiritually inebriated in the world will be made manifest in paradise in streams. The honey of the sweetness of faith which one possessed of insight swallowed spiritually in the world will be felt and observed in the shape of streams in paradise. Every dweller of paradise shall display a spiritual condition openly in his rivers and his gardens and on that day God Himself will emerge from behind the veils for the dwellers of paradise. In short, spiritual conditions will be no longer hidden but will become physically visible.
There will be continuous Progress In Heaven
The third insight is that in the hereafter there will be unending progress. God Almighty has said: The light of those who have believed in Him will run before them and on their right hands. They will pray: Lord, perfect our light for us and forgive us, surely Thou hast power over all things (66:9). Their supplication for the perfection of their light indicates that their progress will be unlimited. They will attain one perfection of light and will then behold another, and will consider their previous perfection as deficient and will supplicate for a second perfection, and when they attain that they will behold a third stage of perfection and seeing that they will belittle their previous excellences and will desire that stage of perfection. This desire for progress is indicated by the expression: Perfect our light for us. In this way, an endless system of progress will continue which will never suffer decline. They will not be expelled from paradise but will advance forward every day and will not move back. A question arises that having entered paradise, why should they seek forgiveness as their sins will have been forgiven? The answer is that the primary meaning of maghfirat is the suppression and covering up of an imperfect condition. Dwellers of paradise will desire to obtain perfection and to be sunk altogether in light. On beholding the second condition they will find their first condition defective and they will seek to have it suppressed. Then beholding a third perfection, they will desire with regard to their second condition that it should be suppressed and hidden. Thus they will desire unending maghfirat.
This is the same istighfar which some ignorant ones make the
basis of criticism of the Holy Prophet, peace be on him, but it will now
be clear that this desire for istighfar is the pride of man. A person
who is born of woman and does not make istighfar his habit is an
insect and not a man, is blind and not seeing and is foul and not pure
(Islami Usul ki Philosophy; Now printed in Ruhani Khazain (London, 1984),
Vol. 10, pp. 94-99) .