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Life after Death (Part 1)

Hazrat Mirza Tahir Ahmad (aba)
Review of Religions, July 1996

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It is customary for the Head of the Ahmadiyya Community, Hadhrat Mirza Tahir Ahmad, to hold sessions in which he responds to questions addressed to him. Presented below is the answer to a question which was raised at a session in London on 18 November 1995. Transcribed and edited by Samia Ahmad, UK.

Questioner: People are going to be judged according to their faith on the day after 'Youm-ul-Qayyama' (The Day of Judgment). If I die now, am I going to dwell in the grave until the Day of Judgment, or will I be taken to heaven or will I live in paradise? I want to know what will happen from the day of death to the Day of Judgment.

Mirza Tahir Ahmad: I have spoken on this subject at length so many times, that a book can be prepared on this one subject, incorporating all the answers, with additions from different angles. Briefly, I will try to present you with the salient features of this phenomenon of people dying and then coming to a form of life again. I will give you a summary of our beliefs as there is not the time for me to advance all the arguments on which those beliefs are based.

When we die, we will not lose consciousness in the sense of a soul which separates from the body. The soul, which is an enigma for scientists, is of such a nature that when it parts from the body, the body chemistry immediately begins to decay and returns to its constituent substances with no more sense left in the body at all. Is the soul also destroyed? Is it so dependent on the body that it must live in a constant bond with the body?

According to Islam, it is true that in the case of other animals when the body dies, life ends. In the case of humans, when life ends the body dies, not the soul. The soul is only mentioned in connection with human beings not in relation to animals. The body dying or life ending is one and the same thing. In case of human beings the word soul (rooh) is used and this has developed to a degree that it has the capability of becoming independent entity in itself, a spiritual form which can live after the separation. What is the nature of that form? We don't know much about it, but this much, at least, the scientists have discovered is that energy bundles can survive as energy bundles. Previously, they used to rubbish the belief in souls, but they now admit that what they have discovered leads us to the possibility of some sort of human energy living in an organised form as separated from the physical existence of man. That is what will happen in the first instance. The soul will have a consciousness of some sort.

In the first appearance before God, it will be adjudged briefly, and it will know from then on in which direction it is going to develop. Further development of the soul will require aeons of time, in which it will develop in such way that a body will be created from within that soul and that body will give birth to a soul. That is to say a separation will be made in that existence so that a centre of thinking, a centre of entity, will be created around that part of the soul, which in comparison will appear to be material, but it will not be material. So it is only a matter of degrees.

God is the ultimate of spiritual refinement. So all those who happen to be at subsequent smaller level or a cruder level, cannot conceive exactly the spiritual nature of God which defies form. But it does exist and that existence is proved through the works of God, beyond that we cannot reach. But we have some experience about the soul, here (in this world), which can lead us to believe in a phenomenon which may occur after our death. This is experienced in two ways. One way is through the dreams. In dreams, things happen which appear to be real, but they defy the natural laws of our daily experience. We can walk through walls; we can see things of the past; we ca experience being in countries which we have never visited and yet feel, during the dream, as if every thing is real. We can meet our dear ones who have died and enjoy meeting them and talking to them. As one is dreaming, one really believes that things are exactly as they are happening in any physical form, yet nothing is created. Something like that will happen to the soul but this event will have a quality, not exactly the same, but similar to that of our new identity within our dreams.

The founder of the Ahmadiyya Community, Hadhrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad of Qadian, the Promised Messiah (as), builds this subject further in his great historic book, The Philosophy of the Teachings of Islam by reminding us that it will not just be a dream existence. A new creation will be formed out of the essence of man's personality which becomes separated (from his body) at the time of his death. That essence will be composed of his views, his thoughts, his attitude, his goodness, his evil, his acts of defiance of the Word of God or his obedience to the Will of God. All these according to the Promised Messiah, continuously make a personality within us. So an entity is born within us which we ourselves create. We create our hell or heaven without realising. But he said, one day some evil person may suddenly be awakened and he would be absolutely exasperated to realise that he has destroyed himself. What he is, is a rotten thing. The good people gradually gain the realisation of their nobility to such a degree that their realisation becomes the very reward of their nobility itself. So, once awakened, the human conscience creates hell for the evil people and heaven for the good people.

In short, the Promised Messiah pointed out that this is not in vain, this is not accidental.

This does not happen in case of animals. There is no such sense of nobility or evil actions and their consequences among the animal kingdom. God has specifically evolved man to such a degree that his acts would create a soul in him and his heaven and his hell would be born out his own actions. They will be given a form by the Act of God. This form will be a new creation and it will be a long time in the making. So when the last call is made, before resurrection, all human souls would have acquired a new form, a new body, a new spirit within the spiritual body, and then they would acquire the faculty of suffering, not the suffering of a physical fire, (it is a different form of suffering). It is a different type of 'fire' which we sometimes experience through extreme repentance, sense of shame or sense of exposure of our crimes.

In short this is what is going to happen to us after our death. While we live we should try to create a healthier soul within ourselves, a healthier soul which can only be created if we become true within.

In the end let me quote the words of an earlier questioner, '. .... if we achieve a pure heart, such a pure heart will be saved from the hell', and in the words of the Promised Messiah:

`Fire it is no doubt, but all such people will be saved from fire who have true love of God in their hearts'.
So, the final analysis, purity of heart or love of God is one and the same thing. God bless you.

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