PROVING THE POSSIBILITY OF LIFE AFTER DEATH BY AL-HISS (PHYSICAL SENSES)
The Last Day is that enormous event when everyone will be resurrected from death to the accounting and reckoning, to be asked about their deeds: to receive either reward for their good deeds, or punishment for their evil deeds. It is called “the Last Day” because it is the final day and the end of earthly time. This is the day when the people of Paradise will go to their appointed places in Paradise, and those of Hell to the Hellfire.
1. To believe in the resurrection after death. Resurrection will take place when the Trumpet will be blown [by Israafeel] for the second time [the first being for the death of all living creatures]. Humankind will awaken to face the Lord of the Worlds.
2. To believe in the reckoning of the deeds and reward or punishment accordingly. Allah the Most Exalted said: Verily, to Us will be their return. Then verily, for Us will be their Reckoning. [Surah al‐Ghaashiyah 88:25‐ 26]
3. To believe in Paradise and Hellfire, and that they are the final and everlasting abode for the creatures (men and jinn). Paradise is the final resting place of ultimate happiness and joy that Allah has prepared for the believers who feared Him, believed in Him, and sincerely obeyed Him and His Messenger who brought the message.
Allah the Most Exalted said: Verily, those who believe and do righteous deeds, they are the best of creatures. Their reward with their Lord is Gardens of Eternity, underneath which rivers flow, wherein they will abide forever; Allah is Well‐Pleased with them, and they with Him. That is for him who fears his Lord. [Surah al‐Bayyinah 98:7‐8]
Hellfire is the final destination of torment and punishment that Allah has prepared for the disbelievers, the unjust (criminals), those who disbelieved in Allah and disobeyed the Messengers. Hellfire contains all kinds of unimaginable punishments and torments. Allah the Most Exalted said: And fear the Fire which is prepared for the disbelievers. [Surah Aali ‘Imraan 3:131]
To illustrate to us this possibility, Allah has given us stories of past events when people saw with their own eyes (and physical senses) how He raised the dead to life. There are five examples given in the second Surah of the Qur’an, in Surah al‐Baqarah:
1. The story of the people of Musaa when they said to him, “We will not believe in you unless we see Allah openly without a barrier”, and thus they were seized by death. Thereafter Allah resurrected them and said to admonish them and all the Children of Israel with this story, And (remember) when you said, “O Musaa! We shall never believe in you till we see Allah plainly.” But you were seized with a thunderbolt (and lightening) while you were looking. Then We raised you up after your death so that you might be grateful. [Surah al‐Baqarah 2:55‐56]
2. The story of the murdered man among the Children of Israel, when they argued about determining who the murderer was. Allah ordered them to sacrifice a cow and strike the corpse with a part of it so that he can come to life to tell them about the killer. Allah the Most Exalted said about this case: And (remember) when you killed a man and fell into dispute among yourselves as to the crime. So Allah brought forth that which you were hiding. So We said,
3. The story of the group that ran away from their homes fearing death even though they were thousands and could have stood up to their enemies. Allah struck them dead in their tracks and then brought them back to life. Relating this story Allah Most Exalted said in the Qur’an: Did you (O Muhammad) not think of those who went forth from their homes in thousands, fearing death? Allah said to them: “Die!” And then He restored them to life. Truly, Allah is full of Bounty to mankind, but most men thank not. [Surah al‐Baqarah 2:243].
4. The story of the man who passed by a dead and deserted village, and wondered how Allah would be able to resurrect them. Allah struck him dead for a hundred years and then raised him up again. Relating this story, Allah Most Exalted said: Or like the one who passed by a town all in utter ruins. He said, “Oh! How will Allah ever bring it to life after its death?” So Allah caused him to die for a hundred years, then raised him up. He said, “How long did you remain (dead)?” He [the man] replied, “Perhaps I remained (dead) a day or a part of a day.” He said, “Nay, you have remained for a hundred years; look at your food and your drink, they show no change; and look at your donkey! And thus We have made of you a Sign for the people. And look at the bones, how We bring them together and clothe them with flesh.” When this was clearly shown to him, he said, “I Know (now) that Allah is Able to do all things.” [Surah al‐Baqarah 2:259]
5. The story of Ibraheem (AS) who asked Allah to show him how He resurrects the dead. Allah ordered him to slaughter four birds, cut them in pieces and spread these pieces to various mountains. Then He told him to call these dead birds, and when he did, they came back to him flying. On this Allah the Most Exalted said: And (remember) when Ibraheem said, “My Lord! Show me how You give life to the dead.” Allah said, “Do you not believe?” Ibraheem said, “Yes, but to be stronger in faith.” He said, “Take four birds, then cause them to incline towards you (to slaughter them and cut them into pieces), and then put a portion of them on every hill and call them, they will come to you in haste. And know that Allah is All‐Mighty, All‐Wise.” [Surah al‐ Baqarah 2:260]
These five historically authentic examples, which were physically experienced, prove that the dead can rise back to life by the Will of Allah. The fact that ‘Eesaa raised the dead from their graves by the Will of Allah has already been mentioned above.
Two rational arguments can be presented here:
The first argument is that Allah is the Original Creator of all the creation, and thus, He who is capable of the first creation is also capable of re‐creation, which is even simpler. Allah the Most Exalted said: And it is He, Who originates the creation, then He will repeat it (after it has been perished), and this is easier for Him. [Surah ar‐Room 30:27] And Allah the Most Exalted said: As We brought (into existence) the first creation, We shall repeat it, (it is) a promise binding upon Us. Truly, We shall do it. [Surah al‐Anbiyaa’ 21:104]
And Allah the Most Exalted said to those who deny that Allah can restore decayed bones: Say (O Muhammad), “He will give life to them Who created them for the first time! And He is the All‐ Knower of every creation.” [Surah Yaa‐Seen 36:79]
The second argument is that we observe the earth lifeless and barren from lack of rain. Allah sends the rains and then we observe the soil coming back to life and various kinds of plants spring forth green and flourish. So the One Who brings life back to the dead earth and makes the plants flourish is able also to raise the dead animals back to life.
Allah, the Most Exalted, said: And among His Signs you see the earth barren, but when We send down water (rain) to it, it is stirred to life and growth (of vegetation). Verily, He Who gives it life, surely is able to give life to the dead. Indeed! He is able to do all things. [Surah Fussilat 41:39]
And He said: And We send down blessed water (rain) from the sky then We produce therewith gardens and grains of all harvests that are reaped; and tall date palms, with ranged clusters; provisions for (Allah’s) slaves. And We give life therewith to dead land. Thus will be the Resurrection (of the dead). [Surah Qaaf 50:9‐11]
Some misguided people say that the punishment or b bliss in the grave is not possible since it is against the reality we see when we open the graves and find the decomposed corpses. They say that we do not find that the grave has expanded its size or grown narrow, as some hadeeth mention.
This claim of theirs is invalid by proofs of ash‐Sharee’ah (revelation and scripture), al‐Hiss (physical senses), and al‐ Aql (reason and analysis).
Proving the possibility of punishment or bliss in the grave by ash‐Sharee’ah (revelation and scripture): Some of the proofs have been mentioned above. One other proof that is reported by al‐Bukhari is the narration of Abdullah ibn Abbaas (r) when he said, The Prophet passed by some walls in Madeenah and heard the screams of two persons who were being punished in their graves. He mentioned the reasons behind this punishment saying, “One of them did not protect himself (spoiling his clothes) from urine. The other one used to spread gossip.”
Sometimes we sense ourselves in our dreams that we are in a huge expanse, or extremely constricted and confined, feeling the pain of being squeezed and the fear of claustrophobia. Sometimes we are even jerked awake from these nightmares, only to find ourselves sitting in our beds. Sleep is the twin of death, and this is why Allah calls it a type of “Wafaat” (fulfillment, appointed time of death and its like), as Allah the Most Exalted said: It is Allah Who takes away the souls at the time of their death, and those that die not during their sleep. He keeps those (souls) for which He had ordained death and sends the others (back) for a term appointed. Verily, in this are signs for a people who think deeply. [Surah az‐Zumar 39:42]
Proving the possibility of punishment or bliss in the grave by “al‐‘Aql” (reason and analysis): Sometimes a person sees a dream that becomes true and conforms to exact events and traits of the real world. For example, one might see the Prophet (S) in their dreams. Whoever sees the Prophet in the shape that he is described in the books of hadeeth, we know, has truly seen him, even though the sleeper is simply in his room on his bed far away from what he is seeing. If this is the case in matters of the physical world, wouldn’t it be possible in matters of the Hereafter?
As for the doubts of the disbelievers concerning that they do not see the punishment of the corpses or that the graves expand in size or grow narrow as some hadeeth mention, this is answered by the following points:
The first point is that one is not allowed to refute religious matters and Sharee’ah (law) with mere doubts and suspicions of this nature without any solid argument against, since it may be that the deficiency is only in understanding, as the Arab poet said: Many are those who claim a sound saying is defective, Whereas nothing is defective but their own understanding.
The second point is that these issues of the grave are of the realm of the unseen, a realm not sensed by physical senses. If matters of the unseen could be tested and affirmed by physical senses, there would not be any benefit of believing in and having belief in the revelations about the unseen realm because this would equalize the believer and disbeliever.
The third point is that only the dead person himself experiences punishment or bliss of the grave, and its expansiveness or constriction. The case is similar with the sleeping person, since only the dreamer feels the sensations of his dreams, whether nightmares of contractions or expanses of lightheartedness, while for others he is asleep in his bed in his room. Similarly, the Prophet (Saw) would receive revelation and the companions next to him would not hear the revelation while he did. Sometimes the angel would come to the Prophet (S) in the shape of a man but the companions were not able to see or hear the angel.
The fourth pointis that we creatures have a limited sensual capacity. Much physical reality is outside our range of perception. Everything in the universe, the seven heavens, the earth and all that is therein, praise and glorify Allah, but we cannot hear their forms of praise and glorification and only sometimes does Allah give the power to some of His creatures to hear them, as He the Most Exalted said:The seven heavens and the earth and all that is therein, glorify Him, and there is not a thing but that glorifies His praise, but you do not understand their glorification. Truly, He is Ever Forbearing, Oft‐Forgiving. [Surah al‐Israa’ 17:44].
Similarly, the Jinn go back and forth and travel about on the earth, but we cannot see them. The Jinn came to the Messenger (S) and listened to his recitation of the Qur’an. After he finished the recitation they went back to their nation of Jinn to convey the Message to them [as verses of the Qur’an relate]. All of this is outside the range of our sense perception. Allah the Most Exalted said: O Children of Adam! Let not Satan deceive you as he got your parents (Adam and Eve) out of Paradise, stripping them of their raiment, to show them their private parts. Verily, he and his soldiers see you from where you will not see them. Verily, We made the devils protectors and helpers of those who believe not. [Surah al‐A’raaf 7:27].
If we, the creatures, do not know what exists beyond our range of perception and comprehension, we cannot deny its existence. Therefore, it is not allowed for us to dispute what has been proven to exist of the unseen realm by revealed scriptures21.
The great benefits of believing in the Last Day and Resurrection include:
1. Encouraging the desire to do the deeds of obedience hoping for the bliss and reward of Paradise.
2. Being terrified of committing deeds of disobedience fearing the punishment of the Hellfire.
3. Comforting the believer about the pleasures and luxuries that he misses in this worldly life and the hardships and pains he endures in the hope for the bliss and reward of the Paradise.
Book of Explaining The Fundamentals Of Faith By Sheikh Muhammed Sahih Ibn al-Uthaimeen, d1.islamhouse.com/data/en/ih_books/single/en_Fundamentals_Of_Faith.pdf