The culmination of the human journey through life is the Day of Resurrection and Judgement. Earthly life is the capital with which we work towards success in the next life. Although earthly life is not an illusion, the life of the next world is considered the real life that is worthy of preparing for.
Judgment Day and the Afterlife
A central tenet of belief in Islam is that all humans will be resurrected for judgment by God after they die, to answer for the lives they have lived and the choices they have made.
THE END OF TIME
There will come a time when those on earth will experience a succession of trials and calamities on a scale never seen before. Bonds between people will dissolve and corruption will spread across the land. The earth will be afflicted with tremors and the sun will rise from the west as an ominous sign of what is to come. Knowledge will be taken away from human hearts and ignorance will prevail. Transgressions will be committed openly as values are inverted and right appears wrong while wrong appears right. Those holding onto Islam will recognize these ordeals as being some of the signs of the nearness of the Final Hour foretold by the Prophet, peace be upon him. At that time, anyone with even an atom’s weight of sound belief will succumb to a breeze so that only the corrupt will remain on earth. Then, amid all the chaos and transgression, a mighty blast from the trumpet of Israfil will cause everything to die, signaling the arrival of the Day of Judgment.
THE FINAL RECKONING
The momentous day of reckoning has several titles, all of which are interchangeable. They include the Hour, the Last Day, the Day of Reckoning, and the Day of Resurrection. Below are the main points of belief in relation to that day, although many more details are known:
After the initial blast, Israfil will blow the Trumpet again and everything will be brought back to life. Then everyone will be gathered, full of fear and anxiety, as they await the final reckoning. God describes it as a day when
“hearts will be agitated, while eyes will be downcast”
Each person will be so preoccupied with his or her own predicament that there will be no time for friends or family. Everyone will be brought forth individually for questioning before God, they will be shown their book of deeds compiled by the Recording Angels, Raqib and Atid. Witnesses will be called to testify, and nothing will be hidden. God declares,
“On the day when their own tongues, hands, and feet shall bear witness against them as to what they used to do.”
Every individual’s good and evil deeds will then be weighed. A person’s actions in life will have their full effect and will either be a source of joy or of regret depending on what he or she believed and did. God says,
“Whoever brings a good deed will have better than its worth and will be safe from that day’s terror. And whoever brings an ill deed, such will be flung down on his face in the Fire. Are you being rewarded other than what you did?”
Intercessions will be granted on that day whereby God will permit Prophets and some among the righteous believers to seek forgiveness on behalf of other believers. First among those who will be allowed to intercede will be the Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, whose intercession will save many from the torments of the Fire. Additionally, the Quran will also intercede on behalf of a person who accompanies the Quran in recitation and action in this life.
Thereafter is the crossing of the thin, razor-sharp bridge, the Sirat, which spans the abyss of Hell. Those of faith who were quick to obedience will cross the bridge with speed and lightness. Others will struggle slowly, weighed down by their sins, while some will slip and fall headlong into the abyss below.
On the other side, each prophet will greet the members of his nation at his designated pool from which he will give them water to drink. The Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, will also be standing by his Pool as he promised. With his own gracious hand, he will serve water from his Pool to his faithful followers as a sign of their special connection to him. Anyone who drinks this water will never be thirsty again. After this long and arduous journey, each person will have arrived at his or her destination. Those who believed and followed the prophet of their time successfully will be rewarded with the bliss of eternal life in Paradise, while those who rejected the truth and did evil will be requited with the torment of Hell. God compares these two fates in the Quran,
“The model of the Garden promised to the pious: in it are streams of unpolluted water; and streams of milk whose taste never changes; and streams of wine that is bliss to those who drink it; and streams of pure honey. And there is every kind of fruit for them there, and forgiveness from their Lord. Is that like the state of those who remain in the fire, are given boiling water to drink, and it tears their bowels?”
However, in His mercy, God will eventually take out of Hell any who had even a tiny amount of belief in their hearts so that they may join the others in the noblest of final abodes.
Those who understand the divine attributes of perfection will realize that whatever occurs, whether physical or immaterial, is only brought into existence through the Will and creative Power of God in perfect accordance with His all-encompassing Knowledge. God says about Himself,
“He creates what He wills. When He decrees a thing, He only says to it: “Be,” and it is.”
For each of His creatures, the Creator has determined and measured out its allotment, including the length of its life, the provisions it will receive, and what will befall it of good and of evil. This is what is referred to as the Divine Decree. He says,
“He created everything, and then ordained it all in precise measure.”
“He is not questioned about what He does—it is they who will be questioned.”
At the same time, humans are given free will, the ability to choose their actions, and we are morally responsible for the decisions we make and the things we do, and we are held accountable for the choices we make.
RESPONDING TO DIVINE DESTINY
While believers continue to work and strive through life with choice and volition, they also put their trust in their Lord. They are grateful during times of ease and well-being as well as at times of adversity. They find solace in the knowledge that there is no better disposer of their affairs than the Creator of all things and are reminded that they will be called to account before God, not for what happens to them, but for their response in terms of choices and actions.
The Prophet, peace be upon him said, “How wonderful is the case of a believer; there is good for him in everything, and this applies only to the believer. If prosperity comes his way, he expresses gratitude to Allah, and that is good for him, and if adversity befalls him, he endures it patiently and that is better for him.” The Prophet, peace be upon him, also said, “The greatest reward comes with the greatest trial. When God loves a people, He tests them. Whoever accepts this, wins His good pleasure.” God says,
“We shall surely test you with something of fear and hunger, and loss of property and lives and crops; but give glad tidings to the patient.”
Whatever may befall the believer, they remain constant in prayers and supplication, seeking that which pleases God, unwavering in their moral duties. The Prophet himself, peace be upon him, advised others to have patience and contentment, and he was the first to demonstrate this in the most graceful of ways, both during periods of ease as well as extreme hardship. His beautiful character remains the best example regardless of the difficulties a person faces, for no one was tested more than the Prophets. The Companions of the Prophet, peace be upon him, asked, “O Messenger of God! Who among the people receives the most trials?” He replied, “The Prophets, then those who are closest to them, and then those who are closest to them.”