What Do Muslims Believe About the Afterlife?
Each religion has its own take on what happens to us after death, those who are not religious will often believe that there is no such thing as an “afterlife”. Meanwhile, Muslims do believe in the concept of an afterlife, but what do they think about it?
Belief about the afterlife is an integral part of following Islam. In Islam it is believed that the soul continues to exist after death; the soul is eternal. Islam teaches that a day of judgement is what a person will be met with, where all of the human kind will ultimately be divided between the eternal destinations of Paradise (heaven) and Hell.
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In Islam, everything that has happened has only happened because Allah has permitted it. Nothing can happen in this world without Allah permitting it so. This is the case for death as well, it is Allah that decides when a person dies.
Whilst Allah has full control over everything, he had granted free will to humans. Therefore he leaves it up to us to choose to do right and wrong on this earth. It may seem somewhat a contradiction, but it is taught that humans have control over the actions they take in life – while Allah will not interfere with human activity, he has control over everything else that happens in the world, whether that be a Hurricane or an individual death.
The Day of Judgement
Found within the Quran is one of the most important teachings of Muhammad, central to the doctrine, concerning the “Last Day”. The Last Day is credited as the day which the world will be destroyed and Allah will raise people from the dead to be judged. The Last day is also commonly referred to as the Day of Standing Up, Day of Reckoning, Day of Judgement, Day of Separation, The Hour or The Encompassing Day.
Until this day comes, all the souls of the deceased will remain laying in their graves/place of rest awaiting resurrection as commanded by Allah. However, once in your graves it is no secret which fate awaits you – those who are damned to Hell will suffer in their graves and those who will be allowed to ascend to Paradise will experience peace in their graves.
The Quran explains that the resurrection will take place on the Last Day will be physical – it is taught that Allah will recreate everyone’s bodies for this day. 17:100: “Could they not see that God who created the heavens and the earth is able to create the like of them?”. The resurrected humans will be judged according to their earthly deeds, by Allah himself. To enter paradise, ones good deeds must outweigh ones bad deeds.
This day of judgement has long been described as passing over hell on a very narrow bridge in order to reach and enter paradise once and for all. Those who fall off the bridge are those who are weighed down by their bad deeds – there they will remain in hell forever.
In Islam, Paradise is named Jannah. Jannah is described as being surrounded by eight principle gates, each level guarded by Angels. People entering Jannah will be greeted by Angels with salutations of peace.
It is believed that Allah described it as a place which is essentially different to the life of this world, both in the very nature and purpose of life. People on earth will experience both delights and turmoil – but in paradise, all they will experience will be delights and bliss.
The basic concept of Hell (Jahannam) in Islam is pretty similar to that of Christianity, in that it is seen as a place of torture and of fire and flames.
Those who are damned to Hell by Allah will face a life of suffering, which are believed to be physical and spiritual forms of suffering. The intensity of the suffering depends on the type and level of sins which were committed by an individual during their lifetime.
The Quran states that Hell is a gruesome place of punishment that is always contrasted with Jannah (paradise). Whatever characteristic Jannah offered, Jahannam usually offered the opposite conditions. Hell is often referred to in Islam as the Fire, however, there is a reference to a part of hell which is cod rather than fiery hot in the Quran.