Let us all think about a feeble child who has lost his brother or sister, or whose grannies have passed away recently. That child is in great distress and sadness. His delicate and soft heart is shattered by the news of separation. What could possibly give comfort to his little heart?
Let us all think about an elderly individual, who is not only suffering from age related illnesses but also alarmed by the fast approaching and painful reality of death. What could relieve him or her from the agony of death and sufferings of illnesses?
Let us all think about a young man or a girl who is high-spirited, energetic and full of ego and potential to destruct, commit all sorts of evil, kill and harm others. He or she may even tend to rebel against their own parents or even attempt to harm them or other relatives. What could prevent them from doing so?
Let us all think about a married couple. The husband is now tired of the wife after all those years and the wife is tired of the husband and the kids. The husband is not the same good-looking husband and the wife is not the beautiful young lady any more. The shaytan approaches them every now and then. What would give them happiness and tranquillity and peace back to their home?
The reality is that belief in hereafter is such an immense treasure that we cannot appreciate it enough. Belief in the hereafter is one of the foundations of man’s personal and social life, and that they are the bases of his happiness and his perfections. Iman in akhirah (faith in life after death) sustains a happy individual and happy society. Let us discuss in further detail and see what ‘faith in life after death’ has to offer to our modern society?
Children make up almost half of all humanity. The reality of death for them by no exception is so shocking, terrifying and saddening. Their fitrah (pure nature) is extremely weak and fragile like tiny bubbles or fine crystal glasses. They are so delicate and sensitive that they may burst into tears in a second. The smallest thing may make them cry. If they are so delicate to cry for the loss of a tiny little toy for hours, could you imagine how terrible they would feel if they lost their brothers or sisters? Their life, imagination, future and past would fall to pieces. What could hold them together?
They can only cope with the thought of death, and loss of life with the idea of paradise – another realm far better than this, a meeting space and a pain-free get-together. They can find spiritual strength within their delicate nature by way of paradise. Once they believe in life after death, they find a ray of hope within their spiritual temperaments and they are now able to live in happiness and peace for they know that they will meet their beloved ones again.
For example, by means of the idea of paradise, the child says, ‘my little brother or friend died, and he has become one of the birds of paradise, and he roams around in it, and lives even better than we do’.
Otherwise, the death of children like themselves and of adults around them at all times would strike them. It would destroy their resistance and spiritual strength. Not only their eyes but also their spirit (rūḥ), heart (qalb), and intellect (‘aql) weep and cry so badly. It would leave long-lasting scars on their spirit. They will be left destructed or ended up like mad, miserable animals only busying themselves with meaningless entertainment to forget what has happened, temporary attempt to numb feelings and snooze the remembrance of the reality.
As a result, one might say that the thought of akhirah help children so powerfully that they can cope with death and loss of life with the idea of paradise. They know that their sibling who has departed from this world went to a better place to live and they will be meeting once it is their turn.
Some people might find what I will say a little bit too far-fetched but once it is well-thought, one would come to confess that senior people in society are as much delicate as children. Another important part and strata of the society, very well experienced in life but pretty tired of challenges at times. The best time to have peace of mind or vice versa because they are now in an age and in a period of life that is felt like they are leaving this world. The grave looks nearer. The illnesses can be painful. They now know that they will leave everything that they are attached to. (By the way, no one knows who will depart earlier but as a wide-spread acceptance in the society, elder generation is most of the times regarded as nearer to the departure gates although sometimes other `passengers` leave earlier.) Their children, their spouse, their house, their money, their car and their friends all that is near and dear to their hearts are about to depart. Or they are about to depart from them. The closure of this beautiful world and going to the dark grave is painful. The only tasalli – comfort and solace – is the idea that this world has not been the only place to live and there is that `next world`, and death is not the end but the real beginning. Yes, the hope of an eternal life comforts them. By way of the eternal life and hope to meet their friends, they can now cope with painful, alarming despair brought upon by death, separation and extinction. As we said, the elderly are very much like children. Their swiftly-effected, delicate and very fragile spirits and temperaments have become child-like. They may become upset quite easily. You would all experience from your elder generations how easily they might get upset. The reality of death, too, might make them upset pretty swiftly.
Let us not forget this reality that our mothers, fathers, and grandparents and our elderly relatives are noble and dignified beings. They deserve compassion and they are in need of tranquillity and peace of mind. Yet they could be upset and anxious because of the reality of death. They deserve to be treated honourably.
If they didn’t have the hope of an eternal life, they would feel such terrifying screams of their spirits and unrest of their hearts that this world would be a gloomy dungeon for them, and this life a grim torment. Every second and every minute could be felt like the footsteps of fast-approaching death. At that very moment belief in hereafter runs to their help and says: `Don’t be hopeless. Don’t despair. You are a Muslim. Allah loves the elderly.`
The two important layers of society – children and the elderly. Shall we contemplate a bit on the youth, now? Younger population are the most robust and central element of human social life.
If youth of a society is on the right track, that nation or society is saved. If they have lost their youth, they have lost their day and future. It is a multi-dimensional and sociological issue to handle in the first place. We cannot necessarily narrow it down to one single `source-problem` but I must confess that majority of the problems of youth have deep roots in belief in akhirah. If their belief is strengthened with action, that society will prevail. Otherwise, the same reason that could make the society successful might be the reason of corruption of a society. Let us look at the modern society and crimes. Those people who kill or commit suicide, those who do zulm and transgression, and those who steal and disturb others – are they those elderly feeble uncles and granddads? Obviously not! Those crimes are committed overwhelmingly by the younger population.
Youth and teenagers are in high-spirited feelings. They know no limits. They live their emotions in extremes. When they love, they really love. When they separate from the loved ones, they are totally destroyed or because of that destruction they destroy others or themselves. They have strong yet immoderate egos (nafs). They do not want to be limited. They have rampant caprice (hawa’), lots of desires (shahwah) for many things. They are at the peak of their energy to do anything good or bad. Belief in akhirah is the only thing that can diverse their energy to do good. That belief can possibly prevent them from transgression, oppression and destruction. If a young man or girl believes in akhirah, he or she would fear hellfire. They would know that they will be held into account. Their deeds will be weighed on the Day of Judgement. The thought of hell is the thing that stops them. Otherwise, without the anxiety or fear of hell, those drunken teenagers and lost youth would run after their caprices as they are doing now. If they do not have faith in akhirah, according to the principle (Power is with the strong), they would turn this world into hell for those helpless, vulnerable and feeble ones. Again those teenagers would turn elevated humanity into an animalism of singular vulgarity. That is why we must educate our kids with the thought of akhirah. Just as every film ends and every game finishes, this life will end one day. We will be held accountable for what we have done.
Last but not least, it would not be exaggeration to put it like this, if I may. Family life is the most comprehensive centre in society. Maybe the most foundationally strong driving force in humanity’s life in this world. It is or it could be a sort of paradise for worldly happiness, and a safe refuge and a strong fortress against ills and evils of the society.
Everyone’s home is a miniature world of theirs. And the life of that home and that family life, and the happiness of both, can only become realised through sincere, serious and constant respect in loyalty (sadaqat), and in true, compassionate (hurmat), self-sacrificing mercy (marhamat). This true respect and sincere mercy only takes place through an eternal friendship and a perpetual companionship and an enduring togetherness. Furthermore, thinking and believing that their relationships of fatherhood, sonhood, brotherhood and friendship will continue on in endless time and in a boundless life makes them respect each other.
Such a man who believes in akhirah would, for example, say at the most difficult times ‘this wife of mine will be my perpetual life-companion in an endless world and an eternal life. It does not matter at all that for now she is old and unsightly, for she possesses an eternal beauty and her beauty will come back.’ And he might treat his old wife with such love, compassion and mercy, quite as if she were a beautiful houri, saying, ‘I will make every sacrifice and act with all mercy for the sake of the like of this perpetual companionship.’ Similarly the wife would respect her husband, and her loyalty during all those years will run into fruition as peace and real friendship.
Apparent and external looks, physical and animalistic pleasures might be very much deceitful if belief in hereafter is not there in the marriage and easy divorces would be in abundance. The type of companionship that is – without an escape – subjected to eternal departure and separation after a short, external friendship that lasts for [only] a few hours, doubtlessly can produce a sort of metaphorical mercy and artificial respect carrying the meaning of totally external, temporary and baseless pity like
animals pity other animals. And other interests and dominant sentiments like those in animals overcome that respect and mercy and that worldly paradise would turn into hell.
Coming back to our original questions, we can be pretty confident that you would agree with me that a feeble child who has lost his brother or sister can find comfort to his little heart with the faith in akhirah, and that that belief could relieve an elderly individual, who is not only suffering from age related illnesses but also alarmed by the reality of death. Similarly, youth and family members would find happiness and real pleasure in the belief in hereafter because it would direct, balance and guide their life.
It shouldn’t be too difficult to search and find real answers to the reality of life after death. Is it not worth a try? I think it is.
So be it!