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BENEFITS OF BELIEF IN THE RESURRECTION - theshiningpath



BENEFITS OF BELIEF IN THE RESURRECTION
BENEFITS OF BELIEF IN THE RESURRECTION AND THE AFTERLIFE

Belief in the Resurrection makes death lovable

The All-Compassionate Creator has made this world in the form of a festival, a place of celebration and exhibition. He has decorated it with the most wonderful inscriptions of His Names, and clothed each spirit with a body possessing suitable and appropriate senses that allow the individual to benefit from the good things and bounties in the festival. He sends each spirit to this festival for one time. As it is very extensive in regard to time and space, He divided it into centuries and years, seasons and days, and various parts. His animal and plant creations promenade therein, especially during the spring and summer, when the Earth’s surface is transformed into a vast arena of successive festivals for all small creatures. This arena is so glittering and attractive that it draws the gaze of angels, other inhabitants of the heavens, and spirit beings in the higher abodes. For people who think and reflect, it is an arena for reflection, and one so wonderful that the mind cannot describe it.

However, the manifestations of Divine Grace, Mercy, and Liberality in this Divine festival are counterbalanced by the Names of All-Overwhelming, All-Crushing, and One Who Causes to Die through death and separation. This does not appear to be in line with the all-embracing Mercy expressed in My Mercy encompasses all things. (7:156) However, consider the following points:

After each group of creatures has served its purpose and produced the desired results, the All-Compassionate Creator causes most of them, by His Compassion, to feel weariness and distaste with the world. He then grants them a desire to rest and a longing to emigrate to another world. And so when they are discharged from their duties (through death), He arouses in them an enthusiastic inclination to return to their original home.

The Most Merciful One bestows the rank of martyrdom on a soldier who dies in the line of duty (defending sacred values), and rewards a sheep sacrificed in His way with an eternal corporeal existence in the Hereafter. Given this, His infinite Mercy assigns a specific reward and wage, according to their nature and capacity, to other animate beings who perform their duties despite hardship and death. Thus, these beings are not sad when death comes; rather, they are pleased and look forward to it.

The world is continually enlivened through creation and predetermination, and ceaselessly stripped of life through other cycles of creation, determination, and wisdom. Death is not an extinction, but a door opening on a better, more developed, and more refined life. The Quran presents death as something created and therefore having existence (67:2). When death enters a living body, life seems to depart. In reality, however, that organism is being elevated to a higher degree. The death of a plant, the simplest level of life, is a work of Divine artistry, just like their living, but one even more perfect and better designed. When a tree seed “dies,” it appears to decompose into the soil. However, it actually undergoes a perfect chemical process, passes through predetermined states of re-formation, and grows into an elaborate, new tree. A “dead” seed represents the beginning of a new tree, and shows that death is something created like life and, accordingly, is as perfect as life.

Since fruit and animals, when consumed by people, cause them to rise to the degree of human life, their deaths can be regarded as more perfect than their lives. If this is true of plants, it must be true of people. As people are the pinnacle of creation, their deaths must be more perfect and serve a still greater purpose. Once individuals have died and been buried, they surely will be brought into eternal life.

Death is a blessing for human beings for several reasons, among them:

It discharges us from the hardships of life, which gradually become harder through old age. It also opens the gates to reunion with many of our friends who died before us.

It releases us from worldly life that is a turbulent, suffocating, narrow dungeon of space, and admits us into the wide circle of the Eternal Beloved One’s mercy. As a result, we enjoy a pleasant and everlasting life free from suffering.

Old age and other unbearable conditions are ended through death. Both the elderly and their families benefit from this. For example, if your elderly parents and grandparents were living in poverty and hardship, would you not consider their deaths to be blessings? The autumnal deaths of insects is a mercy for them, for otherwise they would have to endure winter’s harshness and severity and be deprived of their lovers: lovely flowers.

Sleep brings repose and relief, as well as mercy especially for the sick and afflicted. Death, sleep’s brother, is a blessing and mercy particularly for those afflicted with misfortunes that might make them suicidal. As for the misguided, death and life are a torment within torment, and pain after pain.

Just as death is a blessing for a believer, the grave is the door to illuminated worlds. This world, despite its glitter, is like a dungeon in comparison with the Hereafter. To be transferred from the dungeon of this world to the gardens of Paradise, to pass from the troublesome turmoil of bodily life to the world of rest and the realm where spirits soar, to be free of the distressing noise of creatures and go to the Presence of the Most Merciful-all of this is a journey, indeed, a happiness, to be desired most earnestly.

The All-Merciful One explains in His Scriptures, especially the Quran, the true nature of the world and the life therein, and warns us that love or attachment to either one are pointless.

The world with its three facets

The world and things have three facets. These are the following:

Its first facet turns to the Divine Names and Attributes. Each created thing is a manifestation of certain Divine Names and Attributes, such as Mercy, Creativity, Grace, Provision, Favoring, Hearing, Seeing, or Speaking, and so on. As this facet only mirrors those Names and Attributes, it does not experience decay and death, but is continually refreshed and renewed.

Its second facet turns to the Hereafter-the world of permanence. Being like a field sown with the seeds of the Hereafter, seeds that will grow into permanent “trees” with permanent fruits, this facet serves the World of Permanence by causing transient things to acquire permanence. It also does not experience decay and death, but life and permanence.

Its third facet relates to our bodily desires. Many people love this facet, which is, on the other hand, the market-place of sensible conscious persons and a trial for the duty-bound. This facet is apparently the object of decay and death. However, in its inner dimension, there are manifestations of life and permanence to heal the sorrows brought by death, decay, and separation.

Why is love for this third facet not something to be approved? Consider the following:

The world is a book of the Eternally-Besought-of-All. Its letters and words point not to themselves, but to their Author’s Essence, Names, and Attributes. This being so, learn its meaning and adopt it; abandon its decorations and go!

The world is a tillage for the Hereafter, so plant it to harvest in the Hereafter. Pay attention to the crop that you will receive in the Hereafter, and throw away the useless chaff.

The world is a collection of “mirrors” that continually follow each other to reflect their Creator and then pass on. Therefore, know the One Who is manifested in them. See His lights, understand the manifestations of His Names appearing in them, and love the One they signify. Cease your attachment to “those fragments of glass” that are doomed to break and perish.

The world is a moving place of trade. Do your business and leave. Do not tire yourself in useless pursuit of caravans that leave you behind and ignore you.

The world is a temporary place of recreation. Study it to take lessons and warnings, but ignore its apparent, ugly face and pay attention to its hidden, beautiful face looking to the Eternal All-Gracious One. Go for a pleasant and beneficial recreation and then return. When the scenes displaying those fine views and beautiful things disappear, do not cry or be anxious.

The world is a guest-house. Eat and drink within the limits established by the Munificent Host Who built it, and offer thanks. Act and behave in accordance with His Law. Then depart from it without looking back. Do not interfere in it, or busy yourself in vain with things that one day will leave you and are no concern of yours.

Through such plain truths, He reveals the world’s real character and makes death less painful. He makes death desirable for those awake to the truth, and shows that there is a trace of His Mercy in all of his actions.

The consolation the Prophet Muhammad brought

I was, on one occasion, sitting on the top floor of a hotel. The graceful dancing of the leaves, branches, and trunks of the poplar trees in the fine gardens opposite me, each with a rapturous motion like a circle of dervishes at the touching of the breeze, pained my heart, grievous and melancholy at being parted from the brothers and remaining alone. Suddenly I recollected the seasons of autumn and winter and a heedlessness overcame me. I so pitied those graceful poplars and living creatures swaying with perfect joy that my eyes filled with tears. Since they reminded me of the separations and deaths beneath the ornamented veil of the universe, the grief at a world full of deaths and separations pressed down on me. Then suddenly, the light of the Muhammadan Truth came to my help and changed that grief and melancholy into joy. Indeed, I am eternally grateful to the person of Muhammad, upon him be peace and blessings, for the help and consolation which came to me at that time, for only a single instance of the boundless grace of that light for me, as for all believers and everyone. It was as follows:

Picturing those blessed and delicate creatures to be trembling at death and separation and going into non-existence in a fruitless season-which is the view of the heedless-so heavily weighed on my feelings of passion for permanence, love of beauty, and compassion for fellow-creatures and living things, that it changed the world into a kind of hell and the mind into an instrument of torture. Then, just at that point, the light which Muhammad, upon him be peace and blessings, had brought as a gift for mankind lifted the veil and showed in place of extinction, non-existence, nothingness, futility and separations, meanings and purposes to the number of the leaves of the poplars, results and duties which may be divided into certain sorts:

One sort of the duties of creatures relates to the Names of the Majestic Maker. For example, just as if an engineer makes an extraordinary machine, everyone applauds him, saying ‘What wonders God has willed! May God bless him!’, so too, by carrying out its functions properly, the machine congratulates and applauds its engineer. Everything, every living creature is a machine of that kind, congratulating and applauding its Maker.

Another sort of purposes for the lives of things like poplar trees is that they are each like a text, a book through study of which conscious living beings acquire knowledge of God. Having left their meanings in the minds of conscious beings, their forms in their memories and the tablets of the world of symbols or immaterial forms, and on the records of the world of the Unseen and in the sphere of existence, they depart from the material world and pass into the world of the Unseen. That is, they are stripped of an apparent existence and gain numerous existences pertaining to meanings, the Unseen and knowledge.

Indeed, since God’s existence and His Knowledge encompasses all things, in truth, there is no room in the world of believers for non-existence, eternal extinction, and annihilation and nothingness. As to the world of unbelievers, it is full of types of non-existence, separations and extinctions. A widely circulated proverb teaches this: For whom God exists, everything exists for him; for whom God does not exist, nothing exists for him.

In short: Just as belief saves man from eternal punishment at the time of death, so also it saves everyone’s particular world from the darkness of extinction and non-existence. But unbelief, absolute denial of God in particular, changes the pleasures of life to painful poisons, and terminates both man and his particular world with death, casting him into dark pits like those of Hell. Those who prefer the worldly life over the Hereafter should heed this, and let them either find a solution for this or accept faith and save themselves from fearful, eternal losses.

Glory be to You, we have no knowledge save that You have taught us. Surely You are the All-Knowing, the All-Wise.

Benefits of belief in the afterlife pertaining to society and people

What follows demonstrates how belief in afterlife is essential for human life, particularly social life, and summarizes one comprehensive proof from among its numerous proofs, together with an explanation of how evident and indubitable a matter it is:

Belief in the afterlife is the bedrock of social and individual human life, the foundation of all felicity and achievement, because:

After belief in God, belief in the Resurrection has the primary place in securing a peaceful social order. The one who does not believe that one day he/she will be called to account for what he/she has done in the world, is not usually expected to live an honest, upright life. But one who always acts in the conviction that he/she will give an account of his/her life before God in the other world will certainly live a disciplined and upright life. The Quran declares:

In whatever affair you may be, and whichever part of the Qur’an you recite, and whatever deed you do, We are witness over you when you are deeply engrossed therein. Not an atom’s weight in the earth and in the heaven escapes your Lord, nor is there anything smaller or greater, but it is in a Manifest Book. (10:61)

Whatever we do is recorded by angels appointed to do that. In addition, God has complete knowledge of all our deeds, intentions, thoughts, and imaginings. An individual who lives in full consciousness of this will find true peace and happiness in both worlds; a family and community made up of such individuals will be as if living in Paradise.

Children are sensitive and delicate, very susceptible to misfortune, and easily affected by what befalls themselves and their families. When a family member dies or they are orphaned, their world darkens and they experience great distress and despair. Of my sisters died during my childhood. I was so upset that I frequently went to her grave and asked God from the bottom of my heart: “O God! Please bring her back to life again and let me see her beautiful face once more, or let me die so as to be reunited with her!” So, what else other than belief in the Resurrection, in reunion with the loved ones who emigrated to the other world, can compensate for the loss of parents, brothers and sisters, and friends? Only when a child is convinced that his or her loved one has flown to Paradise, to a much better life than this, and that one day they will be reunited, will he or she find true consolation and begin to heal.

How can you compensate the elderly for their past years, their long-ago childhood and youth? How can you console them for the loss of their loved ones, friends, spouses, children or grandchildren who went to the other world before them? How can you remove from their hearts the fear of death and the grave, which is coming closer every day? How can you make them forget death, which they feel so deeply? Can you console them with ever-new pleasures of life? Only when they understand that the grave, an apparent open-mouth dragon waiting for them, is really a door to another, much better world, or a lovely waiting-room to that world, will they feel compensated and consoled for their losses.

The Quran voices the feelings of the old through Prophet Zechariah:

This is a mention of your Lord’s mercy unto His servant Zechariah; when he invoked Him with a secret, sincere call, saying: “My Lord, my very bones have become rotten and my head is shining with gray hair. My Lord! I have never been disappointed in my prayer to You” (19:2-5).

Fearing that his kinsmen would not be sufficiently loyal to his mission after his death, the Prophet Zechariah, asked his Lord for a son, an heir to his mission, with that heart-rending appeal. This is the cry of all old people. Belief in God and the Resurrection gives the old the good news: “Do not be afraid of death. Death is not eternal extinction, but only a change of worlds, a discharge from the distressing duties of the worldly life, and a passport to an eternal world where all kinds of beauties and blessings are waiting for you. The Merciful One Who sent you to the world, and has kept you alive therein for such a long time, will not leave you in the darkness of the grave and dark corridors opening on the other world. He will take you to His Presence and grant to you an eternal, ever-happy life. He will bless you with bounties of Paradise.” Only such good news can truly console the old and cause them to welcome death with a smile.

Humanity is a unique part of creation, for people can use their free will to direct their lives. Free will is the manifestation of Divine Mercy. If our free will is used properly by doing good deeds, we will be rewarded with the fruits of Mercy. Belief in the Resurrection is a most important and compelling factor that urges us to use our free will in the right way and refrain from sin and from wronging and harming others.

When Caliph ‘Umar saw a young man bravely protest and resist a wrong, he said: “Any people deprived of the young are doomed to extinction.” Young people have a transforming energy. If you let them waste that energy in trivial things and self-indulgence, you undermine your nation’s future. Belief in the Resurrection prevents young people from committing atrocities and wasting their energies on passing pleasures, and directs them to lead a disciplined, useful, and virtuous life.

Belief in the Resurrection is a source of consolation for the ill also. Suffering from an incurable illness, a believing patient thinks: “I am going. No one will be able to make me live longer. Fortunately, I am going to a place where I will eternally recover my health and youth and everyone is doomed to go howsoever.” It is on account of such belief that the beloved servants of God, the Prophets and saints, have welcomed death with a joyful smile. The Last of the Prophets, the Prophet Muhammad, upon him be peace and blessings, uttered in his last minutes in the world: “O God! I am desirous of the eternal company in the eternal world.” He had informed his Companions one day before: “God left to one of His servants the choice between enjoying the beauties of the world as long as he wishes and what is with Him. The servant chose what is with Him.”

The servant in question was the Messenger himself. The Companions understood and burst into tears.

Similarly, when Caliph ‘Umar was ruler of a vast area stretching from the western frontiers of Egypt to the Central Asia steppes, he prostrated to God and sighed: “I can no longer fulfill my responsibility. Make me die and take me to Your Presence!” This desire to go to the other world, the world of eternal beauties, and being blessed with the vision of the Eternally Beautiful One caused the Prophet, ‘Umar, and many others to prefer death to life in this world.

The world is a mixture of good and evil, right and wrong, beauty and ugliness, and the oppressor and the oppressed. Many wrongs go unnoticed, and numerous wronged people do not recover their rights. Only their belief in the Resurrection into a world of absolute justice consoles such people. This belief prevents them from seeking vengeance. The afflicted and those suffering misfortune also find consolation, for they believe that whatever befalls them erases some of their sins and that all that they have lost will be restored to them in the Hereafter as a blessing, just as if they had given these items as alms.

Belief in the Resurrection changes a house into a garden of Paradise. In a house where the young pursue their pleasures, children ignore religious sentiment and practices, parents are engrossed in procuring ever more possessions, and grandparents are sent to a poor-house or a nursing home, or left to shower their love on pets instead of grandchildren. At least the pets show them love and respect. In such a house, life is a heavy burden. Belief in the Resurrection will remind everyone of their responsibilities toward each other, and will engender a fragrance of mutual love, affection, and respect.

Belief in the Resurrection leads to mutual love and a deeper respect on the part of spouses. Love based on physical beauty is temporary, and therefore of little value. It usually disappears shortly after the marriage. But if the spouses love each other and believe that their marriage is eternal, and that in the other world they will be eternally young and beautiful, their love for each other will not disappear when they age and lose their good looks. If family life is based on belief in the Resurrection, that family will feel as if they are living in Paradise. If a country’s social order is based on belief in the Resurrection and the Day of Judgment, life in that country will be far better than what Plato imagined in his Republic or al-Farabi (Alpharabios) in his Al-Madinat al-Fadila (The City of Virtues). It will be like Madina in the time of the Prophet, or the Muslim lands under the rule of Caliph ‘Umar.
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