Birth… Death… to the Hereafter

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Question and Answer Details

Name of Questioner

Daniel   - United States

Title

Birth… Death… to the Hereafter

Date

12/Jan/2003

Question

I am an American with genuine interest to know more about the spiritual aspects of Islam. Does Islam ignore the effect of the human soul on the person’s actions?

What do you say about the role of both body and soul – in relation to one another – in the development of the person to the better? How is this related to the way you visualize death and the life after?

Topic

Islamic Creed

Name of Counselor

Ebrahim Kazim

Answer

Salaam Daniel,

Thank you for your question.

Islam does not ignore the effect of actions of the body on the ruuḥ, which is commonly translated as spirit, but better as soul. Whatever actions, good or bad the physical body is engaged in, would be reflected in the on-going development of ruuḥ. To understand it in its true perspective, one must distinguish between the human body called jism, exhibiting as nafs (person or personality) and between the ruuh (soul).

In fact, the human being is a soul cloaked in a physical body, and hence the believer is committed to moral and spiritual values. He/she must therefore strive for the development of both aspects of oneself through his/her jism (body), which has life and human qualities. This is along with the ruuh (soul), which has spiritual qualities. The body could be improved with cosmetic surgery but the ruuh needs to be spiritually elevated.

According to Islam, the human being is born in a pure state, free from sin, in a state of fitrah (natural instinct and tendency towards truth) in complete submission to Allah, the One and Only Creator. At birth, the baby is totally innocent and is not responsible for the sin of his/her parents or any of his/her ancestors. He/she starts off with a clean slate, and as he/she grows up, he/she uses his/her own freedom of choice to do good or evil.

This freewill gives the person independence of intention, decision and action in various situations of moral conflict. This is without any kind of imposition of external constraints, as exercised by any person endowed with normal mental faculties.

Freewill or freedom of choice - as opposed to determinism - is a power we possess. We choose either to obey or disobey Allah and His messenger. We choose to blame ourselves or to blame others for the prevailing conditions. In our thoughts, we harbor violence against others, due to anger or jealousy… Yet, although we have no control over our in-coming thoughts, we have a choice over our intentions and actions.

So, both Allah’s guidance and the evil of Satan are available to us. That of God is through spiritual means and long-term benefits and that of Satan’s through short-term pleasure and long-term anguish. The choice is ours as to whom we wish to befriend.

The development of human personality and soul are controlled by human actions. This is because the soul is permanently bonded to the body, as long as the person is alive. Personality is determined by the behavior-response patterns of each individual. This represents a compromise between his needs and inner drives on the one hand and controls of his conscience on the other.

Every human act has some kind of consequences. A good act benefits the personality and the soul, as well. This is while an evil one produces a detrimental effect. By shunning all abominations, we keep our ruuh as chaste and pure as possible. Our evil actions cling almost disease-like to our soul and might thus be carried to the Hereafter.

Although all of us make our journey to the Hereafter together, it is a journey which each of us must do alone and take full responsibility for every decision we make and for every step we take. Normally, on our death-bed, we reflect on our past mistakes, but since we do not know when our number will be called, we might as well look for them now…

Our catalogue of deeds is usually crowded with those actions, which we could have easily avoided with some foresight and a little resolve. Of course, we all know that with a little foresight, we could have avoided those mistakes and had done much better. At the end of a full life, when wisdom has set in, we find we have a long way to go again to become a perfect human being!!

It is a pity that most of us do not realize that we are created for the Hereafter and that this life is only a preparatory period. The life of this world, compared to that of the Hereafter is but a brief passing moment.

We need to know that death is only a starting birthday for eternity. Death is only a change of worlds. However, in spite of the certainty of death, none of us wants to die. In fact, if Allah were to grant any single wish for mankind, we all would plead: “O Allah, do not let us die.”

What Man can achieve, he/she will achieve with God’s help and guidance, both in this life and in the Hereafter. We can always extend a helping hand to another and also be assured that when we ourselves need a helping hand, a strong hand with a firm grip is always available for us to hold on to.

This strong – metaphoric - hand of Allah will hold our hand, better even than sincere and true friends, and guide us in every step we take and in every decision we make. We always need to remind ourselves that Allah’s call is to an eternal home of bliss, where there is a much higher and better life.








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