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 Qur’an 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 Qur’an 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.
This article has been adapted from Risale- i Nur Collection.