QUESTION: Such verses as: It is but a single cry (36:29, 49, 53; 38:15; 54:31) and: The command of the Hour is but a twinkling of the eye, or nearer (16:77) show that the Supreme Resurrection will happen in an instant. Our constrained understanding needs a tangible analogy to enable us to concur with and accept such a unique, miraculous event.
ANSWER: The Resurrection comprises three elements [or stages, if time is included]: Spirits will return to their bodies, bodies will be reanimated, and bodies will be rebuilt and resurrected.
FIRST ELEMENT: Imagine the soldiers of a highly disciplined army. Having dispersed in all directions to their separate rest, they can be summoned together with a loud bugle blast. Israfil’s trumpet is certainly no less powerful than a bugle.36 Our spirits—each of which was asked: “Am I not your Lord?” coming from pre-eternity, and affirmed: “Yes, You are” while still in the World of Past Eternity and the Realm of the Particle—are more obedient, disciplined, and submissive than any soldiers.37
SECOND ELEMENT: For a celebration in a great city, uncountable lamps may be turned on instantly by flicking a switch in the city’s power station. It also would be possible to light an infinite number of lamps throughout the world from a single power station [if one existed]. If electricity, a creation of the All-Mighty, a servant and a candleholder in this temporary world, can manifest this property due to its Creator’s training and discipline, the Resurrection can occur in the twinkling of an eye and within the framework of Divine Wisdom’s orderly laws, which are represented and demonstrated by thousands of His light-giving servants like electricity.
THIRD ELEMENT: There are thousands of suitable analogies for rebuilding and resurrecting human bodies on the Day of Resurrection. Among them are the way in which tree leaves are restored perfectly (almost identically) to those of the preceding year within a few days after the beginning of each spring, even though trees are far more numerous than people; the way in which all trees’ blossoms and fruits are re-created just like those of the preceding spring;38 the sudden awakening, unfolding, and coming to life of countless seeds, kernels, and roots, all of which are the origin of spring growth; the way in which trees, resembling upright skeletons, abruptly begin to show signs of “resurrection after death”; the reanimation, in a most wonderful way, of countless small creatures, especially of different fly species—their “resurrection” during a few days each spring, together with other insect species, which are far more numerous than all people who have ever lived.
This world is the Realm of Wisdom; the Hereafter is the Abode of Power.39 Here, in accordance with the requirements of such Divine Names as the All-Wise, Arranger, Disposer, Nurturer, and Trainer, creation is extensive and to some degree graduated over time. This is required by His Wisdom as Lord and Sustainer. But given that Power and Mercy are more evident than Wisdom in the Hereafter, creation in that realm is instantaneous and immune to anything related to matter, space, time, and duration.
The Qur’an decrees that what takes a day or a year to create here will be done within an instant there: The command of the Hour is but a twinkling of the eye, or nearer (16:77). If you seek a clearer understanding that the Resurrection will come, just as the next spring will, study the Tenth and the Twenty-ninth Words.
Another element of the Resurrection is this world’s destruction. If a planet or asteroid collides with this planet, by the command of God, our dwelling place will be destroyed instantly, just as a palace that took 10 years to build can be destroyed in a minute.
36 Israfil is the archangel who will blow the Sur (Trumpet) just before the destruction of the universe and the Resurrection, to which the Qur’an alludes in 39:68. (Tr.)
37 The Thirtieth Word demonstrates that all spirits and particles are obedient troops of a Divine Army.
38 Although a tree’s leaves, flowers, and fruits are not completely identical to those of the preceding spring, they are not different from them in nature. If they were living and had spirits like human beings, they would be resurrected with the same identity. (Tr.)
39 This world is the Realm of Wisdom, where things happen according to certain purposes and deliberation, in conformity with certain laws, and in which God acts from behind the veil of cause and effect. The Hereafter is the Abode of Power, in which God will act without any veils. (Tr.)