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Death and Afterlife

Death is a fact that none can ever deny. It will surely come to everyone and everything at the specific time. We should not lead a life of forgetfulness. Watch this video to draw some lessons.

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Don’t Forget About the Hereafter

This lecture by `Abdur-Rahim Green reminds us of the hereafter and the necessity to do good deeds to win the pleasure of Almighty Allah and warns us of being distracted by the life of this world and its allurements.

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Don’t be Fooled by this Life

This life is very short. We are leading it for a divine purpose and a test, which we should endeavor to pass. But the worldly life is alluring us into forgetting what is more important and permanent: the hereafter. Watch this video by Dr. Bilal Philip who advises you on this topic.

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Death: Are You Prepared for it?

This is a serious topic that no one should miss out on. This important topic applies to everyone because we all have an appointment with death and ignoring it wont make it go away.It this episode you’ll learn God willing how to better prepare for Death and for what comes next. Share this show with all your friends.

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Belief in the Divine Decree

The sixth and last article of Islamic faith is belief in divine decree which means that everything good or bad, all moments of happiness or sorrow, pleasure or pain, come from God.

First, God’s foreknowledge is infallible.  God is not indifferent to this world or its people.  He is Wise and Loving, but this should not make us fatalists, throwing up our hands and saying, ‘what’s the point of making any effort?’  God’s foreknowledge does not compromise human responsibility.

God holds us accountable for what we can do, what is within our capability, but  He does not hold us accountable for things we cannot do.  He is Just and, as He has given us only limited responsibility, judges us accordingly.  We should think, plan and make the right choices, but, if sometimes things do not turn out the way we want, we need not lose hope or get depressed.  We should pray to God and try again.  If in the end we still do not achieve what we wanted, we should know we have tried our best and are not responsible for the results.

God knows what the creatures will do, encompassing everything by His knowledge.  He knows all that exists, in entirety and totality, by virtue of His eternal foreknowledge.

Truly, nothing is hidden from God, in the earth or in the heavens. (Aal `Imran 3:5)

Whoever refuses this denies God’s perfection, because the opposite of knowledge is either ignorance or forgetfulness.  It would mean God would have been mistaken in his foreknowledge of future events; He would no longer be omniscient.  Both are deficiencies which God is free of.

Second, God has recorded everything that will occur until the Day of Judgment in the Preserved Tablet (al-Lauh al-Mahfuz in Arabic).  The life spans of all human beings are written and the amount of their sustenance apportioned.  Everything that is created or occurs in the universe is according to what is recorded there.  God has said:

Did you not know that God knows (all) that is in the heavens and the earth?  It is (all) in a record.  Surely that is easy for God. (Al-Hajj 22:70)

Third, whatever God wills to happen happens, and whatever God does not will does not happen.  Nothing occurs in the heavens or on earth without the Will of God.

Fourth, God is the Creator of everything.

…He has created everything, and has ordained for it a measure. (Al-Furqan 25:2)

In Islamic doctrine every human act both in material and spiritual life is predestined, yet it is incorrect to believe the action of fate is blind, arbitrary, and relentless. Without denying divine interference in human affairs, human liberty is kept intact.  It does not discount the principle of man’s moral freedom and responsibility.  All is known, but freedom is also granted.

Man is not a helpless creature borne along by destiny. Rather, each person is responsible for his acts.  Lethargic nations and individuals indolent to ordinary affairs of life are to blame themselves, not God.

Man is bound to obey the moral law; and he will receive merited punishment or reward as he violates or observes that law.  However, if such is so, man must have within his power the ability to break or keep the law.  God would not hold us responsible for something unless we were capable of doing it:

God does not burden any human being with more than he is well able to bear. (Al-Baqarah 2:286)

Belief in divine decree strengthens one’s belief in God.  A person realizes that God alone controls everything, so he trusts and relies on Him.  Even though a person tries his best, at the same time he relies on God for the final outcome.  His hard work or intelligence does not make him arrogant, for God is the source of all that comes his way.

Finally, a person attains peace of mind in the realization that God is the Wise and His Actions are dictated by wisdom.  Things don’t happen without a purpose.  If something reached him, he realizes it could never have escaped him.  If something misses him, he realizes it was never meant to be.  A man achieves an inner peace, inwardly at rest with this realization.

 

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Belief in Life After Death

Everyone is scared of dying and rightly so.  The uncertainty of what lies beyond is frightening. It may be that of all religions, Islam, provides the most graphic details of what comes after death and lies beyond.  Islam views death to be a natural threshold to the next stage of existence.

Islamic doctrine holds that human existence continues after the death of the human body in the form of spiritual and physical resurrection.  There is a direct relation between conduct on earth and the life beyond.  The afterlife will be one of rewards and punishments which is commensurate with earthily conduct.  A Day will come when God will resurrect and gather the first and the last of His creation and judge everyone justly.  People will enter their final abode, Hell or Paradise.  Faith in life after death urges us to do right and to stay away from sin.  In this life we sometimes see the pious suffer and the impious enjoy.  All shall be judged one day and justice will be served.

Faith in life after death is one of the six fundamental beliefs required of a Muslim to complete his faith.  Rejecting it renders all other beliefs meaningless.  Think of a child who does not put his hand in fire.  He does not do so because he is sure it will burn. When it comes to doing school work, the same child may feel lazy because he does not quite understand what a sound education will do for his future.  Now, think of a man who does not believe in the Day of Judgment.  Would he consider belief in God and a life driven by his belief in God to be of any consequence?  To him, neither obedience to God is of use, nor is disobedience of any harm.  How, then, can he live a God-conscious life?  What incentive would he have to suffer the trials of life with patience and avoid overindulgence in worldly pleasures?  And if a man does not follow the way of God, then what use is his belief in God, if he has any?  The acceptance or rejection of life after death is perhaps the greatest factor in determining the course of an individual’s life.

The dead have a continued and conscious existence of a kind in the grave.  Muslims believe that, upon dieing, a person enters an intermediate phase of life between death and resurrection.  Many events take place in this new “world”, such as the “trial” of the grave, where everyone will be questioned by angels about their religion, prophet, and Lord.  The grave is a garden of paradise or a pit of hell; angels of mercy visit the souls of believers and angels of punishment come for the unbelievers.

Resurrection will be preceded by the end of the world.  God will command a magnificent angel to blow the Horn.  At its first blowing, all the inhabitants of the heavens and the earth will fall unconscious, except those spared by God.  The earth will be flattened, the mountains turned into dust, the sky will crack, planets will be dispersed, and the graves overturned.

People will be resurrected into their original physical bodies from their graves, thereby entering the third and final phase of life.  The Horn will blow again upon which people will rise up from their graves, resurrected!

God will gather all humans, believers and the impious, jinns, demons, even wild animals.  It will be a universal gathering.  The angels will drive all human beings naked, uncircumcised, and bare-footed to the Great Plain of Gathering.  People will stand in wait for judgment and humanity will sweat in agony.  The righteous will be sheltered under the shade of God’s Magnificent Throne.

When the condition becomes unbearable, people will request the prophets and the messengers to intercede with God on their behalf to save them from distress.

The balances will be set and the deeds of men will be weighed.  Disclosure of the Records of the deeds performed in this life will follow.  The one who will receive his record in his right hand will have an easy reckoning.  He will happily return to his family.  However, the person who will receive his record in his left hand would wish he were dead as he will be thrown into the Fire.  He will be full of regrets and will wish that he were not handed his Record or he had not known it.

Then God will judge His creation.  They will be reminded and informed of their good deeds and sins.  The faithful will acknowledge their failings and be forgiven.  The disbelievers will have no good deeds to declare because an unbeliever is rewarded for them in this life.  Some scholars are of the opinion that the punishment of an unbeliever may be reduced in lieu of his good deeds, except the punishment of the great sin of disbelief.

The Siraat is a bridge that will be established over Hell extending to Paradise.  Anyone who is steadfast on God’s religion in this life will find it easy to pass it.

Paradise and Hell will be the final dwelling places for the faithful and the damned after the Last Judgment.  They are real and eternal.  The bliss of the people of Paradise shall never end and the punishment of unbelievers condemned to Hell shall never cease.  Unlike a pass-fail system in some other belief-systems, the Islamic view is more sophisticated and conveys a higher level of divine justice.  This can be seen in two ways.  First, some believers may suffer in Hell for unrepented, cardinal sins.  Second, both Paradise and Hell have levels.

Paradise is the eternal garden of physical pleasures and spiritual delights.  Suffering will be absent and bodily desires will be satisfied.  All wishes will be met.  Palaces, servants, riches, streams of wine, milk and honey, pleasant fragrances, soothing voices, pure partners for intimacy; a person will never get bored or have enough!

The greatest bliss, though, will be the vision of their Lord of which the unbelievers will be deprived.

Hell is an infernal place of punishment for unbelievers and purification for sinful believers.  Torture and punishment: for the body and the soul: burning by fire, boiling water to drink, scalding food to eat, chains, and choking columns of fire.  Unbelievers will be eternally damned to it, whereas sinful believers will eventually be taken out of Hell and enter Paradise.

Paradise is for those who worshipped God alone, believed and followed their prophet, and lived moral lives according to the teachings of scripture.

Hell will be the final dwelling place of those who denied God, worshipped other beings besides God, rejected the call of the prophets, and lead sinful, unrepentant lives.

 

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Belief in the Prophets

Belief in certain prophets who God chose to relay His message to humans is a required article of Islamic faith.

“The Prophet (Muhammad) believes in what has been sent down to him from his Lord, and (so do) the believers.  Each one believes in God, His Angels, His Books, and His prophets.  (They say,) ‘We make no distinction between one another of His prophets…’” (Quran 2:285)

God conveys His message and relates His will through human prophets.  They form a link between the earthly beings and the heavens, in the sense that God has picked them to deliver His message to human beings.  There are no other channels to receive divine communications.  It is the system of communication between the Creator and the created.  God does not send angels to every single individual, nor does He open the skies so people can climb up to receive the message.  His way of communication is through human prophets who receive the message through angels.

To have faith in the prophets (or messengers) is to firmly believe that God chose morally upright men to bear His message and pass it to humanity.  Blessed were those who followed them, and wretched were those who refused to obey.  They faithfully delivered the message, without hiding, altering, or corrupting it.  Rejecting a prophet is rejecting the One who sent him, and disobeying a prophet is disobeying the One who commanded to obey him.

God sent to every nation a prophet, mostly from amongst them, to call them to worship God alone and to shun false gods.

“And ask (O Muhammad) those of Our prophets whom We sent before you: ‘Did We ever appoint gods to be worshipped besides the Most Merciful (God)?’” (Quran 43:45)

Muslims believe in those prophets mentioned by name in Islamic sources, such as Adam, Noah, Abraham, Isaac, Ishmael, David, Solomon, Moses, Jesus, and Muhammad, may the mercy and blessings of God be upon him, to name a few.  A general belief is held in those not mentioned by name, as God says:

“And, indeed We have sent prophets before you (O Muhammad), of some of them We have related to you their story, and of some We have not related to you their story…” (Quran 40:78)

Muslims firmly believe the final prophet was the Prophet of Islam, Muhammad, and there will be no prophet or messenger after him.

To appreciate this fact, one must understand that the teachings of the last prophet are preserved in original language in their primary sources.  There is no need for another prophet.  In the case of earlier prophets, their scriptures were lost or their message was corrupted to the point that truth was hardly distinguishable from falsehood.  The message of the Prophet Muhammad is clear and preserved and will remain so till the end of time.

The Purpose for Sending Prophets

We can identify the following main reasons for sending prophets:

(1)  Guiding humanity from the worship of created beings to the worship of their Creator, from being in a state of servitude to the creation to the freedom of worshipping their Lord.

(2)  Clarifying to humanity the purpose of creation: worshipping God and obeying His commands, as well as clarifying that this life is a test for each individual, a test of which its results will decide the type of life one will lead after death; a life of eternal misery or eternal bliss.  There is no other definite way to find the true purpose of creation.

(3)  Showing humanity the right path that will lead them to Paradise and to salvation from Hellfire.

(4)  Establishing proof against humanity by sending prophets, so people will not have an excuse when they will be questioned on the Day of Judgment.  They will not be able to claim ignorance to the purpose of their creation and life after death.

(5)  Uncovering the unseen ‘world’ which exists beyond the normal senses and the physical universe, such as the knowledge of God, existence of angels, and the reality of the Day of Judgment.

(6)  Providing human beings practical examples to lead moral, righteous, purpose-driven lives free of doubts and confusion.  Innately, human beings admire fellow human beings, so the best examples of righteousness for humans to imitate are those of God’s prophets.

(7)  Purifying the soul from materialism, sin, and heedlessness.

(8)  Conveying to humanity the teachings of God, which is for their own benefit in this life and in the Hereafter.

Their Message

The single most important message of all prophets to their people was to worship God alone and none else and to follow His teachings.  All of them, Noah, Abraham, Isaac, Ishmael, Moses, Aaron, David, Solomon, Jesus, Muhammad and others, in addition to those we do not know – invited people to worship God and shun false gods.

Moses declared: “Hear, O Israel The Lord our God is one Lord.” (Deuteronomy 6:4).

This was repeated 1500 years later by Jesus, when he said: “The first of all the commandments is, ‘Hear, O Israel; the Lord our God is one Lord.’” (Mark 12:29).

Finally, the call of Muhammad some 600 years later reverberated across the hills of Mecca:

“And your God is One God: there is no god but He…” (Quran 2:163)

The Holy Quran states this fact clearly:

“And We did not send any Messenger before you (O Muhammad) but We revealed to him (saying): ‘none has the right to be worshipped but I, so worship Me.’” (Quran 21:25)

The Message Bearers

God chose the best among humanity to deliver His message.  Prophethood is not earned or acquired like higher education.  God chooses whom He pleases for this purpose.

They were the best in morals and they were mentally and physically fit, protected by God from falling into cardinal, major sins.  They did not err or commit mistakes in delivering the message.  They were over one hundred thousand prophets sent to all mankind, to all nations and races, in all corners of the world.  Some prophets were superior to others.  The best among them were Noah, Abraham, Moses, Jesus, and Muhammad, may the mercy and blessings of God be upon him.

People went to extremes with the prophets.  They were rejected and accused of being sorcerers, madmen, and liars.  Others turned them into gods by giving them divine powers, or declared them to be His children, like what happened to Jesus.

In truth, they were fully human with no divine attributes or power.  They were God’s worshipping slaves.  They ate, drank, slept, and lived normal human lives.  They did not have the power to make anyone accept their message or to forgive sins.  Their knowledge of future was limited to what God revealed to them.  They had no part in running the affairs of the universe.

Out of the Infinite Mercy and Love of God, He sent to humanity prophets, guiding them to that which is the best. He sent them as an example for humanity to follow, and if one does follow their example, they would live a life in accordance to the Will of God, earning His Love and Pleasure

 

 

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Belief in Angels

Reality of Angels

In common folklore, angels are thought of as good forces of nature, hologram images, or illusions.  Western iconography sometimes depicts angels as fat cherubic babies or handsome young men or women with a halo surrounding their head.  In Islamic doctrine, they are real created beings who will eventually suffer death, but are generally hidden from our senses.

They are not divine or semi-divine, and they are not God’s associates running different districts of the universe.  Also, they are not objects to be worshipped or prayed to, as they do not deliver our prayers to God.  They all submit to God and carry out His commands.

In the Islamic worldview, there are no fallen angels: they are not divided into ‘good’ and ‘evil’ angels.  Human beings do not become angels after death.  Satan is not a fallen angel, but is one of the jinn, a creation of God parallel to human beings and angels.

Angels were created from light before human beings were created, and thus their graphic or symbolic representation in Islamic art is rare.  Nevertheless, they are generally beautiful beings with wings as described in Muslim scripture.

Angels form different cosmic hierarchies and orders in the sense that they are of different size, status, and merit.

The greatest of them is Gabriel.  The Prophet of Islam actually saw him in his original form.  Also, the attendants of God’s Throne are among the greatest angels.  They love the believers and beseech God to forgive them their sins.  They carry the Throne of God, about whom the Prophet Muhammad, may the mercy and blessings of God be upon him, said:

“I have been given permission to speak about one of the angels of God who carry the Throne.  The distance between his ear-lobes and his shoulders is equivalent to a seven-hundred-year journey.” (Abu Daud)

They do not eat or drink.  The angels do not get bored or tired of worshipping God:

“They celebrate His praises night and day, nor do they ever slacken.” (Quran 21:20)

The Number of Angels

How many angels there are? Only God knows.  The Much-Frequented House is a sacred heavenly sanctuary above the Kaaba, the black cube in the city of Mecca.  Every day seventy thousand angels visit it and leave, never returning to it again, followed by another group.[1]

The Names of Angels

Muslims believe in specific angels mentioned in the Islamic sources likeJibreel (Gabriel), Mika’eel (Michael), IsrafeelMalik – the guard over Hell, and others.  Of these, only Gabriel and Michael are mentioned in the Bible.

Angelic Abilities

The angels possess great powers given to them by God.  They can take on different forms.  The Muslim scripture describes how at the moment of Jesus’ conception, God sent Gabriel to Mary in the form of a man:

“…Then We sent to her Our angel, and he appeared before her as a man in all respects.” (Quran 19:17)

Angels also visited Abraham in human form.  Similarly, angels came to Lot to deliver him from danger in the form of handsome, young men.  Gabriel used to visit Prophet Muhammad in different forms.  Sometimes, he would appear in the form of one of his handsome disciples, and sometimes in the form of a desert Bedouin.

Angels have the ability to take human forms in some circumstances involving common people.

Gabriel is God’s heavenly messenger to mankind.  He would convey the revelation from God to His human messengers.  God says:

“Say: whoever is an enemy to Gabriel – for he brings down the (revelation) to your heart by God’s will…” (Quran 2:97)

Tasks of the Angels

Some angels are put in charge of executing God’s law in the physical world.  Michael is responsible for rain, directing it wherever God wishes.  He has helpers who assist him by the command of his Lord; they direct the winds and clouds, as God wills.  Another is responsible for blowing the Horn, which will be blown byIsraafeel at the onset of the Day of Judgment.  Others are responsible for taking souls out of the bodies at the time of death: the Angel of Death and his assistants.  God says:

“Say: the Angel of Death, put in charge of you, will (duly) take your souls, then shall you be brought back to your Lord.” (Quran 32:11)

Then there are guardian angels responsible for protecting the believer throughout his life, at home or traveling, asleep or awake.

Others are responsible for recording the deeds of man, good and bad.  These are known as the “honorable scribes.”

Two angels, Munkar and Nakeer, are responsible for testing people in the grave.

Among them are keepers of Paradise and the nineteen ‘guards’ of Hell whose leader is named ‘Malik.’

There are also angels responsible for breathing the soul into the fetus and writing down its provisions, life-span, actions, and whether it will be wretched or happy.

Some angels are roamers, traveling around the world in search of gatherings where God is remembered.  There are also angels constituting God’s heavenly army, standing in rows, they never get tired or sit down, and others who bow or prostrate, and never raise their heads, always worshipping God.

As we learn from above, the angels are a grandiose creation of God, varying in numbers, roles, and abilities. God is in no need of these creatures, but having knowledge and belief in them adds to the awe that one feels towards God, in that He is able to create as He wishes, for indeed the magnificence of His creation is a proof of the magnificence of the Creator.


Footnotes:

[1] Saheeh Al-Bukhari.

 

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Muhammad A to Z (+2)

In this lecture, Sheikh Yusuf Estes deals with well established facts about Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him). However, no sheikh or one lecture can cover all aspects of the life of this great man. Volumes and encyclopedias and even libraries have been dedicated to presenting the picture of this noble prophet.

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Reflections on Death

In this video, Sheikh Ibrahim Zidan speaks about the often forgotten reality of death and explains some details that will happen to every human being after death. He reminds people to repent, work for the hereafter, and prepare for that moment when they will day.

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