The Religion Of Islam vol.1


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  • The Religion Of Islam vol.1


    1. The Belief in the Day of Resurrection

    The fifth pillar of the Moslem creed is belief in the Day of Resurrection. Reckoning of Judgment, which day shall be the beginning of an eternal life after death. The dead shall rise from their graves, restored to life. Every human being shall have to render an account of his or her actions on earth. The happiness or misery of individuals will depend upon the manner, in which they have performed the commandment of God.

    The Prophet, being the seal of God’s Messengers to mankind, has given several prophecies in detail, with respect to the state of being from the time a man is dead, until the resurrection; and also an account of the eternal destiny of mankind, beginning from that day. Faith in all such prophecies is essential to complete the creed of a perfect Moslem. Before entering into the main subject under discussion, it is desirable to make a few preliminary remarks.

    Some people are apt to think that prophecies relating to matters connected with the after–life must be examined by pure reason before they can be adopted. There, however, should be no excuse for rejecting any prophecy on the mere assumption that it is difficult for human reason to comprehend it. Human power to discernment, penetration, or discrimination on all questions raised by prophets must be restricted merely to deciding whether the information obtained through such an agency is or is not an impossibility. By impossibility is meant those things which human being cannot be expected to believe, such as a camel passing through a needle’s eye. But once it is no longer a question of impossibility and the prophetic commission is rightly established there should be no excuse for human reason to reject any prophetic statement.

     

    The Islamic School avails itself of the following suggestion with regard the nature of prophecy and the obligation of Mankind thereto.

    The mind of a newly born infant is so undeveloped, that he has no knowledge of the wondrous world around him. As he grows he gradually acquires knowledge of things through the various channels of comprehension. The first sense created in him is that of feeling by which he can comprehend certain species of things such as heat and coldness, dampness and dryness, softness, and coarseness etc. But colours or sounds do not come in the domain of the sense of feeling. Sight is the next to come into operation by which one can comprehend colours and forms and it is the most comprehensive of all the senses. Then hearing is open by which one can distinguish different voices. The child then acquires the power of discriminating different tastes. When a human being approaches his or her seventh year his or her intellect is further awakened. Through this new agency, one acquires knowledge of things, beyond those dependent exclusively on the senses, and of which nothing exists in the world of sense. The child then developed into a still higher state of being’ namely the state of reasoning by which necessities, possibilities, impossibilities and other things which the senses cannot teach by themselves are comprehended. Beyond reason; there is still another independent faculty, by which a new agency is given, to see the unseen and things of the future, and other things, from which reason is absolutely a different things of the future, and other things, from which reason is absolutely a different thing, inasmuch as a understanding is different from those things belonging to reason, and as the power of reasoning is from things known only through the senses. A man born blind may will ignore the existence of anything like colours, and a man born deaf may ignore things like voices, merely on account of the lack of the particular senses capable of comprehending them. Inasmuch as it is unreasonable for a man born blind, to deny the existence of colours, or for a man born deaf, to deny the existence of voice, so too it is illogical for a man, to deny the prophetic gift, simply because he himself is lacking in spiritual gifts. God has made it easy for his creatures, to have some idea of the prophetic nature, by giving them a picture or type thereof, namely sleep. When asleep, a man sometimes foresees things, either directly or symbolically. In the former, the meaning is clear in the latter, it may be found by interpretation. This is a wonderful state of comprehension which, if not personally experienced by any particular person, but told to this person by another man, who falling asleep, like the dead, cold comprehend unseen things, would certainly be rejected by this person who would set forth proofs against the possibility of the information. It would be asserted that, as the sensitive faculties are the only source of comprehension and that even with their presence, a man can not acquire any knowledge of unseen things, he would all the more and most assuredly be incapable of knowing such things, in the absence of is senses. This is a reasoning by analogy which is however contradicted by actuality and practice. Even as reason is a state of human being, by which an insight is created in man, enabling him to know species of reasonable things, the comprehension of which lies beyond the power of the senses, so prophecy is another state of being by which a still further source of knowledge is created, a peculiar light, capable of making visible unseen things, incomprehensible by reason.

     

    The doubt in prophecy may be connected either with its possibility, its existence and occurrence, or with its occurrence to a certain person. The proof of its possibility is its existence. And the proof of its existence is the existence of branches of knowledge in the world that cannot be acquired by mere reason for instance, the science of medicine or astrology. Deep study of these sciences is sufficient to tell us of the impossibility of their being acquired, except by divine inspiration and guidance from God, and never by mere experience and practice. There are certain astronomic phenomena which do not take place but once every thousand years; but these have been accurately foretold. How then can such be got be practice? The same argument applies to medicine. Hence it is clear, that there is some supernatural, power by which we acquire the knowledge of things, which cannot be comprehended by mere reason. In this way prophecy can be illustrated. But prophecy does not consist only in these things. The comprehension of certain things, beyond the limits of reason, is but one of the various faculties of prophecy, and represents but a drop in the ocean of the prophetic nature. All men have in themselves a natural example of the prophetic faculty, namely what they foresee of future events while asleep. The two sciences of medicine and astronomy are also examples of the prophetic faculty. Prophecies are the miracles of prophets, which ordinary men can by no means attain by human reason.

     If one doubts a particular person being a person, one cannot be convinced that he is so, except by knowing his character, either by personal observation or by hearing of it repeatedly. If a man has knowledge of medicine or law, he can easily distinguish between physicians and lawyers by seeing their respective qualifications proved, or by hearing their statements. A man cannot fail to know that Galens was a physician, or that Shakespeare was a poet – a knowledge based on experience, and not on hearsay – if he is acquainted with medicine or poetry. By reading their books and words he can, then have a full knowledge of the subjects they treat. The same thing applies to prophecy. If a man carefully goes through the Koran, and closely studies the Saying of the Arabian Prophet, he will surely acquire a true knowledge of his character, and will necessarily admit, that he must have enjoyed the highest degree of prophecy. The above knowledge may still be confirmed, by testing what the Prophet said concerning the marvelous effect of carrying out the practical religious obligations of cleansing and purifying the heart. He will thereby know, how true the Prophet was, when he said: “To him who shall put into practice what he has been taught, God shall give knowledge of what he does not know,” and how truly he said: “Him who, when getting up, forgets all his cares, except the care of God’s duties, God shall relieve from the cares of this life and the next”. If a man has tested the truth of the above promises, and of thousands and thousands of others, he will surely have a perfect knowledge of the character of the prophet who foretold them. This is the way to attain conviction of the reality of prophecy, and not by seeking to see a rod turned into a serpent, or the moon divided into parts: because, by confining his researches to such wonderful acts alone, without their being corroborated by numerous other evidences, a man might mistake mere acts of sorcery and imposture for prophetic miracles.

     

    Now it is time to resume the statements of what, a Moslem should believe will take place after death according to the teaching of Islam. The Prophet of Islam prophesied that, when a man is put into the grave he shall encounter two angels who adopt so fearful a form, that he will be greatly frightened. They shall cause the dead man, by divine power to sit upright, and examine him concerning his faith in the unity of God and the mission of the Prophet Mohammed. These angels are called the ‘tempters of the grave’, as they appear to require the man examined to give a wrong reply. If he answers rightly, he will rest in peace, until the resurrection. If not, he will remain suffering to that day. It is also to be believed, that some of the dead who were sinners during their life, are liable, in their sepulcher, to some torment in the shape of pressure on their bodies. Only the righteous are saved from the torment of the grave. Some people would object to the above prophecy, that the answers of the dead, under such examination, have never been heard; or ask, how those can undergo it, whose bodies are burnt or devoured by beasts or birds, or otherwise consumed without burial. The answer is that it is possible notwithstanding, since men are not able to perceive what takes place in the next world unless they have been told of it by prophecy; and God, the all–powerful who created man from dust, and dust from nothing, is able to restore life to the dead so that he may understand any question put to him.

     

    As to the resurrection, Moslems believe, that both body and soul will be raised. The time of resurrection is a profound secret to all, but God alone. However, the Prophet has foretold some signs of its approach. These signs are:

    1.           The decay of faith among men;
    2.           The advancing of the meanest persons to positions of dignity;
    3.           Towards the end of the world, men shall be much given to sensuality;
    4.           Tumults and seditions;
    5.           A war with the Romans;
    6.           Great distress in the world, so that a man, when he passes by another’s grave, shall say: “Would to God, I were in his place”
    7.           The appearance of an extraordinary beast which shall be able, by God’s power, to speak to men. This sign of the approach of the resurrection is mentioned in the 84th chapter of the Koran.
    8.           The building of Yathrib (Medina) shall reach Mecca etc.

     

    There are the lesser signs, the greater signs being:

    1.           The sun’s rising in the west.
    2.           The advent of Antichrist or the false Christ by whom people shall be tempted. He will do many apparent wonders and perform false miracles, sufficient to make people mistake him for the true Christ and, consequently they shall perish through their mistake.
    3.           The descent of Jesus on earth. He shall kill Antichrist, and there shall be under him great security and plenty in the world.
    4.           The appearance of Gog and Magog. These barbarians will come to Jerusalem and there, greatly distress Jesus and his companions, till at the request of Jesus, God will destroy them.
    5.           The advent of Al Mahdi. The Prophet said: “The world should not have an end, till one of his family should govern the Arabians, whose name should be the same as his own name and whose father’s name should be also the same as his own father’s name; and who should fill the world with the righteousness.”

     

    These are some of the greater signs which, according to the prophecies of the Apostle of God, are to precede the Day of Resurrection; but the exact time of it is a perfect secret to all, but God. The immediate sign of the coming of the Resurrection will be the first blast of a trumpet which will be wounded three times:

    1.           the blast of consternation;
    2.           that of examination;
    3.           the blast of Resurrection. At the first blast, all creatures in heaven    and earth shall be struck with terror, except those whom God shall please to exempt from it. The earth will be shaken, all buildings and mountains leveled. Women who give suck shall abandon the care of their infants.

     

    At second blast, all creatures in heaven and earth shall die, or be annihilated, except those whom God shall please to example from that common fate. The last to die will be the angel of death. Forty years of rain will follow, when the third blast is sounded, and all dead bodies shall be raised for judgment. The resurrection will be general and extend to all creatures, angels, jenii, men and animals. [1]

    Mankind shall then be assembled for reckoning. The ungodly and the wicked will appear, on that day, with certain distinguishing marks fixed on them. These will come under ten headings namely (a) the backbiters, (b) they who have been greedy of filthy lucre, and who have enriched themselves by public oppression (c) the usurers (d) unjust judges (e) they who exult in their own works (f) the learned men or preachers whose actions contradicted their saying (g) they who have injured their neighbours (h) the false accusers and informers (i) they who have indulged their passions and voluptuous appetites (j) the proud and the arrogant people.

     

    The first men to be sentenced to hell fire, will be the hypocrites who deceived people, by pretending to do good works for the sake of God though they did them only in order, that their fellow–men might extol their actions.

    As already stated, the object of Resurrection is, that they who are so raised, may give an account of their actions, and receive the reward thereof. It is to be believed that not only mankind, but the genii and irrational animals also, will be judged on the last day: the unarmed cattle shall take vengeance on the horned, till entire satisfaction be given to the injured.

    As to mankind, they are all assembled together. They will not be immediately brought to judgment. They have to wait for that purpose a long time. During this period of waiting, the resuscitated shall suffer greatly, both the just and unjust; but the sufferings of the former shall be light in comparison. Men shall resort to their respective prophets for intercession, that they may be redeemed from that painful situation, and be called upon for trail. Eventually the prophet Mohammed shall accept the office of intercession, after it has been declined by Adam, Noah, Abraham and Jesus, who shall beg deliverance only for their own souls. Belief in the Prophet’s intercession is enjoined upon Moslems, as part of the fifth article of faith. [2]

    The above intercession accepted, men shall be ordered, to appear for judgment. On this occasion, the books, wherein the actions of every person have been recorded by their guardian angels, will be distributed to their respective owners. God will command the various Apostles, to bear witness against those, to whom they have been respectively sent. Then every person will be examined concerning his actions in this life; not as if God needed any information in this respect, but to oblige the person, to make public confession and acknowledgement of God’s justice.

    The next event to take place after the resurrection is over, is the ordeal of the resurrection balance, wherein the weights of all men’s actions shall be weighted. According as the good or evil actions shall preponderate, sentence will be given; those whose balances are laden with good works, will be saved; but those whose balances are light, will be condemned. Belief in this balance also forms an essential part of the fifth article of Faith.

     

    The above examination being past, and every one’s actions weighted in a just balance, mutual retaliation will follow according to which all persons will have satisfaction for the injuries they suffered. The manner of giving this satisfaction, will be by taking away a proportionate part of the good works of him who did the injury, and adding it to those of him who suffered. If, after this is done, there remains of a person’s good works as much as equals the weight of an ant. God will, of His mercy, cause it to be doubled to him, that he may be admitted to Paradise, But if, on the contrary, a person’s good works be exhausted, and there remain evil works only, and there be any who have not yet received satisfaction from him, God will, of his justice, order that an equal weight of their sins be added to his, that he may punished for them in their stead, and be sent to hell, laden with both. This will be the method of dealing with mankind.

     

    As to brutes, after they have been punished for the injuries which they caused each other, God will command them, to be turned into dust. Wicked men, being reserved for more grievous punishment in hell, they shall cry out, on hearing this sentence pronounced on the brutes”: Would to God, that we were dust also”.

    After the trail is over, those who are to be admitted into paradise, as well as those destined to hell, shall have to pass to their respective abodes, over a bridge, laid over the midst of hell. This bridge is so wonderfully fashioned, that the good shall cross with ease and swiftness to paradise, while the infidels and the wicked shall miss their footing, and fall down headlong into hell.

     

    Belief in this bridge is essential, to complete the article of creed of the Day of Resurrection.

    The infidels alone shall be doomed to eternal damnation. Those who have embraced the true religion of God, even if they have been guilty of atrocious crimes, shall be delivered from hell, after they have expiated their sins by their sufferings. The orthodox doctrine of the Moslem Religion is, that no infidel who denied the existence of God, or anyone who did not believe in the unity of God, shall ever be redeemed; but no person who has believed in the existence and unity of God shall be condemned to eternal punishment.

    As to whether paradise and hell are already existent or are to be created hereafter the orthodox of Islam is, that they were created even before the world. 

    The felicity of the righteous in paradise, and the pains of the wicked in hell, will vary in degree, according to their merits or demerits, respectively. The happiness and felicity of the dwellers of paradise, on the one hand, and the anguish and pains of the inhabitants of hell, on the other, are according to the orthodox doctrine, sensuous and material, both body and soul being entitled or subject to them, respectively. But, the most happy will find the joy of joys, to consist in the beatific visions of the soul in the presence of God. The Prophet said: “The most favoured of God will be he who shall see the face (the glory) of his Lord, night and morning, a felicity which will surpass all the pleasures of the body, as the ocean surpasses a drop of sweat.” The reward of virtue will not be confined to an exact measure of man’s good works; it will far exceed his deserts. But the recompense of evil will be strictly proportioned to what a man has done.” They who do right, shall receive a most excellent reward, and a superabundant addition; neither darkness nor shame shall cover their faces: these shall be the inhabitants of paradise; they shall continue therein forever. But they who commit evil, shall receive the reward of evil, equal thereunto, and they shall be covered with shame, as thought their faces were veiled with pieces of nights of profound darkness.” [3]

     

    The foregoing is all that is incumbent upon a true Moslem to believe concerning the Day of Resurrection. Finally I must, before quitting this chapter, refute a falsehood of vulgar imputation on Moslems who are reported, by some Christian writers, to believe that women have no souls, or, if they have, that they will perish like those of brutes, and will not be rewarded in the next life. Commenting on this false charge, Mr. G. Sale made the following pertinent observation:“ …it is certain that Mohammed had too great a respect for the fair sex, to teach such a doctrine; and there are several passages in the Koran which affirm, that women, in the next life, will not only be punished for their evil actions but will also receive the rewards of their good deeds, as well as the men, and that in this case God will make no distinction of sexes.” [4]

     

    ([1]) Koran, ch. IXXXI.

    ([2]) “The old Jewish writers make mention as well of the books to be produced at last day, wherein men’s actions are registered, as of the balance, wherein they shall be weighed; and the Scriptures themselves seem to have given the first notion of both.”

    ([3]) Koran, ch. x.

    ([4]) G Sale: Prelim. Discourse.

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