Man and Immortality:
In the Name of Allah, the Most Beneficent, the Most Merciful
Man And Immortality
Allah, praise and glory be to Him, has created man to enjoy eternal life; a fact many people omit. People measure the lifetime of man by his worldly life, which is a false claim. Worldly life is nothing but a minor stage in the life of man. The whole universe together with its sun, its moon and stars, created to be in the service of man millions of years ago, their age can in no way be longer than the one for whose sake Allah has created them and subjugated to his service. Moreover, the life of man cannot be measured by the few or several years that he spends in this universe but it extends far beyond to be eternal.
Allah, praise and glory be to Him, granted immortality to all that came to this universe from man and jinn, no difference made between a believer and a nonbeliever. The only difference is that the believer will abide forever in paradise, whereas the nonbeliever will abide forever in hellfire. So, the difference will be in the abode of eternity.
Allah, be He highly blessed and exalted, granted man immortality when He breathed into him the soul He created for him. But it is the Will of Allah that our life be stages: first comes death, followed by life, then death, and then eternity. Being oblivious, we care only for one stage: that of worldly life and deem it the only life we have. The truth is that worldly life, as aforesaid, is just a stage or a minor part in the great eternal life journey.
We were dead in the immaterial existence, then The Truth, praise and glory be to Him, willed that we should come to this life. Then, He would cause us to die to undergo the Barzakh [the grave as the barrier or the intermediate realm that separates between this world and the other world from the time of death till the time of Resurrection] life while dead. Then would follow Resurrection and Judgment upon which everything would be settled, and we would become immortal either in paradise or hellfire, we seek the Refuge of Allah from such an end (hellfire).
When Allah, praise and glory be to Him, speaks about life, He means the eternal life in the hereafter. The worldly life is but an abode of trial and the hereafter is the true life that everyone of us must seek. The Messenger of Allah (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) said in his noble Hadith:
â€œI have nothing to do with worldly life. In worldly life I am but like a traveler who sought shade under a tree then he departed and left it behind.â€
Life and death belongs only to Allah, unrivaled. Allah, praise and glory be to Him, has unveiled to man from the secrets of His Universe whatever He willed with the exception of three things that He kept for Himself: (namely) (i) life, (ii) the factors of maintaining life, (iii) and death. None can ever lay claim to these three things, because Allah, be He highly blessed and exalted, is the One Who created and guaranteed to His creatures the factors of the continuity of their survival. When the appointed term is due Allah will destine them to die and they will. The beginning of the creation is only in the Hands of Allah; an indisputable truth, and none can grant life to any creature save Allah, praise and glory be to Him, Who challenged the entire humanity in this regard.
The Truth, praise and glory be to Him, says (what means):
â€œO mankind! A similitude has been coined, so listen to it (carefully): Verily! Those on whom you call besides Allah, cannot create (even) a fly, even though they combine together for the purpose. And if the fly snatched away a thing from them, they would have no power to release it from the fly. So weak are (both) the seeker and the sought.â€ (Al-Hajj: 22: 73)
Allah, be He highly blessed and exalted, has challenged the entire humanity with all its scientists, veterans and every mighty person, to create but a single fly and Allah is indeed The Omniscient of their incapability and weakness. The call challenges both science and scientists since the revelation of the Noble Qurâ€™Ã¢n till the establishment of the Last Hour that they will never be able to do it.
Allah has revealed some of the secrets of His Creation to some scientists in the field of heredity or genealogy. The attainment of such knowledge is supposed to deepen their belief that Allah, praise and glory be to Him, has specified to every creature the code of its life. But instead, they used this knowledge in an attempt to distort the Creation of Allah, wherefrom ensued a fly having wings in its eye. They claimed that they are able to change the sex of a baby from female to male, but it became a deformed good for nothing male. Satan is ever to tempt man to change and pervert the Creation of Allah in order to spoil the dictated duty of the creatures on earth. Allah, be He highly blessed and exalted, depicts this to us in through the Qurâ€™anic verse saying (what means):
â€˜â€œVerily, I will mislead them, and surely, I will arouse in them false desires; and certainly, I will order them to slit the ears of cattle, and indeed I will order them to change the nature created by Allah.â€™ And whoever takes ShaitÃ¢n (Satan) as a WalÃ® (protector or helper) instead of Allah, has surely suffered a manifest loss.â€ (An-NisÃ¢â€™, 4: 119)
If genealogy achieved something in the sixties, it would achieve nothing regarding animals and mankind. It would bring about nothing but useless distortion of the creatures. If trifling with genes has resulted in a fly having wings in place of its eyes, it would neither lead to enhancing its role in the universe nor make it more powerful. It is only an act of spoiling and deforming.
The secret of life and its end
Allah, praise and glory be to Him, is the Sole Possessor of the secret of life. There is no Creator other than Him. He is also the Only Maintainer of the factors ensuring the continuity of life represented in air, water and food. Allah, Whose Majesty reigns most high, is the Creator of the atmosphere. Certainly, the air that we all breathe is not created by man but by Allah, praise and glory be to Him, also the water that we all drink is the Creation of Allah, praise and glory be to Him.
The process of rainfall, starting from evaporation that takes place under the effect of sunrays, to the condensation of that vapor at the higher atmospheric layers followed by the formation of clouds, then the winds that push the clouds to wherever Allah wills for rain to fall. All this is the creation of Allah, praise and glory be to Him.
We say to those who claim that man causes rainfall, â€˜We will not argue with you. The world is full of deserts and Allah, praise and glory be to Him, has created rivers that run for thousands of kilometers and has originated the sources of water that guarantee the continuity of their flowing. We shall not ask you to create a river for us, but all we ask from those who claim the ability to cause rainfall to create a small canal, not a river; just a small canal in the desert. When you succeed in doing so, you may come ahead and claim that you are able to cause rainfall. But before this you have nothing to say to us.â€™
We do not want to be engaged in mere sophistry based on no objectivity for we are real tired of empty talk. Allah, praise and glory be to Him, is the One Who created sustenance. He is the One Who supplied plant with water and the necessary elements present in the soil. Some miracles of the Creation of Allah manifested in the seed, is its dependency in its nutrition on a food store present within the same seed. That store keeps nourishing the seed till it gives off leaves, through which it respires and roots, through which it sucks food from the soil.
None can claim that he created the first seed of everything that exists in the universe. For instance, Allah created the first wheat seed, then it was transmitted from one generation to another same as everything on earth. However, man can develop the species in order to get a better harvest and increase the productivity, but the beginning remains only in the Possession of Allah, for man can never create even a single seed.
The factors of the continuity of life are all in the Hands of Allah, praise and glory be to Him. In this regard Allah says (what means):
â€œThen tell Me (about) the human semen that you emit. Is it you who create it (i.e. make this semen into a perfect human being), or are We the Creator?â€ (Al-WÃ¢qiâ€˜ah, 56: 58- 59)
The semen is one of the causes of creation. Allah, praise and glory be to Him, is the One Who created and originated it, maintaining life by it from the lifetime of Adam (peace be upon him) till the Day of Resurrection. Allah, Whose Majesty reigns most high, says (what means):
â€œTell Me! The water that you drink. Is it you who cause it from the rainclouds to come down, or are We the Causer of it to come down?â€ (Al-WÃ¢qiâ€˜ah, 56: 68-69)
Allah, praise and glory be to Him, wants to draw our attention to the fact that rainfall is only in His Power. Anything else that is said is untrue. Allah, glory be to Him, is the only One Who is capable of providing us with sweet water from the saline. With respect to sowing, The Truth says in His entirely clear QurÃ¢nic verses (what means):
â€œTell Me! The seed that you sow in the ground. Is it you that make it grow, or are We the Grower?â€ (Al-WÃ¢qiâ€˜ah, 56: 63-64)
Manâ€™s task is only to sow, whereas the seeds to be cultivated are a direct creation by Allah. Similarly, the water by which the seeds are supplied and the life cycle of the plant until it becomes a tree and yields fruits are from Allah. We only sow the seed in the ground then stand and wait until it becomes a fruitful tree. We have no hand in its growth or its life cycle. Afterwards, the tree yields fruits and we gather them.
The two cycles of creation: death and life
We then move to the ending of life, also decreed by Allah. For no one is capable of granting immortality to himself or to others. Allah, praise and glory be to Him, says to His Messenger (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) (in His Noble Book what means): â€œAnd We granted not to any human being immortality before you (O Muhammad), then if you die, would they live forever?â€ (Al-AnbiyÃ¢â€™, 21: 34)
In spite of the progress the entire world has achieved in culture, science and technology, it stands powerless when it comes to death. People may talk about the apparent causes behind death but the indisputable fact is that man dies only because it is the end of his lifetime.
But there remains one point that we have to discuss. Allah, praise and glory be to Him, says (what means): â€œHe brings forth the living from the dead, and it is He Who brings forth the dead from the living.â€ (Al-Anâ€˜Ã¢m, 6: 95)
Some of the scientists have tried to interpret this noble Qurâ€™anic verse in a naive way saying, â€˜Allah brings forth the egg from the hen. The egg is a dead matter, thus, Allah brings forth the dead from the living. And He brings forth the living from the dead, that is to say, He brings forth the chick from the egg.â€™
We have previously discussed this issue and said that this is a naive interpretation; simply because all that exists in this worldly life is living and has a life of its own even the inanimate beings. But who is the dead from whom life is to be brought forth?
We answer by saying that the death phase precedes life and follows it. In other words, we were dead before coming to this world. At birth moment, our life cycle begins and when it ends we return dead once more.
Thus, all that exists in this universe falls between two cycles of creation: death and life. Allah, praise and glory be to Him, says (what means): â€œHow can you disbelieve in Allah? Seeing that you were dead and He gave you life. Then He will give you death, then again will bring you to life (on the Day of Resurrection) and then unto Him you will return.â€ (Al-Baqarah, 2: 28)
Every living thing has a duty in this worldly life. When this duty comes to an end, it will depart worldly life and become dead. The tree, for instance, after yielding all the fruits it is ordained to give, will die and leave life because it has fulfilled its duty. And every animal has an assigned duty in life; it fulfills it then departs to the world of the dead. Similarly, man has a duty in this life, which is the period of trial that Allah has ordained for him. After being put to trial once or many times, life ends for him because the duty for whose sake he has been brought to life has come to an end.
But we again wonder: if all what exists in worldly life is living, who is dead?
Names of the Supreme Self of Allah and Timelessness of His Divine Attributes
Worth mentioning, before answering this question, to pinpoint the fact that amongst the Divine Names of Allah is the Giver of life and the Causer of death. The Divine Names of Allah, praise and glory be to Him, denote timelessness and fulfillment together. The Divine Attributes of Almighty Allah pertain to His Supreme Self and to all that is related to His Supreme Self.
When we say that Allah is The All-Provider this means that His Majesty is The All-Provider before creating those whom He provides, in other words, before there exists a creature (of Allah) that He provides. Allah, The Exalted and Ever-Majestic, has provided sustenance to the first creature for being The All-Provider. Had not His Majesty been The All-Provider before creating those whom He provides, how could He have provided sustenance to His creatures the moment He created them?
Almighty Allah is The Creator before creating, because in the name of being the Creator, He created. Such a Divine Attribute of Allah preceded the existence of any single creature. The Attribute is eternally inherent to His Supreme Self.
Life is a creation and death as well, and we live through both creations. We experience life in this world and in the Hereafter. And we experience death before coming to this world and after departing from it till Resurrection.
As long as Allah, praise and glory be to Him, is The Creator then everything that is brought into existence is of His Creation, and everything that departs this worldly life and passes to death belongs to Allah. The passage of a thing from the world of life to the world of death is what Allah calls life and death.
We wereâ€¦before coming to be
Truly, before coming to this worldly life, we were already created, as proven when Allah, praise and glory be to Him, addressed us and made us testify as to ourselves and took our pledge that He is our Lord. We were already created in the death world then we moved, by the Commandment and Leave of Allah, praise and glory be to Him, to worldly life, so we became alive after being dead, but how?
We moved from the death world to the world of earthly life. As aforementioned, all that exist in this worldly life is alive, so just by moving from the world of death to that of life made us alive. Also, when we depart this world, we would move once more from the world of life to that of death. Then after our resurrection, we would move from the world of death to that of life.
This does not mean that death is a nonexistence, but it means that we have moved from a world having rules of its own to another world having other special rules. That transition does not take place to any creature amongst the creatures of Allah except by the Leave and Will of Allah, praise and glory be to Him.
In other words, we were dead, then we became alive, then we would move from the world of earthly life to the Barzakh [the grave as the barrier or the intermediate realm that separates between this world and the other world from the time of death till the time of Resurrection] world, becoming dead again. Then we would return once again to the world of life on the hour of Resurrection for Judgment.
No one can claim that during the Barzakh life we are unconscious. That is untrue; we have consciousness but of a special kind. We perceive and realize other realties. At the moment of death, the unseen realms are disclosed to man and he sees the hidden. He would then beg Allah to return to worldly life once more after seeing the requital, after seeing paradise and hellfire, seeing them for real. Recite the Qurâ€™anic verse in which Allah, The Most Exalted, says (what means):
â€œUntil, when death comes to one of them (those who join partners with Allah), he says: â€˜My Lord! Send me back, So that I may do good in that which I have left behind!â€™ No! It is but a word that he speaks, and behind them is Barzakh (a barrier) until the Day when they will be resurrected.â€ (Al-Muâ€™minÃ»n, 23: 99-100)
At that moment man â€“ whether a believer or a disbeliever â€“ would surely know his destiny. He would know whether his abode is in paradise or in hellfire, we seek the Refuge of Allah from it (hellfire). He would be fully aware that the journey of his life has not ended by his death. That he is going to a nonexistence to be followed by existence. Otherwise, he would not have begged Allah to send him back to worldly life so that he may do good deeds. While in the death world we become certain of the continuity of existence, besides many other realities that man comes to learn. For instance, man learns that there is no escape from the Fate of Allah, and that he would become alive once more.
Suicide and immortality in hellfire
No doubt, life and death are two antitheses. None can combine between them nor move himself from one stage to another. Some may say that it is true that man can never step from death to life; a truth we all know and none can dispute it, however, man can step from life to death by committing suicide: whether by shooting himself, or simply by throwing himself from a high building or from a mountaintop, or by drowning himself.
My answer to the one who claims thus would be: Why confuse between death and killing? Indeed, the one who kills himself is doomed to abide in hellfire forever, why? Because man has not created his self so why destroys it? Allah, praise and glory be to Him, is the One Who created him, so man together with his body, soul, and life belong to Allah. By committing suicide he surely has wasted what he does not own.
Whoever kills someone unintentionally, his recompense is to pay the due blood money. On the other hand, he who premeditatedly kills a person not in retaliation of murder or for spreading mischief on earth, certainly his retribution will be hellfire to abide therein forever. Accordingly, the suicide has intentionally killed himself, therefore torment is justified against him.
Allah, praise and glory be to Him, wants us to learn that life with respect to man is preceded by death, which means that man will not begin this worldly life unless he has previously experienced its antithesis, which is death, so as to learn that this life will surely end up at what preceded it before its own course has begun. Thereupon, if it were preceded by death, then death would surely succeed it.
There is a great difference between life from our own perspective and the real life. From our perspective, life could be play, amusement, mutual boasting and rivalry regarding wealth and children. That can be our conception of worldly life; therefore we pass this life aiming to fulfill our desires. However, Allah, praise and glory be to Him, has not created the world to us for such play and amusement, but The Almighty made it for a purpose which He willed that it should be fulfilled. Recite the Qurâ€™anic verse in which Allah, glory be to Him, says (what means):
â€œWe created not the heavens and the earth and all that is between them for a (mere) play Had We intended to take a pastime (i.e. a wife or a son, etc.), We could surely have taken it from Us, if We were going to do (that).â€ (Al-AnbiyÃ¢â€™, 21:16-17)
Allah, be He highly blessed and exalted, has planned a role to be performed by every living being. Such a role is the purpose of life; even more it is the purpose of the entire creation.
If you want to discover the role of anything, you should ask its creator or maker why did he create it? Same as when we ask the manufacturer to first assign the purpose of his machine.
For example, the washing machine is designed to facilitate the process of washing for any housewife. This machine has its own system. After assigning its role, the manufacturer, started to design the machine, which could achieve such a role. Afterwards, he determined the technique of its operation in addition to its maintenance, in case of damage. So, if we face any problem that causes it not to function properly, we should refer to the instructions found in the catalogue or the manual designed by the manufacturer to know cause of the damage. But if we decided to repair the machine by ourselves regardless of any instructions given by the manufacturer, surely the machine would be damaged instead of being repaired.
The point is, when it comes to human industries (i.e., cars, refrigeratorsâ€¦etc.) we follow the instructions given by the manufacturer, however when trying to reform human life we import other destructive systems regardless of the system set by The Creator of mankind, who is the Best Knower of what He has created. We lay aside the Divine Law claiming that we are more capable of reforming our lives than Almighty Allah. Allah, be He highly blessed and exalted, illustrates that meaning to us through the noble Qurâ€™anic verse saying (which means):
â€œAnd when it is said to them: â€˜Make not mischief on the earth,â€™ they say: â€˜We are only peacemakers.â€™ Verily! They are the ones who make mischief, but they perceive not.â€ (Al-Baqarah, 2:11-12)
In brief, we summarize what we have detailed by saying that Allah, praise and glory be to Him, has created man to be immortal. Every breathing soul since Adam (peace be upon him) till the Day of Resurrection, is given immortality by Allah, either in paradise to enjoy great pleasure and luxury, or in hellfire to be tormented. Man is to remain immortal; none in this world will die without being resurrected, and none will be resurrected without Judgment, and none will receive Judgment without being admitted either into paradise or to be cast into hellfire.
Allah, praise and glory be to Him, has made death the first stages of life. We all came to life after death in the immaterial existence, thus moving from death to life; a process that only Allah, praise and glory be to Him, is capable of. He is the sole Creator of life and death, and only Allah has the power to resurrect those who are in the graves. No power in this world, implicit or explicit, individual or collective, can transfer man from death to life, or can stop his journey from life to death.
Mankind and all the creatures in the universe are incapable to grant life or inhibit death. Life and death are two antitheses. He, who is in life, surely is not dead and he, who is in death, is surely not alive. Each has his rules and his own world.
We have also illustrated that there is death and there is killing, and how each of them differs from the other. Afterwards, we have discussed the purpose of creating this world, and the reason why Allah, praise and glory be to Him, has created it. We asserted the fact that the maker of a thing is the only one who can fulfill the aim of his manufacture. But man believes that he can assign himself a purpose other than the one he has been created for, under the pretext of reforming earth, while he is corrupting it.
But why has Allah created worldly life? That is what we shall discuss in detail in the next chapter, if Allah wills.