Meaning of Belief in the Last Day
Firm belief that Almighty Allah will raise people to life from their graves; He will then judge them according to their deeds. Those who deserve to go to Paradise will be sent to it, while those who deserve to go to Hellfire will be sent to it.
Belief in the last Day is one of the articles of faith, and faith will not be valid unless one believes in the Last Day, as the Qur’an states, “Truly pious are those who believe in Allah and the Last Day.” (Soorat Al-Baqarah, 2:177)
Why Does the Qur’an Emphasise Belief in the Last Day?
The Qur’an emphasises belief in the last Day and draws attention to it on numerous occasions, employing different modes of expression in Arabic and linking belief in the Last Day with belief in Allah.
The reason for this is that belief in the Last Day is a necessary outcome of belief in Almighty Allah and His absolute justice. To illustrate:
Allah does not approve of injustice; He will not let the wrongdoers go unpunished, nor will He let the wronged down by not obtaining redress for the wrong done to them, nor will He disappoint the virtuous by not rewarding them for their righteousness. Many are those who spent all their lives oppressing others with impunity until they died; many are those who suffered a great deal of injustice and died without ever obtaining redress for the wrong done to them. This means there has to be another life, other than the present life, where the righteous will be rewarded and the evildoers will be punished, everyone getting the reward or punishment they deserve.
What Does Belief in the Last Day Include?
Belief in the Last Day includes a number of things, some of which are as follow:
- Belief in the Ultimate Resurrection and Gathering: This means that Almighty Allah will raise people to life from their graves, and each soul will return to its respective body. People will then stand before the Lord of all the worlds for judgement. They will be gathered on a huge level plain, naked and barefoot just as Allah ﷻ first created them.
Indeed, belief in the resurrection of the dead is confirmed by textual evidence from the Qur’an and the Sunnah and has been proven rationally as well as through the inner nature (fitrah). We therefore firmly believe that Allah will raise the dead from their graves, their souls will return to their respective bodies and all people will stand before the Lord of the worlds for judgement.
The Qur’an says, “Then subsequently you will certainly die. Then on the Day of Rising you will be raised again.” (Soorat Al-Mu’minoon, 23:15-16)
All divine books have confirmed this fact, stating that part of Allah’s wisdom behind creating people is to set an ultimate day on which He will judge them for obeying or rejecting His commands which he sent down to them through His messengers, as the Qur’an states, “Did you suppose that We created you for amusement and that you would not return to Us?’” (Soorat Al-Mu’minoon, 23:115)
Some Textual Evidence from the Qur’an Regarding Resurrection
- It was Allah ﷻ who created mankind the first time, and He is able to bring them back to life, as the Qur’an states, “And it is He who originates creation, then brings it back again, and it is easier for Him.” (Soorat Ar-Room, 30:27) Refuting the false claim that it is impossible for bones to be restored to life when they are decayed, Almighty Allah says, “Say, ‘He who made them in the first place will bring them back to life.’” (Soorat Yaa Seen, 36:79)
- When the earth is barren and lifeless, Allah pours rain down upon it, and it stirs and swells and brings forth every kind of lovely plant. The One who can bring it to life is certainly able to bring the dead back to life, as the Qur’an states, “And We sent down blessed water from the sky and made gardens grow by it and grain for harvesting, and tall palm-trees with their thickly-clustered dates, as provision for Our slaves; by it We brought a dead land to life. Thus will be the resurrection.” (Soorat Qaaf, 50:9-11)
- Every sensible person admits that if someone can do something hard, then he can, with all the more reason, do something easier than that. Therefore, if Almighty Allah was able to create the wonderful heavens, the vast earth and all the mighty stars, then He can, with all the more reason, easily bring bones that have decayed, back to life, as the Qur’an states, “Does He who created the heavens and earth not have the power to create [from rotten bones] the like of them again? Yes indeed! He is the Creator, the All-Knowing. (Soorat Yaa Seen, 36:81)
- Belief in the Judgement and the Balance of Deeds: Almighty Allah will judge people according to their deeds which they did in the life of the world. Those who worshipped Allah alone and obeyed Him and His Messenger Muhammad r will receive an easy reckoning. As for those who committed the unforgivable sin of shirk and disobeyed Him, they will receive a severe reckoning.
People’s deeds will be weighed in a huge balance. The good deeds will be placed on one weighing pan, while the bad deeds will be placed on the pan at the other end of the Balance. Those whose good deeds outweigh their bad deeds will be admitted into Paradise, while those whose bad deeds outweigh their good deeds will be sent to Hellfire, and Allah does not wrong anyone.
Allah ﷻ say, “We will set up the Just Balance on the Day of Rising and no one will be wronged in any way. Even if it is no more than the weight of a grain of mustard-seed, We will produce it. We are sufficient as a Reckoner.” (Soorat Al-Anbiyyaa’, 21:47)
- Paradise and Hellfire: Paradise is the abode of eternal bliss which Allah r has prepared for the pious people who have obeyed Allah and His Messenger r. In it they will find all that their hearts desire and their eyes find delight in.
Awakening His servants’ desire to vie with one another in obeying Him so that they will be admitted into Paradise, Almighty Allah says, “Race each other to forgiveness from your Lord and a Garden as wide as the heavens and the earth, prepared for the righteous.” (Soorat Aal- ‛Imraan, 3:133)
As for Hellfire, it is the abode of eternal punishment which Allah has prepared for the unbelievers who have rejected Allah and disobeyed His messengers. In it they will find all kinds of unimaginable terrifying punishments and suffering.
Warning His servants against the Hellfire, Almighty Allah says, “Fear the Fire whose fuel is people and stones, made ready for the unbelievers.” (Soorat Al-Baqarah, 2:24)
We ask You, O Allah, to admit us into Paradise and to assist us in saying words and doing deeds that are bound to bring us closer to it, and we seek refuge with You from the Hellfire and from words and deeds that are bound to bring us closer to it.
- Punishment and Bliss in the Grave: We believe that death is a fact, as the Qur’an states, “Say: ‘The Angel of Death, who has been given charge of you, will take you back and then you will be sent back to your Lord.’” (Soorat As-Sajdah, 32:11)
In fact, no one can deny death; we believe that when someone dies or is killed by any means whatsoever, it is because his appointed time has come, which he can neither delay nor bring forward, as the Qur’an states, “When the end of the term falls, they can neither delay it by a single moment, nor can they hasten it.” (Soorat Al-A‛raaf, 7:34)
- We also believe that whoever dies has actually moved to life hereafter.
- There are numerous authentic traditions attributed to Prophet Muhammad r in which he mentions punishment in the grave for the unbelievers and the wicked people and bliss for the believers and upright people. We believe in all this, but we abstain from trying to find out how this may happen, for the human mind cannot possibly comprehend its manner or reality, being part of the unseen world, such as Hellfire and Paradise, and not part of the material, visible world. The human mind can only carry out analogical reasoning and deductive arguments and reach judgements in matters which have the same relationship and whose laws are known in the visible world.
- Life in the grave is part of the unseen world which cannot be perceived by the senses. Were this possible, belief in the unseen would be of no benefit whatsoever, there would be no wisdom behind observance of religious duties and people would not find it necessary to bury the dead. As the prophet ﷺ once observed, “Were it not that you would not bury one another, I would pray to Allah to make you hear the punishment in the grave which I can hear.” (Saheeh Muslim: 2868; Sunan An-Nasaa’ee: 2058). It is because animals are exempt from religious duties that they can hear the voices of those punished in their graves.
Benefits of Belief in the Last Day
Belief in the Last Day prompts people to lead a pious life, do righteous deeds, fear Allah ﷻ and stay away from selfishness and arrogance. It is for this reason that the Qur’an frequently links belief in the Last Day with righteous deeds. The following verses are examples showing this: “The mosques of Allah should only be frequented by those who believe in Allah and the Last Day.” (Soorat At-Tawbah, 9:18) “Those who believe in the hereafter do believe in it, and they are ever-mindful of their prayers.” (Soorat Al-An’aam, 6:92)
It reminds those who are totally absorbed in the life of the world and its transitory pleasures of the importance of vying with one another to obey Allah, urging them to do as many good deeds as they are alive and showing them that the worldly life is fleeting and that the hereafter is the everlasting abode. After praising His messengers in the Qur’an and mentioning their righteous deeds, Allah ﷻ mentions the reason that prompted them to do such virtuous acts: “We purified their sincerity through sincere remembrance of the Abode.” (Soorat Saad, 38:46) This means that their constant remembrance of the hereafter was the reason behind their performance of such acts. When some of the Muslims became too sluggish to obey Allah and His Messenger r on one occasion, Allah ﷻ revealed the following verse, “Do you prefer the life of this world to the hereafter? But little is the comfort of this life, compared to that of the hereafter.” (Soorat At-Tawbah, 9:38) Belief in the hereafter makes a person realise that all worldly comforts cannot be possibly compared to the eternal bliss in Paradise, nor is it worth one single dip in Hellfire; conversely, it makes one realise that all worldly discomforts and hardships for the sake of Allah cannot be possibly compared to punishment, in Hellfire, nor will it be compared to even one dip in Paradise.
It makes a person satisfied with his lot in life. He does not feel sad or lose heart if he misses a worldly opportunity. Rather, he does what he can possibly do, knowing for certain that Allah will not let the reward of anyone who does a good deed go to waste. If anything has been unjustly or deceitfully taken away from him, even if it is smaller than an atom, he will certainly get it back on the Day of Judgement when he will be in dire need of it. How then can someone feel sad when he knows for sure that he will get his rightful dues at a very critical moment on the Day of Judgement? How can he possibly grieve or be worried when he knows that it is the Best of Judges who will judge between him and his adversaries?