History of Afterlife in Different Religions Islam

About the views on life after death and the afterlife and history of the beliefs in the Muslim religion.

THE AFTERLIFE IN DIFFERENT RELIGIONS

ISLAM

Allah, a supreme, personal, and inscrutable God, will punish those who turn to other gods and fail to recognize His chosen messenger, Mohammed. A drop of blood shed in the cause of Allah, a night spent in His defense, is of more avail than praying and fasting. Whoever falls in battle will be forgiven for his sins.

At death the soul in the tomb is visited by the Examiners, Munkar and Nakir, two black angels with breath like violent storms and eyes like lightning flashes. They question the terrified soul concerning its faith. If its answers are satisfactory, sweet breezes from Paradise will blow upon the soul and its tomb will be filled with light until the Final Judgment. (Souls of prophets and martyrs are admitted to Paradise directly.) But if its answers are unsatisfactory, the walls of the tomb will close in to crush the soul; it shall await the Final Judgment while being stung by scorpions and beaten with an iron mace.

On the day of the Final Judgment the angel Israfil will blow a warning blast upon his trumpet. At a second blast all creatures will die and the material world will melt. At a third blast the souls of all humankind will issue from his trumpet like a swarm of bees to be reunited with their bodies made new. They will stand before the divine tribunal, waiting in silence before Allah as He sits in judgment, for no one may speak without Allah's permission. Mohammed, advancing immediately to the front of the assemblage, will be permitted to speak for those who profess Islam.

The angel Gabriel will hold up an enormous scale, half of it covering Paradise, the other half covering Hell. Every person's deeds will be weighed, and exact justice will be done. To each person will be given a book, the record of his or her life. Those whose books are placed in their right hands are blessed, while those whose books are placed in their left hands are damned. They await sentencing in shoes of fire, their skulls boiling like pots. At last (after 50,000 years or in the twinkle of an eye), Allah passes sentence upon the righteous and the wicked.

Now all the souls must cross the Bridge of Sirat, which spans the distance from Earth to Paradise, passing directly over Hell. Although this bridge is hair-thin and razor-sharp, it will broaden out beneath the steps of the faithful. Infidels will lose their balance and topple into the abyss.

Hell has seven levels. The first and mildest is for sinners among the true believers, who will enter Paradise after purification. The second is for Jews, the third for Christians, the fourth for Sabians, the fifth for Magians, the sixth for abandoned idolators, and the seventh and worst for hypocrites of all religions. In Hell the damned will be broiled, beaten with red-hot iron maces, suspended by their tongues, forced to drink boiling water and molten copper, and will have their brains boiled and their flesh cut with scissors of fire. True believers, lying on couches in Paradise, will see the damned suffer and laugh at them scornfully.

Dividing Hell and Heaven is an impassable wall, al Araf, covered with contemptible beings whose good works exactly cancel out their evil ones, thus fitting them for neither place.

In Paradise every desire of soul and body shall be satisfied. Whoever drinks the fragrant milk-white waters of Mohammed's Pond, which is a month's journey in circumference, will never again be thirsty. Other refreshments will include milk, wine, dates, honey, manna, fattened birds, and beef from cattle that graze in the Garden of Eden. Body wastes will be eliminated through perspiration. All male inhabitants will become fair, beardless, curly-haired, 90 ft. tall, and 33 years old. Black-eyed houris, or nymphs, of perfect beauty, free from excretions of any kind, await them in pavilions of green cushions. Other beautiful damsels will refrain from beholding any but their own spouses. Every man in Paradise will marry 500 houris, 4,000 virgins, and 8,000 nonvirgins.

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