By Mohammed Atharulla Shariff
Every thinking mind has these questions before it: how did the human being in particular and the world at large come into existence? How did the first man and the woman come into being? Why does every person who takes birth die one day? How does the soul exit from human body? Where does it disappear to? Despite so much development in medical science why can’t we prevent the soul from disappearance? We come into being without our will and die despite our wish to live. It means we don’t have any control on our own being and non-being. Who then is calling the shots? Who is making us to be born and causing us to die? Why is he doing all this without our consent? Does our consent matter?
In this short span of time which is called life there are several ups and downs, several pleasant and unpleasant moments leave deep impact upon us. Joys and sorrows, good and bad incidents take place without our will. Great persons are born whose lives are so precious that we need them to live forever, but they die despite their need. There are several rogue elements who cause great damage to others, we wish them to die at the earliest so that others can live in peace, but that doesn’t happen as we wish. Both kinds of persons die and disappear. Is there no rewarding end for the good people and no punishable end to the rogues? All such questions come to our mind and before getting a right answer they simply disappear in the routines of our daily life. We don’t have time to find a satisfactory answer to these issues.
Many philosophers, thinkers and wise men have thought deeply, seriously and sincerely and have drawn some conclusions about the philosophy of life. But these findings are varied in nature. Some of them are contradictory too. Because their conclusions are based on some imaginations and perceptions. They do not possess any authentic source of knowledge of this life cycle which has been in motion since times immemorial. Without wasting much time in these indefinite and uncertain conclusions, let us approach a definite source which has passed all the tests and trials of authenticity i.e. the divine book, the Holy Qur’ān. All the prophecies made by this book have come true, undoubtedly.
DIFFERENT PHASES OF LIFE
According to the Qur’ān, there are four phases of human life cycle. The life we are living now is actually the second phase. The first phase was when all human souls were created at once before they were sent to this earth. It is called Ālam-i-Arwah, meaning the stage of souls. “When your Lord brought forth descendants from the loins of Adam’s children, and made them testify against themselves, (He said) ‘am I not your Lord?’ They replied; ‘we bear witness that you are.’ (This He did) lest you should say on the Day of Resurrection ‘we had no knowledge of that.’ ” (Al A’raf, verse 172)
After the soul is taken away from the body, we die. It is the physical death, but our soul will remain at Ālam-i-Barzakh, that is the third phase. “Behind them is a barrier until the Day of Resurrection” (Al Mominūn, verse 100)
The fourth and last being the Day of Resurrection when we will be recreated physically with the souls restored back into the body, and we assemble before the Almighty to give account of our deeds and actions that we carried out in the second phase, i.e. the present worldly life. Those of us who are obedient to the Will of God will be rewarded and sent to the Paradise. Those who violated the directions of the Almighty negligently and deliberately will be sent to the hellfire. This will be forever.
PURPOSE OF LIFE
Thus, our life and our death are a creation and design of the Almighty Allah. It is a sort of test. We are like in an examination hall. The Qur’ān says, “He created life and death that He might test you and find out which of you is best in deed.” (Al Mulk, verse 2).
At another place, it narrates, “How can you deny Allah? Did He not give you life when you were lifeless, and will He not cause you to die, then restore you to life? Will you not return to Him at last?” (Al Baqara, verse 28)
Thus, it is clear that our life is a creation of God and so is our death. They are not without any purpose. The motto of creation is defined as “And I only created mankind and the jinn that they might worship Me.” (Al Dhariyat, verse 56)
Man is the most honourable creature, positioned as the deputy of Allah. “When your Lord said to the angels: I am placing on Earth one that shall be my deputy.” (Al Baqara, verse 30) It was symbolically said about Adam, the first human being that was created. This privilege is rested to Adam’s posterity too. Later Adam and Eve were sent down to Earth as the Qur’ān says, “Now go down (to earth), there shall come to you guidance from Me now and again: whoever will follow it shall have neither fear nor sorrow.” (Al Baqara, verse 38)
As the deputies of Allah, we have to be obedient to Him and abide by His commands and abstain from such deeds which displease Him. Such people will inherit Paradise and the disobedient will be thrown into hellfire. “As for the disbelievers, I will provide them with necessities of life in this world, but in the Next World I will drag them to the torment of the Hell, and that is the worst abode.” (Al Baqara verse 126)
LIFE IS INDIVISIBLE
The Qur’ān treats human life as one single unit. It does not split the life as religious and worldly. It asks “O Believers, enter completely into Islam and do not follow the footsteps of Satan.” (Al Baqara, verse 208)
Various teachings that Qur’ān mentions; whether pertaining to family matters, economic dealings, political affairs, all are considered religious issues, which fetch reward if followed as directed and attract torment if declined. Earning a livelihood for one’s own self and the family legitimately is described as worship, ibadat. Pronouncing judicial judgments is ibadat, worship. Governing the state as directed is also an ibadat. All these deeds amount to entering into Islam completely. And these are accountable. Hence life is a serious issue and not a pastime. Our success in the life hereafter totally depends on how we take the present life. Our understanding of life is manifested by our attitude and behaviour. Every action of ours and every moment of life is guarded and recorded. As the Qur’ān says “Yet there are guardians watching over you, noble scribes who know whatever you do.” (Al Infitar, verse 10-12)
Not only the actions but the intentions and the motives behind the actions are also scanned and recorded. The Qur’ān makes it clear, “Say, whether you hide what is in your hearts or reveal it, it is known to Allah. (Aal e Imran, verse 29)
At another place, the Qur’ān says, “We created man. We know the whisperings of his soul, and We are closer to him than (his) jugular vein.” (Qaf, verse 16)
SUCCESS AND FAILURES
The Qur’ān prescribes a four-point formula for the ultimate success in this life and in the life hereafter: “By Time, Man is in loss, except those who believe and do good works and exhort one another to Truth and to patience.” (Al Asr)
This short and sweet chapter of the Qur’ān explains in volumes as to how one can succeed in life in both the worlds. A complete and strong belief in God endorsed by good works, both at individual level and at the societal level is essential. Because the kind of atmosphere that prevails around has a definite impact on one’s approach and attitude in life, it is advised to exhort one another to Truth and Patience. Otherwise, the society degenerates, then it will be difficult to do good works even at the individual level. The worst part of it is that if the society continues to degenerate unchecked, even the belief in God at the individual level will melt down, gradually resulting in a complete disaster.
That is the role model found in the lives of the messengers of God, especially the last and final Messenger Muhammad ﷺ. Height of wisdom is to follow the successful models, simply. At an average only one-third of the life period is actually workable period. From infancy and childhood to adolescence man is in learning stage. And the advanced age is practically undoable stage. It is only the middle part of life that a person has to do whatever he intends to do. Do the things when they are still doable.