The Philosophy of Islamic Teachings (23)

Second Insight 

The second perception regarding the afterlife, contained in the Holy Quran, is that in the afterlife, both in the intermediate state and in the resurrection state, all the spiritual conditions of this world will be physically manifested. In this context, a verse reads: 

"But he who is blind in this world, will be blind in the Afterlife, and even more astray from the path." (17:73) 

This means that the spiritual blindness of this life will be manifested and felt physically in the afterlife.  

In another verse it is said: 


"Hold him and bind him! Then cast him into Hell. Then put on him a chain seventy cubits long." (69:31-33) 

These verses show that the spiritual torments of this life will manifest themselves physically in the next life. For example, the ring of worldly ambition, which had bowed man's head to the earth in this life, will become clearly visible in the afterlife. Likewise, the chain of this world's cares will become visible on his feet, and the fire of earthly desires will appear to be burning.

A vicious man hides within himself a whole hell of greed and worldly desires, and perceives at the time of his failures and frustrations the burning sensation of this hell. Therefore, by being cast away from his mortal desires he will be subjected to eternal despair, and God Exalted will cause his sorrow to manifest itself physically, in the form of fire, as it is said: 


"And a barrier will be placed between them and what they yearn for." (34:55). This will be the root of their torments.

The chain of seventy cubits indicates that a wicked person often reaches the age of seventy, and sometimes - apart from his years of childhood and decrepitude - he comes to enjoy a period of seventy years in which he can work with wisdom and good sense. But a wretch lives these seventy years bound by a chain of worldly desires, unwilling to free himself from it. God the Exalted therefore states, in this verse, that the seventy years that such a man devotes to the passions of the world, will manifest themselves in the afterlife in the form of a chain of seventy cubits, one cubit for each year. It must be borne in mind, in this connection, that the Exalted God never imposes on any man any misfortune devised by Him. He simply confronts man with his own evil deeds.

Elsewhere in The Quran, He says: 


"Alas, turn to the shadow that has three parts. Which neither shadows nor protects from the flame." (77:31-32)

The three branches described here represent bestiality, barbarism and wild imagination. Those who do not control these faculties, and therefore do not convert them into moral qualities, will find that these faculties manifest in the afterlife as three leafless branches of a tree, which provide neither shade nor protection from the fire, thus leaving the fire to devour such people. By contrast, God the Exalted says to the dwellers of heaven: 


"Think of the day when you will see the believing men and women with their light running before them and upon their right hands." (57:13) 

And in another verse it says: 


"The day when some faces will be white and some black" (3:107). 

A third verse states: 


"Here is a description of the Garden promised to the righteous: in it are rivers of water that do not corrupt; rivers of milk whose taste does not change; rivers of wine that are a delight to those who drink it, and rivers of pure honey." (47:16)

Here it is clearly stated that we are to consider that Heaven is composed, metaphorically, of inexhaustible streams of bounty. This means that the water of life, which the one who demonstrates spiritual understanding drinks, will be visibly manifested. The spiritual milk that sustains man, as a newborn, during this life, will become clearly visible in heaven. The wine of the love of God, which intoxicated him spiritually throughout his life in this world, will manifest itself in heaven in the form of a stream. The honey of the sweetness of faith, eaten spiritually in this world by the possessor of spiritual understanding, will be manifested and felt physically in the next life. Every dweller in Heaven will proclaim his spiritual condition openly in his gardens and rivers. On that day, God will reveal Himself to the dwellers of Heaven. In short, in the afterlife the spiritual conditions will not remain hidden, but will be perceptible and physically visible. 

Third Perception 

The third perception regarding the afterlife is that there will be unlimited progress. As the Exalted God says: 


"To those who believed with him (the Prophet), his light will run before them and in their right hands. They will say, "Our Lord, perfect our light and forgive us, for indeed You have power over all things."" (66:9) 

This plea to perfect their light is an indication of infinite progress. It means that upon reaching a state of enlightenment, they will perceive in the distance another higher state - and upon seeing it, they will consider the state they are in as inferior - asking to reach the higher state. On reaching this higher state, they will see another, higher state, and they will yearn to reach it. Thus their longing for constant progress is signalled in the expression "Perfect us our light". The chain of progress will continue indefinitely. They will not fall away or be cast out of Heaven, but will continue to progress daily. 

One might ask what need would there be to beg for forgiveness, once the virtuous had already entered Heaven and their sins had been forgiven? The answer is that the true meaning of maghfirat (seeking forgiveness) is the removal of an imperfect or flawed condition. Thus, the dwellers of Heaven will seek the attainment of perfection, and their total immersion in the light. Upon perceiving a higher condition, they will regard their own condition as defective, and will desire to suppress it, and then, upon observing a still higher condition, they will desire to suppress their lower condition, and thus constantly seek unlimited maghfirat. This pursuit of maghfirat or istighfar sometimes becomes the basis of adverse criticism towards the Holy Prophet (lpbD). I hope I have made it clear that the desire for maghfirat is a matter of pride for man. Every man born of a woman who does not have istighfar by habit is a worm and not a man, he is a blind man and not a seer, he is defiled and not pure. 

In short, according to the Holy Quran, both Hell and Heaven are reflections of human life, and not something new that comes from outside. It is true that in the afterlife they will manifest physically, but they will be reflections of man's spiritual conditions in this life. We do not conceive of Heaven as a place with material trees, nor do we conceive of Hell as a place full of sulphur and sulphur. According to Islamic teachings, Heaven and Hell are reflections of the deeds performed by a person in this world. 

(lpbD) - peace and blessings of God be upon him. 

(With this installment - number 23 - we bring to an end the Holy Quran's answers to the second question, and will address the third question which, as indicated in the table of contents [https://www.atalayar.com/opinion/qamar-fazal/la-filosofia-de-las-ensenanzas-del-islam/20230425163940184001.html], was "The aim of human life, and the means for its attainment").