Life in the Quran is a topic that has been extensively discussed. A person’s life in this world determines how his or her life would be in the Hereafter. Of course, whether a person lives a life of comfort and luxury or in hardship is something that he himself must strive for. Nevertheless, God has said that He provides for people without any measure or calculation in order to test them to see whether they believe in Him and give thanks, or disbelieve and are ungrateful of His blessings. In this article on Islam4u, we will take a look at:
Life in the Quran: Selling Life in the Hereafter to Life in This World
One of the concepts that the Quran touches upon is selling one’s Hereafter to one’s worldly life. After talking about how a group of people kill another group and expel each other from their cities, God says in the Quran:
أُولَـٰئِكَ الَّذِينَ اشْتَرَوُا الْحَيَاةَ الدُّنْيَا بِالْآخِرَةِ ۖ فَلَا يُخَفَّفُ عَنْهُمُ الْعَذَابُ وَلَا هُمْ يُنصَرُونَ ﴿86﴾
They are the ones who bought the life of this world for the Hereafter; so their punishment shall not be lightened, nor will they be helped. 1
Indeed, a person who buys the life of this world in exchange for the Hereafter is a person who does not care about his religious duties, commits sins, and is ungrateful of God’s blessings. Such people will be punished in the life after this world and God will not come to terms with them.
Life in the Quran: The Glamor of the Life of this World
God says in the Quran:
زُيِّنَ لِلَّذِينَ كَفَرُوا الْحَيَاةُ الدُّنْيَا وَيَسْخَرُونَ مِنَ الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا ۘ وَالَّذِينَ اتَّقَوْا فَوْقَهُمْ يَوْمَ الْقِيَامَةِ ۗ وَاللَّـهُ يَرْزُقُ مَن يَشَاءُ بِغَيْرِ حِسَابٍ ﴿212﴾
Worldly life has been glamorized for the faithless, and they ridicule the faithful. But those who are Godwary shall be above them on the Day of Resurrection, and Allah provides for whomever He wishes without any reckoning. 2
We see very often that those who are not good individuals live a life of comfort and luxury, yet believers live lives full of hardship. God says in the Quran that the Godwary need not to judge a person’s worth by how he lives in this world, but rather it is their station on the Day of Judgment that counts. Therefore, God says the Godwary are above them on the Day of Judgment.
At the end of the verse, God says that He provides for whomever He wishes without any reckoning. This means that He gives little or a lot to whomever He wishes, irrespective of whether he is good or bad. Of course, this is a means for testing that person.
Life in the Quran: Saving a Soul is Like Saving Humanity in Its Entirety
After the Quran tells the story of the two sons of Prophet Adam, Abel and Cain, and how Cain killed Abel out of jealousy. God says in the Quran:
مِنْ أَجْلِ ذَٰلِكَ كَتَبْنَا عَلَىٰ بَنِي إِسْرَائِيلَ أَنَّهُ مَن قَتَلَ نَفْسًا بِغَيْرِ نَفْسٍ أَوْ فَسَادٍ فِي الْأَرْضِ فَكَأَنَّمَا قَتَلَ النَّاسَ جَمِيعًا وَمَنْ أَحْيَاهَا فَكَأَنَّمَا أَحْيَا النَّاسَ جَمِيعًا ۚ وَلَقَدْ جَاءَتْهُمْ رُسُلُنَا بِالْبَيِّنَاتِ ثُمَّ إِنَّ كَثِيرًا مِّنْهُم بَعْدَ ذَٰلِكَ فِي الْأَرْضِ لَمُسْرِفُونَ ﴿32﴾
That is why We decreed for the Children of Israel that whoever kills a soul, without [its being guilty of] manslaughter or corruption on the earth, is as though he had killed all mankind, and whoever saves a life is as though he had saved all mankind. Our apostles certainly brought them manifest signs, yet even after that, many of them commit excesses on the earth. 3
This beautiful verse highlights the importance of human life in Islam. A person’s life is so dear in Islam that killing a soul is like killing all of humanity and saving a soul is like saving all of humanity.
Life in the Quran: Retribution
God has said in the Quran that a person who intentionally kills another person must also be executed if the relatives of that dead person demand retribution. However, the way Quran states the necessity of retribution is very beautiful:
وَلَكُمْ فِي الْقِصَاصِ حَيَاةٌ يَا أُولِي الْأَلْبَابِ لَعَلَّكُمْ تَتَّقُونَ ﴿179﴾
There is life for you in retribution, O you who possess intellects! Maybe you will be Godwary! 4
There is life in retribution in that it deters the act of killing. So when the act is deterred, less people will kill other people and more lives will be spared. However, retribution seems like a violent measure. Therefore, the Quran makes it very subtle by saying, “There is life for you in retribution.” By saying this, God says if you want people to live more and more lives to be saved, retribution is necessary.
There is Life Beyond This World
The Quran quotes the disbelievers who say:
وَقَالُوا إِنْ هِيَ إِلَّا حَيَاتُنَا الدُّنْيَا وَمَا نَحْنُ بِمَبْعُوثِينَ ﴿29﴾
They say, ‘There is nothing but our life of this world, and we shall not be resurrected.’ 5
Currently, there are people who are called atheists and do not believe in life after death. They are materialists and do not believe in any Divine entity either. However, they are certainly wrong according to the Quran. This world was not created accidentally. When you look at the world and the universe, you see this distinctive order and harmony. Therefore, there definitely is an intelligent designer behind it all who is the God of the universe.
In order that life in this world is not purposeless, God has given us life in the afterlife, so that we are rewarded or punished accordingly. Additionally, we will be resurrected on the Day of Judgment and brought to account for all the deeds that we did in this world. Therefore, life in this world is a precursor to life in the next world.
Life in This World Is a Mere Play Compared to the Hereafter
God says in the Quran:
وَمَا هَـٰذِهِ الْحَيَاةُ الدُّنْيَا إِلَّا لَهْوٌ وَلَعِبٌ ۚ وَإِنَّ الدَّارَ الْآخِرَةَ لَهِيَ الْحَيَوَانُ ۚ لَوْ كَانُوا يَعْلَمُونَ ﴿64﴾
The life of this world is nothing but diversion and play, but the abode of the Hereafter is indeed Life (itself), had they known! 6
God does not want to say that life in this world is not important. Yes it is important. However, one must compare this life to the life in the Hereafter and base his life in this world on the life in the Hereafter. If one only cares about his life in this world and neglects the Hereafter, he has made a great loss. How can a person guarantee his life in the Hereafter so that this life is not diversion and play? He can do that by practicing Godwariness and living a life of obedience and total submission to God. In that case, he has lived his life for the Hereafter, not the world and its paltry gain.
Life in the Quran: The Parable of Life
God says in the Quran:
إِنَّمَا مَثَلُ الْحَيَاةِ الدُّنْيَا كَمَاءٍ أَنزَلْنَاهُ مِنَ السَّمَاءِ فَاخْتَلَطَ بِهِ نَبَاتُ الْأَرْضِ مِمَّا يَأْكُلُ النَّاسُ وَالْأَنْعَامُ حَتَّىٰ إِذَا أَخَذَتِ الْأَرْضُ زُخْرُفَهَا وَازَّيَّنَتْ وَظَنَّ أَهْلُهَا أَنَّهُمْ قَادِرُونَ عَلَيْهَا أَتَاهَا أَمْرُنَا لَيْلًا أَوْ نَهَارًا فَجَعَلْنَاهَا حَصِيدًا كَأَن لَّمْ تَغْنَ بِالْأَمْسِ ۚ كَذَٰلِكَ نُفَصِّلُ الْآيَاتِ لِقَوْمٍ يَتَفَكَّرُونَ ﴿24﴾
The parable of the life of this world is that of water which We send down from the sky. It mingles with the earth’s vegetation from which humans and cattle eat. When the earth puts on its luster and is adorned, and its inhabitants think they have power over it, Our edict comes to it, by night or day, whereat We turn it into a mown field, as if it did not flourish the day before. Thus do We elaborate the signs for a people who reflect. 7
God by this verse is saying that life in this world is not lasting but transitory. It is fleeting and will quickly come to an end, whereas life in the Hereafter is eternal and infinite. Therefore, we must live life in such a way that our life in the Hereafter is bettered and we are prosperous. Otherwise, life in this world will quickly come to an end before we know it. As a result, we must make the best use of it.
Life in the Quran: God Grants a Luxurious Life to Those who Want It
God says in the Quran:
مَن كَانَ يُرِيدُ الْحَيَاةَ الدُّنْيَا وَزِينَتَهَا نُوَفِّ إِلَيْهِمْ أَعْمَالَهُمْ فِيهَا وَهُمْ فِيهَا لَا يُبْخَسُونَ ﴿15﴾
As for those who desire the life of this world and its glitter, We will recompense them fully for their works therein, and they shall not be underpaid in it.
أُولَـٰئِكَ الَّذِينَ لَيْسَ لَهُمْ فِي الْآخِرَةِ إِلَّا النَّارُ ۖ وَحَبِطَ مَا صَنَعُوا فِيهَا وَبَاطِلٌ مَّا كَانُوا يَعْمَلُونَ ﴿16﴾
They are the ones for whom there shall be nothing in the Hereafter but Fire: what they had accomplished in the world has failed, and their works have come to naught. 8
One can choose this life of this world over the Hereafter and get it. However, one will have nothing in the Hereafter but punishment and one’s seemingly good works in the world shall fail one. What is important is belief in God, wariness of Him, obedience, and submission to Him that will guarantee a prosperous life in both worlds.
Wealth and Children are Ornaments of Life
God says in the Quran:
الْمَالُ وَالْبَنُونَ زِينَةُ الْحَيَاةِ الدُّنْيَا ۖ وَالْبَاقِيَاتُ الصَّالِحَاتُ خَيْرٌ عِندَ رَبِّكَ ثَوَابًا وَخَيْرٌ أَمَلًا ﴿46﴾
Wealth and children are an adornment of the life of the world, but lasting righteous deeds are better with your Lord in reward and better in hope. 9
God is not necessarily saying that wealth and children are a bad thing. However, He is saying that righteous deeds are more lasting in reward before God and therefore one must give more importance to them. However, one can raise good children and they may become one’s lasting righteous deeds, or one may spend his wealth in charitable acts and it may become a lasting deed.
Life in the Quran: A Good Life
God says in the Quran:
مَنْ عَمِلَ صَالِحًا مِّن ذَكَرٍ أَوْ أُنثَىٰ وَهُوَ مُؤْمِنٌ فَلَنُحْيِيَنَّهُ حَيَاةً طَيِّبَةً ۖ وَلَنَجْزِيَنَّهُمْ أَجْرَهُم بِأَحْسَنِ مَا كَانُوا يَعْمَلُونَ ﴿97﴾
Whoever acts righteously, [whether] male or female, should he be faithful, We shall revive him with a good life and pay them their reward by the best of what they used to do. 10
This is one of the promises of God that He will definitely fulfill. Whoever acts righteously in this world, no matter his gender, as long as he or she believes in God and Islam, God will grant him or her a good life and will reward him or her in this world and the next. We have been witness to many examples of such people. Of course, such people are the happiest people in the world, not because they are rich, but rather because they are content with what God has given them in life. That is why the Prophet Muhammad has said:
القَنَاعَةُ كَنزٌ لَا يَفنَى
Contentment is a treasure that never perishes. 11
If a person is content with what God has given him and appreciates the blessings God has given him, God will give him more blessings. This is one of the precedents [sunan: سُنَن] of God, meaning a fixed rule that governs life and existence.
In conclusion, life is one of the greatest blessings God has given each and every one of us, and we must thus be grateful of it and use this asset in the best way possible. We should not waste our lives by engaging in unproductive activities that do not bring any reward, but may even add to our sins. All in all, life in this world is a testing ground for us. God wants us to obey Him and submit to Him so that we may be prosperous and felicitous in the Hereafter.
- Quran 2:86 (Qara’i).
- Quran 2:212 (Qara’i).
- Quran 5:32 (Qara’i).
- Quran 2:179 (Qara’i).
- Quran 6:29 (Qara’i).
- Quran 29:64 (Qara’i).
- Quran 10:24 (Qara’i).
- Quran 11:15-16 (Qara’i).
- Quran 18:46 (Qara’i).
- Quran 16:97 (Qara’i).
- Mustadrak al-Wasā’il, vol. 15, p. 226.