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The Hereafter in the Quran: The Final Destination of Man

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The hereafter is the world beyond this worldly life that people will go to after they have been brought to account on the Day of Judgment. The hereafter is life either in paradise or hell. The importance of the hereafter and its preference over worldly life has been greatly emphasized in the Noble Quran. In this article on Islam4u, we will explore the topic of the hereafter as mentioned in the Quran.

The Importance of Belief in the Hereafter

Belief in the hereafter greatly affects one’s behavior and way of life in this world. In the Quran, Allah has repeatedly mentioned the significance of belief in the hereafter. For example, in Surah Baqarah verse four, we read:

وَٱلَّذِينَ يُؤْمِنُونَ بِمَآ أُنزِلَ إِلَيْكَ وَمَآ أُنزِلَ مِن قَبْلِكَ وَبِٱلْـَٔاخِرَةِ هُمْ يُوقِنُونَ ‎﴿٤﴾

[The Godwary are those] who believe in what has been sent down to you and what was sent down before you, and are certain of the Hereafter.

If you believe that there is a life beyond this world where you will be rewarded or punished for your deeds, your perception of life will change. You will be careful not to do things that can cause you to go to hell. You will strive to achieve paradise. These are just some of the effects of believing in the hereafter. Those who are righteous cannot wait to go to the hereafter. They will no longer fear death, as they will meet their Lord with good deeds and good intentions. Therefore, belief in the hereafter is essential in Islam.

Buying This World for the Hereafter

Verse 86 of Surah Baqarah reads:

أُو۟لَٰٓئِكَ ٱلَّذِينَ ٱشْتَرَوُا۟ ٱلْحَيَوٰةَ ٱلدُّنْيَا بِٱلْـَٔاخِرَةِ ۖ فَلَا يُخَفَّفُ عَنْهُمُ ٱلْعَذَابُ وَلَا هُمْ يُنصَرُونَ ‎﴿٨٦﴾

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.

This verse is about the Children of Israel who in the previous verses, Allah took a pledge from them not to commit evil, yet they did so. Then in the above verse, Allah says they have bought the life of this world for the hereafter. This is a metaphor signifying one’s giving priority to life in this world and not paying any attention to the hereafter. What about us? Does this verse apply to us? If we refer to ourselves, we will see whether we are buying the life of this world for the hereafter. The truth is some of us are placing too much importance on our lives in this world. In other words, we do everything we can, even by sinning, to achieve the comfort and riches of this world. In this way, we are marginalizing our life in the hereafter. We must come to our senses, return to reality, and stop indulging in the fleeting pleasures of this world. In simple terms, we must perform our religious obligations and abandon the prohibitions that religion has imposed on us.

Having the Best of Both Worlds

Verses 200-202 of Surah Baqarah read:

فَإِذَا قَضَيْتُم مَّنَٰسِكَكُمْ فَٱذْكُرُوا۟ ٱللَّهَ كَذِكْرِكُمْ ءَابَآءَكُمْ أَوْ أَشَدَّ ذِكْرًا ۗ فَمِنَ ٱلنَّاسِ مَن يَقُولُ رَبَّنَآ ءَاتِنَا فِى ٱلدُّنْيَا وَمَا لَهُۥ فِى ٱلْـَٔاخِرَةِ مِنْ خَلَٰقٍ ‎﴿٢٠٠﴾‏ وَمِنْهُم مَّن يَقُولُ رَبَّنَآ ءَاتِنَا فِى ٱلدُّنْيَا حَسَنَةً وَفِى ٱلْـَٔاخِرَةِ حَسَنَةً وَقِنَا عَذَابَ ٱلنَّارِ ‎﴿٢٠١﴾‏ أُو۟لَٰٓئِكَ لَهُمْ نَصِيبٌ مِّمَّا كَسَبُوا۟ ۚ وَٱللَّهُ سَرِيعُ ٱلْحِسَابِ ‎﴿٢٠٢﴾‏

And when you finish your rites, then remember Allah as you would remember your fathers, or with a more ardent remembrance. Among the people there are those who say, ‘Our Lord, give us in this world,’ but for such there is no share in the Hereafter. (200) And among them there are those who say, ‘Our Lord, give us good in this world and good in the Hereafter, and save us from the punishment of the Fire.’ (201) Such shall partake of what they have earned, and Allah is swift at reckoning. (202)

These verses are about hajj. Allah is telling us that after you finish the hajj rituals, remember Allah and supplicate Him. Allah says some of you only pray for the pleasures of life in this world, whereas some of you supplicate Allah and ask for both the good in this world and the hereafter. Is it not fascinating that Allah is able to give us a good life in this world and the hereafter if we ask Him? Those who only ask for good in this world will have no share in the hereafter because they do not want it. However, those who asked for both will have both shares. This shows that we must be clever and careful in how we supplicate and pray to Allah.

Allah has also said Surah Nisa’ verse 134:

مَّن كَانَ يُرِيدُ ثَوَابَ ٱلدُّنْيَا فَعِندَ ٱللَّهِ ثَوَابُ ٱلدُّنْيَا وَٱلْـَٔاخِرَةِ ۚ وَكَانَ ٱللَّهُ سَمِيعَۢا بَصِيرًا ‎﴿١٣٤﴾‏

Whoever desires the reward of this world, [should know that] with Allah is the reward of this world and the Hereafter, and Allah is all-hearing, all-seeing.

Therefore, it is possible to have a happy life in this world and the hereafter. The way of achieving such happiness is by abiding by the laws of Islam and striving hard for achieving worldly and otherworldly bliss.

وَمَنْ أَرَادَ ٱلْـَٔاخِرَةَ وَسَعَىٰ لَهَا سَعْيَهَا وَهُوَ مُؤْمِنٌ فَأُو۟لَٰٓئِكَ كَانَ سَعْيُهُم مَّشْكُورًا ‎﴿١٩﴾

Whoever desires the Hereafter and strives for it with an endeavor worthy of it, should he be faithful,—the endeavor of such will be well-appreciated. (17:19)

Those Who Disbelieve Will Be Punished in Both Worlds

Verse 56 of Surah Al-i ‘Imran reads:

فَأَمَّا ٱلَّذِينَ كَفَرُوا۟ فَأُعَذِّبُهُمْ عَذَابًا شَدِيدًا فِى ٱلدُّنْيَا وَٱلْـَٔاخِرَةِ وَمَا لَهُم مِّن نَّٰصِرِينَ ‎﴿٥٦﴾

As for the faithless, I will punish them with a severe punishment in the world and the Hereafter; and they will have no helpers.’

This verse is about those who have no faith in Allah and His prophets. These people do not believe in the hereafter either. They believe that life is confined to this world and by death, one perishes forever. The sole reason these people disbelieve is their unwillingness to give up the pleasures of this world. They want to have the freedom to drink, gamble, fornicate, practice usury, and commit all other kinds of sins that bring worldly benefits and pleasures to them. Even the thought of abandoning the said activities turns them off. Therefore, Allah has promised to punish them severely in this world and the hereafter.

Islam Is the True Religion

Verse 85 of Surah Al-i ‘Imran reads:

وَمَن يَبْتَغِ غَيْرَ ٱلْإِسْلَٰمِ دِينًا فَلَن يُقْبَلَ مِنْهُ وَهُوَ فِى ٱلْـَٔاخِرَةِ مِنَ ٱلْخَٰسِرِينَ ‎﴿٨٥﴾‏

Should anyone follow a religion other than Islam, it shall never be accepted from him, and he will be among the losers in the Hereafter.

Islam is the religion that the final Messenger of Allah, Prophet Muhammad (s) brought to the whole world. The prophets before him had foretold his coming and had said how he would end the line of prophethood. Therefore, the religion of the final prophet of Allah has to be the perfect religion that everyone must follow and believe in. The Jews and Christians knew all the characteristics of the Noble Prophet (s), and even knew him as they knew their sons, as the Quran says:

ٱلَّذِينَ ءَاتَيْنَٰهُمُ ٱلْكِتَٰبَ يَعْرِفُونَهُۥ كَمَا يَعْرِفُونَ أَبْنَآءَهُمُ ۘ ٱلَّذِينَ خَسِرُوٓا۟ أَنفُسَهُمْ فَهُمْ لَا يُؤْمِنُونَ ‎﴿٢٠﴾

Those whom We have given the Book recognize him just as they recognize their sons. Those who have ruined their souls will not have faith. (6:20)

However, they did not want to believe in him owing to their jealousy and obstinacy. Therefore, it is incumbent on every Jew and Christian, rather all humanity, to embrace the religion of Islam should they wish to prosper in this world and the hereafter.

وَمَن يَبْتَغِ غَيْرَ الْإِسْلَامِ دِينًا فَلَن يُقْبَلَ مِنْهُ وَهُوَ فِي الْآخِرَةِ مِنَ الْخَاسِرِينَ ‎﴿٨٥﴾

Should anyone follow a religion other than Islam, it shall never be accepted from him, and he will be among the losers in the Hereafter.

The Hereafter Is True Life

Allah says in verse 64 of Surah ‘Ankabut:

وَمَا هَٰذِهِ ٱلْحَيَوٰةُ ٱلدُّنْيَآ إِلَّا لَهْوٌ وَلَعِبٌ ۚ وَإِنَّ ٱلدَّارَ ٱلْـَٔاخِرَةَ لَهِىَ ٱلْحَيَوَانُ ۚ لَوْ كَانُوا۟ يَعْلَمُونَ ‎﴿٦٤﴾‏

The life of this world is nothing but diversion and play, but the abode of the Hereafter is indeed Life (itself), had they known!

Life in this world compared to the hereafter is truly insignificant. We only live in this world for about 80 years and then die. However, the hereafter is a place where there is no death but immortality. Even those who are punished and tortured will not die. The wrongdoers will only be tortured to the point of death and then their bodies will be restored so that their punishment will be renewed:

إِنَّ ٱلَّذِينَ كَفَرُوا۟ بِـَٔايَٰتِنَا سَوْفَ نُصْلِيهِمْ نَارًا كُلَّمَا نَضِجَتْ جُلُودُهُم بَدَّلْنَٰهُمْ جُلُودًا غَيْرَهَا لِيَذُوقُوا۟ ٱلْعَذَابَ ۗ إِنَّ ٱللَّهَ كَانَ عَزِيزًا حَكِيمًا ‎﴿٥٦﴾

Indeed We shall soon make those who deny Our signs enter a Fire: as often as their skins become scorched, We shall replace them with other skins, so that they may taste the punishment. Indeed Allah is all-mighty, all-wise. (4:56)

Likewise, those who are in paradise and enjoying the blessings of Allah will never die either:

وَٱلَّذِينَ ءَامَنُوا۟ وَعَمِلُوا۟ ٱلصَّٰلِحَٰتِ سَنُدْخِلُهُمْ جَنَّٰتٍ تَجْرِى مِن تَحْتِهَا ٱلْأَنْهَٰرُ خَٰلِدِينَ فِيهَآ أَبَدًا ۖ وَعْدَ ٱللَّهِ حَقًّا ۚ وَمَنْ أَصْدَقُ مِنَ ٱللَّهِ قِيلًا ‎﴿١٢٢﴾‏

But those who have faith and do righteous deeds, We will admit them into gardens with streams running in them, to remain in them forever—a true promise of Allah, and who is truer in speech than Allah? (4:122)

Besides the issue of how long one lives in this world compared to the hereafter, the pleasures and pains are not only much more enduring but also much more intense:

وَٱلْـَٔاخِرَةُ خَيْرٌ وَأَبْقَىٰٓ ‎﴿١٧﴾

While the Hereafter is better and more lasting. (87:17)

The hereafter is simply in a different league from this world.

Conclusion

Allah created us and brought us to this world to test us. He told us that if we are good, we will be rewarded, and if we are bad we will be punished. Where will we be rewarded and punished? In a place called the hereafter where people will live forever. Believing in the hereafter is a fundamental principle that regulates a believer’s conduct in this world. Those who do not believe in the hereafter will be treated like those who do not believe in God. Therefore, it is essential that everyone believes in the hereafter. Belief in the hereafter is what makes one fear Allah and be cognizant of their actions. It is what deters us from doing wrong and motivates us to do good. Allah tells us in the Quran that we must prefer life in the hereafter to life in this world. By obeying Allah, His Messenger, and those vested with authority (the Imams), we will have a happy life in this world and the hereafter, God willing.

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