We witnessed death, smelled it in the air and seen it prowling in our neighbourhoods. The pandemic has stealthily detached us from family, friends and folk. It doesn’t mean we dislike them or the world, but we have temporarily turned away or turned inwards. That’s Zuhd, “the passing over of worldly pleasures for gaining heavenly pleasures.” Zuhd is defined as “emptying the heart of that which one doesn’t possess.” This mindset is very favourable for remembering death and the Hereafter. In the shadow of the pandemic, I reflect on The Majestic Quran’s teachings on the afterlife.
The worldly life is short-lived, a temporary home, a time to earn, to gather deeds and win paradise. The Makkan idolaters could not understand the afterlife, they mocked the Prophet (peace be upon him) when he talked about it. Sometimes Abu Jahal would bring white-washed bones and say are you telling us these crumbling bones will be brought back to life? The Quran replies “They ask, “Who will bring us back?” Say: “The One who created you the first time” (Al-Isra: 51).
The Prophet (peace be upon him) said the day of Judgement will occur on a Friday. So, Friday has become the holy day when the faithful gather and the Imam reminds them of death and resurrection. In Surat Ya Seen it is claimed that Allah gives life to the dead, “We shall resurrect the dead and have recorded all they have sent ahead and left behind; We have taken account of this in a clear document” (Ya Seen: 12). Later on, it mentions the coming of the day of Judgement “When the trumpet is blown, they will come out of their graves and come hastily to their Lord, saying ‘oh woe to us! Who has resurrected us from our graves?’ This is the promise of Rahman and the truth spoken by the messengers” (Ya Seen: 51-52).
After the Judgement the righteous and the wicked will be separated, “Today the people of paradise will be enjoying themselves- they and their spouses seated comfortably on couches in cool shade. There they will have fruit and whatever they call for” (Ya Seen: 55-57). It then goes on to provide evidence for the resurrection from four different areas:
- Agricultural example: The lifeless earth is brought to life – “A sign of Allah’s power is the lifeless Earth, We gave it life and from it produced grain for them to eat. We grow gardens of date palms and grapes and made running springs of water, so they may eat its fruits. Yet it is not the fruit of their labour, why aren’t they grateful?” (Ya Seen: 33-35).
- Astronomical example: The orbits of the sun and the moon – “Another sign for them is the night; as we gradually peel the daylight away from it, they go into pitch darkness. The sun travels in its orbit which is precisely determined by the Almighty and the All-Knowing, similarly, We have determined precise phases of the moon until it turns to a shrivelled old date-stalk. Neither can the sun overtake the moon, nor can the night overtake the day. They are all floating in their fixed orbits” (Ya Seen:37-40).
- Embryological: The humble beginning of humans – “Do people not see that We created them from a drop of sperm fluid, so why are they so quarrelsome? Why do they make up arguments against Us and forget their own creation and they ask ‘who can resurrect disintegrated bones?’ Tell them ‘He who created them the first time. He knows all His creation well” (Ya Seen: 77-79).
- Chemical: Fire and water together – “He made fire for you from a green tree, and from this you light fire. Is He not the one who created the Heavens and the Earth? And is He incapable of creating like them again?” (Ya Seen: 80-81).
A firm belief in resurrection makes Zuhd, the temporary detachment from worldly pleasures palatable and possible. I don’t know how much Zuhd we have embraced but the pandemic has taught us to value life. Imam Ahmad said “Zuhd is not about throwing away wealth, it is to be more certain about that which is in Divine hands than that in your hands and when caught in trial you are hopeful of Divine reward.” So, you take what is needed and leave the extra.