Orland Park Prayer Center

The Prayer Center of Orland Park

In this article, I will explain the following statement regarding the relationship between this life and the next: “The presence of the Day of Judgment in this life is just equal to the presence of this life in the hereafter.”

Quran does not present the hereafter separated from this life. Quran uses different methods and styles to show that the hereafter is a continuation of this life but at a higher horizon and larger scale. The first life is the beginning (oulaالأُولى ), the closer (doniaالدُّنيا ), but ephemeral. The second is the last, everlasting, and eternal. Compared to the first life or “al-hayat al-donia الحياة الدنيا ”, the second is an exaggerated form of life “hayawanحَيَوان ”

“What is the life of this world but amusement and play? But verily the home in the hereafter- that is life indeed, if they but know.” [29:64]

“One day the earth will be changed to a different earth, and so will be the heaven.” [14:48]

The following analogy brings this concept close to our understanding. Think of the chick inside the egg: The egg confined by its shell is the world for the chick. But the whole egg exists in the bigger world or the universe that we know. When the chick hatches and the shell breaks, the chick will realize that it has existed in this world that extends beyond the shell of the egg. In fact, we are separated from the hereafter by only a veil. Once it goes down, we will realize that we have existed in a larger and wider world or frame of reference. Quran says: “You were heedless of this: now We have removed your veil, and sharp is your sight this Day.” [50:22]

Imam Ali (R), whose belief in the hereafter was not less than his belief in this experienced life, said: “If the veil goes down, my deep belief in the hereafter will not increase a bit.”

Our state of mind indicates how much we realize of the hereafter. The more it is present and alive in our minds and hearts and the more we are conscious of it, the more our actions will be adjusted and molded. Once this consciousness drops, we lose our sense of responsibility and accountability.

Now you understand exactly what I mean by the presence of the Day of Judgment in this life. Likewise, this life with all its achievements will be present in the Day of Judgment:

“The day when man will see the deeds which his hands have sent forth.” [78:40]

“On the day when every soul will be confronted with all the good it has done.” [3:30]

“Let them bear, on the Day of Judgment, their own burdens in full, and also of the burden of those without knowledge, whom they misled.” [29:13]

The equivalent presence of one in the other is the strongest argument in favor of the continuity between the two worlds: Our actions in this life will determine our outcome in the hereafter, or the hereafter will be a reflection of our accomplishments of our everyday life. 

It is interesting to see how the language and the structure of Quran supports the balance needed to be maintained between these two worlds in theory and in praxis. The number of times the first life is mentioned in Quran is equal to the number of the second life.

“But seek, with everything Allah has bestowed on you, the home of the hereafter, nor forget your portion in this world.” [28:77]

As you can see, the first life is not condemned or undermined. It is still called “life” i.e., indicative of movement, action, contribution, addition, and building cultures, and at the same time resisting idleness, laziness, stagnation, and death. This life is important if we invest smartly in it and do our best to resist its prisons. Quran speaks of the prerequisites of a good life in this world:

“Whoever works righteousness, man or woman, and has faith, verily, to him will We give a new life, and life that is good and pure.” [16:97]

Similarly, Quran warns against transforming this life into a prison whose walls blind and separate us from the bigger, wider, and eternal life:

“Then, for such as had transgressed all bounds, and had preferred the life of this world, the abode will be hell fire.” [79:37-39]

“Behold, you prefer the life of this world; but the hereafter is better and more enduring.” [87:16-17]

Quran is unique in presenting and emphasizing the balance between the two worlds. The believers are asked in the Day of Judgment about the revelation they received from Allah:

“To the righteous when it is said: What is it that your Lord has revealed.” [16:30]

Their response will include the description of the favorable outcome they had in this life followed by the more favorable outcome they are receiving in the hereafter.

“They say: All that is good. To those who do good, there is good in this world, and the home of the hereafter is even better.” [16:30]

In conclusion, the two worlds and the two lives are intimately interwoven into an impeccable synthesis. Imam Ali (R), one of the best fruits Mohammad (ﷺ) produced into this world, articulated this synthesis in an unprecedented way: “Work for life on this earth as if you are to live forever, and work for the life after in heaven as if you are to die tomorrow.”

By Dr. Walid Khayr


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