Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Belief in hereafter in Islam & Hinduism perspectives

Introduction

The existence of Allah Almighty alone is without beginning or end. Every creature that He created necessarily has a beginning and an end. When the last day comes then everything in this universe will be annihilated: the sun, the moon, the stars, the earth, the mountains and the seas. All of this is already said by Allah and stated in the Noble Qur’an,

On the day the earth is changed to other than the earth, and the heavens likewise, and they parade before Allah, the One, the Conquering.” [1]

[1] ‘Ali, ‘Abdullah Yusuf. The Meaning of the Holy Qur’an. Surat Al-Ibrahim, Verse 48. Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia: Islamic Book Trust, 2005.

Belief in the hereafter can be classified into various views between divine religions and non-divine religions. Divine religions are based on divine revelations or books revealed by God to enlighten and guide the human race. For example, Judaism based its faith on the Torah revealed by Prophet Musa, Christianity’s belief is based on Al-Injil (the bible) revealed by Prophet ‘Isa and Islam is based on the Holy Scriptures, the Qur’an, that was sent down to the last Prophet Muhammad. Even though divine religions believe in the hereafter, they still have differences between each other based on their prediction and interpretation toward it. In Judaism, the concept of hereafter is largely based on the earthly life. It is not clear as to what the details of the afterlife are since Jewish teachings focus on this life and not the afterlife. For Christianity, they believe in the reward and punishment of the hereafter, but they also believe that Jesus will be raised from death and he will give his followers the final instructions to reach salvation. But for the Islamic point of view, no one will intercede for the other on the Day of Judgment; on that day, every man is for himself and every man will be judged according to his deeds.

For non-divine religions, such as Hinduism and Buddhism, they believe in ancient man-made scriptures regarding life, death and the metaphysical world. They have devised their own system of belief that does not necessarily conform to logic but suits their spiritual needs. For this assignment, our group will focus on the system of belief regarding the hereafter between two religions: Islam and Hinduism.

Islam and Hinduism

Islam and Hinduism are two different religions with different historical origins. Islam was first named as a religion, chosen by Allah s.w.t, during the time of Prophet Ibrahim who named his people the Muslims. Islam is based on divine sources that constitute its fundamental laws known as Shari’ah. Although Islam had previous divine books since the time of Prophet Ibrahim such as Suhufi Ibrahim, the Torah, Injil and Zabur, the Muslims now follow the Holy book of Qur’an and they base their way of life on the Sunnah of the last Prophet Muhammad and his Ahadiths narrated by various companions of the Prophet. Previous Holy books are not followed due to the changes made to them by non-believers. Islam is an uncomplicated religion that covers every possible aspect of the human life and death and what comes after death, the hereafter.

Hinduism, on the other hand, is a religion derived from various sources that are not divine by nature, but man-made. Hinduism can be traced back to 1500 B.C and is known to contain three main sources that evolved over time to form the present day Hindu beliefs and culture. Hinduism has Indo-European sources, Indo-Iranian sources and indigenous sources such as Zoroastrianism, Islam and Christianity. Different literary records have developed with the various influences upon Hinduism. The most ancient literary work would be the Veda. Following the Veda are other important works such as the Upanishads, Rigveda, Bhagvad Gita, Atharavaveda and the Brahmanas. These works are updated and followed in order to simplify the explanation of the cycle of life and death according to the Hindus.

Over time, Islam and Hinduism have attained their own concept of beliefs in which full faith and conviction are given from their followers. Islam is now the fastest growing religion in our present day, and Hinduism is the third religion to have a large amount of followers. Both religions are popular. Islam is widespread due to its appealing stability of its laws and its justice system. Furthermore, its divine sources instill awe and wonder on many who study Islam since the sources convey the ultimate truth. On the other hand, Hinduism is attractive to different people due to its mystical teachings and hymns and the popular belief that there is rebirth after death, a belief that gives hope to the people who fear death.

Concept of Belief in Islam

Islam is a monotheistic religion in which only one God, Allah s.w.t, is worshiped and no other is associated with Him. The term ‘Islam’ is an Arabic word that means submission. Islam is a suitable title for Allah’s religion since it portrays what God has ordained for mankind: to submit to His will alone. Islam teaches that there is only one God and Prophet Muhammad is His Messenger, and in order to be a Muslim, one must recognize and bear witness to this. A Muslim has certain obligations to perform in his life. These obligations are called the five Pillars of Islam, they are: faith, prayers, Zakat (charity), fasting and pilgrimage to the Holy House of Allah. In order to attain faith, a Muslim must believe in the six Pillars of Iman: to believe in God, His angels, His books, His Messengers, the hereafter and ‘Qadar (divine destiny), and to recognize that its good and its bad are all from Allah. The five Pillars of Islam and the six Pillars of Iman are the backbone of the Islamic religion; therefore, if a Muslim has complete faith and performs the five pillars of Islam, then he/she would have attained the full nature of their existence and would have fulfilled their purpose in life. In Islam, this life is only a temporary abode for the human soul. After death, the soul will move on and will reach its final and eternal abode in either heaven or hell, depending on the amount of good or evil the person has done during his/her life. However, before reaching heaven or hell, all the people that Allah has created will be gathered together on a day in which their deeds will be judged fairly. This day is called the Day of Judgment and it will be a severe and long day. Muslims must dedicate their entire lives in doing good to prepare for the Day of Judgment. They have no excuse to justify their bad deeds by claiming ignorance since Allah has sent down many Prophets throughout generations to guide the people on the correct path. Furthermore, He sent down Holy Books. The Book that is followed today is the Qur’an, which conveys the ultimate truth of this world and the next. Since the Qur’an does not cover the daily rituals of the believers, the final Messenger of Allah, Prophet Muhammad, has laid down the complete Islamic laws (Shari’ah) and morals (Sunnah) in which all Muslims must follow. His teachings covered every aspect of life for the Muslims and are complementary to the Holy Qur’an. Overall, Islam is a complete and comprehensive religion.

Concept of Belief in Hinduism

Hinduism is a polytheistic religion in which more than one God are acknowledged and worshipped. The word ‘Hinduism’ is sometimes referred to as ‘sanatana dharma’ which is a Sanskrit phrase meaning ‘eternal law’. Sanskrit is a classical language in India. Hinduism is a congregation of many religions; therefore, it is complex and ever changing. New additions are added simply when people are attracted to new ideas and want to associate these ideas with their own beliefs. Despite these variant branches of belief, there can be found a common characteristic in Hindu principles and convictions. According to the Hindu’s perception, there is no beginning and there is no end. All creation consists of a circle, which you are reborn into over and over again. They believe in (awatara) which is transformation. This means that all human beings and other life forms turn into another form when they die. To them, there is no death. You just simply turn into another form. Hindu philosophy quotes death with life. The two are regarded as different modes of the same consciousness that pervades the continuum of time and space. When located in temporal space-time, this consciousness manifests as life; when pervading infinitive space-time, it appears as death. The Hindu doctrine of immortality is based upon this very concept. Thus Hindus, like adherents of many other religions, do not think of life as an end itself.

Karma – The law of Cause and Effect

The end of life simply signals the beginning of another, which represents the inevitable consequences of karma, the chain or cycle of rebirths, to which all living things are inescapably bound. Reincarnation may occur at either a higher or a lower level than the status of life in the present or in any past existence. What determines the nature of the next rebirth is the awe of karma, a law considered as implacable and impersonal as the law of nature. Accordingly, inequalities of birth are explained and even justified by the theory of karma and samsara, doctrines of rebirth. According to the doctrine of rebirth, differences between individuals, even at the time of their birth are due to their past karma i.e. actions done in the past birth. For example, if one child is born healthy while another is handicapped or blind, the differences are attributed to their deeds in their previous lives. Those who believe in this theory reason that since all actions may not bear fruit in this life, there has to be another life for facing or reaping the consequences of one’s actions.

Dharma – Righteous Duties

Dharma is defined as what are right, or righteous duties. This includes what is right for the individual, family, the class or caste and also for the universe itself. In order to achieve good karma, life should be lived according to Dharma; otherwise it will result in bad karma. Dharma affects both, the present life and the future as well.

Moksha – Liberation from the Cycle of Rebirth:

Moksha means liberation from the cycle of rebirth or of ‘Samsara’. The ultimate aim of every Hindu is that one day the cycle of rebirth will be over and he will not have to be reborn again. This can only happen if there is no karma to cause an individual to be reborn i.e. it loses its good and bad karma.

One of the most popular beliefs among Hindus is the concept of heaven and hell. Unlike some other faiths, heaven and hell does not provide a final resting place for the disembodied soul. They are only intermediate stations through which the soul must pass to reach its pre-ordained destination in the cosmic ocean of consciousness. The Hindu soul is ever vibrant and mobile; it ends up by being a participant in the eternal Cosmic Dances.

Analytical View

The concepts of belief in both Islam and Hinduism have similar and dissimilar aspects. The two religions are similar in the respect that both are instructing their followers to do good in order to attain the ultimate salvation. However, the ultimate salvation varies for a Muslim and a Hindu. Muslims aim to enter paradise by the goodness of their deeds and intentions and they try to avoid entering hell-fire by not committing sins. They only have one life to live and gather as many good deeds as possible before they are summoned in front of Allah to be judged for their actions. Hindus, on the other hand, aim at perfecting their good deeds and intentions by every cycle of rebirth that they go through and once done, they are united with the God Brahman. They have as many tries as they need in order to lose their Karma and stop the cycle of rebirth. Their God does not judge them, however, they acknowledge that their sins will not go unheeded since the punishment will catch up to them either in their present life or in their next rebirth. Their heaven and hell is only a temporary resting place.

It is unsurprising that the two religions have a similar concept of belief since the Hindus have derived some of their teachings from the Islamic religion. It is interesting to note that the Hindus have an ancient body of religious literature known as the Veda, which to them contains the absolute authority revealing fundamental and unassailable truths, similar to what the Muslims have in the form of the Holy Book, the Qur’an. Yet ironically, within the Veda, there is no mention of transmigration of the souls or the whole concept of rebirth. The concept of belief in Islam is clear and comprehensive, making it very easy for followers to understand their purpose in life and what should be their aims. But in Hinduism, their concepts of belief are derived from different sources that are added throughout time, making this religion unclear, unstable and incomprehensive to the followers.

Stages of Hereafter in Islam

Death is the most fundamental event that takes place in the life of man. It is a type of evaluation imposed on all creatures. This evaluation is for putting an end to the worldly life, getting rid of it all, and shifting to another stage different from the worldly life in all respects. As to the new evaluation in the stage after death, it is the grave, Resurrection, the Gathering, the Judgment, then Hell or Paradise.

The first stage is the grave or the Barzakh (Barrier or interval between death and Resurrection). It begins the eternal journey. If the person concerned is righteous, the grave will be more comfortable and more merciful. However, if the person concerned is an unbeliever or a hypocrite, the grave will be a pit of Hellfire. If the dead believer is disconnected from the life of this world and desiring the Hereafter, the angels come to him from Heaven with faces as white as the sun. They bring with them a coffin and aroma from Paradise. When they ascend, they pass by the angel who says: Whose pure soul is this? They will answer; it is the son of so and so, calling him the best names that the man was used to being called during his lifetime. They rise up further until they reach the lower heaven, in which they take permission that is soon granted. There will be two angels who will come and ask him about the Lord, religion, the Messenger of Allah and the Book of Allah SWT. If he is a true believer, he will give correct answers whereupon the angels convey to him the glad news that he is going to live in peace and happiness until the Last Day. Otherwise, if the servant of Allah is an unbeliever, the angels of black faces will come to him with harsh clothes as smelly as a stinky dead body on earth. And whenever they pass by a group of angels, they enquire about the stinky smell and say that “It belongs to the son of so and so, and they call him with the worst names during his lifetime until they reach the lower heaven where they seek permission for him to pass, but the permission is not granted”. When two angels come and see him to ask a few questions about the Lord, Messenger of Allah SWT, religion and Book of Allah, the un-believer will keep saying, “I do not know!” Thus, he will be tortured until resurrected on the Day of Judgment.

The second stage after death is Resurrection, which means that there will come a time when the entire material world will be destroyed by the command of Allah. Allah SWT will command the angel Israfil to blow the Trumpet, the blow of Resurrection and Revival. Thereafter, the souls come out with God’s permission and every soul goes to its body, the earth will shake and throw out its burdens from humankind, jinn and animals. This is because it has answered the command of its Lord, and His Revelation. The whole universe is accountable and awaiting God’s Judgment. Every person, born into the world since its origin, will be called upon to submit a full account of his doings on earth. Everyone will live in darkness to the extent that nobody will see anything even his hand, except the righteous believers whose light will shine before them and on their right hands, nobody will enjoy this light, and the light of every believer will be in accordance with his deeds. No soul is taken to the Gathering Location without being followed by an angel together with a witness testifying for it. In addition, on the Day of Resurrection, people will be gathered bare-footed (without shoes), naked and uncircumcised. Nobody will look at the groin of another, for every one will only be interested in his own affairs since the terror will be too severe to think of anything else.

The third stage after death is the Gathering, which on that Day of Resurrection, former and latter people are assembled on earth and under heaven. With them, kingdom of angels, jinns, devils, and all creatures will be gathered as well. The sun becomes near the heads of the creatures in a way that their heads will be boiling because of its severe heat. This situation will continue for the tortured people until the Day will become fifty thousand years, men will run away quickly from their parents, brothers, wives and children. No soul shall seek help from the other soul since every soul shall be pledged for its own deeds. On that great Day, Allah brings out the people of disbelief, hypocrisy and those who commit evil. There, some of them will carry his sins and wrongdoings on his back, while others will be tied with their devils that had led them astray and brought together with the women whom they had committed adultery with. For the God’s lovers and devotees, they will gather with their wives, children and parents to get the forgiveness from the Lord of the Worlds. On that Day, there will be no one in the heavens and earth, but comes to God as a servant.

The next stage after death is the Judgment whereby God gives detailed information to His servants concerning their deeds after receiving their books and before their departure from the Gathering. However, those people have different treatments on that Day. Some of them will show their deeds secretly to God Who forgives them and orders them to be taken to Paradise. While others will be discussed by God concerning their deeds and will be testified by witnesses. Then God orders them to be taken to Hell. Other people will admit their bad sins, and then beg for God’s forgiveness due to some good deeds that they had performed, such as relieving a Muslim from his hardship. As a result, God forgives them and orders them to be taken to Paradise. Indeed, God orders seventy thousand Muslims to be taken to Paradise without judgment as a mercy from Him. On that day, Prophets will be asked regarding their nations and Muhammad’s nation will be asked concerning all other nations, whether they responded to their prophet’s message or not. In this respect, the Quran says:

فَكَيْفَ إِذَا جِئْنَا مِنْ كُلِّ أُمَّةٍ بِشَهِيدٍ وَجِئْنَا بِكَ عَلَى هَؤُلاءِ شَهِيدًا ﴿٤١﴾ يَوْمَئِذٍ يَوَدُّ الَّذِينَ كَفَرُوا وَعَصَوُا الرَّسُولَ لَوْ تُسَوَّى بِهِمُ الأرْضُ وَلا يَكْتُمُونَ اللَّهَ حَدِيثًا ﴿٤٢﴾

“How then if We brought from each people a witness and We brought you as a witness against these people! On that Day, those who reject Faith and disobey the Messenger will wish the earth to be split open and swallow them, but they will never hide a single fact from Allah SWT.”[2]

The witnesses who will testify on the Day of Resurrection over their deeds are fourteen and they are the tongue, hands, legs, thighs, hearing, sight, skin, bones, flesh, earth, night, day, honorable keepers and wealth.

The fifth stage after death is the Paradise and Hellfire. In Arabic, ‘jannat’ literally means ‘the Garden’. The Qur’an describes paradise in detail such as gardens underneath which rivers run. It contains rivers of milk unchanging in flavor and rivers of purified honey. Those living in it will be faithful to another without any motives. It has eight gates representing the difference in status and the smallest one would be the size of the earth where its inhabitants will be immortal. The dwellers of Paradise will live in a state of eternal bliss, immune from every kind of pain, and rejoicing in the rewards of their Lord. The height of Paradise is equivalent to the shining planet which no sight can reach; the faces of its dwellers are as shining as the moon; the food is many fruits that they prefer; the drinks are made of Tasnim (most honorable for the dwellers of Paradise); and the Day of visiting the Almighty and enjoying seeing His glorified face that is as seeing the sun at noon and full moon uncovered by clouds. On the contrary, Hell is for those disbelievers, offenders and evil- doers.[3] It has seven gates in number and it is for those who have to live permanently in an everlasting misery and suffering. There will be for them nothing but horrible torture and punishment. They get no sleep to rest and they have no drink to quench their thirst, except boiling running fire that burns their stomach for the Hell inhabitants. Furthermore, the Qur’an states that as many times as their skins are burnt, the residents of Hell shall be given fresh skin, so that they feel the pain again and again. Their torture will be doubled, consequences by their disbelief and tyranny. Those disbelievers will be burning, rolling in hell’s black severe heat, which removes man’s limbs that appear again. Allah visualizes this torment in the following verses:

كَلا إِنَّهَا لَظَى ﴿١٥﴾ نَزَّاعَةً لِلشَّوَى ﴿١٦﴾ تَدْعُو مَنْ أَدْبَرَ وَتَوَلَّى ﴿١٧﴾ وَجَمَعَ فَأَوْعَى ﴿١٨﴾

“By no means! It would be the Fire of Hell. Plucking out (his being) right to the skull. Inviting (all) such as turn their backs and turn away their faces (from the Right). In addition, collect (wealth) and hide it (from use)![4]

Certainly, their drinks are made from a boiling fountain and their food shall be bitter thorns, which will neither sustain them nor satisfy their hunger. The tree of Zaqqum[5] is the food of the sinner. The Hellfire was lighted for a thousand years until it became red, then it was lighted for a thousand years until it became white, and then it was lighted for a thousand years until it became as black as a dark night. The Hellfire is acquired by God’s anger; Paradise is acquired by God’s mercy. This will be the ultimate stage after death.

Stages of Hereafter in Hinduism

In Hinduism, there have several concepts of life after death as well as the belief that life in here and hereafter are equivalent. According to the Hindus, there is no beginning and there is no end. All creation consists of a circle that is ongoing.

Life after death according to the Upanishads[6] is immortality of the individual self, its passage in and out of the body, the various stages through which it passes after death and various heavens and hells it inhabits. When the Jiva (spirit) forsake this body, it dies, but not the Jiva. Some of the soul after death will enter the womb again to get into a body; others become non-living objects according to their work and knowledge. When the body departs, the chief prana (life) departs after him and when life thus departs, all the other vital spirits (pranas) depart after it.

Furthermore, the passage of the soul lay down three roads by which the soul travels after death, which is: path of the gods for the ascetic and wise, path of the fathers for the good and path of repeated birth and death according to the Upanishads. Those who were devoted to a life of faith will proceed to light, and then from light to day and so on until they reach Brahman[7]. This is the path of the gods. On the other hand, the gods love those who live in villages and devote themselves to constructing works of public utility. This is the path of fathers for the good. The third is to those who have good conducts and will attain a good birth, either that of Brahman or Kshatriya.[8] But those who conduce to madness will attain an evil birth, either that of a dog or a hog.[9] Therefore, the heaven never becomes full. If one is not satisfied with life there, he is sent to a higher region, otherwise, he is sent back to reincarnate on earth. In addition, if the dying man feels satisfied with the happiness of heaven, he has to return to the world after the fruit of his works has been exhausted, that way, he will attain final freedom.

Next phase of life after death is the knower of Brahman who does not reincarnate except in certain cases when going from one body to another soul according to Upanishads. But, such going and coming are for the person whose desires have not been extinguished, on the other hand, for one whose desires have been extinguished there is no going and coming. Such a person has conquered both good and evil.

The next process of life after death is the Smritis[10]. It is the Smritis, which describe heaven and hell in various orders of being through which the soul passes after death. According to his acts, man attains three states: high, middle and low. By transgression committed by body, he attains the conditions of dead creatures; by those committed by speech, he attains to the birds; and by those committed by mind, he attains the status of a Chandala. These three qualities have been defined as darkness, activity and goodness. Acts of darkness refer to those who feel ashamed when doing it, while acts of activity are those who hope to gain profit in the world, but are neither ashamed nor unaccomplished. Acts of goodness are those who want knowledge, which cause no sense of shame and whose performance affords satisfaction to the soul. Those endowed with goodness reach the state of the gods; those endowed with activity reach the state of men; and those endowed with darkness reach the condition of beasts. This is the threefold of transmigration.

The next stage is the Epics which follows the Smritis and Upanishads in their teaching about immortality of the soul and the assumption of various bodies according to its Karma. The soul is never born, nor dies, it is permanent, everlasting and ancient. It is not killed when the body is killed because the soul is eternal and everlasting. When life is extinguished, the body is destroyed, but the spirit bound by its actions, travels to another place. If its actions have been good, it attains the status of the gods. By combination of good and evil actions, it attains the status of man. By evil actions, it will incarnate in lower creatures. In this way, it passes through thousands of births in various areas.

The last stage of life after death is heaven and hell of the Epics and Puranas. The heaven of the Epics is the area of the blessed where it is imagined to be a place up or beyond the Himalayas[11]. Atheists and untruthful people, those who have not practiced austerities[12]and not performed great sacrifices, cannot go there. Only men of pure souls, those who devoted to the charity, or heroes or men that were involved in battles will attain those regions (heaven). Neither hunger nor thirst, nor fear, nor anything that is disgusting is present there. In the heaven, while enjoying the fruits of the acts that man has already performed, he cannot engage in other acts, and he must enjoy the consequences of his former acts until they are exhausted. After that, he is subject to fall and this is the disadvantage of heaven. In contrast, hell is a place of darkness, full with sinners and corpses, worms and insects. It also has a river full of boiling water where it is difficult to cross, a forest of trees whose leaves are sharp like swords and all things inside it are made from iron.

Conclusively, in Islam, the life that we live (this world) is a test for the hereafter. There is a beginning and then there is an end. However, in Hinduism, those who lead a bad life will be reincarnated into a lower life form such as an animal after death. After undergoing the cycle of suffering, their lives will end which means the end of the cycle of reincarnation. Therefore, by its nature, reincarnation is not a final end which is contradicting the world’s final destruction and the Supreme Judgment that is established in Islam.

Signs of Hereafter in Islam

Islam gives the people valuable knowledge of the future that warns believers when the Day of Judgment is about to occur. These signs are separated into two groups: minor signs and major signs. The minor signs are a total of fifty-two while the major signs are only ten. Most of the minor signs have already occurred throughout the fourteen hundred years after the Prophet’s death and until the present day. Only a few are left and once they occur, the major signs will appear and they will occur one after the other. The Prophet says,

“The major signs are beads in a string. When the string is cut, all of them will fall down immediately after each other.[13]

Both minor and major signs are authenticated in the Prophet’s Ahadith and are agreed upon by various learned scholars.

The Minor Signs of the Day of Judgment

The majority of the minor signs have already occurred throughout the centuries, therefore, only five minor signs that have not occurred will be mentioned.

The first sign would be the final battle between the Muslims and the Jews. Abu Hurairah reported that Rasullulah s.a.w said,

The last hour would not come unless the Muslims will fight against the Jews and the Muslims would kill them until the Jews would hide themselves behind a stone or a tree and a stone or a tree would say: Muslim, or the servant of Allah, there is a Jew behind me; come and kill him; but the tree Gharqad would not say, for it is the tree of the Jews.”[14]

It is known among the Muslims that the Jews are planting the Gharqad tree in their vicinity with great attempts to increase its number.

The second sign is that Medina, located in Saudi Arabia, will expel all the evil within it. Anas bin Malik narrated that Rasullulah s.a.w said,

“Ad-Dajjal will come and encamp at a place close to Medina and then Medina will shake thrice whereupon every Kafir (disbeliever) and hypocrite will go out (of Medina) towards him.”[15]

The third sign is a blessed wind that takes the soul of all the believers. 'Abdullah b. 'Amr reported that a person came to him and said,

“What is this hadith that you narrate that the Last Hour would come at such and such time? Thereupon he said: Hallowed be Allah, there is no god but Allah (or the words to the same effect)… Allah would send cold wind from the side of Syria that none would survive upon the earth having a speck of good in him or faith in him but he would die, so much so that even if some amongst you were to enter the innermost part of the mountain, this wind would reach that place also and that would cause his heath. I heard Allah's Messenger (may peace be upon him) as saying: Only the wicked people would survive and they would be as careless as birds with the characteristics of beasts. They would never appreciate the good nor condemn evil. Then the Satan would come to them in human form and would say: Don't you respond? And they would say: What do you order us? And he would command them to worship the idols but, in spite of this, they would have abundance of sustenance and lead comfortable lives. Then the trumpet would be blown…”[16]

The fourth sign is the destruction of Al-Ka’ba, the house of God. Rasullulah s.a.w said,

“The ones who will transgress against the sanctity of Al-Ka’ba are going to be the people (people from this Ummah). And when that happens, then do not ask about the perishing of the Arabs. And then, the Abyssinians will come and destroy Al-Ka’ba and take out its treasures.[17]

Finally, the fifth sign is the arrival of Al-Mehdi. Imam Ahmed narrated Abi Sa’id Al-Khudri says that Rasullulah s.a.w said,

“I am giving you the good news of Al-Mehdi who will be sent to my Ummah at times of disputes and earthquakes (or catastrophes in the Ummah). He will replace the oppression and injustice of the world with justice. The dwellers of this earth will be pleased with him and the dwellers of the heavens will be pleased with him. He will divide money ‘sihahan’. When asked what is ‘sihahan’, the Prophet said the Mehdi will give out money equally to the people.[18]

The Major Signs of the Day of Judgment

As mentioned earlier, there are ten major signs of the Day of Judgment, however, only five will be mentioned. The first major sign of the Hour is the coming of Al-Dajjal, the false messiah. Rasullulah s.a.w says,

“Every Prophet of Allah has warned his people of the Dajjal.”[19]

The Prophet also says,

There is no trial nor tribulation, since the creation of Adam until the Day of Judgment, that is greater than the trial and tribulation of Al-Dajjal.” [20]

The Dajjal is a fierce opponent of Islam and was described by the Prophet to be a short man with one functioning eye. On his forehead are three letters in Arabic: kaf, fah, and rah. The illiterate and the literate can read these letters, which means ‘disbeliever’. This man will claim to be God and he will be the leader of the Jews and all non-Muslims. He will stay for forty days. The first day will equal a year; the second will be a month, the third day will be a week, and the rest of the forty days will be like normal days. The Dajjal will travel the entire world, spreading corruption. The only place where he cannot enter will be Makkah and Medina because angels with swords will guard the two Holy lands. Furthermore, the Dajjal has supernatural powers. He carries with him heaven and hell; his heaven is really hell and his hell is really heaven. The tribes that follow him will be given cattle, riches and earthly blessings. The tribes who stick to Islam will be afflicted with droughts and barren land with no cattle or riches. This is one of the ways on how he misleads the people. The Prophet warns us not to be deceived by him and to not confront him. If the Dajjal confronts you then you should read the first and last ten ayat of Surat Al-Kahf. This is a test from Allah s.w.t and only Allah can protect the believers.

The second sign is the dissention of Prophet ‘Isa (Jesus) near the Eastern white minaret in Damascus. Prophet ‘Isa will kill the Dajjal, rid the world of pigs, destroy the cross, make wealth widespread, and instill complete peace on earth for seven years. Furthermore, he will abolish the jizyah payment. This is a payment done by the non-Muslims who want to live under Islamic rule but not convert to Islam. When Prophet ‘Isa arrives, there will be no option for non-Muslims to refuse to convert. They either embrace Islam or they are killed. His accomplishments will enable everyone on the earth to be Muslims and his followers will live in complete peace with each other and with nature until his death.

The third sign is the appearance of the two tribes, Gog and Magog. They will appear during the end of Prophet ‘Isa’s Reign. The two tribes are evil men and women who were trapped underground by a powerful wall built by a Muslim ruler named Dhul-Qarnayn. They have been digging away on that wall for centuries. Eventually, Gog and Magog will escape and they will be great in numbers. In a hadith, An-Nawwas b. Sam'an reported that Rasullulah s.a.w said,

“…Allah would reveal to Jesus these words: I have brought forth from amongst My servants such people against whom none would be able to fight; you take these people safely to Tur, and then Allah would send Gog and Magog and they would swarm down from every slope. The first of them would pass the lake of Tibering and drink out of it. And when the last of them would pass, he would say: There was once water there. Jesus and his companions would then be besieged here (at Tur, and they would be so much hard pressed) that the head of the ox would be dearer to them than one hundred dinars and Allah's Apostle, Jesus, and his companions would supplicate Allah, Who would send to them insects (which would attack their necks) and in the morning they would perish like one single person. Allah's Apostle, Jesus, and his companions would then come down to the earth and they would not find in the earth as much space as a single span which is not filled with their putrefaction and stench. Allah's Apostle, Jesus, and his companions would then again beseech Allah, Who would send birds whose necks would be like those of bactrin camels and they would carry them and throw them where God would will. Then Allah would send rain which no house of clay or (the tent of) camels' hairs would keep out and it would wash away the earth until it could appear to be a mirror. Then the earth would be told to bring forth its fruit and restore its blessing…”[21]

The fourth sign is the great fire. This fire will come from Yemen sending the people to the Holy Land. It will continuously follow the people and the people will try to run away from it. The fire follows them in the daytime and sleeps with them at night. Rasullulah s.a.w says,

“…A great fire will gather the other people, who are the worst of people, to Al-Sham (the area of Jerusalem, Syria, Lebanon and Jordan).[22]

The place in which the people are gathered will be the first assembly of the Day of Judgment and it will take place on earth. The second assembly will be after the horn is blown and that is when the earth will change and the people of all times will rise and assemble in front of Allah and His angels. The Day of Judgment will then begin.

Signs of Hereafter in Hinduism

Hinduism is a very complex religion and is considered to be man-made, yet despite the lack of divinity, even the Hindus believe that death is not the end. Although they do not believe that there will be a Day of Judgment in which God will judge people for their sins, the Hindus have their own conception of the hereafter, heaven and hell; however, they do not have signs of the hereafter in their beliefs. They simply believe that after the cycle of birth and rebirth, the soul that attains complete goodness will be reunited with Brahman, the ultimate God, which will be the souls salvation and ultimate peace.

Punarjanam-Life after Death

The Common word used for the doctrine of rebirth is ‘Punarjanam’. In Sanskrit ‘Punar’ or ‘Puna’, means, ’next time' or ‘again’ and ‘Janam’ means ‘life’. Therefore, ‘Punarjanam’ means ‘next life’ or ‘the life hereafter’. It does not mean coming to life on earth again and again as a living creature. If one reads a good amount of the references to Punarjanam in Hindu Scriptures besides the Vedas while keeping the life in the hereafter in mind, one gets the concept of the next life but not of rebirths or of life again and again. This is true for several quotations of the Bhagvad Gita and Upanishad which speak of Punarjanam. This concept of repeated births or of cycle of rebirth was developed after the Vedic period. Humans in subsequent Hindu scriptures such as the Upanishad, Bhagvad Gita and the Puranas also included this doctrine. It was done in a conscious attempt to rationalize and explain the differences between dissimilar individuals at birth and the various circumstances in which people find themselves in, with the concept that Almighty God is not unjust. So to say that since God is not unjust the inequalities and differences between people are due to their deeds in their previous lives.

Life after Death in the Vedas

There is reference to life after death in the Vedas. It is mentioned in Rigveda Book no. 10, Hymn no. 16 verse no. 4

“The unborn portion, burn that, AGNI, with thy heat; let thy flame, thy splendour, consume it; with those glorious members which thou hast given him, JATAVEDAS, bear him to the world (of the virtuous)”[23]

The Sanskrit word ‘Sukritam u Lokam’ means ‘the word of the virtuous’ or region of the pious, referring to the Hereafter.

The next verse is Rigveda Book 10 hymn 16 verse 5 which says:

“… Putting on (Celestial) life, let the remains (of bodily like) depart: let him, JATAVEDAS be associated with a body.”[24]

This verse too refers to a second life i.e. life after death.

Conclusively, the Hindus believe in life after death, yet they do not have signs that warn them of the coming of the hereafter since hereafter for the Hindus do not exist. Their only warning is their own deeds and how hard they are willing to attain the ultimate salvation, which is to be reunited with the Brahman.

Conclusion

Islam and Hinduism are two very different religions. Their differences originate from their very sources: Islam is from Divine Revelation; Hinduism is man-made. Hindus simply believe in different things, whichever suits their mentality, and do not ponder on whether their beliefs are correct. They have absolutely no proof that they are reborn into different forms. They have never even tested this belief, and how could they possibly test it? In Islam, science and reason are given in the Holy Book to the people in order for them to think and bear witness that what is given to them is the absolute truth. Because of this, their concept of belief is justified. By using reason, people can find out for themselves whether what they are receiving is from God or simply made up. By knowing that the information given to us is from God, it proves God’s existence. How can the Hindus justify the existence of Brahman when they have no divine book that was given to them by him? How can they justify the existence of any of their gods when they have no evidence of their existence to begin with? The books that they have consist of past scriptures, hymns and analogies that were written by men of the past and are acknowledged to be not divine. They developed a whole concept of belief about birth and rebirth without any proof, evidence or the use of reason. In fact, the cycle of rebirth is flawed. If a person is reborn as an object due to past karma, then how will the person die? Objects have no life; they are inanimate. The only possibility is that they can be destroyed. But even after destruction, if a soul is an object, how will that soul gain good karma that is enough for him to be reborn as an animal or a human? Objects cannot obtain good deeds. The Hindus made their beliefs attractive to others by adding fancy titles and mystical stories, yet there is no foundation to their beliefs.

Conclusively, Islam is divine and logical which does not exceed the capacity of human imagination. It is a religion in which one can easily see the reason behind all of its teachings due to scientific evidence and reason. Furthermore, it covers all aspects of this world and the metaphysical realm. In contrast, Hinduism is unjustified and purely artificial. It exceeds the imagination of man and it carries too many variant information that conflicts with each other and are unjustified by any concrete evidence.

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Dar-Al-Taqwa Ltd., 2001.

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Fire). Cairo, Egypt: Islamic Inc. Publishing and Distribution, 1997.

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Printing Works, 1993

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Taqwa Ltd., 1991.

Imam Anwar Al-Awlaki. “The End of Times-The Hereafter”. Audio Lectures. Copyright

2005-2007. http://www.salaattime.com/anwar.html

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[1] ‘Ali, ‘Abdullah Yusuf. The Meaning of the Holy Qur’an. Surat Al-Ibrahim, Verse 48. Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia: Islamic Book Trust, 2005.

[2] ‘Ali, ‘Abdullah Yusuf. The Meaning of the Holy Qur’an. Surat Al-Nisa’, Verse 41-42. Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia: Islamic Book Trust, 2005.

[3] Hassan Ayub, Islamic Belief, (Delhi: Hindustan Publications), pp. 178-181

[4] ‘Ali, ‘Abdullah Yusuf. The Meaning of the Holy Qur’an. Surat Al-Maarij, Verse 15-18. Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia: Islamic Book Trust, 2005.

[5] A tree specified to be the food of the sinful in the Hereafter in the Hell-Fire.

[6] A later sacred text of Hinduism(Hindu scriptures) of a mystical nature dealing with metaphysical

questions and secret teachings.

[7] A member of the highest of the four Hindu varnas and the highest of the four varnas (originally all

Brahmans were priest).

[8] A member of the royal or warrior Hindu caste; represents power (law) and dharma both among gods and

men.

[9] A person regarded as greedy and pig-like

[10] Hindus literature which contains the traditions and practical importance in the lives of Hindus.

[11] A mountain range extending 1500 miles on the border between India and Tibet; this range contains the

world's highest mountain.

[12] The trait of great self-denial (especially refraining from worldly pleasures)

[13] Imam Anwar Al-Awlaki. “The End of Times-The Hereafter”. Audio Lectures. http://www.salaattime.com/anwar.html

[14] Translated by Imam Muslim. Kitab Al-Fitnah WA Ashrat As-Sa’ah. Book 41, Number 6985. http://iiu.edu.my/deed/hadith/muslim/041_smt.html

[15] Translated by Sahih Al-Bukhari. Afflictions and the End of the World. Book 88, Volume 9, Number 239. http://iiu.edu.my/deed/hadith/bukhari/088_sbt.html

[16] Translated by Imam Muslim. Kitab Al-Fitnah WA Ashrat As-Sa’ah. Book 41, Number 7023. http://iiu.edu.my/deed/hadith/muslim/041_smt.html

[17] Imam Anwar Al-Awlaki. “The End of Times-The Hereafter”. Audio Lectures. http://www.salaattime.com/anwar.html

[18] Imam Anwar Al-Awlaki. “The End of Times-The Hereafter”. Audio Lectures. http://www.salaattime.com/anwar.html

[19] Imam Anwar Al-Awlaki. “The End of Times-The Hereafter”. Audio Lectures. http://www.salaattime.com/anwar.html

[20] Imam Anwar Al-Awlaki. “The End of Times-The Hereafter”. Audio Lectures. http://www.salaattime.com/anwar.html

[21] Translated by Imam Muslim. Kitab Al-Fitnah WA Ashrat As-Sa’ah. Book 41, Number 7015. http://iiu.edu.my/deed/hadith/muslim/041_smt.html

[22] Imam Anwar Al-Awlaki. “The End of Times-The Hereafter”. Audio Lectures. http://www.salaattime.com/anwar.html

[23] Ghosh, Shyam. Hindu Concept of Life and Death. New Delhi: Ajay Printing Works, 1993.

[24] Ghosh, Shyam. Hindu Concept of Life and Death. New Delhi: Ajay Printing Works, 1993.

1 comment:

rashida said...

I saw your blog comments last week. Very nice things shared about Belief in islam and hinduism. That was very good to read. Thanks for sharing a informative article.


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