The Painful State of the Impure
3:49:39 2023-09-25 301

The spirits of the impure are meanwhile caught up in terrible darkness and gloom. Overwhelmed by misery and disaster, they mourn their lives of sin. Realizing that neither their relatives nor the material wealth they accumulated can do anything to deliver them, they torment themselves in their wretchedness.

Still more terrible than their fate is that of cruel, vicious and arrogant tyrants. The sighs and laments of their oppressed victims are like so many daggers plunged in their hearts. The specter of those whom they have wronged assaults them mercilessly with constant blame and reproach, augmenting constantly the pain and misery they suffer.

The vision of these spectacles of terror is like a tormenting flame consuming the heart of the criminal.

The Qur'an depicts the catastrophic destiny of aggressive tyrants as follows:

"They will be brought to hellfire every morning and evening, and the descendants of Pharaoh will be punished most severely"(40:46).

They will then recall vividly the repeated warnings of the prophets and men of religion who told them of the disasters that awaited them. They will begin to blame themselves for not following the commands of the prophets and not heeding their kindly advice, for had they done so, they would not have cast themselves into perdition.

In the course of the Battle of Badr, some of the leaders of Quraysh were killed and their bodies were thrown in a pit. After the victory of the Muslim army, the Most Noble Messenger, peace and blessings be upon him and his family, leaned over the edge of the pit and addressed them as follows:

"We have attained all that Allah promised us; are you now convinced of the truth of Allah's promises?"

Some of the companions then said: "O Messenger of Allah, you are talking to the dead, to bodies that have been thrown into a pit; do they understand anything of what you say?"

The Prophet answered them: "They hear more clearly than you do."2

One of the companions of the Commander of the Faithful, upon whom be peace, said:

"Once I left Kufa in the company of the Imam. He stopped in the cemetery at Wadi al-Salam, standing there like someone about to address a gathering. I remained there standing with the Imam until I grew tired and sat down. Another long time passed, and I grew tired of sitting. So I stood up again and remained standing until once again I grew tired and sat down. Finally, I arose once more, and said to the Commander of the Faithful: 'I fear for you, seeing you standing so long; rest a little.' I then spread out my cloak on the ground for the Imam to sit down. He said: 'O , Habba! I am standing here engaged in conversation with the believers.' I then asked him: 'Do they also engage in conversation with each other?' 'Yes,' he said. 'Once the veil is lifted you will see them gathered in circles conversing with each other.' I said: 'Are you speaking of their bodies or their spirits?' 'Their spirits,' he answered."3

From this narrative it can be deduced that the spirit does not entirely sever its relations with the body. It is true that after the death and the cutting of the link between the spirit and the body, the spirit leaves for a different realm. However, on account of the union that existed between them in this world, some weak connection persists, in the form of a certain affinity. On account of this affinity and its former union with the body, the spirit is oriented toward the remains of the body in way that it is not oriented to anything else.

Islam has laid down certain instructions relating to the body after death. The reason for them is the continuing affinity of the spirit for the body and the trials and turmoil the spirit encounters in the unfamiliar realm of the barzakh, governed as it is by new principles and criteria.

In the intermediate realm men encounter each other in bodily forms specific to that realm. The pure and virtuous are gathered together, in groups determined by their spiritual rank and degree. The unbelievers and the evil also find themselves in each other's company. The dealings and relations of the pious with each other are based on familiarity, intimacy, and pure love, and thus anticipate the states of paradise. By contrast, the relations of the unbelievers with each other will inevitably partake of the character of hellfire; mutual enmity, disgust and envy will prevail among them.

It is self-evident that since all things will be determined in the intermediate realm by the particular laws and criteria that prevail there, the companionship and conversation of the blessed and the damned, as well as the enjoyment of divine bounties by the former and the experience of punishment by the latter, will also be marked by the characteristics of that realm.

Although the bodies of men in the intermediate realm will in general resemble the bodily form they had in this world, certain differences will also be apparent, because every quality and attribute will take on an external form commensurate with its inner nature. Thus the spiritual light or darkness found within individuals will become clearly visible in their faces.


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