By Luqman Sadiq

Meaning And Origin

The Arabic word, الآخرة – Al-Akhirah, is an Islamic term referring to the life after death (hereafter or afterlife). It is derived from the root word Al-Akhir which means the last, the ultimate, the end or close

Concept in Quran

In the Quran, the Day of Judgment is when the earthly or temporal world (dunya) ends, the deceased are raised from their graves, and God conducts judgment consigning them for eternity to either the delights of Jannah (paradise) or the flames of Jahannam (Hell). 

The Reality of Resurrection

The Qur’an frequently uses the metaphor of rain to describe how the resurrection of the dead is possible. Allah can resurrect the dead in the same way that dead soil becomes covered with vegetation just after a rainstorm. Concerning Allah’s power to bring forth the resurrection, the Qur’anic argument is that if He is capable of creating not only humans but also the entire world, why should it be difficult for Him to recreate them? Some prophets, including Prophet Ibrahim (as), were shown how Allah resurrected the dead. Similarly, the story of the companions of the cave (Surah al-Kahf) is given as historical proof that people can be resurrected after approximately three hundred years of sleep.

Islam shares this belief, of being resurrected, with other Abrahamic faiths, including Judaism and Christianity, that death is not the end of life but rather a transfer from the temporal world (Al-Dunya) to the eternal world (Al-Akhirah).

A Comparison To Dunya 

A useful analogy for comparing the two worlds – Dunya and Akhirah – is that of a fetus developing inside the mother’s womb, and then life outside the womb after delivery. The existence of a fetus is confined within the womb of its mother, and its sensory experience and information are limited. If someone were to inform the fetus that there is a vast, expansive world outside the mother’s womb filled with a variety of activities, people, food, pleasures, and sightseeing, the fetus would have a difficult time imagining this because they have no context for what we are telling them. Similarly, the life after mortality or the Akhirah – in terms of its vastness and what it contains – surpasses what we have seen or can even conceive.

They ˹only˺ know the worldly affairs of this life, but are ˹totally˺ oblivious to the Hereafter. (Surah Ar-Rum 30:7)

Significance in Islam

The term ایمان بالاخرۃ or Iman-bil-Akhirah, the belief in life after death, is important as it relates to the six core beliefs of Islam;

  1. Belief in Tawhid (Oneness of God)
  2. Belief in Angels
  3. Belief in Four Divine Books (Quran, Torah, Gospel and Psalm)
  4. Belief in The Prophets and Messengers
  5. Belief in Predestination
  6. Belief in Al-Akhira

AI-Akhirah is intended for real justice to be established. In this world, the righteous suffer and are not fully rewarded for their deeds. Similarly, evil individuals are victorious and frequently escape punishment for their actions. Allah, who is Just, desires that everyone receives complete fairness and compensation. This world is Dar al-Imtihan (a place of trial or examination) (Surah Al-Mulk 67:1-2). People will be put to the test in this life, and depending on their performance, they will be rewarded or punished in the Hereafter.

And this worldly life is not but diversion and amusement. And indeed, the home of the Hereafter – that is the [eternal] life, if only they knew. (Surah Al-Ankabut 29:64)

The hereafter (Al-Akhirah) depicts the more realistic, visceral, and everlasting dimension of life. It is a higher level than the life in Al-Dunya, in terms of the grades of reality. 

Important Events

On that Day the Inevitable Event will have come to pass. (Surah Al-Haqqah 69:15)

In order to motivate and strengthen the faith of believers, the Quran and Ahadith provide a comprehensive description of all the events that will occur in the Hereafter. Numerous analogies are used in the Quran to describe the horror and calamity of the Day when the life-dimension of Dunya will stop and that of Akhirah will begin. Some of these terms include:

Barzakh

In Arabic, Barzakh means “separation” or “barrier.” According to Islam, Barzakh is a realm that is neither part of dunya nor the hereafter. It stands between them as a barrier. Specifically, in the Quran, it alludes to the period between a person’s death and their resurrection on the Day of Judgment. During this time, the dead will receive a taste of the rewards or punishments they will endure after the Day of Judgment. 

And there is a barrier behind them until the Day they are resurrected. (Surah Al-Mu’minun 23:100)

Sounding of Trumpets

At last, when the Trumpet will be blown with one blast, and the earth and mountains will be lifted up and crushed with one blow, on that Day the Inevitable Event will have come to pass. (Surah Al-Haqqah 69:13-15)

This Sur or Trumpet will be a startling and a continuous sound that will continue until all creations are dead. On the Day of Judgment, the Qur’an and Sunnah indicate that the trumpet will be sounded twice. 

The name of the first trumpet is natkhat-us-saaq, or “the trumpet of faint.” All angels in the heavens and all Jinns, humans, and animals on earth will become unconscious and fall to the ground at the sound of this trumpet. 

The name of the second trumpet is nafahat-ul-bath, or “trumpet of Resurrection.” The meaning of bath is “to rise.” With the sound of this trumpet, the dead will rise and stand (Maarif ul Quran).

According to some narratives, a third ‘trumpet’ will also be blown prior to the first two trumpets; this trumpet is known as nafkhat-ul-faza’ (the trumpet of fear or panic). According to a thorough analysis of all the narratives and texts, the early phase of the first trumpet is nafthat-al-faza’ and its ultimate stage is Saaq, “the trumpet of death.” (Al-Mazhari)

Judgment Day

On the Day of Judgment, each individual will be held accountable for their life time experience, actions and beliefs. The virtuous will receive paradise, whereas the wicked will be punished with hellfire. With regard to the judgment, there will be three types of people:

  1. A section of pious believers will be rewarded with their record of deeds in the right hand and they happily will enter paradise.
  2. Infidels will be tortured in their graves prior to the Day of Judgment, and also in hell. They will be given with their lifely record of deeds in the left hand.
  3. “The people of disobedience,” that is, disobedient Muslims who have sinned, may be tortured in accordance with their offenses in order to be “purified from their evil.” This may occur after death but before the Resurrection, or after the Resurrection when they are sent to the Lake of Fire. After their purification by torture, they may enter Jannah if God pardons them or if they are rescued through intercession. (Siddiqui, 2015)

Conclusion

In conclusion, the term Akhirah is a fundamental concept in Islamic belief, referring to the afterlife and the ultimate destiny of each human being. It encompasses the Day of Judgment, the Day of Resurrection, and the eternal life that follows. 

Muslims believe that the Akhirah is a reality that is just as real as this life, and that one’s actions in this life will determine their fate in the next. Therefore, striving for righteousness and good deeds, and avoiding sin and wrongdoing, is essential for attaining success in the Akhirah. The belief in the Akhirah is a central tenet of Islam that provides believers with a sense of purpose, accountability, and hope for a better future.

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References

  • Quran.com
  • Shafi M., 2017. Maarif ul Quran. Binoria publications.
  • Modudi, 1972. Tafheem ul QuranMuslim.
  • Ibn Kathir., 2000. Tafsir ibn Khatir. Dar-us-Salam Publications.
  • Jarrar A., 2017. Tafsir Al-Tabri. Islamic Texts Society.
  • Frank Griffel, 1998. Islam and Rationality: The Impact of al-Ghazali. Brill Academic Pub. ISBN-10-9004306951
  • McAuliffe JD, Encyclopaedia of the Qurʾān, 1st Edition. Brill Academic Pub. ISBN-10-9004147640
  • Siddiqui A. 2014. “Akhirah (The Hereafter)”.