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The Day is come!
The Hereafter
Jhangeer Hanif

It was perhaps a ‘loud cry’ that I heard in my deep and comfortable slumber. I was furious to hear this. I had just taken time to rest after going through the ordeal of being interviewed about the moral aspect of my past life. I half expected to fail on that account for not having in my list marvelously noble endeavors to numerate before the ghastly looking yet humble interviewers. ‘Thank God!’ I took a sigh of relief. They retreated only after asking me about the basic articles of faith. In my emotional fatigue, I soon stepped into the great unknown. But, much to my dismay, the luxurious sleep, as it seemed to me, proved to be as ephemeral as footprints on the sands of the Sahara. This compelling cry went deep down into my soul and galvanized my body into trying to stand up straightaway. After tottering a bit, I succeeded in that mission and mechanically cast a look over my dress. What! I muttered: I was annoyed to see that someone had sprinkled dust all over my white dress while I was sound asleep. I was wondering about this mystery when I received a jerk from behind.

‘In thy presence, I surrender O Lord. In thy presence, I surrender O Lord!’ I heard the man read out the phrase repeatedly. He hurriedly moved forward without thinking of me at all. Before I could resolve this baffling encounter, an overwhelming darkness enveloped my surroundings. I felt the earth shake terribly. Looking around to figure out the cause, I saw the sky split open instantly and give way to sparkling lightening. The flash came down with a growling roar, dazzled my eyes and deafened my ears. Coinciding with this woeful happening, a howling wind blew dreadfully. I beheld carded wool in the horrifying wind. Not knowing what to do, I reflexively pierced my eyes into the dusky environment. What came to view was even more astounding. I saw a multitude of white mummies move in the same direction as my man had gone. They were all pronouncing the same phrase: ‘In thy presence, I surrender O Lord’. And then, bewilderment clutched me while I murmured ‘the Day is come!’ Out of my wits, I was compelled to join the multitude: ‘In thy presence, I…’

This is the picture that sprang to my mind while I was perusing Sūrah Inshiqāq. The Holy Qur’ān has depicted various anecdotes of the Day of Resurrection and Judgment to warn mankind of the enormity of the Day and the sublime impartiality of their Lord. This sūrah specifically portrays the time when records shall be scrutinized and two different verdicts shall be delivered. Those who feared the Day and lived their lives according to the injunctions put forth by the Almighty would enter Paradise. They would join their righteous relatives and live happily ever after, as the phrase goes. On the contrary, those who contrived to deceive their Lord and made fun of His commandments would have a fair trial. Justice shall be done. Punishment will be meted out to the self-deceived. They would long for their only escape, eternal death. But the same would elude them for good.

This picture is indeed a bridge that my mind established between the time when all souls have to enter their dwelling place after departure from this world and when they are compelled to move in order to attend the last court of justice to hear the verdicts as have been illustrated in the verses quoted below:

O you man! Verily you are ever toiling on towards the Lord so you shall meet Him. Then he who is given his record in his right hand, soon his account will be taken by an easy reckoning. And he will turn to his people rejoicing. But he who is given his record from behind in [his cuffed hands], soon he will cry for [eternal] death. And he will enter a blazing fire. Truly he did go about among his people rejoicing. Truly he did think that he would not have to return [to Us]. Nay! [How would he be left unaccountable for his evil deeds] when his Lord was [ever] watchful of him. (84:6-15)

The Holy Qur’ān has vehemently asserted that man should not suffer from the illusions that once dead he would never be put to life again. The Creator who fashioned him for the first time is fully capable to resurrect him when the appointed time comes. Man is, indeed, bound to stand before his Lord for all the acts that emanate from him in this world. This is no grand task for the Lord of worlds. He would just have a ‘loud cry’ delivered into His servants’ ears and they would stand up like they never died.

They say [now]: ‘What! Shall we indeed be returned to [our] former state? What! When we shall have become rotten bones? They say [sarcastically]: It would in that case be a return with loss. But verily it will be but a single Cry. When, behold, they will be in the [full] awakening [to Judgment]. (79:10-3)

In this life, a person sometimes manages to get away with the crimes he commits because of his abundant wealth and high connections. His relations and friends come to console him in case he has to suffer some punishment for his own egregious mistakes. So much so, that he is befriended by the sentry and the jail superintendent for a simple puff of a cigarette or a marginal share of his delicious and appetizing meal. But, on the Last Day, neither would he be able to benefit from his wealth and authority nor would his superior contacts come forward to help him. Whatever crime he commits shall be made public. Even the secrets of his heart will be probed. Everything that he willfully plotted to hurt or harm anyone would be ascertained and accordingly punished.

On the day when secret [of the hearts] shall be probed, then neither will he have any might nor will he find any helper. (86:9-10)

No consolation or support shall be offered by the closest of relations. Everyone will be so preoccupied with his own troubles that it would be impossible to extend solace to others. The relations for whom he went against the dictations of his conscience, and the people with whom he mutually devised ill means to amass worldly wealth, would all be like strangers to him.

At length when there comes the deafening noise. That Day a man shall flee from his own brother and from his mother and his father and from his wife and his children. Each one of them that Day will have enough concern [of his own] to make him indifferent to the others. (80:33-7)

These are the warnings of the Qur’ān sounded to mankind that they may take heed before the damage, in reality, is done. Before it is too late, we must come to realize that we have been blessed with this life in order to be tested by the Almighty as to who, from among us, strives to conform to the moral ideals and tries his level best to please his Lord. It must be appreciated that the Creator has already directed us to the way we must spend our life in this world. The testimonies of our conscience and the dictations of our intuition help us always strike the right choice between good and evil. In other words, the Merciful Master has equipped us with a sublime vision that helps us see what is evil as bad and what is good as right. Hence, it is no hard job to make the right choice. However, as the essence of a test and trial entails, there are certain inherent limitations as well. Our free will to do what we please and the kingdom of Heaven being hidden from our eyes offer potential resistance to us to remain steadily on the right path. No doubt, both factors contribute to make the test of life immensely difficult and tricky, but it is nonetheless these that actually entitle us to receive the fabulous reward which awaits us in the form of the blissful place called ‘Heaven’. We have neither been bound to believe in the Hereafter nor have we been forced to go to a mosque to say the ritual prayer five times a day. And if we succeed to see the hidden through what is visible and prostrate before the Supreme Being without actually having seen him, we surely deserve to be rewarded with the splendid prize that the Wise and Just Master has promised at scores of places in His Book.

The only way, thus, to tackle these inherent limitations is that we remain mindful of the stark reality – a reality which insists that this present life is a do or die chance. We must realize that all we have is this short period of life. We must not dissipate it carelessly. Prudent is not the person who, in spite of knowing the fact that a typhoon is foretold, sets about to sail in the open sea. A horrible typhoon is in store for us in the Hereafter. Prudence demands that we sail not in the sea of evil and disbelief, since it will lead us to utter devastation for our own faults. Then, it would be useless to say: ‘Had I but sailed in the direction explored by my own conscience!’ The Holy Qur’ān has recorded the following expressions of those who would repent on the Last Day but of no avail:

Verily, We have warned you of a penalty near the Day when man will see [the deeds] which his hands have sent forth and the unbeliever will say: Woe unto me! Would that I were [mere] dust! (78:40)

He will say: ‘Ah! Would that I had sent forth [good deeds] for [this] my [future] life. (89:24)

As pointed out earlier, the freedom given to us may well be employed to either live a comfortable and careless life by trampling underfoot the moral values for self pleasure or be blessed with an eternal life brimming with sheer contentment and pleasure in the Hereafter. Those who go for the second choice would although face adverse circumstances in the present life would be calm and relaxed in the Afterlife, when everyone else would be running around, gasping breathlessly out of fear and confusion. The true servants of the Lord would be called upon to cross the threshold of Paradise and join the righteous:

[To the righteous soul will be said:] ‘O soul that is in [complete] rest and satisfaction. Come back you to your Lord well pleased [yourself] and well pleasing unto Him. Enter you then among my devotees. Yes enter you my Heaven’. (89:27-30)

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