Bodily Resurrection and Spiritual Resurrection
An important question regarding the issue of the Resurrection is whether resurrection pertains only to the spirit or whether the human body becomes alive in the other world once more and whether man enters the new life with the same body and soul, of course a little better than before.
Some of the ancient philosophers believed only in a spiritual resurrection and considered our bodies as vehicles which contained our souls. They thought that after death we would no longer need this body; that is to say, at the time of our departure to the other world we would just throw our bodies aside.
However, some great Islamic scholars contend that the Resurrection pertains both to body and soul alike. It is true that death causes our bodies to disintegrate, but the Almighty God will put the tiny particles of our bodies together and dress them with a new life. This is what scholars mean by “the Resurrection of the body.” This is due to the fact that the resurrection of the spirit has been taken for granted by these scholars.
Thus, all the verses in the Holy Qur’¡n which deal with the Resurrection have in mind the resurrection of the body as well.
We have already referred to that nomadic Arab who showed the Prophet(s) a rotten piece of bone, asking him: who can revive this rotten bone? And we saw that the Prophet(s), taking his command from God, answered him in this fashion: The same Being who created this bone for the first time, is the same Being who has created the sky and the earth, He is the same Being who brings out fire from within a green tree. These verses can be read at the end of S£rah Y¡s¢n.
Elsewhere, of Resurrection the Holy Qur’¡n says:
On the Day, you shall leave your graves.()
And we know that the graves are places where bodies are buried, not souls.
Basically, the unbelievers wondered how it was possible for our bodies which disintegrate and disappear to return to life once again:
وَقَالُوا أَءِذَا ضَلَلْنَا فِي الأَرْضِ أَءِنَّا لَفِي خَلْقٍ جَدِيدٍ؟
And they say: What! When we have become lost in the earth, shall we then certainly be a new creation? [Qur’¡n 32:10]
And the Holy Qur’¡n replies: God who created everything for the first time has the Power to do it again.
What! Do they not consider how Allah originates the creation, then reproduces it? Surely, that is easy to Allah. [Qur’¡n 29:19]
An Arab of the pre-Islamic era had asked:
How could this man promise you that upon your death and after the disintegration of your bodies you would return to life once more? What! Does he threaten you that when you are dead and become dust and bones that you shall then be brought forth? [Qur’¡n 23:35]
All these interpretations of the Holy Qur’¡n indicate the fact that the Honorable Prophet of Islam always talked of the Resurrection of the body and the near-sighted unbelievers wondered how this could ever happen. We have seen that the Holy Qur’¡n presented some examples of the Resurrection of the body, such as the rebirth of the dead plants to let them know of God’s Power to give new life to dead bodies.
It would be therefore impossible for a Muslim who knows even a little bit of the Holy Qur’¡n to deny the Resurrection of the body. Such a denial would be the denial of the principle of the Resurrection in the eyes of God.
Besides these arguments, our wisdom tells us that our souls and bodies are two different entities related to each other; both nourish and become perfect, and naturally need each other for a later eternal life.
These two entities, during the purgatory or Intermediate state, are separated from each other temporarily. However, this separation for a longer duration would be impossible since the body without the soul is imperfect, and the soul without the body would be defective, as well. Our soul is the commander which forces us to move around, and our body is obedient to the soul. No commander could work without obedient servants.
Since the soul occupies a higher position than it had in this world, the body has to improve proportionally and this happens naturally. In other words, our bodies lack the malformations and defects which they have in this world.
Thus, the body and the soul are like twins, they are a pair so resurrection could not have only a spiritual or bodily manifestation.
Besides, the law of justice says: Resurrection should exist for both the soul and the body since anyone who commits a sin has carried out this sin with his body and soul together; therefore, both should be punished. By the same token, if a man has done anything good, both his body and soul should be rewarded. This view observes the law of justice.
Some scholars have raised some questions related to this topic some of which will be dealt with here:
1. According to research by natural scientists, the body of a man changes several times within his lifetime. This resembles a pool of water which changes constantly due to the inflow it regularly receives.
2. The change of body tissues takes place once every seven years. Therefore, we change several times during our lifetime.
Now this question is raised: Which one of these bodies will return to hold our soul?
This is our answer: The last body will return, since in the above verses we saw that God will revive us from our rotten bones. This means that our last body will return. Our rising from the graves, too, embodies the fact that our last body will rise from the grave.
The point to ponder on is that our last body contains all the traits and structural specifications it had during our whole life.
In other words, our decayed bodies or skeletons will preserve all the physical characteristics the body had during its lifetime, because the previous body gives its specific traits to the next one. Therefore, our last body will possess all our necessary traits.
3. Some researchers make the point that since with death our bodies disintegrate and become absorbed in the earth these particles of our bodies become parts of plants or the bodies of other human beings, so what would happen on the Day of Resurrection?
Several answers have been advanced for this important question, we will present a simplified version of them here.
Basically, those particles which have entered the body of another human being would go to the first body from which they have come [the verses in the above sections vividly indicate this fact].
Then this question would arise: Would the second body be now defective? We answer: Not necessarily, since the body from which the particles were taken would be reduced in size.
Thus, neither the first body, nor the second one vanishes. The only thing which happens is that the second body is reduced in size and this does not create any problem, because we are aware that at the Resurrection, our bodies become perfect and that shortcomings and defects vanish altogether in just the same way that a small child grows while his personality remains intact. Defective bodies rise in perfect shape at the Resurrection.
THINK AND ANSWER
Paradise, Hell, and the corporealization of Deeds
Many people ask this question: Does the world after death look like this one? What are the differences, if any? Are its pleasures, punishments, and rules similar to the ones in this world? In answer to this question, we may explicitly declare that in accordance with many documents, there are differences between this world and the next one. What we know of the other world, however, looks like ghosts in the distance.
We had better make use of the metaphor of the fetus once again. The same difference that exists between the embryonic life and this world exists between this world and the other world. If an unborn child wanted to have a real picture of the outside world, of its sky and the earth, of its sun and the stars and of its mountains, forests and seas, it definitely could not conceive of it.
For an embryonic child, who has been surrounded by the womb, the concepts of the moon, the sun, the seas, waves, tornadoes, the flowers, and the beauties of this world, would not exist. Its lexicon would be very limited, indeed.
The same differences apply when we compare this world and the other one. Therefore, we shall never have a complete understanding of the other world.
For this reason, we read in a narration:
فِيهَا مَا لاَ عَيْنٌ رَأَتْ وَلاَ أُذُنٌ سَمِعَتْ وَلاَ خَطَرَ عَلَى قَلْبِ بَشَرٍ.
“There is pleasure in Paradise which no eyes have ever seen, nor has any ear heard, nor has been recorded in anyone’s heart.”
And the Holy Qur’¡n says the same thing in other words:
فَلَا تَعْلَمُ نَفْسٌ مَّا أُخْفِيَ لَهُم مِّن قُرَّةِ أَعْيُنٍ جَزَاء بِمَا كَانُوا يَعْمَلُونَ.
So no soul knows what is hidden for them of that which will refresh the eyes; a reward for what they did. [Qur’¡n 32:17]
The rules governing the other world are also completely different: In the court on the Day of Resurrection the witnesses are man’s deeds, his hands and feet, his skin and even the piece of land on which he had committed a sin or had done a good deed.
الْيَوْمَ نَخْتِمُ عَلَى أَفْوَاهِهِمْ وَتُكَلِّمُنَا أَيْدِيهِمْ وَتَشْهَدُ أَرْجُلُهُمْ بِمَا كَانُوا يَكْسِبُونَ.
On that day We will set a seal upon their mouths, and their hands shall speak to Us, and their feet shall bear witness of what they earned. [Qur’¡n 36: 65]
وَقَالُوا لِجُلُودِهِمْ لِمَ شَهِدتُّمْ عَلَيْنَا قَالُوا أَنطَقَنَا اللَّهُ الَّذِي أَنطَقَ كُلَّ شَيْءٍ.
And they who shall say to their skins: why have you borne witness against us? They shall say: Allah who made everything speak has made us speak. [Qur’¡n 41: 21]
Once it was quite hard to visualize such a phenomenon. However, with the advances of science in the recording of photographs and sounds, there is no place for wonder.
Thus, despite the fact that we are able to visualize only some feeble images of the pleasures in the other world and we are not able to see the magnitude of such pleasures, we know that the pleasures in the other world have both spiritual and material aspects to them. This is because the Resurrection has these two phases. Therefore, both rewards and punishments should have these two aspects. This is explicitly stated in the Holy Qur’¡n:
وَبَشِّرِ الَّذِين آمَنُواْ وَعَمِلُواْ الصَّالِحَاتِ أَنَّ لَهُمْ جَنَّاتٍ تَجْرِي مِن تَحْتِهَا الأَنْهَارُ.... وَلَهُمْ فِيهَا أَزْوَاجٌ مُّطَهَّرَةٌ وَهُمْ فِيهَا خَالِدُونَ.
And convey good news to those who believe and do good deeds, that they shall have gardens in which rivers flow; whenever they shall be given a portion of the fruit thereof, they shall say: this is what was given to us before; and they shall be given the like of it and they shall have pure mates in them, and in them, they shall abide. [Qur’¡n 2:25]
Regarding the spiritual pleasures, the Holy Qur’¡n says:
وَرِضْوَانٌ مِّنَ الله.
…and best of all is Allah’s goodly pleasure. [Qur’¡n 9: 72]
The dwellers in Paradise greatly enjoy the fact that God is satisfied with them and this pleasure they enjoy cannot be compared with anything. Regarding the denizens of Hell, for them there are physical tortures as well as God’s dissatisfaction which is worse than any torment and torture.
In accordance with many Qur’¡nic verses, our deeds become alive on the Day of Judgment and they accompany us everywhere. This Corporealization of rewards and punishments makes the system of recompensation function.
Injustice and aggression shall surround us in the shape of a gloomy and dark cloud. According to a narration from the Prophet(s):
الظُّلْمُ هُوَ الظُّلُمَاتُ يَوْمَ القِيَامَةِ.
Transgression is the very darkness on the Resurrection Day.
إِنَّ الَّذِينَ يَأْكُلُونَ أَمْوَالَ الْيَتَامَى ظُلْماً إِنَّمَا يَأْكُلُونَ فِي بُطُونِهِمْ نَاراً وَسَيَصْلَوْنَ سَعِيراً.
As for those who swallow the property of the orphans unjustly, surely they only swallow fire into their bellies. [Qur’¡n 4:10]
يَوْمَ تَرَى الْمُؤْمِنِينَ وَالْمُؤْمِنَاتِ يَسْعَى نُورُهُمْ بَيْنَ أَيْدِيهِمْ.
On that day, you will see the faithful men and faithful women with their light running before them. [Qur’¡n 57: 12]
الَّذِينَ يَنقُضُونَ عَهْدَ اللَّهِ مِنْ بَعْدِ مِيثَاقِهِ وَيَقْطَعُونَ مَا أَمَرَ اللَّهُ بِهِ أَنْ يُوصَلَ وَيُفْسِدُونَ فِي الْأَرْضِ أُوْلَئِكَ هُمْ الْخَاسِرُونَ.
Those who break the covenant of Allah after its confirmation and cut asunder what Allah has ordered to be joined, and make mischief in the land; it is they who are the losers. [Qur’¡n 2:27]
The wealth which hoarders amassed and did not observe the rights of the oppressed out of it would be a chain round their necks on that day. They would be no longer able to move about.
وَلَا يَحْسَبَنَّ الَّذِينَ يَبْخَلُونَ بِمَا آتَاهُمْ اللَّهُ مِنْ فَضْلِهِ هُوَ خَيْراً لَهُمْ بَلْ هُوَ شَرٌّ.
And let not those deem, who are niggardly in giving away that which Allah has granted them out of His Grace, that is good for them; nay, it is worse for them. [Qur’¡n 3:180]
Sciences and man’s knowledge tell us that nothing is perishable in this world. Matter and energy constantly are converted into each other without getting lost. Our deeds are not outside this domain; therefore, they are perpetual even if they change form.
Concerning the Day of Judgment the Holy Qur’¡n, states succinctly:
وَوَجَدُوا مَا عَمِلُوا حَاضِراً.
And what they had done they shall find present there.
In fact, they are facing the consequences of their own deeds. In the same S£rah, God says:
وَلاَ يَظْلِمُ رَبُّكَ أَحَداً.
Your Lord shall not do any injustice to anyone. [Qur’¡n 18:49]
Concerning the Day of Judgment, we read in the Holy Qur’¡n:
يَوْمَئِذٍ يَصْدُرُ النَّاسُ أَشْتَاتاً لِّيُرَوْا أَعْمَالَهُمْ.
On that day men shall come forth in sundry bodies that they may be shown their works. [Qur’¡n 99:6]
فَمَن يَعْمَلْ مِثْقَالَ ذَرَّةٍ خَيْراً يَرَهُ * وَمَن يَعْمَلْ مِثْقَالَ ذَرَّةٍ شَرّاً يَرَه.
So he who has done an atom’s weight of good shall see it. And he who has done an atom’s weight of evil shall see it. [Qur’¡n 99:7-8]
The very fact that our deeds, either small or large, good or evil, remain constant and do not perish and shall be with us on the Day of Judgment, could be used as a warning to everyone so that they could refrain from committing evil actions and eagerly perform good deeds.
Strange to say, nowadays there have been some instruments designed to detect sounds recorded in the artifacts of ancient peoples. A scholar writes:
Today scientists are able to reproduce the voices of the Egyptian jar-makers of two millennia before. This is because there are two thousand years old jars in Egyptian museums that have recorded in them the voices of the workers which have made them. Today, those sound waves have been detected and can be heard by us.()
Thus, we could find solutions regarding the issue of the Resurrection, the permanency of the rewards of the good-doers and the chastisement of the evildoers by considering the corporealization of our deeds and being aware of the fact that every good work or evil deed has an impact on our souls.
Mordad 15/ 1362
Qom: The Qom Seminary
N¡¥ir Mak¡rim Sh¢r¡z¢
THINK AND ANSWER