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December 23, 2010 / Man in the Mirror

The Nature of Death

In the Quran, death is something we are supposed to receive. That is, at the moment of death, man is delivered to the divine agents who receive him in his full reality and personality.

The following ideas are inferred from that expression in the Quran:

  1. Death is not mortality, destruction and annihilation. It is a transition from one world to another and from one state to another where man’s life will continue in another form.
  2. What forms man’s real personality and is considered one’s real “self”, is not one’s body, organs and subordinate elements of the body, because there are mortal and gradually disintegrate. What forms our real personality and is considered our real “self”, is interpreted as “soul” or occasionally as spirit in the Quran.
  3. Man’s spirit our soul which is the basis on which his real self is determined and on whose immortality his own immortality depends has an existential position in a horizon superior to the horizon of matter and material elements.

“And breathed of My Spirit into him”, shows that from the Quran’s point of view, there is a truth called spirit which is above angels and man.

Chapter 4, verse 97:
“Surely (as for) those whom the angels cause to die while they shall say: ‘In what state were you?’ They shall say: ‘We were weak in the earth.’ They shall say: ‘Was not God’s earth spacious, so that you should have migrated therein?’ So these it is whose abode is hell and it is an evil resort.”

This verse is about those who live in an unfavorable environment which is ruled by the will of others. These people are condemned to tolerate their environment. They try to find an excuse by giving expressions such as: the environment is corrupt, circumstances are unfavorable and we are frustrated in our attempt to do something about it. They continue living in that corrupt environment giving in to its ways and sink into its depravity instead of converting it or saving themselves from its evil, if making changes is impossible. When God’s angels receive these spirits, they talk to them and consider their excuses unjustifiable because the least they could have done, we to settle elsewhere. The angels remind them of their faults and make them understand that they themselves are responsible for the sins they have committed and for the oppression they have suffered.

Poverty and frustration in an environment are not justifiable excuses unless there is no possibility of changing one’s domicile.

Chapter 32, verse 110:
“And they say: ‘What! When we have become lost in the earth, shall we then certainly be in a new creation?’ Nay! They are disbelievers in the meeting of their Nourisher.”

The Holy Quran explains that, contrary to one’s supposition and claim regarding the disintegration of one’s body, one, that is, one’s real self and personality is not lost. One is delivered to God’s angel in possession of one faculties.

Chapter 39, verse 42:
“God takes the souls at the time of their death and those that die not during their sleep; then He withholds those on whom He has passed the decree of death and send others back until an appointed term; most surely there are signs in this for a people who reflect.”

This verse states the similarity between sleep and death, wakefulness and final Resurrection. Sleep is a temporary, brief death and death is a strong, great sleep. In both cases, one’s spirit or soul goes from one state to another. The difference is that while sleeping, one is unconscious and when one awakes, one does not know that one has actually returned from a journey, contrary to death when everything is clear to one.


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