The question of whether or not there is life after death does not fall under the field of science, because science is only concerned with the classification and analysis of recorded data. Moreover, man has been busy with scientific enquiries and research, in the modern sense of the term, only for the last few centuries, while he has been familiar with the idea of life after death since time immemorial. All the prophets of God called their people to worship God and to believe in life after death. They laid so much emphasis on the belief in life after death that even a slight doubt in it meant denying God and made all other beliefs meaningless. The very fact that all the prophets of God have dealt with this metaphysical question so confidently and uniformly – the gap between their ages being thousands of years – goes to prove that the source of their knowledge of life after death, as proclaimed by them all, was the same: Divine revelation.
We also know that these prophets of God were greatly opposed by their people, mainly on the issue of life after death, as their people thought it impossible. But in spite of that opposition, the prophets won many sincere followers. The question arises, what made those followers forsake the established beliefs, traditions and customs of their forefathers, regardless of the risk of being totally alienated from their own community? The simple answer is that they made use of their faculties of mind and heart and realized the truth.
Did they realize the truth through experiencing it? Not so, as the perceptual experience of life after death is impossible. Actually, God has given man, besides perceptual consciousness, rational, aesthetic and moral consciousness too. It is this consciousness that guides man regarding realities that cannot be verified through sensory data. That is why all the prophets of God, while calling people to believe in God and the life hereafter, appealed to the aesthetic, moral and rational sides of man. For example, when the idolaters of Makkah denied even the possibility of life after death, the Qur’an exposed the weakness of their stand by advancing very logical and rational arguments in support of it:
Who will revive these bones when they have rotted away? Say: He will revive them who produced them at the first, for He is the Knower of every creation, Who has appointed for you fire from the green tree, and behold! you kindle from it. Is it not He who created the heavens and the earth, able to create the like of them? Yes, and He is indeed the Supreme Creator, the All-Knowing. (36:78-81)
And they say, “There is not but our worldly life; we die and live, and nothing destroys us except time.” And they have of that no knowledge; they are only assuming.
And when Our verses are recited to them as clear evidences, their argument is only that they say, “Bring [back] our forefathers, if you should be truthful.”(45:24-25)
Surely God will raise all the dead but God has His own plan of things. A day will come when the whole universe will be destroyed and then again the dead will be resurrected to stand before God. That day will be the beginning of the life that will never end, and that Day, every person will be rewarded by God according to his good and evil deeds.
The explanation that the Qur’an gives about the necessity of life after death is what the moral consciousness of man demands. Actually, if there is no life after death, the very belief in God becomes irrelevant, or even if one believes in God, that would be an unjust and indifferent God: having once created man only to be unconcerned with his fate. Surely, God is Just. He will punish the tyrants whose crimes are beyond count: having killed hundreds of innocent persons, created great corruption in the society, enslaved numerous persons to serve their whims, and so forth. Man, having a very short span of life in this world, and this physical world, also, not being eternal, punishments or rewards equal to the evil or noble deeds of persons are not possible here. The Qur’an very emphatically states that the Day of Judgment must come and God will decide about the fate of each soul according to his or her record of deeds:
Those who disbelieve say: The Hour will never come unto us. Say: Nay, by my Lord, but it is coming unto you surely. (He is) the Knower of the Unseen. Not an atom’s weight, or less than that or greater, escapes Him in the heavens or in the earth, but it is in a clear Record. That He may reward those who believe and do good works. For them is pardon and a rich provision. But those who strive against our revelations, challenging (Us), theirs will be a painful doom of wrath. (34:3-5)
The Day of Resurrection will be the Day when God’s attributes of Justice and Mercy will be in full manifestation. God will shower His mercy on those who suffered for His sake in the worldly life, believing that an eternal bliss was awaiting them. But those who abused the bounties of God, caring nothing for the life to come, will be in the most miserable state.
Drawing a comparison between them the Qur’an says:
Then is he whom We have promised a good promise which he will obtain like he for whom We provided enjoyment of worldly life [but] then he is, on the Day of Resurrection, among those presented [for punishment in Hell]? (28:61)
[For such is the state of the disbelievers], until, when death comes to one of them, he says, “My Lord, send me back
That I might do righteousness in that which I left behind.” No! It is only a word he is saying; and behind them is a barrier until the Day they are resurrected.
So when the Horn is blown, no relationship will there be among them that Day, nor will they ask about one another.
And those whose scales are heavy [with good deeds] – it is they who are the successful.
But those whose scales are light – those are the ones who have lost their souls, [being] in Hell, abiding eternally.
The Fire will sear their faces, and they therein will have taut smiles. (23:99-104)
The belief in life after death not only guarantees success in the Hereafter, but also makes this world full of peace and happiness by making individuals most responsible and dutiful in their activities.
Think of the people of Arabia. Gambling, wine, tribal feuds, plundering and murdering were their main traits when they had no belief in a life hereafter. But as soon as they accepted the belief in One God and life after death, they became the most disciplined nation of the world. They gave up their vices, helped each other in hours of need, and settled all their disputes on the basis of justice and equality. Similarly, the denial of life after death has its consequences not only in the Hereafter, but also in this world. When a nation as a whole denies it, all kinds of evils and corruptions become rampant in that society and ultimately it is destroyed. The Qur’an mentions the terrible end of ‘Aad, Thamud and the Pharaoh in some detail: See Quran(69:4-29)
Thus, there are very convincing reasons to believe in life after death.
First, all the prophets of God have called their people to believe in it.
Secondly, whenever a human society is built on the basis of this belief, it has been the most ideal and peaceful society, free of social and moral evils.
Thirdly, history bears witness that whenever this belief is rejected collectively by a group of people in spite of the repeated warning of the Prophet, the group as a whole has been punished by God, even in this world.
Fourthly, moral, aesthetic and rational facilities of man endorse the possibility of life after death.
Fifthly, God’s attributes of Justice and Mercy have no meaning if there is no life after death.