Just a couple of months ago, while my father was going through intense medical care in a local hospital in Karachi, yet remained very upbeat and in high spirits to return to his Creator, and eagerly looked forward to being with my late mother Tayyaba Bano – I went through much introspection during that time, primarily to reaffirm my own faith in my father’s (and ours) hope-inspiring potential in the “Afterlife”. This narrative, while generally drawing on the Qur’anic references as I interpret them, mainly focuses on my own perception on how our Creator has set things up for us for our various existences. My father, during the course of several conversations with me, reflected much on his ninety blessed years in this world, with immeasurable gratitude to God. He lived his entire life in pursuit of “knowledge”, which he called the greatest “virtue” of human existence. He left this world on 23rd November 2015 in complete bliss, as us children held him in our arms, passing on immense positive energies to him. These are the exact vibes I felt around him when he was making his peace with his Creator: “O you satisfied soul. Return to your Lord pleased with yourself and pleasing to Him. Enter among My chosen people. And enter My garden” (89:27-30).
Reflecting on his profoundly blessed and highly enriched life, and the veneration he showed for our Prophet Muhammad (MPUH) through his poetic love in “Hum Mustafavi Hain” for the “Islamic Summit” ’74, and initiating many social and national causes for Pakistan, prompted me to reflect much on his achievements in this world and ponder the “Afterlife”, which can be a highly rewarding place, full of marvels, for a believing heart. May my father is blessed with all the enchantment I perceive the “Afterlife” to be.
1. What Is Afterlife:
In the strife and brilliance of our transient stay in this world, while we do our best to live out our life in the “current moment”, we should know that our stay here is actually going to feel like a “day or less” to us in our future existence (23:112/3), that we know as “Afterlife” (3:145). Hence to make the most of our time here, we should try and spend a great amount of time and energy thinking and preparing for our more enduring existence, which is our next immediate step. And to ensure success with that, we should follow our Most Gracious Friend’s meticulously planned “travel guide” (2:2), relayed to us by His most beloved human being – “and We have sent you not but as a mercy for the worlds” (21:107). So with this comprehensive “travel guide” by our side, we should make full use of it and see “which of us is best in deeds”(67:2). It was God’s wisdom to have created death with life (67:2), as a well-conceived plan to ensure our passage back – a passage that will lead the believing heart to true redemption, heightened consciousness, and a place of inconceivable bliss, enshrouded in our Glorious Friend’s inexpressible “Light”. That is Afterlife.
2. Our Promise To Our Creator And His Signs:
We know that there is not a single living thing in this universe that will not go through the process of death (29:57). And that it can be the most alluring experience for us that will lead us to our Most Glorious Friend. If God had not created death, then we would have had no recourse to meeting Him again (29:5). What a misadventure that would have been. It would be like getting stranded on an Island forever, specially after having made a commitment of loyalty to our Friend in our pre-mortal existence (7:172). But, because of our worldly attachments, we are unable to recall that moment and get so engrossed here, that we cannot look past our creation, ending up thinking that everything is “about us”, and perhaps that is all there is to life. The matter of fact is, our creation is but a smaller miracle in God’s cosmic scheme of things (40:57). It is actually about our Magnificent Friend’s infinite “signs” (17:44)(31:27), it is about His unfathomable and unending “creativity”. We should try to stretch our faculties of”observation & interpretation” to try and decipher these “signs”- and try to ponder over that commitment so we know how to effectively spend our time here. This will greatly help us with our final meeting with our Creator and can save us from being caught unawares later. Some spiritually inclined people are known to have jogged this (withheld) memory to recall that moment successfully.
3: Our Soul And The Physical Death:
In order to move forward with our inevitable journeys of transcending our consciousness to inch closer to our Creator, we must first go through the predetermined process of “liberating our soul (superior self/spirit body) from our physical body (inferior self)” in this world. Death, in another words, is the “greatest news” a believing heart receives when his work is done here. This is the start of our final journey to Afterlife, by going through our next stop in the “intermediate world” – devoid of any physicality or space-time concept. It’s a supersensible and superintelligent world, and we will need to get used to a much lighter non-physical body of our “soul” in our new setting – just as we did this getting-used-to with our heavier physical body at birth. Since it is beyond human comprehension to understand the make-up of our “soul” completely (17:85), we can atleast try to comprehend it’s basic nature through what we have been told about it in the “travel guide” and the “reflective faculty” that we all carry. Out of the three choices our “soul” has been given to adapt to (Commanding Soul – 12:53), (Self-Accusing Soul – 75:2), and (Inspiring Soul – 89:27-30), we should remain vigilant and strive to attain the most purified one in this world, the “Inspiring Soul”, which assures success in this world and our future existence. In our next realm of “intermediate world”, our soul will go through different experiences according to our “beliefs and actions” that we would have developed here. However, our acts of doing “good or bad”, will cease to continue with our physical death in this world forever. In the next life, we will be able to examine the “past, present and the future” like a mirror infront of us. Our consciousness will continue with it’s existence with all it’s characteristics and identity that we would have acquired here. Like will attract like there too, hence we would be able to find a comfortable niche for ourself again, just like we did in this world. So when we die in this world, only our physical existence ceases to exist and that too momentarily. That is physical death – though the journey of our soul continues.
4: Reflecting On Our Life Here:
Now, moving on with our worldly matters here, the trick is to understand what it is that can lead us to success in Afterlife. We should be mindful of these simple steps in our travel guide (2:3)(2:195)(3:17)(3:31)(63:9)… of doing the right thing during the very brief period of our existence here. So, woven with the preceding tips, what we really need to immerse ourselves in completely, is to be kind to the entire creation (human beings, animals, earth, plants etc). Irrespective of varying beliefs, class or creed people have, we should reach out to the entire humanity with compassion, kindness, sympathy and love. This should be the governing principle of one’s life here. The rest, our Creator can handle for us. All He wants from us is to, Believe, be Grateful, Reflect on why we are sent here (38:29), and Fix our missteps by asking Him to forego them (2:286).
Also, we need to be mindful of the extent of the “free will” that we have been granted here. And we should assign a lot of focus on the value of “time”, as this is the key to how successful all our journeys will be. We recognize through the “travel guide”, and our own intuition, that all of us have to finally return to where we have come from (6:60), after orbiting through so many realms (soul world – mother’s womb – current world – intermediate/spirit – day of reckoning). And we know that nobody likes one-way-tickets and that everyone likes to eventually come home from their travels. So during our sojourn in this world, we should try to spend a purpose-driven life – filled with a “beating heart for humanity”. This “virtue”, even without any hope of reward, should be at the top of the list of ethics, morality, compassion and selflessness during our lifetime here. It carries a sense of gratification and nobility that can not be attained by any other act in this world – whether people follow any organized religion or any spiritual or non-spiritual aspects of our existence. All we need to feel in our heart is the existence of our Creator, which is the starting and ending point of everything.
5: Our Travel Itinerary:
Be it as it may, our Itinerary was already planned and written in a “preserved tablet” (22:70)(43:4)(54:49) much in advance, and on a lighter note here, one of the most hummable songs “Que Sera, Sera” (Whatever Will Be, Will Be, The Future’s Not Ours To See) is a great reminder to that. Yet, we should fully believe that there is still much flexibility there for “things” to be altered (2:186)(13:11)(13:39)(3:145). And if we can make a conscious effort to try and understand that “flexibility”, then our planned itinerary can see some major shift to our advantage which apparently does not seem to be in our control, as we generally believe, and at times may feel gloomy about it. This “free will” is a huge advantage that human beings have been granted. There is still tremendous hope, despite things being frozen for us, as we perceive them to be.
6: Preparing For Those Moments:
Another big tip for a successful transition to our everlasting life with a graceful exit from the stage of this world, is to be well-prepared to recognize and welcome those visitors with their superlative auras with unearthly brilliance, who will come to escort us to the next realm in our final hour (32:11). These fleeting moments can be the most decisive and defining moments in one’s life. These moments include any earlier times when we would have connected and yearned for our Creator. If we are steadfast and found yearning to meet our Majestic Friend on the other side, then we have it made (89:27-30). We will be given a rousing welcome and treated as the most preferred guests. We will finally be saying hello, again to our Creator Friend in person after some long absence. No time to look back now to our worldly life. It’s time to cherish our good “thoughts & actions” of this world in our next life now. No fear of any kind will the believing heart feel (10:62). All the moments we spent here preparing to meet our Friend are now looking crisp, with a hugely resounding welcome note. But if we feel sorry that we are leaving this glamorous world with all things precious, then we will find these moments exacting and will feel forced to leave (6:93). And we know that friends are generally not very excited to see us when we visit them half-heartedly. That is why it is important to work towards nurturing our bond with our Glorious Friend in this world by connecting with Him at a deeper level. In order to do that we need to get in touch with “ourself” and contemplate the phenomenon of “know thyself”. And with a little tap into our “reflective heart”, this can lead us to “recognize” our Creator, which can be termed as “the biggest achievement of human consciousness ever”. This should help us greatly with our adjustment in the next realms, by making us understand and go towards that “radiance” joyfully, when “our moment” arrives.
7: Our life In The Intermediate/Parallel Worlds:
We should know that our true personality comprises of our “thoughts”, or in other words we are what we “think”, and that’s precisely what will travel with us to the next worlds. Our inside will manifest there more and will be our main identity while our outside will be sort of the likeness of a silhouette and perhaps even ever form-changing. In the “intermediate world”, our communication will be through “thought-perception”. People will discover things and understand them according to their “intellect” and the “consciousness” that they would have worked at and acquired in this world. In this world, because we resonate in a different energy vibration (some by choice/most by limitations), we cannot penetrate into other dimensions that we think are far from us, where in fact they are very much around us. The “parallel” worlds that we go to after our physical death are all around us, but remain invisible and impenetrable to us because of our physical limitations, though for souls, these dimensions are inter-penetrable, because of the higher vibration that they resonate with. Our next step in the “intermediate world” offers limitless possibilities to us. There are many planes in the “intermediate world” that we can explore yet it is nothing that compares to the “real thing” (limitless dimensions, portals, levels, stations) that our final destination “Afterlife” will offer to us. So while we traverse this earth with a lot of free time on our hands for mundane things, we should try to focus and invoke our numerous faculties of “sensory perception, imagination, reflection, inspiration, mind’s eye”, especially the rational faculty, to explore these possibilities that will eventually make us appreciate “Afterlife” more, rather than treat it as a taboo which our “fears” have made it to be. This inquiry, this zest, and this zeal will only help us ponder and probe the “mysterious realities” of Afterlife, that can greatly save us from getting caught off-guard later.
8: What Should We Concern Ourselves In This World:
It’s not the physical death that we should really worry about – It’s what we will leave behind, and what we send ahead in terms of our “deeds” (82:5) – is what we should concern ourselves most. One of the most noted mystics of 7th century, known for her quick-wit and eloquent oratory, approached the phenomenon of Afterlife by stating “O God! If I worship You for fear of Hell, burn me in Hell and if I worship You in hope of Paradise, exclude me from Paradise. But if I worship You for Your Own sake, grudge me not Your everlasting Beauty”. So, any which way we see it, Afterlife can be the most reinvigorating experience at the completion of all our travels, having gone through both “rough and smooth” rides along the way. Our return travel makes us go back to that infinite “Spirit”, of which we have always been an intrinsic part since our creation (32:9). That is why we should constantly be on the lookout for “which of us is best in deeds”, that can be taken to the next world when we cross over.
9: Day Of Reckoning:
i: Trumpet, ii: Wrecking Ball, iii: Resurrection, iv: Register, v: Scales, vi: Bridge;
(39:68) (20:105/106/107) (22:5) (17:13) (21:47) (19:71):
These are the most imperative and startling actualities that will come to pass, in order for our Friend to show us some new and unique stuff (14:48), with unimaginable creativity – and for us to be able to get back on our feet from our temporal resting places, and rush through “these processes”, leading us to various abodes (Suspension/Discomfort/Bliss)(7:46-47)(3:192)(43:71). While it is ok to look at the inevitable “Afterlife” with rose-coloured glasses and live with positive energies, fending off dark forces and evil whispers, it would be prudent to keep in mind that it won’t be all fun and games there. It’s all about the original question of “which of us is good in deeds”. And those “deeds” will be judged purely on our “intentions”. There will be some overwhelmingly surprising moments we will witness about our “own self” – with people watching. Folks with good acts will have their own shining light making a way for them there (66:8). That day, we will ourselves be a witness to our actions – and our bodies will testify to that (24:24). Our acts would be carving out our own paths and abodes for us. So in order to reach there in good shape, and near that “tree” (53:14-15), we need to make a concerted effort to choose wisely among the two paths (90:10) shown in the “travel guide”.
10: What To Keep In Mind – And The Good News:
We should understand that this world is a place of “trial & work”-“deception & opportunity”-“search of truth & rational knowledge”-“temptation & renouncement”, and if we can be a little cautious in making some blatant errors here, then our smaller blunders will be erased from our book (4:31)(29:7), and we will be able to reach home fine. What we would have missed out in this world, we would have plenty of opportunity to discover there, “super-consciousness” – the “signs”. Even if our weights do not tilt the “scales” in our favour, we should hope that our Gracious Friend will eventually come to our rescue (2:163)(2:284)(25:70).
It’s worth pondering that if our Creator can keep our universe in perfect balance by “unifying the opposites”, it would not be difficult for Him to bring a balance with our scales, despite the so many “innate contradictions” we may be carrying there with us. That day, we will be able to perceive & comprehend things that we found hard to believe in this world, and perhaps even denied them. It’s a day when the veil from our sight will be lifted (50:22). We would then feel sorry why we did not make much effort in responding to the love of our Friend, who kept approaching us in this world. Well, the good news is that we can fix all that right here, by giving ourself a chance to see things from our “third eye” to believe in the unseen.That day, the believers’ hindsight would be perfect. This is the “promised day”, when our souls will get our original bodies back (75:3/4), which will then go through major transformation of becoming immortal and unique -and if we get “good marks” in our books, we would then start an everlasting existence of unimaginably enchanting powers – constantly exploring our Friend’s “signs”, with our loved ones by our side.
Even the death that hovered on the universe all along will not be seen around again. We will actually be witnessing the act and sound of “Be and It Is” all the time, firsthand. Veils and Veils will be lifted…
It’s unfortunate that, in spite of so much hope promised to us by our Most Gracious Friend, some closed-minded and judgemental folks with their rigid opinions and scathing criticism, make it sound all very difficult for people to make it there in one piece. Even our own misgivings about the existence of our Creator, and our pessimistic outlook on Afterlife, create unnecessary doubts for us to be able to discover our “consciousness” further and recognize and be a part of that “Light” which is all around us. Little do we realize that our Creator is there for us 24/7 and His Grace runs the affairs of all the universes. And that He is the Creator of everything created, and that everyone has their own unique ways of recognizing Him – just as He recognizes us all.
We know that the purity of the heart pleases Him the most (26:89). We also know that His characteristic of “love” reigns supreme in all times and existences that will ever be witnessed. And if we can appreciate and try to emulate that a little – then “indeed we can all make it there – looking good”, with that “Light” oozing out and guiding us through all our journeys – leading us to a place of wonderment beyond our wildest imagination (32:17).
Good luck to everyone with their journeys…May our paths be well-lit by “Light upon Light” (24:35).
Murad Jamil – Islamabad