Faith in resurrection besides logically interpreting and revolving the puzzle of life and death and besides being a truth which must be accepted, produces diverse effects on human life, the most important of them being the following two:
1. The picture of death which had always been appalling and the thought of which had always disturbed the peace of mind has undergone a complete change. With the acknowledgement of resurrection and "life after death" in a world where all the gifts of life will exist eternally and on a higher and bigger scale the picture of death is no longer as dreadful and appalling as it was, and the scenes of death and old age no longer disturb the peace of mind.
The unrest and anxiety caused by the thought of death is not as painful to us as to the materialists, and thus we can lead a more comfortable and satisfied life. The believers in life hereafter welcome sacrifice and martyrdom for a sacred cause, for they regard them as a prelude to a new life in a higher and wider world.
2. The realization that human thought and deeds continue to exist, that they after going through a process of development and growth come back in a magnified form in the next world, that all good and bad deeds are to be minutely accounted for and that one has to receive reward or punishment, as the case may be, certainly exerts a healthy effect on human conduct and behavior. Thus the belief in the next world creates a favorable atmosphere for the promotion of good deeds and keeping the out- burst of passions under a check.
We feel clearly that unaccountability and meaninglessness have no foundation in the objective world. Firm laws regulate all existing things, from the minute particles of the atom to the vast heavenly bodies. The birth and death of planets and stars, the transformation of the mass of the sun into luminous energy, all take place by way of an equation. The different forms of organic matter each have its own line of attraction, and nothing goes to waste, even the energy of one part of an atom.
In short, the entire order of creation follows an unvarying regularity; it is like a table of firm and unbending laws. Why then does the behavior of men deviate from the normative orbit of all beings? Why it is not based on justice and regularity, and why do injustice, disorder, and lack of restraint, rage unchecked in the human realm? The answer is obvious: that we are differentiated from all other creatures by being endowed with the blessing of consciousness and free will.
The scope of our acts is extremely wide. If God had wished, He could have compelled us to obey natural law, but His far-reaching wisdom caused Him to make us His vicegerents on earth and to grant us freedom. To act unjustly or irresponsibly is, therefore, to misuse this freedom we have been given, to pervert it in the most irrational way.
Since this world is a place of trial and testing, enabling us to pass on to the stages of existence that yet await us, it cannot be thought that this passing life, full of cruelty, oppression, and the violation of rights, represents the entirety of life. In reality, it is a single chapter in a long story that continues until infinity.
Our innate feelings inform us that the oppressor who escapes worldly justice, the aggressor who tramples on the rights of men and is not caught in the trap of the law, the criminal who is able to ensure that the provisions of justice are not implemented in his case all such people will ultimately be prosecuted by the principle of justice that underlies the entire universe.
In your everyday life, whenever you are asked to do anything, you immediately think: what is the utility of doing it and what harm is involved in doing it? This is the very nature of man. He instinctively regards a useless action as totally unnecessary. You will never be willing to waste your time and energy in useless, wasteful, and unproductive jobs. Similarly, you won't be very eager to avoid a thing that is harmless.
And the general rule is that the deeper your conviction about the utility of a thing, the firmer would be your response to it; and the more doubtful you are about its efficacy, the more wavering and shaky would be your attitude. After all, why does a child put his hand in fire? -Because he is not sure that fire burns. Why does he evade studying? -Because he does not fully grasp the importance and benefits of education and does not believe in what his elders try to impress upon his mind.
Now think of the man who does not believe in the Day of Judgment. Would he not consider belief in God and a life in accordance with His code of no consequence? What value will he attach to a life in pursuit of His pleasure? To him neither obedience to God is of any advantage, nor disobedience to Him of any harm. How, the injunctions of God, Him Prophet, and His Book? What incentive would remain there for him to undergo trials and sacrifices and to avoid worldly pleasures? And if a man does not follow the code of God and lives according to his own likes and dislikes, or what use is his belief in the existence of God, if any such belief he has?
That is not all. If you reflect still deeper, you will come to the conclusion that belief in life after death is the greatest deciding factor in the life of a man. Its acceptance or rejection determines the very course of his life and behavior.
A man who has in view the success or failure of this world alone will be concerned with the benefits and harms that accrue to him in this life only. He will not be prepared to undertake any good act if he has no hope of gaining thereby some worldly interest, nor will he be keen to avoid any wrong act if that is not injurious to his interests in this world.
But a man who believes in the next world as well and has a firm conviction of the final consequences of his acts would look upon all world look upon all worldly gains and losses as temporary and transitory and would not stake his eternal bliss for a transitory and would his eternal bliss for a transitory gain. He will look upon things in their wider perspective and will always keep the everlasting benefit or harm in view. He will do the good, however costly it may be to him in terms of worldly gains, or however costly it may be to him in terms of worldly gains, or however injurious it may be to his immediate interests; and he will avoid the wrong, however charming it may look. He will judge the things from the viewpoint of their eternal consequences and would not submit to his whims and caprices.
Thus there is a radical difference between the beliefs, approaches, and lives of the two persons. One's idea of a good act is limited to its beneficence in this brief temporary life as a gain in the shape of money, property, public applause and similar other things which give him position, power, reputation, and worldly happiness. Such things become his objectives in life.
Fulfillment of his own wishes and self-aggrandizement become the be-all and end-all of his life. And he does not deter even from cruel and unjust means in their achievement. Similarly, his conception of a wrong act is that which may involve a risk of injury to his interests in this world like loss of property and life, spoiling of health, besmirching of reputation, or some other unpleasant consequence.
In contrast to this man, the believer's concept of good and evil would be quite different. To him all that pleases God is good and all that invokes His displeasure and wrath is evil. A good act, according to him, will remain good even if it brings no benefit to him in this world, or even entails loss of some worldly possession or injury to his personal interests. He will be confident that God will reward him in the eternal life and that would be the real success. Similarly, he will not fall a prey to evil deeds merely for some worldly gain, for he knows that even if he escapes punishment in his short worldly life, in would be the loser and would not be able to escape punishment by the court of God. He does not believe in the relativity of morals but sticks to the absolute standards revealed by God and lives according to them irrespective of gain or injury in this word.
Thus it is the belief or disbelief in life after death which makes man adopt different courses in life. For one who does not believe in the Day of Judgment it is absolutely impossible to fashion his life as suggested by Islam. Islam says: "In the way of God give charity to the poor." His answer is: "No, charity will diminish my wealth ; I will, instead, take interest on my money." And in its collection he would not hesitate to get attached each and everything belonging to the debtors, though they be poor or hunger-stricken.
Islam says: "Always speak the truth and shun lying, though you may gain ever so much by lying and lose ever so much by speaking the truth." But his reply would be: " Well, what shall I do with a truth which is of no use to me here, and which instead brings loss to me ; and why should I avoid lying where it can bring benefit to me without any risk, even that of a bad name?"
He visits a lonely place and finds a precious metal lying there; in such a situation Islam says: "This is not your property, do not take it”; but he would say: "This is a thing I have come by without any cost or trouble; why should I not have it? There is no one to see this pick-up, who might report it to the police or give evidence against me in a court of law, to give me a bad name among the people. Why should I not make use of this valuable?" Someone secretly keeps a deposit with this man, and after that that he dies.
Islam says: "Be honest with the property deposited with you and give it over to the heirs of the deceased." He says: "Why? There is no evidence of his property being with me; his children also have no knowledge about it. When I can appropriate it without any difficulty, without any fear of legal claim, or stain on my reputation, why should I not do so?"
In short, at every step in life, Islam will direct him to walk in a course of behavior; but he will take recourse to the opposite direction. For Islam Measures and values everything from the viewpoint of its everlasting consequence; while such a person always has in view only the immediate and earthly outcome.
Now, you can understand why a man cannot be a Muslim without belief in the Day of Judgment. To be a Muslim is a very great thing; the fact is that one cannot even become a good man without this belief, for the denial of the Day of Judgment degrades man from humanity to a place even lower than that of the lowest of animals.
Belief in the Hereafter makes the life balanced
Consequent upon what we have so far read about man, his future, the inevitable results of his deeds and efforts and his reappearance in the Hereafter in all dimensions of his existence, we come to the conclusion that a true belief in the Hereafter should make man more careful and vigilant about making himself and giving shape to his efforts. When one is sure that any sort of perversion in meeting his desires and the commitment of any excess by him, will be detrimental to his interests and will cause only harm to him, and knows that his appearance in the Hereafter with an imbalanced and defective personality will culminate in nothing but his ruin and his going to Hell, he will make every effort to develop his existence in all dimensions.
We have seen that Paradise is the manifestation of a perfect and all‑inclusive human life. Islam also aims that man leads such an ideal life in this world within its limitations. It wants a healthy body as well as a healthy soul. It aims at the provision of food, clothing, shelter and other physical comforts as well as at the healthy spiritual development.
A man having belief in the Hereafter tries to improve this worldly life in every respect and pays attention to his education, research, health, work, industry and all round progress. At the same time he believes in justice, brotherhood, freedom, human rights, sincerity, law and order, clear thinking, reasonableness, philanthropy, good will and spirituality. The correct belief in the Hereafter makes a man balanced, versatile and industrious.
The following sources are used to prepare the above article.
1. Group of Scholars, Rationality of Islam (1978), under the auspices of Ayatullah Sayyid Abu'l Qasim al-Khu'I, Publisher: Islamic Seminary Publications, Pakistan
2. Abul Ala Mawdudi, Towards Understanding Islam (1963), Publisher: Islamic Publications
3. Dr. M. H. Behishti, Dr. M. J. Bahonar, Philosophy of Islam, Islamic Seminary Publications (1984)