Every man by nature has some conception of the Day of Resurrection because we all like to know the ultimate future of man and of this world. We want to know where the life's struggle of man ends and what the real purpose of life is.
We have two answers to this question:
(i) All the Divine religions according to the arguments have an optimistic view of the future of man and this world. The Holy Qur'an says:
To your Lord will all things eventually return. (Quran, 53:42)
(ii) The materialistic views consider that this world and the man will ultimately be annihilated. This is a very dangerous and disappointing view and besides those who hold such a view do not have any convincing argument. In this context, the Holy Qur'an says:
They say, 'The only life is this worldly life and here we shall live and die. It is only time which annihilates us'. They have no knowledge about this. It is only their speculations. (Quran, 45:24)
There are some people who do not apparently admit the Resurrection Day but subconsciously they feel man's eternal existence. Sometimes they themselves give out indications to show that despite death and the physical destruction of the body they do not consider that man would ultimately perish. We give below some examples of these indications:
(i) All those who do not believe in Resurrection hold in reverence the graves of their ancestors.
(ii) These people name their roads, institutions, universities and schools after the names of their dead ones.
(iii) These people wish that after their death they should be remembered with a good name.
(iv) These people name their children after the names of their ancestors.
(v) These people mummify the dead bodies of their dear ones so as to protect them from putrefaction.
If those who deny Resurrection and think that death annihilates man what is then the logical bases of their a thinking? When they mean death to be annihilation why then do they erect mausoleums for their dead and lay wreaths on their graves? Obviously such things point to the fact that those who do not believe in Resurrection do have some taint belief in some corner of their hearts about the eternal existence of man's soul and that by death, man's being is not destroyed. We elaborate this point a little more.
If people consider death to be total destruction then why do the various nations and races name their children after the names of their forefathers and why do they feel proud of them? And if somebody kicks the grave of their father why do they quarrel with him? Why do they erect magnificent mausoleums? Why some tribes bury ornaments, weapons and garments along with the dead ones?
True, man has in his heart a feeling of an eternal existence of man and by one way or the other considers the good name in history as a sign of satisfaction. On the other hand, man has a feeling of estrangement as this world is very limited and narrow for him. He gets himself involved in his wife, children, wealth and property and other enjoyments of life. But after a time in his heart he misses something as despite all his comforts he does not seem to be fully satisfied. Sometimes he wants to end his life and sometimes he asks himself a question as to what is the purpose of his existence and for what he has been created.
All this vague feeling of restlessness points to the fact that man feels himself estranged in this world. Despite its vast expanse this world seems to him a narrow alley; his body is like a bird's cage and the world a prison to him. This sort of feeling is based on the conviction that one day he will be satisfied and all his wishes and goals will be fulfilled because for every feeling, want and internal restlessness there lies an answer in external source as for example the sensation of thirst is removed by drinking water, curiosity of gaining some particular knowledge is fulfilled by acquiring that skill or knowledge and the feeling of estrangement by the thought of Resurrection.
Guidance to Right Arguments
Man's every natural feeling can be answered in two ways:
(i) Timely wrong answer.
(ii) Everlasting correct answer.
Example: A thirsty man can be given water or he can be shown a mirage also. Similarly, a hungry baby can be satisfied by suckling or he can be given a rubber nipple to soothe him.
Thus every natural sensation or feeling can be treated in two different ways, real and permanent one, or artificial and temporary one.
Imam Ali says, "The Merciful Allah appointed Muhammad (peace be upon him and his descendants) as His trustworthy messenger and entrusted him with the mission of converting people from idolatry to the worship of Allah and guiding them to obey Him instead of obeying the Satan".
Indeed there exists in man a basic desire for love and worship. If man's internal predisposition had not been diverted to the right path, he would have plunged himself into the darkness of superstition.
Answers that Prophets Give: So far we have said that man has a feeling of his existence and wishes it to continue. This feeling should be given a true and permanent support. Now we should see what the Prophets say in this regard and we reproduce their pronouncements with their arguments.
Allah's Message through Prophets
The Holy Qur'an says:
Do you think We created you for nothing, and that you will not return to Us? (Quran, 23:115)
And I have not created the jinn and the men except that they should worship Me. (Quran, 51: 56)
Do you not see that Allah has made subservient to you whatever is in the earth and the ships running in the ocean by His commands? (Quran, 22:65)
Whoever has done an atom’s weight of good, will see it and whoever has done an atom's weight of evil, will also see it. (Quran, 99:7, 8)
Every soul is entangled in what it does. (Quran, 74: 38)
Don’t follow that of which you have no knowledge. Verily the ear, the eye, and the heart, each will be questioned. (Quran, 17: 36)
Allah may reward them with the best of what they have done. (Quran, 9:121)
These are the view-points that the Prophets have put forward in relation to Resurrection and each one of them has some logical reasoning which we shall discuss later. But at this moment it is better to see whether the Resurrection (coming back to life again) will actually happen or not, or whether it is possible from the point of view of common sense. Thus when we understand that there is a possibility of such a happening, then we shall look into the reasoning and argument for Resurrection as only its possibility is not sufficient, for nothing can happen unless there is reason for its happening. Thirdly we shall see whether there is some obstruction in the way of Resurrection.
Coming of the Dead to Life is Not Impossible
No one has up to this time put forward any argument to show that Resurrection will not happen. Those who do not believe in Resurrection harp on the same old tune saying how a dead one can come to life when his body has decomposed and each and every part of it has decayed and reduced to dust.
To this, according to common sense and according to the Holy Qur'an, the answer is that it can happen as it is not impossible. This thing comes to our imagination and we come across day and night examples of the dead coming to life again.
Imam Muhammad Taqi, says, "Sleeping and waking are the two best examples by which we can fully comprehend the issue of dying and coming back to life. Death is nothing more than a long slumber".
Secondly it can be seen when the trees sprout in the spring and die in the autumn. The Holy Qur'an says:
Do you not see that Allah sends down water from the cloud, then We bring forth therewith fruits of various colors, and in the mountains are streaks, white and red, of various hues and (others) intensely black? (Quran, 35:27)
A sustenance for the creatures and We give life thereby to a dead land; thus will be the resurrection. (Quran, 50:11)
In short, day in and day out we come across the incidence of coming into life of the dead things, which makes the issue of resurrection though seemingly a difficult one, easy and simple to comprehend.
A Memorable Incident of the Holy Qur'an
A man extracted a piece of bone from underneath a wall and after pulverizing it brought to the Holy Prophet and putting on airs insolently said: "Who can bring back this decayed and powdered bone to life?" Allah says in the Holy Qur'an:
He has said, 'Who will give life to the bones which have become ashes'. (Muhammad), tell him, 'He who gave them life in the first place will bring them back to life again. He has the best knowledge of all creatures '. (Quran, 36:78, 79)
If a maker of something says that he can re-assemble the broken parts of his product he will not be in the wrong because making a thing is more difficult than assembling its parts.
The deniers of Resurrection had doubts about two things:
(i) "How can decayed bones come to life?" The Holy Qur'an says:
He has said, 'Who will give life to the bones which have become ashes? (Quran, 36:78)
(ii) If the powdered bones are accepted to come to life again then who will return them to life? The Holy Qur'an says:
(Muhammad), tell him, 'He Who gave them life in the first place will bring them back to life again'. (Quran, 36:79)
If a brick-maker claims that after pulverizing the brick he can re-make it, can anybody doubt it? Certainly not.
Why do these people who consider the decomposed parts of the dead coming back to life as a very strange phenomenon not doubt the very creation of their life? Obviously to create life in the first instance is more difficult than to re-create it. Is it more difficult to make an air-plane or to re-assemble it after dismantling it? If a maker of planes claims that he can disintegrate its parts and then re-assemble it, can anybody doubt his statement? No, certainly not, because re-assembling the parts is easier than making a thing. Thus when one accomplishes a difficult task he can also do the easier one but for Almighty Allah nothing is difficult.
The Holy Qur'an says:
And He it is Who originates the creation, then reproduces it, and it is easy to Him, and His are the most exalted attributes in the heavens and the earth, and He is the Mighty, the Wise. (Quran, 30:27)
Other Examples in Proof of Resurrection
In support of the proof that coming of the dead to life again is not a difficult or impossible thing, the Holy Qur'an has provided many examples and among them are the two incidents related to Prophet Uzayr and Prophet Ibrahim.
(i) Once Prophet Uzayr, while on a journey, passed through a deserted place, and there he thought to himself, not by way of disbelief but out of inquisitiveness: 'How will Allah bring them back to life after they have been dead for so many years?"
The Almighty Allah kept him dead for 100 years and after reviving him asked, "How long have you been here?" The Prophet replied, "Half an hour or so" Allah said, "No, you have been here for 100 years. Now you look at your donkey, your animal of riding and also your food that you had with you. Now, wonder at the Greatness and Power of Allah, how your donkey died and perished into dust and the food which should have decayed in a day or two is still fresh after 100 years. Now if you want to witness the coming of the dead into life again you may look at the decayed bones of the donkey from which We will bring it back to life again fully intact with its skin, flesh and soul, so that it may serve as a good lesson for the coming generations". (Vide: Quran, 2:259)
As soon as Prophet Uzayr saw his donkey coming back to life and the food remaining fresh for 100 years he exclaimed, "I know Allah has the Power to do everything".
(ii) Once Prophet Ibrahim was passing by the bank of a river when he saw a corpse, one portion of which was in water and the other was on the ground. The land and marine animals and birds flocked round it, and every animal was eating practically every bit of the dead body. Prophet Ibrahim after seeing this asked Allah, "How will you bring back the dead to life on the Day of Judgment when this corpse has almost been eaten up by the animals and it has been assimilated in their bodies as their integral part". Allah asked Prophet Ibrahim, "Do you have no faith in My Power and belief in resurrection". He replied, "Why not! But I want to satisfy myself by seeing these phenomena with my own eyes". (Discussions and argumentation satisfy the mind while experience and observation satisfy the heart)
Allah then asked Prophet Ibrahim, "Take four different kinds of birds. Slaughter them and mix up their flesh together and put them on different mountains. Thereafter, call out each bird one by one and see for yourself how various portions of the mixed flesh get separated and go to bring back each bird in its original form". Prophet Ibrahim did as he was directed. He slaughtered a pigeon, a chicken, a peacock and a crow, mixed up their flesh together in one whole put them on the top of ten different mountains. Then he called out each animal and each one of them appeared before him in its original form. (Vide Quran, 2:260)
In fact, Prophet Ibrahim the chosen Messenger of Allah, is passed through special test and trial and is put on an exalted position while on the other hand there are people like us who have not even passed an initial stage of recognizing preliminary things as conviction, ascension etc.
We give some simple examples further to elaborate how scattered particles can form together to a complete being.
(i) A cow grazes grass which on assimilation yields milk.
(ii) A man eats a piece of bread which goes to form various component tissues and organs of his body. e.g. blood, bones, hair, nails, flesh etc.
(iii) Many cloths are made of fibers which are produced from petroleum.
(iv) When a metal is melted its impurities are separated in the foam.
(v) When milk or curd is churned its cream is separated on top.
Now you admit that the digestive function of a cow yields milk from grass. Many fibers from petroleum and cream from milk or curd can be obtained. But when you hear that Allah will shake the earth in a quake, the decayed bone particles wherever they are, will form together in original shape, you do not believe it! (Vide: Quran, 99:1—2)
We quote here some more verses of the Holy Qur'an:
As He brought you forth in the beginning, so shall you also return. (Quran, 7 29)
And certainly you know the first creation, then why do you not reflect? (Quran, 56:62)
Let man reflect from what he was made of: He was created of spurting water issuing from the loins and ribs, Allah has the Power to resurrect him. (Quran, 86:5—8)
Does man think that he will be left to himself, alone? Wasn't he once just an emitted drop of semen? Then formed into an embryo? Then he fashioned, shaped and proportioned and assigned it sexes, male and female. Doesn't He then have the power to bring the dead back to life. (Quran, 75:36—40)
Did We fail to accomplish the first creation? And yet they are still in doubt about a new creation. We created man and surely know what doubts arise in his mind. (Quran, 50:15)
Don't they realize that Allah Who has created the heavens and the earth has the power to create the like of them? There is no doubt that He has fixed a term for them. Even then the wicked turn away in disbelief (from Our Revelation). (Quran, 17:99)
Does not man remember that before We created him he was nothing? (Quran, 19:67)
Though we are giving proofs from the Holy Qur'an yet it advises us to apply our wisdom and reasoning. Can anybody still be in doubt after seeing the clear proof of Allah's doing all the year round?
Since our discussion requires brevity and simplicity we are not quoting other examples that are mentioned in the Holy Qur'an, for instance the story about the People of the Cave (ashabul kahaf) and of that young man who awoke from his sleep after 309 years.
Muhsin Qara'ati , Lessons From Qur'an , Publisher: Islamic Seminary Publications, ISBN 0-941724-51-4