Faith After Death

Since the devil is scheduled to be locked up this August (rest assured, evil will not cease) I thought I would research the place he is destined to live. I am a little fascinated by the geography of Hell, because apparently it’s probably made of the same stuff as Heaven, according to my interpretations. But! Something has distracted me. And so here I am, writing a post not on its geography but its inhabitants, among whom I may or may not be present. The subject of its inhabitants never interested me much, and it seems that anyone else who “cares” is harassing pedestrians with “God hates gays” signs. There is also the related factor that I am pretty secure in my faith, and I genuinely trust that God will not place anyone in the wrong torture chamber.

But from a social justice perspective, this is an issue. The subject arose when a friend of mine, an ex-Muslim atheist in Israel, mentioned developing a thicker skin against hostility, and I told him that it’s not his problem: he shouldn’t be the one to have thick skin and change, other people should be fucking humane. And he said, I doubt they’d change the Qur’an anytime soon. You can guess my response: Is that what they say? That the Qur’an makes them act like douchecanoes? What a lazy, pathetic excuse.

Believers, it is so arrogant to believe that the Quran’s hostility toward disbelievers after death is not hostility toward you. (I’ve covered, I think, the few controversial verses regarding disbelievers in life.) Also, no one alive is dead yet (brilliant observation Nahida) so why the hell is this any of your business? Leave it to God.

What is necessary to consider is what makes one a believer and what makes one a disbeliever. According to hadith and Quranic implications having faith saves us after death, outweighing all our bad deeds. Scholars agree that no believer will burn in Hell forever: they will suffer there for their bad deeds for a period of time shorter than Eternity and then return to Heaven. Hilariously, many Muslims assume they will be Muslims at the time of death, and that disbelievers will remain disbelievers after death. (I thought modesty was supposed to be a practice of faith. Only for women? Right.) This is because a narrow sense of the concept is adopted: that believing consists of simply saying you believe a couple of times. And then you can go sin all you want, because you believe in God and this will save you and you’ll be forgiven.

Come on, guys. We’re not Catholic.

God has stated that every sin will be forgiven for those who repent–that last part being key. You can’t fake repentance. And if you don’t repent, there are also sins mentioned in the Qur’an that make you lose your faith: unwarranted murder, for one. Mass genocide. So no, you can’t just rest assured that you’ll die soft-hearted because you believe now.

And those who don’t believe now, and plan to not believe until death? That is not to say they won’t believe after death, once they have been presented with evidence strong enough for their own standards, as opposed to those who have become so corrupted through despicable crimes against humanity that their hearts are hardened against God and faith, and their souls stay with the devil. And the Qur’an says that they will remain in Hell everlasting. Now, my friend’s argument was that he couldn’t just change his mind after death.

God says repeatedly that whoever repents will be granted forgiveness. We are due to pay for our sins in Hell for different lengths of time for each soul before entering Heaven. Why should the sin of disbelief be any different?

He answered, because that is not faith. Belief is faith based, you can’t require faith after seeing the evidence.

But according to the Qur’an, there is evidence everywhere. Why do I still have faith? According to the Qur’an, there is evidence everywhere, and if we apply the definition of faith that it is belief without evidence, then I as a believer am not creditted for faith because by God’s definition I am believing with evidence. If a nonbeliever dies and sees God and then believes it as xir standard of evidence–how is it different?

But none of this is relevant to me. Every Muslim should be concerned with xir own afterlife, not thinking about other people’s.

Faith is not a narrow concept. It is not as narrow as proclaiming you believe and not acting with genunine practice upon your beliefs. Faith is a kind of sincerity, something you harbor without pressure or fear of punishment:

And [thus] God displays God’s wonders before you: which, then, of God’s wonders can you still deny? HAVE THEY, then, never journeyed about the earth and beheld what happened in the end to those [deniers of the truth] who lived before their time? More numerous were they, and greater in power than they are, and in the impact which they left on earth: but all that they ever achieved was of no avail to them – for when their apostles came to them with all evidence of the truth, they arrogantly exulted in whatever knowledge they [already] possessed: and [so, in the end,] they were overwhelmed by the very thing which they were wont to deride. And then, when they [clearly] beheld Our punishment, they said: “We have come to believe in the One God, and we have renounced all belief in that to which we were wont to ascribe a share in God’s divinity!” But their attaining to faith after they had beheld Our punishment could not possibly benefit them – such being the way of God that has always obtained for God’s creatures – and so, then and there, lost were they who had denied the truth. (Qur’an 40:81–85)

This verse is clearly speaking of those who have knowledge/belief (two things which the Qur’an often equate with each other) and yet live their lives arrogantly in their strength and their possessions, and arrogantly with their knowledge of God, and only proclaimed faith in the moments they beheld punishment, whether here on Earth in a moment of hardship or in the afterlife. Proclaiming belief out of fear.

That is not faith.

And seriously, a whole chunk of problems would be solved if people worried about their own damn afterlives and stopped harassing/backstabbing others. Once you are concerned with the afterlife of someone else, your own faith is in danger: you have betrayed that you do not truly believe God is merciful and that no one will receive more or less than what is deserved, and that you don’t actually trust God. Also, harassing people is arrogant as fuck.

6 thoughts on “Faith After Death

  1. You have corrected a common misconception here. It is interesting when Muslims assume that non-Muslims are the subject of these passages, when in fact God is speaking to Muhammad about Muslims who pretend to have faith.

  2. And it's stuck-up all-competing patriarchy that turns religion into a tool of harassment!Good post, Nahida. I enjoy reading the Qur'an with your guidance. I feel safer.

  3. Even the Catholics don't believe that. (Some brands of Protestant do, though.)The doctrine is that "faith without works is dead"– i.e., if you say you believe, but you don't do good deeds, you don't really believe. The sign that you have faith is that you do good works.When you commit a venial sin (a sin that isn't that bad or isn't committed consensually or with full knowledge), you can just confess it to God and as long as you honestly feel bad and don't want to do it again it's fine. When you commit a mortal sin (one that will send you to hell), you can confess it through the Sacrament of Penance (normally called Confession) and, if you complete your assigned penance, it's wiped off your permanent Heaven record. :)

  4. In awe. What an amazing post! While learning about Islam my professor told me that all (believing) Muslims will in fact go to heaven but will suffer first, which, makes sense and it is even written in the Qu'ran. Perhaps even good Christians/Jews/other people if they were ignorant of Islam will indeed go to heaven. Only God knows. It's really interesting how people like to assume the fate of others. We need to focus on our own deeds and afterlife. I just wrote a post about repentance too and how that is in fact key to changing and building true faith. Faith is not proving how sinless you are or how you can tell other people what's right or wrong. It's your personal relationship with Allah. Everyone needs to understand this. It's not the religion that has a problem it's the people.

  5. An excerpt from Jessica's @ Ask an Islamicist latest post:"As for people of the Book, there are passages in the Qur’an that suggest that they would be judged based on their own Scriptures. This idea is expanding in the hadith, which include stories of the End in which all peoples of the Book are judged by their peoples’ Prophet."And we know that God sent down more than the Bible and Torah before the Qur'an, so it probably is not limited to only Christians and Jews.

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