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‘How will the Almighty judge over 1. 7 billion people?’- Part 2


Pilgrims observing Jumat prayer at Haram in Makkah.

This verse, among others, seeks to prevent the conflation of judgment day in the reckoning of the Almighty with the legal processes among humanity today. In our world today, legal processes are fraught with human frailties and weaknesses. In a typical court of law, a judge sits in judgment based on evidence at his or her disposal and the wizardry or is casuistry of legal luminaries at turning black into white and vice versa. When judges give judgment here on earth, they are plagued by the fact that their actions and decisions may not be based on the truth.

The pious ones among them know that their judgment would still be reviewed by that power who sees the manifest and the hidden. Thus to entertain the possibility that there would be no resurrection and judgment after death is to give rein to injustice- a nihilistic and atheistic view of the world which works on the assumption that nothing comes or happens to humans after death except that their bones rust and ends there. It is that notion that Frederic Nietzsche, the German philosopher of nihilism had in mind when he proclaimed, in his own word, the death of god.

With reference to resurrection, Lari says that “The Qur’an wishes man to realize that although the restoration of life to the dead appears impossible when measured against the capacities of man, it is something straightforward when measured against the infinite power of God. If the skin on our hands is removed, for some accidental reason, a new skin grows in its place with exactly the same features.

Those who specialize in criminology know that fingerprints are usually the best means of establishing the identity of a criminal or suspect. This unique quality of fingerprints, first indicated in the Qur’an a thousand four hundred and thirty years ago, remained otherwise unknown until it was discovered in 1884 by some British scientists. Allah says: “Nay, We are able to put together in perfect order the very tips of fingers” (Qur’an 75; verse 4). He says again: “Look at the dry, barren earth and see how life emerges in it when We send rain Upon it. Plants spring forth of every type. This is all indication that God speaks the truth and will revive the dead; certainly He is capable of all things” (Qur’an 22:5).

However, a closer reading and re-reading of the perspective of Prophet Muhammad on this issue appear to necessitate we excuse the negative posture of my compatriot vis-à-vis resurrection. This is based on his commentary on that incident which occurred between Prophet Ibrahim and the Almighty on the possibility of resurrection of dead bodies for judgment. The Qur’an tells the story that one day Prophet Ibrahim (a.s) requests that the Almighty shows him how He will resurrect humanity.

The Almighty narrates the incident as follows: “And (remember) when Ibrahim said, “My Lord! Show me how You give life to the dead.” He the Almighty said: “Do you not believe” He (Ibrahim) said: “Yes (I believe), but to be stronger in faith.” He said: “Take four birds, then cause them to incline towards you (then slaughter them, cut them into pieces), and then put a portion of them on every hill, and call them, they will come to you in haste. And know that the Almighty is All-Mighty, All-Wise.” (Qur’an 2: 260).

Prophet Ibrahim, therefore, caught four birds, slaughtered them, removed their feathers, tore the birds to pieces and mixed the pieces together. He then placed parts of these mixed pieces on four or seven hills. Ibn `Abbas said, “ Prophet Ibrahim kept the heads of these birds in his hand. Next, the Almighty commanded him to call the birds one after the other and he did as commanded.

Ibrahim witnessed the feathers, blood and flesh of these birds fly from where he had placed them to join other parts. He saw how each bird came to collect its head from Ibrahim’s hand, and if he gave the bird another head the bird refused to accept it. When Prophet Ibrahim gave each bird its own head, the head was placed on its body by the leave and power of the Almighty”.

Commenting on this incident, al-Bukhari recorded that Abu Hurayrah said that the Messenger of the Almighty said: We are more liable to be in doubt than Ibrahim when he said, “My Lord! Show me how You give life to the dead.” The Almighty said, “Don’t you believe” Ibrahim said, “Yes (I believe), but (I ask) in order to be stronger in faith.”) In other words, if questions and doubts are raised against the possibility of resurrection today by the atheist, such should be seen as being in tandem with the nature of human kind; such should be seen as being relevant to the stream of consciousness of humanity today and to this world as it was during the primordial period. In fact we live in an age when children talk in the cradle, when polo is played inside the ocean, when men carry pregnancy on behalf of their wives.

Perhaps one other solemn pointer to the inherent imminence of resurrection in humans is our desire to live beyond our life. All humans desire immortality at least of this world as evidenced in the desire to have children, to write books, to have good pedigree. This is nothing but a manifestation of that credo in me and you which desires the afterlife: something more permanent than the body in which our souls are imprisoned.

Each time I look at my children I remember their beginning: the pain and enjoyment of sexual relationship; the pain of pregnancy, the birth of a subject with features all of which I had no role in bringing into reality. I always ask myself: without that act between me and my wife, was it the case that the child could not have come to the world through another means, if He so willed? If it is true that He brought us into life without nothing, how could bringing us back to life after our death become difficult for Him?
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