The Concept of Akhira, the Hereafter

Published January 1, 1990

By Anwer S. Ahmed

This short article examines the concept of the Akhira (Hereafter) in the Qur’an, and the consequences of believing or denying its existence.

According to the Qur’an, this universe and everything in it was created by a Supreme Being who Muslims refer to as Allah (God). Allah created the universe and life on this earth to test us. In several verses of the Qur’an, Allah explains this. In Surah Mulk, Allah says that “He is the one who created death and life so that He may test you as to which of you is best in conduct. And He is the Almighty, the Oft-forgiving” (Qur’an 67:2).

Thus, this life is a period of trial or test for us, and we will be accountable for our actions. And so, the guidance of the Qur’an is indispensable to us in this life. “Does man think that he will be left neglected?” (75:36). One day everything in the universe will be totally destroyed and then recreated. On that day, the Day of Judgment, the accounting will take place. Allah says: “On that day people will proceed in scattered groups, to be shown their deeds. Then whoever does an atom’s weight of good, will see it! And whoever does an atom’s weight of evil, shall see it” (Qur’an 99:6-8). Based on this accounting, people will commence their eternal lives.

Since life in this world is certainly finite and life in the Akhira is eternal, for a true believer
Akhira is an immensely important concept. In the Qur’an, belief in Akhira is usually mentioned with belief in Allah. In fact, denial of Akhira amounts to denying Allah as the one and only being worthy of worship. Allah says, “And if you are astonished, then astonishing is their saying, ‘When we are dust, will we indeed be in a new creation?’ Those are the ones who have disbelieved in their Lord…” (Qur’an 13:5).

The belief in the Akhira is also a condition for receiving guidance from Allah. “This is the book, there is no doubt in it, guidance for those who are conscious of Allah, who believe in the unseen, who establish the prayer and spend out of what We have provided for them. And who believe in the revelation sent to you and sent before you. And in their hearts have the assurance of the Hereafter. They are on true guidance from their Lord, and it is these who are the successful ones” (Qur’an 2:2-5).

Once we accept that we have to be accountable for our actions no matter how minor they may seem, and that based on those actions we will attain an eternally good life if we did good things, or receive severe punishment if we sinned — that is, if the balance of good outweighs the bad. The term Akhira has a profound effect on the believer’s life in this world. Naturally, our goal should be to succeed in Akhira through good deeds. What are good deeds according to the Qur’an? The answer to-this question has been provided by the Qur’an itself. The road to success in the Akhira is called “siratul mustaqueem,” or the straight path, which has been explained in many verses in the Qur’an. Some of the things mentioned as adhering to the straight path include not associating any partners with Allah, being good to parents, staying away from lewd things, always speaking in a just manner, and fulfilling the Covenant with God

Denying or forgetting Akhira results in our focusing on success in this life. Thus, for someone who thinks that there is nothing beyond this life, success is measured by wealth, power, and social status. “Fair in the eyes of men is the love of things they covet — women and sons, and heaps of stored up gold and silver, horses branded and cattle and tilled land; such are the provisions of this world’s life. But AlIah, with Him, is the best abode to return to” (Qur’an 3:14).

Unfortunately, mankind’s alienation from Allah and doubts or denial of the Akhira, have resulted in corruption, exploitation of the weak, abuse of power, and the degradation of society as a whole. As believers, we should always work to strengthen our belief in the Akhira and our determination to attain the reward of Paradise.

Anwer S. AhmedAuthor Anwer S. Ahmed lives in Rochester, New York and he is a Ph.D. student in finance at University of Rochester, New York.

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