In this article, IBRAHIM OKSAS and NAZEEMA AHMED discuss Bediuzzaman’s reflections on some of the results of belief in the hereafter, which look to man’s individual life and social life in this world and in the next.
FOR Muslims, one of the key pillars of imaan is belief in the hereafter, which results not only in happiness in the hereafter but, according to Bediuzzaman Said Nursi in his Risale-i Nur, also results in happiness in this world.
Bediuzzaman says that just as man has relations with his home so he has relations with the world, and just as he has relations with his relatives so he has earnest relations with humankind. Just as man desires temporary permanence in this world so he passionately desires immortality in the realm of eternity. He has such hopes and desires that nothing apart from eternal happiness can satisfy him.
Thus, since the pleasures of this world do not satisfy man’s imaginative faculty, which is a servant of human nature, man’s comprehensive nature is certainly attached to eternity.
For man, therefore, despite being afflicted with these boundless hopes and desires, who has as capital only the insignificant faculties of will and poverty, belief in the hereafter is a treasury of great strength and sufficiency.
Furthermore, belief in the hereafter is such a means of pleasure and happiness, a source of help, refuge and means of consolation in the face of the endless sorrows of this world, that if the life of this world were to be sacrificed on the way of gaining it, it would still be cheap.
In further reflecting on man, Bediuzzaman says that man’s greatest and most constant anxiety is entering the graveyard, the same as his friends and relations have entered it.
Wretched man, who is ready to sacrifice his soul for a friend, thinks of the thousands, millions or thousands of millions of friends who have parted for all eternity, and suffers torments worse than Jahannum. Just at that point, belief in the hereafter comes, opens his eyes and says: ‘Look!’
He looks with imaan, and seeing that those friends have been saved from eternal death and decay and are awaiting him happily in a luminous world, he receives a pleasure of the rooh that intimates the pleasures of Jannah. Man’s superiority over other living beings and his high rank are in respect of his elevated qualities, comprehensive abilities, his universal ibaadah and his extensive spheres of existence.
However, the virtues he acquires like zeal, love, brotherhood and humanity are to the extent of the fleeting present, which is squeezed between the past and the future, which are non-existent, dead and black. For example, he loves and serves his father, brother, wife and country, whom he formerly did not know and, after parting from them, will never see again. He would rarely be able to achieve complete loyalty and sincerity, and his virtues and perfections would diminish proportionately.
Then, just as he is about to fall headlong from being the highest of the animals to the lowest and most wretched, belief in the hereafter comes to his assistance. It expands the present so that it encompasses the past and the future and is as broad as the world, and shows the bounds of existence to stretch from pre-eternity to post-eternity.
Thinking of his father being in the realm of bliss and world of spirits and the fraternity of his brothers continuing to eternity, and knowing that his wife will be a beautiful companion in Jannah also, he will love and respect them, be kindly and assist them. He will not exploit the important duties which are for relationships in that broad sphere of life and existence for the worthless matters of this world with its petty hatreds and interests.
His good qualities and attainments will advance to the degree that he is successful in being loyal and sincere, and his humanity will increase. Although he does not receive the pleasure from life that a sparrow receives, he becomes the most eminent and happy guest in the universe, superior to all the animals, and the best loved and most acceptable servant of the universe’s Owner.
With respect to the benefit of belief in the hereafter for man’s social life, Bediuzzaman cites the example of children and the elderly. He says that children, who form a quarter of humankind, can live a human existence only through belief in the hereafter and sustain their human capacity.
The effect of the constant deaths of children like themselves on their sensitive minds, weak hearts and vulnerable spirits, makes their minds and lives into instruments of torture. But then, through instruction in belief in the hereafter, in place of their anxieties and the playthings behind which they hid so as not to see those deaths, they feel a joy and expansion, and say, ‘My brother or my friend has died and become a bird in Jannah. He is flying around and enjoying himself better than us. My mother has died but she has gone to Divine Mercy. She will take me into her embrace in Jannah and I shall see her again.’ In this way, children may live in a state befitting humanity.
In conclusion, Bediuzzaman reflects on the elderly and says that it is only in belief in the hereafter that they, who form another quarter of humankind, can find consolation in the face of the close extinction of their lives and their entering the soil, and their fine and lovable worlds coming to an end. Those kindly, venerable fathers and devoted mothers would otherwise feel such a disturbance of the rooh and tumult of the heart that the world would become a despairing prison for them, and life a ghastly torture.
But then, belief in the hereafter says to them: ‘Do not worry! You have an immortal youth; a shining, endless life awaits you. You will be joyfully reunited with the children and relatives you have lost. Your good deeds have been preserved and you will receive your reward.’ This affords the elderly such solace and joy that if they were to experience old age a hundred times over all at the same time, it would not cause them despair.