Is There Life After Death?
This question has held so much intrigue and fascination for me since a very young age. Death was introduced to me quite early on when I lost my great grandmother as a young child. Ever since this time I have pondered on this topic and researched it wherever I can in religious scriptures, journals, articles and on TV documentaries. It is impossible to know for sure what happens after death because nobody has actually died and returned to life to tell us. The closest we have come to uncovering this mystery is from accounts of those who have lived through near-death experiences. However, these experiences are subjective and have different variations influenced by a persons life history, cultural and faith beliefs.
Most organized faiths recognize and have a view of the afterlife. Christianity, Islam and Judaism all subscribe to the heaven and hell concept which indicates a life after death wherein God will resurrect us after we die in order to judge us for our deeds in this life on earth. Other faiths such as Hinduism, Jainism, Buddhism, and Sikhism believe in reincarnation. If you believe in reincarnation, you believe that after death a person’s soul is reborn in another body. The word ‘reincarnation’ comes from Latin roots ‘re’ meaning again, and ‘incarne’ meaning to make flesh. This belief system is regarded by other faiths to be incompatible with death as the cycle of life continues infinitely.
So in order to attempt answering the main question above; ‘Is there life after death?’ We need to first acknowledge how complex this question is. There is no hard evidence for or against. Just a difference in opinion and faith. If you believe in it then you trust that is true from following your faith and belief system, if not then that is also true for you. For some its enough to believe that you die and there is nothing more. That is the end. It all depends on your own unique view of life, death and faith.
As a Muslim my belief system is as follows:
Islam preaches the existence of the soul. The principle belief in Islam is that there is only one birth on this earth. It teaches that there is life after death, and this is known as ‘Akhirah’. In Islam, it is Allah who decides when a person dies and with the withdrawal of the spirit from the body, the soul’s life in the Barzakh (the barrier) begins until the Day of Resurrection. In other words, Muslims believe that when they die, they will stay in their graves until the day of judgement. Some Quranic quotes to this effect are as follows:
“ He gives life and causes death, and to Him, you shall be brought back.”(10:56
“Every soul must taste of death, then to Us, you shall be brought back.” (29:57)
“…to Allah is your return, of all (of you), so He will inform you of what you did.” (5:105)
These verses show that as Muslims we believe we will return to the Almighty Allah. Our souls live on after death but the body dies and decays. Allah will then at an appointed time resurrect us for the day of judgement.
That is my own understanding of life after death according to my faith. However, in a more general sense, we can explore the concept of near-death experiences to understand what might happen after death from people of all backgrounds. I was watching the ‘Surviving Death’ documentary series on Netflix recently which inspired this article. I found some common details in the accounts of survivors.
The factors described by those who have had near-death experiences are as follows:
- Seeing a bright light.
- Seeing a tunnel or being in darkness with a light at the end of it.
- Seeing and communicating with deceased relatives.
- Floating above the body and seeing what is happening around their body in real-time.
- A sense of the soul peeling away from the body and weightlessness.
- A sense of flying and being able to move freely between locations on earth whilst simultaneously being able to see things happening in different places at the same time.
- Time and space expand as if in a different dimension to earth.
- After returning to their bodies a sense of peace and calm about death.
- An extra sensory perception in their senses, otherworldly awareness which others cannot sense.
- A greater appreciation of life upon return.
- Some reported not wanting to return and wishing they could remain in that other dimension.
There are many more but the above seem to have a recurring theme. These accounts were from a diverse group of individuals who were interviewed about their near-death experiences. The interviewee’s consisted of men and women of different ages from a variety of different cultures, faiths and backgrounds. In summary, this documentary indicated that the soul does go beyond death and journeys onward somewhere unknown to us. So although there is no definitive answer it appears that there is some likelihood of life after death… in my personal opinion anyway.
Each to their own. I invite you all to reflect on this topic and believe in what you feel is true for you. It is a topic that we can agree to disagree on because it is a matter of the heart. Either you believe in it or you don’t. There is no absolute right or wrong. Just what is comfortable for you. I have quite enjoyed writing about this subject and hope that likewise you have enjoyed reading it. Feel free to leave comments on what you believe to be the case; this is very much a topic open to everyone.