“The Last Day” is called such because there will be no new day after it, as the people of Paradise shall be in their abode as will the people of Hell. Among its other names are “The Day of Resurrection,” “The Reality,” “The Event,” “The Day of Judgment,” and “The Overwhelming.” This is the greatest day that mankind shall pass through. Indeed, it will be the gravest and most fearful day. A person’s new life will be decided on that day. It will mark a new beginning for each and every soul. This new step may lead to eternal bliss or eternal damnation.
Belief in the Last Day implies belief in everything that the Quran or the Prophet (peace be upon him) has stated about the events of that Day and thereafter. There are some general aspects (resurrection, judgment and reward, Paradise and Hell) that every Muslim should be aware of and believe in with certainty. There are also more detailed aspects that the Quran or the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) mentioned. The more one has knowledge of that Day and its surrounding events, the greater the effect this belief will have on him. Hence, it is highly recommended for each individual Muslim to learn about the events that occur prior to and on the Day of Resurrection.
Sahih Muslim, before the Day of Judgment and the destruction of this earth, Allah will send a wind softer than silk, coming from Yemen, that will take the souls of every individual who has even the slightest amount of faith in his heart. Therefore, the events of the end of the earth will only be lived through by the worst of people, those with no faith whatsoever.
One of the first events to occur is the sun rising from the West. At that time, all those people will declare their faith but it will be of no avail to them. Then the Horn shall be blown and all on this earth shall die.
And the trumpet will be blown, and all who are in the heavens and all who are on the earth will swoon away, except him whom Allah wills
This earth and heaven shall then be destroyed. After a period of forty— it is not known whether it is forty hours, days or years— a second Horn will be blown and the people will be resurrected:
And the Trumpet will be blown [the second blowing] and, behold, from the graves they will come out quickly to their Lord. They will say, ‘Woe to us! Who has raised us up from our place of sleep?’ [It will be said to them,] ‘This is what the Most Beneficent [Allah] has promised, and the Messengers spoke the truth
According to ibn Uthaimeen, belief in the last day encompasses three aspects. First is belief in the Resurrection: after the Second Blowing of the Horn, the people will be resurrected in front of Allah. They shall be naked, barefoot and uncircumcised. Allah says,
As We began the first creation, We shall repeat it. [It is] a promise binding on Us. Truly, We shall do it
The resurrection is going to be in the same body that the person had in this worldly life. Ibn Uthaimeen has pointed out the wisdom and importance of this: “If it were a new creation, it would mean that the body that performed the sins in this world would be safe from any punishment. To come with a new body and have that body punished goes against what is just. Hence, the texts and rational argument indicate that the [person] resurrected is not a new [creation] but a return [of the old creation].” He also points out that Allah has the ability to recreate the bodies even after they have disintegrated. Humans may not be able to understand how exactly that is possible— like so many other aspects that humans cannot fathom— but Allah has stated it and a believer knows full well that it is true and well within Allah’s ability to do so.
The second aspect is belief in the accounting or reckoning of the deeds and the reward/punishment for those deeds. This aspect is mentioned and stressed in numerous places in the Quran. Here are a couple of examples:
Verily, to Us will be their return. Then, verily, upon Us will be their reckoning
And We shall set up balances of justice on the Day of Resurrection, then none will be dealt with unjustly in anything. And if there be the weight of a mustard seed, We will bring it. And sufficient are We as reckoners
Allah has made it clear that all deeds will be weighed on the Day of Judgment.
And the weighing on that Day will be the true weighing. So as for those whose scale [of good deeds] will be heavy, they will be the successful. And as for those whose scale will be light, those are they who will lose their ownselves because they denied and rejected Our Signs
One should always recall that the reward Allah gives to His servants is an act of His mercy as He rewards them more than what their deeds entail. However, Allah’s punishment is out of His justice and He does not punish anyone more than what he deserves.
The third essential aspect of belief in the Last Day is belief in Heaven and Hell. Heaven is the eternal abode or reward for the believers. Hell is the eternal abode of punishment for the disbelievers. The stronger opinion is that they both are in existence at this present time and they both shall exist forever. They are not simply states of mind as some non-Muslims and a few heretical Muslims believe. Allah and His Messenger made mention of them and have described them clearly and in unequivocal terms. There is absolutely no room for any Muslim to deny their existence or their descriptions.
About Heaven, for example, Allah has said,
Verily, those who believe and do righteous deeds, they are the best of creatures. Their reward with their Lord is gardens of eternity, underneath which rivers flow, they will abide therein forever. Allah being well-pleased with them and they with Him. That is for him who fears his Lord
No person knows what joy is kept hidden for him as a reward for what they used to do
Concerning Hell, for example, Allah has said,
Verily, We have prepared for the wrongdoers a Fire whose walls will be surrounding them. And if they ask for relief, they will be granted water like boiling oil that will scald their faces. Terrible the drink and evil a resting place
Verily, Allah has cursed the disbelievers and has prepared for them a flaming Fire. They will abide therein forever and they will find neither a protector or a helper. On the Day when their faces would be turned and rolled in all sides of the Fire, they will say, ‘Oh, would that we had obeyed Allah and obeyed the Messenger
Ibn Taimiyyah points out that belief in the Last Day also includes belief in everything that shall occur to a person after his death and before the Day of Resurrection. This includes the trial in the grave and the pleasure or punishment in the grave. The trial in the grave is mentioned in an authentic hadith recorded by al-Tirmidhi. It states that two angels, al-Munkar and al-Nakeer, come to the person and ask him: What did you use to say about this man [meaning the Prophet (peace be upon him)]? Other narrations mention two angels coming and asking three questions: Who is your Lord? What is your religion? Who is your prophet?
There are additional detailed aspects related to the Hereafter that a believer should learn about and believe in. Due to space limitations, they cannot be discussed in detail here. These matters include: (1) The Fount or Cistern of the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him); (2) The different intercessions; (3) The distribution of the books of deeds; (4) Passing over the siraat; and (5) The entrance into Paradise and Hell with all of its related aspects.
The belief in and knowledge of the great events of the Last Day and the Hereafter should have some very profound effects on the individual— if he takes the time to remember and seriously think about that Day.
First, it should make the believer rush to perform good deeds, knowing the reward that may be in store for them. The bounties of Paradise are greater than what any eye has seen or even what any mind could imagine. First and foremost, this great reward includes the pleasure of Allah and the opportunity to see Him in the Hereafter. If a person could possibly be conscious of this aspect at every moment of his life, he would be anxiously seeking and searching for any good deed he could perform.
Second, the threat of punishment should sway the person from committing any sin, no matter how “light”. No sin performed in this world could be worth the punishment it could bring about in the Hereafter. Furthermore, by committing sins, the person may also be earning the displeasure of Allah, his Lord, Creator and Beloved.
- For Quranic/rational arguments for the existence of the Hereafter, see Idris, pp. 11-16.
- Cf., Ibn Uthaimeen, Sharh Usool al-Imaan, pp. 40-41.
- As the Prophet (peace be upon him) stated in a hadith recorded by al-Bukhari and Muslim.
- Ibn Uthaimeen, Majmu, vol. 3, p. 174.
- Quoted in ibn Uthaimeen, Majmu, vol. 3, p. 169.
- For the texts of these hadith, see al-Albani, Sahih al-Jami al-Sagheer, vol. 1, p. 186 and vol. 1, p. 344.
- Although not used as a reference here due to its detail, Salaam (pp. 120-145) has provided an excellent yet concise discussion of many of the aspects of the Hereafter.
- For a discussion in English on this topic, see Abu Muhammad al-Hasan al-Barbahaaree, Explanation of the Creed (Birmingham, UK: Al-Haneef Publications, 1995), p. 36.
- See al-Barbahaaree, p. 37.
- See al-Barbahaaree, p. 38.
- Ibn Uthaimeen, Sharh Usool al-Imaan, p. 46.