The Afterlife in Judaism and Islam

If there is one thing certain about this life, its that we all return to dust. But what happens after death? The Torah and the Quran both tell of a similar journey that our souls embark upon.

Death is part of God’s plan

graveFrom the moment of birth death awaits us all, but how should the seed of IbrhahimAS respond to this certainty? Scripture teaches that when we breathe our last breath the soul will receive its reward and delight, while the body is returned to the dust from whence it came.

Torah

Genesis 3:19

For you are dust and to dust shall you return

Quran

71:17-18

And Allah has brought you forth from the [dust of] earth. Afterwards He will return you into it [the earth], and bring you forth [again on the Day of Resurrection]

This life prepares us for the next

scalesDon’t be seduced by the opulence of this world, for its material riches cannot be taken to the Hereafter. When our souls return to their Creator they take only the good deeds we amassed, so zealously collect these deeds as they determine the sweetness of Paradise.

Pirkei Avot

4:21

This world is like a lobby before the world to come. Prepare yourself in the lobby so that you may enter the banquet hall.

Quran

75:20-21

Not [as you think, that you mankind will not be resurrected and recompensed for your deeds], but [you men] love the present life of this world, And [neglect] the Hereafter.

Paradise is the reward after death

jannah-olam-habaThose that merit reward for the deeds they performed in this life will find an eternal Paradise waiting for them; with pleasures and satisfaction correlating to the positive actions they performed.

Tanhuma

Vayikra 8

The sages have taught us that we human beings cannot appreciate the joys of the future age. Therefore, they call it ‘the coming world’ [Olam Haba], not because it does not yet exist, but because it is still in the future. ‘The World to Come’ is the one waiting for man after this world. But there is no basis for the assumption that the world to come will only begin after the destruction of this world. What it does imply is that when the righteous leave this world, they ascend on high.

Quran

13:22-24

And those who are patient, seeking the countenance of their Lord, and establish prayer and spend from what We have provided for them secretly and publicly and prevent evil with good – those will have the good consequence of [this] home [the everlasting] gardens of paradise; they will enter them with whoever were righteous among their fathers, their spouses and their descendants. And the angels will enter upon them from every gate, [saying], “Peace be upon you for what you patiently endured. And excellent is the final home.”

The next life as a Heavenly Garden

olive-treeBoth traditions name the eternal Paradise as the Garden of Eden (Adn), which although described in earthly language, is a spiritual Paradise incomprehensible to our corporeal intellect.

Pesikta de-Rav Kahana

30, 19b

Why has God created the Garden of Eden and Gehinnom? That one might deliver from the other

Quran

61:12

He will forgive for you your sins and admit you to gardens beneath which rivers flow and pleasant dwellings in gardens of Adn. That is the great attainment.

The righteous are rewarded after death

righteousThose who submit to the will of the Creator, follow His commandments and run away from sin should taste Paradise. Both Judaism and Islam agree that the Creator rewards the righteous among either nation (Judaism, teaches that righteous monotheists of all nations may be rewarded and Islam conveys a similar message).

Sanhedrin

105a

Righteous people of all nations have a share in the world to come.

Quran

2:62

Verily! Those who believe [Muslims] and those who are Jews and Christians, and Sabians, whoever believes in Allah and the Last Day and do righteous good deeds shall have their reward with their Lord, on them shall be no fear, nor shall they grieve.

Any man that sins may be punished after death

criminalJust as the Creator rewards the righteous from each nation, so too any of mankind that sins with the mind1 or the body1 may find the punishment of Gehinnom (Jahannam) awaiting them. Only the exceptionally righteous avoid this, most will pass through Gehinnom to have their earthly mistakes corrected before advancing to the Paradise. For the truly wicked there is no escape, they remain in Gehinnom for eternity.

Rosh Hashanah

17a

Wrongdoers of Israel who sin with their body and wrongdoers of the Gentiles who sin with their body go down to Gehinnom and are punished for 12 months

Quran

4:168-169

Surely, those who disbelieve and did wrong, God will not forgive them, nor will He guide them to any way except the way of Jahannam, to dwell therein forever.

Fire awaits those that fall into sin

fireScripture describe Gehinnom (Jahannam) as a fiery place with horrific ordeals that torment the sinner, more painful than the worst of this world.

Berakhot

57b

[Ordinary] fire is a [taste] of [the fire of] Gehinnom

Quran

3:131

And fear the Fire [of Jahannam] which is prepared for the disbelievers.

Resurrection of the dead and the day of Judgement

grave-openThe Muslims and some amongst the Jews believe that in the End Times, following the Resurrection of the Dead, there will come the great Day of Judgment (Yawm al-Din) on which every man will be judged according to his deeds.2

Tanakh

Daniel 12:2

And many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt.

Quran

21:47

And we place the scales of justice for the day of Resurrection, so no soul will be treated unjustly at all. And if there is any deed even the weight of a mustard seed, We will bring it forth. And sufficient are We to take account.

In summary

The Creator is Just and Merciful, He would neither leave our good deeds without recompense, nor our sins without punishment. Verily, the Paradise is not easy to earn, and Gehinnom is not for nothing. This life is a reflection of the world to come, so serve God, the All-Knowing and submit your life to Him so that you may avoid the horrors of Gehinnom.

Pesikta Rabbati

50:1

“He who has Torah, good deeds, humility and fear of heaven will be saved from punishment in Gehinnom,”

Quran

10:62-64

Unquestionably, for the allies of God there will be no fear concerning them, nor will they grieve: those who believed and used to fear God in this life; for them are good tiding in the worldly life and in the Hereafter. No change is there in the words of God, indeed in that is the great success.”

May we find the motivation to serve God and may He grant each of us the pleasures of Paradise.

“Then did you think We created you in vain and that to Us you would not be returned?” – Quran 23:115

by Leyla D and Judaism-Islam.com

Sources

    • Rabbi Shimon ben Lakish said: Whoever scoffs will fall into Gehinnom. Rabbi Oshaia said: He who is arrogant will fall into Gehinnom
      Avodah Zarah 18b
    • Rabbi Yehoshua ben Levi said: Whoever makes derogatory remarks about Torah scholars after their death, will end up in Gehinnom
      Berachot 19a
    • Whoever has intercourse with a married woman, even though he had studied Torah, of which it is written: It is more precious than rubies, i.e., above a High Priest who enters into the innermost part of the Sanctuary, she will hunt him to the judgment of Gehinnom.
      Sotah 4b
    • He who loses his temper is exposed to all the torments of Gehinnom
      Nedarim 22a
    • That [refers to the fact] that [the wicked] are at that time under sentence to suffer in Gehinnom
      Eruvin 19a
    • There is one thing that brings about the perdition of the wicked in Gehinnom and that is, idolatrous worship
      Taanit 5a
  1. He [Rabbi Elazar HaKappar] used to say: “The new born will die; the dead will live again; the living will be judged – in order that they know, teach, and become aware that He is God
    Pirkei Avot 4:29

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The Afterlife in Judaism and Islam