How does the religion of Islam evaluate death?

The Answer

Dear Brother / Sister,

9.2.16-Evaluation of death according to Islamic view

According to the Quran, death is programmed and beautiful. Death is the end of the world life and the beginning of an eternal life. There are many verses in the Quran stating that death occurs based on the predetermination by Allah, that death is not the end and that it is the beginning of a new life. (al-Anbiya/35, an-Najm/44, ar-Rum/50, ar-Rum/19, al-Ankabut/57)

For instance, the following is stated in verse 2 of the chapter of al-Mulk about life and death:

He Who created Death and Life, that He may try which of you is best in deed.

Tafsir scholars of the Quran are view death with the view of the Quran. In the interpretation of the above verse about death, it is explained that death was created as a blessing as follows:

"It is understood that death is created like life; it too is a bounty. But on the face of it, death is dissolution, non-existence, decay, the extinction of life, the annihilator of pleasures; so how can it be created and a bounty?

The answer: As was stated at the end of the answer to the first question, death is a discharge from the duties of life; it is a rest, a change of residence, a transformation of existence; it is an invitation to eternal life, a beginning, the introduction to an immortal life. Just as life comes into the world through an act of creation and is appointed and determined, so departure from the world is created and determined, and is planned wisely and purposively. The ways plants die, plant life being the simplest level of life, show their death to be a more orderly work of art than life. For although the death of fruits, seeds, and grains appears to occur through their decay and dissolution, it is in fact a sort of kneading that comprises exceedingly well-ordered chemical reactions and a balanced combining of elements and wise formation of particles; their unseen, orderly and wise deaths appear through the life of the new shoots. That is to say, the death of the seed is the onset of the shoot’s life. Indeed, since its death is like life itself, it is created and regular the same as life is.

Moreover, the death of living fruits or animals in the human stomach is the beginning of their rising to the level of human life; it may therefore be said that being thus, their death is more orderly and created than is their life.

If the death of plant life, the lowest level of life, is created, wise, and ordered in that way, the death that befalls human life, the highest level of life, must be the same. Similarly, as a seed sown in the ground becomes a tree in the world of the air, so a man who is laid in the earth will surely produce the shoots of an everlasting life in the Intermediate Realm.

Now for the aspects of death that are bounties; we shall point out four of them.

The First: Death is a great bounty because it means one is freed from the duties and obligations of life, which become burdensome. It is also a door through which one passes in order to join and be united with one’s friends, ninety-nine out of a hundred of whom are already in the Intermediate Realm.

The Second: It is to be released from the narrow, irksome, turbulent prison of this world, and to receive an expansive, joyful, troublefree immortal life, and to enter the sphere of the Eternally Beloved One’s mercy.

The Third: There are numerous factors like old age which make life arduous and show death to be a far superior bounty. For example, if together with your very elderly parents who cause you much distress you beheld before you your grandfather’s grandfathers in all their pitiful state, you would understand what a calamity life is, and what a bounty, death.Another example: one can imagine how difficult life is in the harsh conditions of winter for the beautiful flying insects, the lovers of the beautiful flowers, and what a mercy death is for them

The Fourth: Just as sleep is a comfort, a mercy, a rest, particularly for those afflicted by disaster and the wounded and the sick, so too is death, the elder brother of sleep, a pure bounty and mercy for the disaster-struck and those who suffer tribulations that drive them to suicide. However, as is proved decisively in many of the Words, for the people of misguidance, death is pure torment the same as life, and pure affliction, but that is outside the discussion here.1

According to Islamic belief, when the worldly life ends with death, an eternal life begins in another world just like a dead and decaying seed being the beginning of a new life.

It is very meaningful and remarkable that the purposes, aims and wisdoms of the programmed death described above and the verses of the Quran, which were sent down 14 centuries ago, are parallel to each other.

The fact that death was created was understood after the discovery of programmed cell death about 50 years ago. However, the Holy Quran stated it clearly about 1450 years ago that death occurred by being created, and thousands of interpreters of the Quran wrote works explaining this meaning.

The Islamic view of the reality of death is compatible with the current scientific view in terms of the following points:

1. Every living being is programmed to die.

2. Death is not a passive incident; it requires a synthesis of energy and matter (creation).

3. Death is beautiful, that is, life is actually possible with death.

Islamic and scientific views are similar related to those three points. However, materialist evolutionists interpret scientific facts differently. According to them, every cell has a death program, but no programmer. It has been decided that every living being will be sent away from this world (death) but no one decides. Programmed death is useful for the living being and it is beautiful, but it is bad to age and die with programmed death. It is possible to increase such meaningless sentences that reflect the philosophy of materialist evolutionists.

According to the Islamic view, if there is a death program in every cell, there is a programmer. If every living being’s death has been decided, there must be a being that decides. If programmed death is good for living beings, aging and dying with programmed death are also good for them.

CONCLUSION

The creation and survival of multicellular organisms is possible through programmed cell death. Many genes, especially p53, are responsible for recording and operating the death program in living beings. Genes and programs written in genes cannot have been formed by random mutations and natural selection, as materialist evolutionists claim because genes in living beings and the death program in genes are extremely sophisticated software with mechanisms that cannot be understood even today. Moreover, it was made for specific purposes, taking into account important benefits. Then, there must be a creator who places the death program into the living being and operates it.

Making and operating the death program is not a passive phenomenon because hundreds of very special compounds are synthesized. Energy is required for this. In other words, killing a living being under normal physiological conditions is actually an active phenomenon. The equivalent of it in Islamic literature is creating. Since there is a deed, there must be a doer. Similarly, if there are created beings, there must be a creator.

It is in the hands of the Creator to keep a living being alive and to kill it. The interesting thing is that the death program in living beings has been prepared in such a way that environmental factors have also been taken into account. However, this effect is not an infinite effect; it is in the forms of lengthening and or shortening a bit. Otherwise, no matter how suitable the environmental factors are, the death program is operated and the cell or the living being is lead to death. The living being is programmed to die and there is no escape from death. Then, there must be important wisdoms and purposes in the killing of living beings.

Programmed cell death is widely used at every stage of life. In other words, the continuity of life is ensured by the balanced operation of the death program. For example, the production of reproductive cells (eggs and sperm), the preparation of the uterus (womb) every month, the creation of tissues and organs in the womb in accordance with this world life, the protection of the living being from diseases in the world and homeostasis (internal balance) are all related to programmed cell death. The aging and death of the living being under normal conditions also occurs with physiologically programmed cell death. Therefore, the aging and death of the living being is in favor of the living being and can be said to be beautiful (Figure 4).

All celestial religions, especially Islam,  and all prophets, especially, the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh),  say that death occurs by creation and the result is beautiful. Materialist evolutionists, accept that programmed cell death is beneficial to living beings with one exception. That exception is the aging of the living being and the death that occurs as a result of aging.

It originates from not accepting the Creator who programs the living beings to die and not knowing His purposes of creation. That is, it is the result of not being able to see the existence of a divine power that plans the world and the conditions in the world for life, that organizes mindless and unconscious substances and creates living beings and that uses the programmed death mechanism at every stage of life. However, the beginning of life in the womb, its development and end are based on programmed death. The result of the separation of the living being from the mother’s womb is a transition to another world. That is, it is the beginning of a completely different life.

Figure 4. Life is an irreversible journey and every stage of it is controlled by the death program. According to Islamic belief, death ends the worldly life and starts an eternal life in another world.

Similarly, the survival of the living being in the world life, the continuation of life, aging and finally death are based on programmed cell death. So, the end of world life with programmed death will be the beginning of a new and different life. Only the life of the world will end with death and an eternal life will begin. That is necessary according to conscience and reason.

1.Nursi, B. S. Mektubat. Türkiye Diyanet Vakfı  Yayınları-605. 3rd impression, Ankara, 2016, p. 11-13.

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