The Quran and The Resurrection
Quranic Arguments About The Resurrection
Although scientific findings like the second law of thermodynamics show that existence is gradually disappearing, and even a collision of two planets could destroy the universe. If existence began with a big bang, why should it not end with another big bang or collision? Existence is an extremely delicately calculated organism, a system with parts subtly dependent upon each other. A human body is made up of about trillions of cells. Just as a single deformed, cancerous cell can kill the entire body, any serious deformation anywhere in the universe also could “kill” it. Our death sometimes comes unexpectedly and without any visible, diagnosed reason. Do we know whether or not the universe might “die” all of a sudden, unexpectedly, from a “disease” or a “heart attack”? Maybe our old world has terminal cancer because we abuse it.
God’s Universal Acts Point to the Resurrection
The Qur’an argues for the Resurrection. To impress upon our hearts the wonder of what the Almighty will accomplish in the Hereafter, and to prepare our minds to accept and understand it, the Qur’an presents the wonder of what He accomplishes here. It gives examples of God’s comprehensive acts in the macro-cosmos and, at times, presents His overall disposal of the macro-, normo-, and micro-cosmoses (the universe, humanity, and atoms, respectively).
For example, the following Qur’anic verse stresses God’s Power and, by mentioning specific instances of It, calls us to have conviction in our meeting with Him in the Hereafter:
God is He Who raised the heavens without any pillars that you can see, then He established Himself upon the Throne (of authority; having shaped the universe and made it dependent upon certain laws, He exercises His absolute authority over it), and subjected the sun and the moon (to His command); each runs (its course) for an appointed term. He regulates all affair, expounding the signs, that you may believe with certainty in the meeting with your Lord. (13:2)
The First Origination of the Universe and Humanity Indicate Their Second Origination
The Qur’an presents the phenomenon of the universe’s creation, which it defines as the first origination (56:62), while describing the raising of the dead as the second origination (53:47), to prove the Resurrection. It also directs our attention to our own origin, arguing:
You see how you progressed—from a drop of sperm to a drop of blood, to a blood clot suspended on the wall of the womb, from a suspended blood clot to a formless lump of flesh, and from a formless lump of flesh to human form—how, then, can you deny your second creation? It is just the same as the first, or even easier [for God to accomplish]. (22:5; 23:13-16)
The Qur’an makes analogies between the Resurrection and His deeds in this world, and sometimes alludes to His deeds in the future and in the Hereafter, in such a way that we can become convinced of that which we cannot fully understand. It also shows similar events here and compares them to the Resurrection. One example is as follows:
Has not man seen that We have created him from a sperm-drop? Then lo, he is a manifest adversary. And he has coined for Us a similitude, and has forgotten the fact of his creation, saying: “Who will revive these bones when they have rotted away?” Say: “He will revive them Who produced them at the first, for He is Knower of all creation.” Who has made for you fire from the green tree, and behold! You kindle from it. Is not He Who created the heavens and the Earth able to create the like of them. Aye, that He is! For He is the All-Wise Creator. (36:77-81)
The Qur’an likens the universe to a book unfolded. At the end of time, its destruction will be as easy for God as rolling up a scroll. As He unfolded it at the beginning, He will roll it up and, manifesting His absolute Power without any material cause, will re-create it in a much better and different form:
On that day We shall roll up the heavens like a scroll rolled up for books. As We originated the first creation, so We shall bring it forth again. It is a promise (binding) upon Us. Truly We shall fulfill it (as We promised it). (21:104)
Have they not seen that God, Who created the heavens and the earth and was not wearied by their creation, is able to give life to the dead? Surely He has power over everything. (46:33)
Innumerable examples of the Resurrection in nature and man
The Qur’an likens the Resurrection to reviving soil in spring following its death in winter, and mentions how God disposes of atoms and molecules while creating us in stages. Dried-out pieces of wood blossom and yield leaves and fruits similar, but not identical, to those that existed in previous years. Innumerable seeds that had fallen into soil now begin to germinate and grow into different plants without confusion. God’s raising the dead on the Day of Judgment will be like this:
Among His signs is that you see the soil dry and barren; and when We send down rain on it, it stirs to life and swells. Surely God Who gives the dead soil life will raise the dead also to life. Indeed, He has power over all things. (41:39)
O humankind! If you are in doubt concerning the Resurrection, (consider that) We created you of dust, then of semen, then of a fertilized ovum suspended on the wall of the womb, then of a lump of flesh shaped and unshaped, so that We demonstrate to you Our power. And We keep in the wombs what We please to an appointed term, and afterwards We bring you forth as infants, then We cause you to grow up, that you reach your prime. Among you some die (young) and some are sent back to the feeblest phase of age so that they know nothing after they had knowledge. You sometimes see the soil dry and barren. But when We pour down rain on it, it trembles, and swells, and grows of every pleasant pair. That is so because God is the Truth, and He it is Who gives life to the dead, and He is powerful over all things. (22:5-6)
Look at the prints of God’s Mercy:
How He gives life to the soil after its death. Lo! He verily is the Reviver of the dead (in the same way), and He is able to do all things. (30:50)
God has brought you forth from the soil like a plant. And to the soil He will restore you. Then He will bring you back fresh. (71:17-18)
Especially in suras 81, 82, and 84, the All-Mighty alludes to the Resurrection and its attendant vast revolutions and Lordly deeds. Due to what we have seen here, such as seasonal changes, we can formulate an analogy that will help us understand and then, with awe in our hearts, accept what the intellect might otherwise refuse.
As giving even the general meaning of these three suras would take a great deal of time, let’s take one verse: When the pages are spread out (81:10). This implies that during the Resurrection, everyone’s deeds will be revealed on a written page.
At first, this strikes us as strange and incomprehensible. But as the sura indicates, just as the renewal of spring parallels another resurrection, “spreading out the pages” has a very clear parallel. Every fruit-bearing tree and flowering plant has its own properties, functions, and deeds. Its worship consists of glorifying God and thereby manifesting His Names. Its deeds and life record are inscribed in each seed that will emerge next spring. With the tongue of shape and form, these new trees or flowers offer an eloquent exposition of the original tree’s or flower’s life and deeds, and through their branches, twigs, leaves, blossoms, and fruits spread out the page of its deeds. He Who says: When the pages are spread out is the same Being Who achieves these feats in a very wise, prudent, efficient, and subtle way, as dictated by His Names All-Wise, All-Preserving, All-Sustaining and Training, and All-Subtle.
In many verses, the Qur’an warns us that we were created to achieve specific goals, not to do whatever we want. As we are responsible beings, whatever we do is recorded. Our creation from a drop of fluid through several stages, the utmost care shown to our creation and the importance attached to us, demonstrate that we have great responsibilities. After death, we will be called to account for our lives. In addition, our creation through stages is a manifest evidence for God’s Power, Who raises the dead to life.
Does man think he will be left to himself uncontrolled (without purpose)? Was he not a drop of fluid which gushed forth? Then he became a clinging clot; then He shaped and fashioned, and made of him a pair, the male and female. Is He then not able to raise the dead to life? (75:36-40)
A close analysis of the universe’s functioning shows that two opposed elements are prevalent and firmly rooted everywhere. These elements result in good and evil, benefit and harm, perfection and defect, light and darkness, guidance and misguidance, belief and unbelief, obedience and rebellion, and fear and love. The resulting continual conflict causes enough alteration and transformation to produce the elements of a new world. These opposite elements eventually will lead to eternity and materialize as Paradise and Hell. The eternal world will be made up of this transitory world’s essential elements, which then will be given permanence.
Paradise and Hell are the two opposite fruits growing on the tree of creation’s two branches, the two results of the chain of creation, the two cisterns being filled by the two streams of things and events, and the two poles to which beings flow in waves. They are the places where Divine Grace and Divine Wrath manifest themselves, and will be full of inhabitants when Divine Power shakes up the universe.
In this world, oppressors depart without paying, and the oppressed are still humiliated. Such wrongs will be brought before the Supreme Tribunal, for God would be unjust and imperfect if He allowed them to be ignored. Indeed, God sometimes punishes the guilty in this world. The suffering endured by previous disobedient and rebellious peoples teaches us that everyone is subject to whatever correction God Almighty’s Splendor and Majesty chooses to apply. So, as declared in the verse: Keep apart on this day, O you criminals (36:59), God’s absolute Justice requires that He separate the good from the wicked in the Hereafter and treat each group accordingly.
By M. Fethullah Gulen