The dimensions of «eschatology» according to twelve – Imam Shi ism 1

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Man is composed of spirit and body
Those who are acquainted to a certain extent with the Islamic sciences know that within the teachings of the Holt Book and the traditions of the prophet there are many references to spirit and corpus, soul and body, Although it is relatively easy to conceive of the body and what is corporeal, or that which can be known through the senses to conceive of spirit and soul is difficult and complicated.

People given to intellectual discussion, such as the theologians and philosophers, shi’ite and Sunni alike, have presented different view concerning the reality of the spirit (ruh). Yet, what is to some extent certain is that Islam considers spirit and body to be two realities opposed to each other. The body through death loses the characteristics of life and gradually disintegrates, but it is not so with the spirit. When the spirit is joined to the body, the body also derives life from it, and when the spirit separates from the body and cuts its bond to the body- the event that is called death – the body ceases to function while the spirit continues to live.

Appearance and reality of spirit from the Quranic point of view
From what can be learned through deliberation upon the verses of the Holy Quran and the saying of the Imam of Household of the prophet, the spirit of man is something immaterial which has some kind of relation and connection with the material body. God the Almighty in his book says, “Verily We created man from a product of wet earth, then placed him as a drop (of seed) in a safe lodging, then fashioned we the drop a clot, then fashioned we the clot a little hump, then fashioned we the little lump bones, then clothed the bones with flesh, and then produced it as another creation (“Quran, XXIII, 12-14), from the order of these verses it is clear that at the beginning the gradual creation of matter is described and then, when reference is made to the appearance of the spirit consciousness, and will, another kind of creation is mentioned which is different from the previous from of creation.

In another place it is said, in answer to skeptics who ask how it is possible for the body of man, which after death becomes disintegrated and whose elements become disintegrated and whose elements become dispersed and lost, to have a new creation and become the original man, say :the angel of death who hath charge concerning you, will gather you, and after wards unto your Lord ye will be returned ( Quran, XXXII, 11) this means that your bodies disintegrate after death and are lost amidst the particles of the earth, but you yourselves, namely your spirit, have been taken from your bodies by the angel of death and remain protected with Us.

Besides such verses the Holy Quran in a comprehensive explanation expresses the immateriality of the spirit in itself when it asserts, they will ask thee concerning the spirit say: the spirit is by command of my Lord ( Quran, XVII, 85).

In another place in explaining his command (amr) he says, “But his command, when he intendeth a thing, is only that he saith unto it: Be! And it is. Therefore glory be to him in whose hand is the dominion over all things! (Quran, XXXVI, 81-82) the meaning of these verses is that the command of God in the creation of thing is not gradual nor is it bound to the conditions of time and space, therefore, the spirit which has no reality other than the command of God is not material and in its being does not have material characteristics, that is, it does not have the characteristics of divisibility, change, and situation in time and space.

Intellectual discussion of spirit reality
Intellectual investigation confirms the view of the Holy Quran about the spirit. Each of us is aware of a reality within himself which he interprets as”I’ and this awareness exists continuously within man. Some times man even forgets his head, hands, feet and other members or the whole body. But as long as his self exists; the consciousness of “I” does not leave his awareness. This perception cannot be divided or analyzed. Although body of man is continuously undergoing change and transformation and chooses different locations in space for itself and passes through different moments of time, the reality of “I” remains fixed. It does not undergo any change or transformation. It is clear that if the “I” were material it would accept the characteristics of matter which are divisibility, change and situation in time and space.

The body accepts all the characteristics of matter and because of the relation of the spirit and the body, these characteristics are also considered to belong to the spirit. But if we pay the least attention, it becomes evident to man that this moment in time and the next, this point in space or another, this shape or another shape, this direction of motion or any other, are all characteristics of the body. The spirit is free from them rather each of these determinations reaches the spirit through the body, this same reasoning can be applied in reverse to power of consciousness and apprehension or knowledge which is one of the characteristics of the spirit. Obviously if knowledge were material quality, according to the conditions of matter it would accept divisibility and analysis, and be determined by time and space.

Needless to say, this intellectual discussion could go on at length and there are many questions and answers related to it which cannot be considered in the present context. The brief discussion presented here is only an indication of the Islamic belief concerning body and spirit a complete discussion will be found in works of Islamic philosophy.

Death from the Islamic point of view
Although a superficial view would regard death as the annihilation of man and see human life as consisting of only the few days that stand between birth and death, Islam interprets death as the transfer of man from one stage of life to another. According to Islam man possesses eternal life which knows no end. Death, which is the separation of the spirit from the body, introduces man to another stage of life in which felicity or disappointment depends upon good or evil deeds in the stage of life before death, the Holy prophet has said: You have been created for subsistence, not annihilation. What happens is that you will transfer from one house to another. (Bihar al- anwar VOI, III, p, 161, from the I, tigadat of saduq).

Purgatory and preparance for Resurrection
From what can be deduced from the holy Book and prophetic traditions ,it can be concluded that between Death, and general resurrection man possesses a limited and temporary life which is the intermediate stage (barzakh) and link between the life of this world and eternal life. After death man is interrogated concerning the beliefs he has held and the good and evil deeds he has performed in this life. After a summary account and judgment he is subjected to either a pleasant and felicitous life, or an unpleasant and wretched one, depending on the results of the account and judgment. With this newly acquired life he continues in expectation until the day of general resurrection, the condition of man in the life of the intermediate stage (purgatory) is very similar to the condition of a person who has been called before a judicial organization in order to have the acts he has committed investigated he is questioned and investigated until his file is completed. Then he awaits trial.

The soul of man in the intermediate stage possesses the same form as in his in this world. (Bihar al- and war, VOI, IV Bab al, barzakh). If he be a man of virtue, he lives in happiness and bounty in the proximity of those who are pure and close to the Divine presence, if he be man of evil, he lines in affliction and pain and in the company of daemonic forces and leaders of those who have gone astray. (Bihar al- and war, VOI, IV Bab al, barzakh).

God, the Most Exalted, has said concerning the condition of group of those in the stage of felicity think not of who are slain in the way of Allah, as dead. Nay, they are living are with their Lord they have provision. Jubilant (are they) because of that which Allah hath bestowed upon them of his bounty rejoicing for the sake of those who have not joined them but are left behind: that grieve they rejoice because of favor from Allah and kindness, and that Allah wasteth not the wage of the believers(“Quran ,III,169-171). And in describing the condition of another group who in the life of this world do not make legitimate use of their wealth and possessions, he says, until, when death cometh unto one of the he saith: My Lord! Send me back that I may do right in that which I have left behind! But nay! It is a barrier [barzakh] until the day when they are raised (Quran, XXIII, 99-100).

The day of Judgment and its esteem in Religion
Among sacred texts the Quran is the only one to have spoken in detail about the Day of Judgment .Although the Torah has not mentioned this Day and the Gospels have only eluded to it, the Quran has mentioned the Day of Judgment in hundreds of places, using different names. It has described the fate awaiting mankind on this day some times briefly and on other occasions in detail, it has reminded mankind many times that faith in the Day of Recompense (Day of Judgment) is on the same scale in its importance as faith in God and is one of the three principles of Islam, it has mentioned that he who lacks this faith that is, who denies resurrection, is outside the pale of Islam and has no destiny other than eternal perdition.

And this is the truth of the matter because if there were to be reckoning in God’s actions and no reward or punishment, the religious message, which consists of an assemblage of God’s decrees and what he has commanded and forbidden, would not have the lest effect. Thus existence or nonexistence of prophecy and the religious mission would be the same. In fact its nonexistence would be preferable to its existence, for to accept a religion and follow the regulations of a Divine Law is not possible without the acceptance of restrictions and loss of what appears as “freedom” If to submit to were to have no effect, people would never accept it and would not give up their natural freedom of action for it. From this argument it becomes clear that the importance of mentioning and recalling the Day of Judgment is equivalent to that of principle of the religious call itself.

From this conclusion it also become evident faith in the Day of Recompense is the most effective factor which induces man to accept the necessity of virtue and abstention from unbecoming qualities and great sins, in the same way that to forget or lack faith in the Day of Judgment is the essential root of every evil act sin. God the Almighty has said in his book, Lo! those who wander from the way of Allah have an awful doom, for as much as they forgot the Day of Reckoning(Quran, XXXVIII, 27).

Relationship between Resurrection and completion of creation
As can be seen in this sacred verse, the forgetting of the Day of Judgment is considered to be the root of every deviation. Meditation on the purpose of the creation of man and the Universe, or on the purpose and end of Divine Laws, makes it evident that there will be a Day of Judgment.

When we meditate on creation, we see that there is no action (which of necessity is also a kind of motion) without an immutable end and purpose, Never is the action, considered independently and in itself, the end Rather, action is always the prelude to an end and exists by virtue of that end. Even in actions which superficially appear to be without purpose such as instinctive actions or will discover purposes in conformity with the kind of action in question. In instinctive actions, which are usually a from of motion, the end toward which the motion takes place is the purpose and aim of the action. And in the play of children there is an imaginary end, the attainment of which is the purpose of playing. The creation man and the world is the action of God and God is above the possibility of performing a senseless and purposeless act such as creating, nourishing, taking away life and then again creating, nourishing, and taking away life, that is, of making and destroying without there being an immutable end and a permanent purpose which he pursues in these acts there must of necessity be a permanent aim and purpose in the creation of the world and of man. Of course its benefit does not accrue to God, who is above every need, but rather to the creatures themselves. Thus it must be said that the world and man are directed toward a permanent reality and a more perfect state of being which knows no annihilation and corruption.

Also, when we study with care the condition of men from the point of view of religious education and training, we see that as a result of Divine guidance and religious training people become divided into the two categories of the virtuous and the evil. Yet in this life there is no distinction made between them Rather, on the contrary, success usually belongs to those who are evil and unjust, to do good is combined with difficulty and hard ship and every kind of privation and endurance of oppression. Since this is so, Divine Justice requires the existence of another world in which each individual receives the just reward ho actions deserve, and lives a life in conformity with his merits.

Thus it is seen that careful consideration of the purpose of creation and of the Divine Laws leads to the conclusion that the Day of Judgment will come for every person, God, the Exalted, makes this clear in his book, saying, And we created not the heavens and the earth, and all that is between them, in play we created them not save with truth m but most of them in vain that is the opinion of those who disbelieve. And woe unto those who disbelieve, from the fire! Shall we treat those who believe and do good works as those who spread corruption in the earth, or shall we treat the pious as the wicked? (Quran, XXXVIII, 28-29). In another place he says, “Or do those who commit ill – deeds suppose that we shall make them as those who believe and do good works, the same in life and death? Bad is their judgment! And Allah created the heavens and the earth with truth, and that every soul may be repaid what it hath earned, and they will not be wronged (Quran, XLV, 21-22).

Sources

shiah- pages:231 to 233

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