How do we conclude the existence of heaven through our observations and experiences in this world?
The Second Word (Part 3)
Note: The quoted passages are form Ustadh Bediuzzaman’s book and the commentaries below them are my own.
The other man, in contrast, is a believer. He knows [and] affirms The Almighty Truth (Janab al-Haqq). In his view, this world is a place of dhikr for The Merciful (Rahman), a place of education for the mankind and the animals, and a field of examination for the human and the jinn. As for all animal and human deaths, [they] are a discharge [from work]. Those who complete duties of life go, from this transient place, to another spiritually pleasing [and] noiseless world. So that space may be opened for new officials [and] they may come and work. As for all the animal and human births, [they] are an enrollment into the army, coming under arms and on duty. Each of all the living beings is an on duty cheerful soldier, an upright satisfied official. As for all the sounds, [they] are either a dhikr and a praise of God in the beginning of a duty and thanks and relaxation coming from break time, or a chanting emerging from the joy of work. All beings, in the viewpoint of that believer, are each a delightful servant, a friend employee, a lovable book of their Generous Master and Compassionate Owner. So many more of such pleasant, lofty and savory, sweet truths are manifested [and] made apparent by his faith.
Thus, faith carries the seed of a spiritual Tuba [tree] of heaven. Whereas disbelief hides the seed of a spiritual Zaqqoom [tree] of hell.
Thus, peace and secureness is only in Islam and faith. Since that is so, we must always say,
ٱلۡحَمۡدُ لِلَّهِ عَلى دِينِ اْلاِسْلَامِ وَ كَمَالِ اْلاِيماَنِ
Praise be to Allah for the religion of Islam and the perfection of faith.
In the previous two posts, we discussed how, in the view of a believer, this world is a field of examination and an exhibition for the manifestations of God’s names. Recall that the believer in the given analogy asks the disbelieving/sinful individual to look around the world in order to understand that there must be something beyond this life; that an afterlife must exist.
Here, it is briefly mentioned how belief in God, along with observing the world around us, leads one to conclude the existence of an afterlife. Since the passage seems to focus on those who complete their duties in this life (i.e. those who live according to God’s command), it seems to focus more on heaven than hell, and that’s what we will be discussing in this particular post. In future chapters, we will see more in depth discussions of both heaven and hell.
Now imagine you have a friend who is always there for you. Even for trivial matters, she is always willing to extend her support. Suppose that, one day, you find yourself in incredible misery and are planning to discuss it with this friend. Since you haven’t told her yet about the problem, you don’t know what kind of response you will get from her. Will she be willing to help? Assuming that solving your misery is perfectly and easily within her ability, common sense would dictate that you should assume she will help unless there is evidence that she will not. In other words, the default position is to assume her help (based on your past experiences with her) and the burden of proof would fall on those who claim otherwise.
By a similar argument, belief in God necessarily leads to belief in heaven (and also hell, but that’s a future topic).
Suppose you were told that you only had five years to live, after which God would cast you into absolute nothingness never to bring you back. Since humans were naturally given a desire to survive, the thought of losing this life with all its pleasures would become a source of great pain and sorrow. The intensity of the pain in the thought of losing something would increase proportional to the degree of pleasure that comes from it. A blessing from God would no longer be a “blessing”. But that in turn means that God is not merciful (astaghfirullah).
Alternatively, imagine yourself in the exact same position, where you’re told you only have five years to live but with the difference that you will be taken to heaven. The thought of losing your loved ones along with other things in life may still upset you to some degree. However, you know this separation is only temporary. If you suffer for, say, an x number of years in this life followed by an eternal life in heaven; the percentage of your total life that you have suffered will be x divided by infinity, which is practically zero.
The default position in any argument is based on past experiences and observations. Since God is merciful in this world (as explained in the last two posts: , ), we have to assume that heaven must exist. Otherwise, we would have to conclude – as in the first scenario – that God is in fact not merciful, and the burden of proof would fall upon us for claiming what is contrary to our observations.