What is the Vital Connection Between Sinning in this World & Getting Punishment in Hereafter? By Maulana Ashraf Ali Thanvi
Translated By: Maulana Yusuf Talal Ali Delorezno
The Vital Relationship Between Wrong doing in this World and Punishment in the next
It has been determined from the evidence of the Qur’an, the Sunnah, and the occasional glimpses into the unknown (Kashf) of the spiritually gifted, that besides this present world there exist two other worlds; one is called Barzakh (interspace or the intermediate world), and the other, Al-Ghaib (the absent, or the afterworld). When we speak of the ‘next’ world, we use a general term that comprehends both of these two worlds; Barzakh and al-Ghaib.
Furthermore, whenever a man does something in this world, immediately its reflection is projected on to the world of Barzakh where it is preserved, having taken on an aspect of its own. The world (of Barzakh) is also called the world of the grave. Later, there will come a time when these deeds will be fully revealed. That will be on the day called ‘Yaum ul Hashr’ (the Day of Gathering for Judgement).
Levels of existence of deeds
Every deed has three levels of existence:
- ( 1) occurrence,
- (2) projected revelation, and
- (3) actual revelation.
This will be more easily understood if we consider the example of the tape recorder. When someone speaks into it his speech exists on three levels:
- (1) the spoken word,
- (2) the recorded word,
- (3) The reproduced word.
The example of actions in this world is that of the spoken word, the example of the world of Barzakh that of the recorded word, and the example of the afterworld that of the reproduced word.
Just no rational man would doubt that what he said into the microphone of a live tape recorder was being recorded, or that what was being recorded, or that was being recorded would be replayed in any way other than as he had given voice to it, similarly, the believer should have no doubts about his actions being recorded in the world of Barzakh immediately upon their occurrence in this world, or about their being fully revealed in the afterworld (Al-Ghaib).
Certainly, then, the chain of events to take place in the next world is founded entirely upon the actions we choose to perform in this world. There is no validity to the way of Fatalism.
There is a Hadith in which it is stated that it sometimes happens that a man has only a few more inches to go before reaching paradise when Taqdeer (divine decree) intervenes, and the man ends upon in Hell. Or before reaching Hell, he ends up in paradise. This would seem to point clearly to the influence of some sort of inescapable fate. The truth of the matter is that Taqdeer takes precedence over every manner of voluntary act. A sick man might be treated with the latest and most advanced medical techniques and still, when Taqdeer takes precedence, dies of his illness. None the less, we understand his recovery to hinge upon that treatment, and therefore continue it.
The root principle in this whole matter is that in the matters of this world we must consider the general rule and not allow ourselves to be swayed by that rare instance which seems to be so contradictory. The situation spoken of in the Hadith here is one of those rare instances. Otherwise, the general rule is that those who enter paradise will have performed the deeds of paradise (i.e. those deeds that enable one to gain paradise). Similarly, those who go to Hell will do so only after having committed the deeds of Hell.
Says Allah most High :
فأما من أعطى واتقى وصدق بالحسنى فسنيسره لليسرى وأما من بخل واستغنى وكذب بالحسنى فسنيسره للعسرى
As for him who gives, and fears Allah, and believes in the good: Surely We will ease his way unto the state of ease. But as for him who is miserly, and thinks himself independent, and disbelieves in the good; Surely We will ease his way into adversity. (al-Lail : 5-10)
With the microphone open before him at recording time, one is naturally careful to choose his words. It is inconceivable that such an untoward remark would be allowed to escape from his lips as would offend the one listening to the playback present at the time of recording. What is played back cannot be denied. The tape recorder has been so designed as to faithfully reproduce whatever is read into it.
In the same way, one should be aware at the time of committing his deeds that somewhere or other they are being recorded, and that there will come day on which those deeds, without the slightest increase or decrease, will be revealed. And that when that day comes there will be· no possibility of his inventing excuses or presenting pretences.
Once this concept has fully taken hold of one’s mind, his engaging in wrongdoing is about as likely as his screaming a torrent of curses and threats into a live microphone when he knows that what he is saying is being recorded, and that he will be commanded to be present when it is replayed before an impulsive monarch.
Or take another example. There are three stages in the development of a tree:
- ( 1) the planting of the seed,
- (2) the growth of the tree from germination to maturity, and
- (3) maturity and the bearing of fruit.
Anyone with even the least intelligence knows that before the stages of growth and maturity there must be a stage of planting and germination. Then, our deeds in this world are like this planting, their aspect in the world of Barzakh like the appearance of the tree above ground, and their aspect in the afterworld like the tree’s bearing fruit. Then, whatever appears in Barzakh and the afterworld will have as its basis the voluntary deeds performed in this world. No one would expect to reap wheat from a field he had sown with barley. Then how can anyone expect to harvest the fruits of good deeds when he has spent his entire lifetime in committing nothing but wrong?
We should now be in a position to understand more fully the Hadith of the Prophet ﷺ which says, “This world is the tillage of the next”. The Sufi poet said:
گندم از گندم بروید جو ز جو
از مکافات عمل غافل مشو
Reap oats from oats and wheat from wheat, and don’t forget; the recompense of what you do is coming yet.
Though on the surface of things there does not seem to be any kind of similarity between the seed and the full-grown tree, still, those who know are quick to recognize the abstract relationship that exists between the two. Between deed and retribution, there exists a similarly obscure relationship. To recognize it one must possess a great deal of insight.
Finally, the opinion of those who know about trees, on matters concerning trees, is accepted by everyone without the slightest argument, regardless of whether or not those who are unversed in such matters are able to recognize the relationship involved. Similarly, in matters concerning the fruit of our worldly deeds, we must accept what is said by those who know about such things (like the prophets, or, on another level, the Sufi saints) regardless of whether or not we ourselves are able to grasp the subtleties inherent in that of which they speak.
Retribution of deeds after death
At this point specifically, mention some of the fruits of our worldly deeds; and how those fruits will appear to us after death in both the worlds of Barzakh and AL Ghaib. After that, we will present a few examples of how the Sufis portray the relationship between deed and retribution. It should now be clear that what is to occur there in the next world is actually a kind of projection or revelation of the events that take place here in this world and, in the light of the foregoing, the following Qur’anic verses should be far more readily understood.
Says Allah most High:
مَّا يَلْفِظُ مِن قَوْلٍ إِلَّا لَدَيْهِ رَقِيبٌ عَتِيدٌ
Not a word he utters, but by him is an observer ready. (Qaf:18)
فَمَن يَعْمَلْ مِثْقَالَ ذَرَّةٍ خَيْرًا يَرَهُ وَمَن يَعْمَلْ مِثْقَالَ ذَرَّةٍ شَرًّا يَرَهُ
And whoso has done an atom’s weight of good shall see it, and whoso has done an atom’s weight of evil shall see it. (Zilzaal:7-8)
وَإِن كَانَ مِثْقَالَ حَبَّةٍ مِّنْ خَرْدَلٍ أَتَيْنَا بِهَا وَكَفَىٰ بِنَا حَاسِبِينَ
Even if it be the weight of one grain of mustard seed, We shall produce it, and sufficient are We for reckoners. (Al Anbiya’ : 47)
وَيَقُولُونَ يَا وَيْلَتَنَا مَالِ هَٰذَا الْكِتَابِ لَا يُغَادِرُ صَغِيرَةً وَلَا كَبِيرَةً إِلَّا أَحْصَاهَا ۚ وَوَجَدُوا مَا عَمِلُوا حَاضِرًا ۗ وَلَا يَظْلِمُ رَبُّكَ أَحَدًا
They will say, ‘Alas for us! How is it with this book, that it leaves nothing behind, small or great, but it has numbered it?’ And they shall find a11 they wrought present, and your Lord shall not wrong anyone. (Al-Kahf: 49)
يَوْمَ تَجِدُ كُلُّ نَفْسٍ مَّا عَمِلَتْ مِنْ خَيْرٍ مُّحْضَرًا وَمَا عَمِلَتْ مِن سُوءٍ تَوَدُّ لَوْ أَنَّ بَيْنَهَا وَبَيْنَهُ أَمَدًا بَعِيدًا
The day every soul shall find what it has done of good brought forward, and what it has done of evil; it will wish that there were a long way between itself and those deeds. (Al-‘Imran : 30)
يُثَبِّتُ اللَّهُ الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا بِالْقَوْلِ الثَّابِتِ فِي الْحَيَاةِ الدُّنْيَا وَفِي الْآخِرَةِ
Allah confirms those who believe with the firm word, in the present life and the world to come. And Allah leads astray the evildoers. And Allah does what He wills. (Ibrahim: 27)
Source: Jaza ul Aamal, By Maulana Ashraf Ali Thanvi
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