What is death according to Islam? Does it mean annihilation and perishing? Is our physical death the end of our existence? Is there any life after death? If there is, then is it spiritual or physical or both?
Death, a General Law
Aging and extinction are the inevitable characteristics of the life of this world. All contingent beings will taste death: “Every living creature shall taste death.” [3:185]. Man may deny everything, even his Creator, but he cannot deny death.
Conception of Death in Islam
Death, in Islam and in all Divine Religions, is nothing more than a transition. It is like a passage through which you enter another world higher and more advanced than the present one. It is therefore, a birth to an eternal life.
From the Islamic point of view, there are at least three different interconnected stages of life. Each one comes after the other. Also, each one is more perfect than the one before. The first is the world of matter in which we are living with both our body and soul. The second is named the world of Barzakh (intermediate) which is the world of souls with a certain type of body similar to our physical body. The third and the final world is the Hereafter in which every soul will unite with its original worldly body.
The world of matter is the place of action. The third world, i.e. the Hereafter, in contrast, is the world of reward and/or punishment. As a matter of fact, the Hereafter is the reflection of the world of matter. Here and Hereafter are, therefore, different interconnected stages of life. The world of Barzakh is like a small version of the Day of Judgment in which the souls of humans (and perhaps the jinn) will receive their temporary rewards or punishment. During that period their worldly actions – good or evil- will possibly grow until the Day of Judgment.
Islamic Definition of Death
Death in Islam is not ‘Fout’ (annihilation), it is ‘Wafaat’ (Thorough collection). “The Angel of Death put in charge of you will (fully) take you (Yatawaffaa), then shall you be brought back to your Lord.” [32:11] (See also: Holy Quran: 16:28 & 32, 39:42). Therefore, ‘death’ has an existing concept: “(Allah) Who created death and life” [67:2].
Answered by: Sheikh Mansour Leghaei