Why does Islam disagree with the concept of Birth and Rebirth (Samsara)?
Why do we need a life after death (Hereafter)?
We need a life after death, because complete justice cannot be established in this world. Let us see a few examples.
Hitler killed six million Jews during his reign of terror.Even if the police had arrested him, what punishment can the human law give Hitler? The most they can do is to send Hitler to the gas chamber. That will only be punishment for the killing of one Jew. What about the remaining five million, nine hundred and ninety nine thousand, nine hundred and ninety-nine Jews?
How do we punish a suicide bomber who kills himself and also kills hundreds of innocent people? We will NOT be able to punish him as he is already dead.
We have heard of judges writing multiple life sentences which can go up to 100 years for the convicted criminals. This is because the criminal deserves so many years of punishment. Will the convict complete his term of punishment if it is 100 years?
True and perfect justice would mean that the people who were victims are also taken care of. What compensation can we give to those innocent people who were killed by people like Hitler and suicide bombers? We will NOTbe able to compensate them because they are already dead.
Several righteous people were tortured and some even killed. Don’t you think those righteous people should be rewarded for their righteousness?
Rational thinking will lead us to conclude that there is definitely a need for an eternal life after death to compensate people for what they did in this world. God who is most just will NOT let people go without being rewarded or punished for what they did.
Islamic concept of Hereafter:
Islam teaches that the whole world will come to an end one day. All the human beings, from the first man to the last will be brought back to life (Resurrection) on the Day of Judgment and will be questioned for their deeds. People who have done good deeds and lived a life in accordance with God’s command will receive a reward and people who have disobeyed God will be punished. The reward will be Heaven and the punishment will be Hell. The life in Heaven and Hell will be eternal and never-ending.
Since the life in Heaven and Hell is eternal and never ending, God can punish Hitler and the suicide bombers six million times or even more in the hell fire. Similarly, God can reward and compensate countless times, the righteous and the innocent people who were killed.
Is resurrection possible after we die?
God Almighty says in the Quran in Chapter 36: Verse 79
Say, "He will give them life who produced them the first time; and He is, of all creation, Knowing."
God who created us for the first time will give us life the second time after we die.
We all know that creating something for the first time will be difficult. Repeating the same creation again will not be as difficult as the first time. God did not have any difficulty creating us the first time, why will He find it difficult to give us life after we die? Bringing us back alive after we die is indeed very easy for God.
Issues with the concept of birth and re-birth:
The whole of concept of Hereafter (Life after death) rests on complete justice.
One fundamental principle in establishing justice is to make sure that the person who is punished or rewarded is aware why he is punished and rewarded.
For example: the court will not hang the convict if he is insane. The court will wait for him to become sane, as the convict needs to understand that he is being punished for his crime.
You would also be aware that when the judge reads his judgment, he clearly mentions the crimes the convict has done and the corresponding punishment for each crime. This is to ensure that the convict is fully aware, why he is being punished.
Keeping this in mind, we will examine the concept of birth and rebirth.
- Do we know if our birth in this world is our first or second or third or Nth?
- Do we know for what previous actions of ours we are rewarded or punished in this birth?
If the answer is NO for both the questions above, how can we say that complete justice has been established?
When our judicial system does not accept punishing a person without letting him know why he is punished, how can we imagine that God who is most wise and most just, will punish human beings without letting them know the reason for punishment?
Another aspect of justice is for the victim to know that the aggressor was punished. For example: A man rapes a woman. The man is the aggressor and the woman is the victim. The woman is called to the court and is made to witness the judgment (punishment) for the aggressor. Our common sense would tell us; this is how it should be.
Is this aspect of justice found in birth-rebirth? The answer is NO.
For example: What happened to Hitler? Was he punished? If yes, how many births has he taken? (Ideally, he needs to take 6 million births). Do the people who were killed by him know that Hitler was punished and do they know how he was punished? Were the poor victims of Hitler compensated?
None can answer these questions.
How can we expect such a huge flaw in the justice system of God?
World has to end for complete and perfect justice:
The world has to come to an end for complete and perfect justice to be rendered to human beings.
For example: I plant a tree and the tree benefits people by giving fruits and shade. You would agree that I need to be rewarded for it. Let us say I plant the tree and I die a few years after I planted it. The tree continues to live for some 200 years. If I am re-born before those 200 years, I am not rewarded fully for planting that tree as the effects of that good deed still continue. So I will have to wait for 200 years till the tree dies to be fully rewarded for planting that tree.
This is the case with every good deed you initiate. Imagine starting an orphanage. You can be given the full reward only after the orphanage ceases to exist.
This is the case with a bad deed you do as well. For example: Take the example of the atom bomb dropped in Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Doctors say that the consequences of that bomb are still seen today. As long as the consequences exist, the people who were behind the dropping of the bomb can never be fully punished. They have to be brought into complete account for all the damage they caused.
To put it in a nutshell, unless the world ceases to exist, effects of many good and bad deeds will not cease to exist. So logically, the world has to come to an end for complete and perfect justice to be rendered.
This aspect of justice is totally missing in the concept of birth-rebirth.
Hypnosis and Rebirth:
The process of hypnotizing a person to make him remember the details of his previous births is called as Past Life Regression. This subject has been studied by various psychiatrists over a period of time.
One such person who did an experiment on this subject was: Nicholas Spanos, who was a Professor of Psychology and Director of the Laboratory for Experimental Hypnosis at Carleton University, Canada.
Spanos’ research leads him to the conclusion that past lives are not memories, but actually social constructions based on patients acting "as if" they were someone else, but with significant flaws that would not be expected of actual memories. To create these memories, Spanos' subjects drew upon the expectations established by authority figures and information outside of the experiment such as television, novels, life experiences and their own desires.
The details of this information can be found in the book "Multiple Identities & False Memories: A Socio-cognitive Perspective. Washington: American Psychological Association."
For the sake of argument, if we agree that the rebirth is proved through hypnosis, it still brings up the issues mentioned above with justice rendered in the concept of birth and rebirth which will lead to the conclusion that God's system of justice is flawed and inadequate.
Such a conclusion will become irrational as God is Most Just and Most Wise.
Aspects of Justice in Islamic concept of Hereafter:
God Almighty says in the Quran in Chapter 18: Verse 49
And the record [of deeds] will be placed [open], and you will see the criminals fearful of that within it, and they will say, "Oh, woe to us! What is this book that leaves nothing small or great except that it has enumerated it?" And they will find what they did present [before them]. And your Lord does injustice to no one.
Comment: So each criminal knows what he did and for what he is going to be punished.
God Almighty says in the Quran inChapter 3: Verse 185
Every soul will taste death, and you will only be given your [full] compensation on the Day of Resurrection. So he who is drawn away from the Fire and admitted to Paradise has attained [his desire]. And what is the life of this world except the enjoyment of delusion.
Comment: Victims need not despair or lose hope as the full compensation for them will be given on the Day of Judgment.
God Almighty says in the Quran inChapter 99: Verses 7 and 8
So whoever does an atom’s weight of good will see it, and whoever does an atom’s weight of evil will see it.
God Almighty says in the Quran in Chapter 3: Verse 30
The Day every soul will find what it has done of good present [before it] and what it has done of evil, it will wish that between itself and that [evil] was a great distance. And Allah warns you of Himself, and Allah is Kind to [His] servants.
Comment: None can escape being questioned and rewarded or punished for every deed they did.
God Almighty says in the Quran inChapter 4: Verse 40
Indeed, Allah does not do injustice, [even] as much as an atom's weight; while if there is a good deed, He multiplies it and gives from Himself a great reward.
Comment: No injustice is done and people are compensated multiple times for their good deeds which encourages every human being to do as many good deeds as possible.
Explanation for handicapped children, early deaths etc.:
Islam teaches that this whole life is a test and is a temporary place of existence for all the human beings.
God Almighty says in the Quran inChapter 67: Verse 2
[He] who created death and life to test you [as to] which of you is best in deed – and He is the Exalted in Might, the Forgiving.
People are tested by various ways. It can be through wealth, health, family, longevity etc.
For example: On the Day of Judgment, a wealthy man will be questioned about how he spent his wealth. On the other hand, a poor man will get full marks for the question on wealth, as he had to suffer lack of wealth or poverty.
On the Day of Judgment, we will be questioned how we used our eyes on this earth. On the other hand, by default a blind person will get full marks for the question on usage of eyes.
On the Day of Judgment, we will be questioned how we used our limbs. On the other hand, by default a handicapped person will get full marks for the question on usage of limbs.
We can understand how things will get even on the Day of Judgment.
As a reminder to us, God Almighty says in the Quran in Chapter 4: Verse 40
Indeed, God does not do injustice, [even] as much as an atom's weight:
1. There is a need for a life after death since justice cannot be fully established in this world.
2. The concept of life after death is very rational.
3. The element of perfect justice is missing in the concept of birth and rebirth.
4. Proof for the concept of rebirth using Hypnosis is ambiguous and not proven.
5. All the elements of justice are found in the Islamic concept of life after death (Hereafter).
6. This world is a temporary place of dwelling and the Hereafter is our permanent and eternal abode.
7. This world is a place of test and trial. We are tested by various ways like: wealth, health, family, death etc.
8. God will not do the least bit of injustice to any of us.