The fifth fundamental article of Islam is belief in the Hereafter; heaven and hell. Before the arrival of the Promised Messiah and Mahdi, Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmadas, the Muslims harboured strange ideas and wrong notions about the subject of life after death.
The concept of heaven prevalent amongst the Muslims of that age bore little relation with the Islamic concept mentioned by Allah the Almighty in the Holy Quran. According to them, God forbid, paradise was a place of luxury, pleasure and unremitting sexuality.
In their view, the pinnacle of human existence and achievements in this world is to ultimately settle in a place where there are all kinds of sensuous delights, wine, women and lavish foods.
However, the object of human existence according to the Holy Quran is very different. Allah the Almighty says:
وَ مَا خَلَقۡتُ الۡجِنَّ وَ الۡاِنۡسَ اِلَّا لِیَعۡبُدُوۡنِ
“And I have not created the Jinn and the men but that they may worship Me” (Surah al-Dhariyat, Ch.51: V.57).
That is, human beings should absorb the attributes of God the Almighty because worship means to accept and acquire the qualities of submission, humility and obedience.
Thus, it is extremely irrational to think that men will try to achieve godly life for 50 or 60 years in this world and then they will enter a never ending life of sensuous pleasures in the Hereafter.
Likewise, it was thought that Allah would put the disbelievers in hell for an unending torment and would never have mercy on them like a stern ruler. The Promised Messiahas rejected these false ideas through reasonable arguments and showed miracles to restore the true Islamic teaching about the concept of life after death.
He demonstrated the instability of this world and highlighted the beauty and superior value of the afterlife and thereby instilled in the hearts of people the desire to act righteously for attaining the heavenly life.
In the same way, the Promised Messiahas removed the vain thoughts and sensual image of paradise present in the minds of Muslims. He also dispelled the notion that heaven is merely an illusion and proved that the existence of heaven is a reality, just not the reality people believed it was. The Promised Messiahas said:
“[Allah the Almighty] says:
وَ مَنۡ کَانَ فِیۡ ہٰذِہٖۤ اَعۡمٰی فَہُوَ فِی الۡاٰخِرَۃِ اَعۡمٰی وَ اَضَلُّ سَبِیۡلًا
“That is, He who remains blind in this life will be blind in the hereafter also, and even more astray [Surah Bani Israil, Ch.17: V.73]. This is an indication that the virtuous see God in this very life and they behold their True Beloved in this world. The purport of this verse is that the foundation of the heavenly life is laid in this very world and that the root of hellish blindness is also the vile and blind life of this world. Then it is said:
وَ بَشِّرِ الَّذِیۡنَ اٰمَنُوۡا وَ عَمِلُوا الصّٰلِحٰتِ اَنَّ لَہُمۡ جَنّٰتٍ تَجۡرِیۡ مِنۡ تَحۡتِہَا الۡاَنۡہٰرُ
“That is, give glad tidings to those who believe and do good works, that for them there are gardens beneath which flow streams [Surah al-Baqarah, Ch.2: V.26]. In this verse, God Almighty has described faith as a garden beneath which streams flow, and has thus indicated that faith is related to righteous action as a garden is related to the water of the river or stream. As a garden cannot flourish without water, faith cannot survive without righteous action. If there is faith but no righteous action, then faith is vain; and if there are actions but no faith, then actions are mere show or display.
“The reality of the Islamic paradise is that it is a reflection of the faith and actions of a person in this life and is not something that will be bestowed upon a person from outside. A person’s paradise is developed inside him and everyone’s paradise is his faith and his righteous actions, the delight of which begins to be tasted in this very life and one perceives the hidden gardens and streams of faith and righteous action which will become concretely manifest in the Hereafter…
“In the Holy word of God, heaven and hell are not like the physical world. Their source is spiritual, though it is true that in the Hereafter they will take on concrete forms and yet they will not belong to this world.” (Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmadas, The Philosophy of the Teachings of Islam, pp. 126-132)
Some people were of the view that heaven is similar to this world, only more stable and an extensive place of comfort and delight. The Promised Messiahas resolved this misconception and said that the blessings of paradise are very different from this world.
In fact, the pleasures of the life in the Hereafter are like the joys and delight we achieve from worshipping Allah the Almighty in this world. The mind and spirit in this life takes the form of spiritual body in the afterlife. The spirit and soul of the next life is a more developed and advanced form of existence than anything we know in this world.
Just as the spiritual powers of human beings are far superior to the spiritual powers of the sperm from which they are born, the powers and experiences of spirit in the life aft er death will be significantly different from this world.
The Promised Messiahas states:
“God has said:
فَلَا تَعۡلَمُ نَفۡسٌ مَّاۤ اُخۡفِیَ لَہُمۡ مِّنۡ قُرَّۃِ اَعۡیُنٍ
“That is, no virtuous one knows what bliss is kept hidden from him, as a reward for that which he used to do [Surah al-Sajdah, Ch.32: V.18]. Thus God has described all those bounties as hidden, the like of which is not to be found in this world. It is obvious that the bounties of this world are not hidden from us and we are familiar with milk, pomegranates and grapes etc. which we eat here. This shows that the bounties of the next life are something else and have nothing in common with the bounties of this life, except the name. He who conceives of the conditions of paradise in terms of the conditions of this life has not the least understanding of the Holy Quran.
“In interpreting the verse that we have just cited, our lord and master, the Holy Prophet, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, has said that heaven and its bounties are such as no eye has seen, nor has any ear heard, nor have they been conceived by the mind of man; whereas we see the bounties of this world and hear of them and their thought also passes through our minds. Now, when God and His Messengersa describe them as something strange, we would depart altogether from the Holy Quran if we were to imagine that in heaven we shall be given the same milk which is obtained in this life from cows and buff aloes, as if herds of milch cows would be kept in heaven and there will be numerous beehives in the trees of heaven from which angels will procure honey and pour it into streams. Have these concepts any relationship with the teaching that says that those bounties have never been witnessed in this world, and that they illumine the souls and foster our understanding of God and provide spiritual nourishment? They are described in physical terms but we are told that their source is the soul and its righteousness.” (The Philosophy of the Teachings of Islam, pp. 138-140)
The Promised Messiahas also proved through conclusive arguments of the Holy Quran that the torment or punishment of Hell, which people think will never end, will in fact come to an end at some point. The notion that its punishment is eternal means that it will last for a very long time, but it will not be indefinite.
In the Holy Quran, Allah the Almighty says about Himself:
وَ رَحۡمَتِیۡ وَسِعَتۡ کُلَّ شَیۡءٍ
“And My mercy encompasses all things” (Surah al-Araf, Ch.7: V.157).
Thus, it is against Allah the Almighty’s fundamental attribute of mercy to inflict a never ending punishment on helpless and weak humans. Moreover, the Holy Quran describes the rewards of heaven as, “a gift that shall not be cut off” and an “unending reward.” God Almighty says:
وَ اَمَّا الَّذِیۡنَ سُعِدُوۡا فَفِی الۡجَنَّۃِ خٰلِدِیۡنَ فِیۡہَا مَا دَامَتِ السَّمٰوٰتُ وَ الۡاَرۡضُ اِلَّا مَا شَآءَ رَبُّکَ عَطَآءً غَیۡرَ مَجۡذُوۡذٍ
“But as for those who will prove fortunate, they shall be in Heaven; abiding therein so long as the heavens and the earth endure, excepting what thy Lord may will – a gift that shall not be cut off.” (Surah Hud, Ch.11: V.109)
اِلَّا الَّذِیۡنَ اٰمَنُوۡا وَ عَمِلُوا الصّٰلِحٰتِ فَلَہُمۡ اَجۡرٌ غَیۡرُ مَمۡنُوۡنٍ
“Except those who believe and do good works; so for them is an unending reward.” (Surah al-Tin, Ch.95: V.7)
On the other hand, the description used for the punishment of hell is very different. This distinction between the description of the rewards of heaven and the punishment of hell indicates that they are no doubt long-lasting but in very different ways. The readers of the Holy Quran should observe and heed this difference.
The founder of Islam, Prophet Muhammadsa also shed light on the true meaning of punishment in hell and explained the actual teaching of the Holy Quran about this belief. The Holy Prophetsa said:
يأتي على جهنم يوم ما فيها من بني آدم واحد تخفق أبوابها
“A time will come on hell when not a single man would be left in it. Its doors and windows will rattle to the blowing wind.” (Kanz-ul-Ummal, Vol. 14, p. 527)
In the above hadith, the Holy Prophetsa has clearly given the description of an emptied hell. The Holy Prophet’ssa explanation of the Holy Quran is far more superior to the interpretations presented by the religious scholars of Islam.
Thus, nobody has the right to teach anything else and limit Allah the Almighty’s attributes of mercy and forgiveness. We have only presented a gist of the works performed by the Promised Messiahas to restore the belief of Muslims in the articles of faith. This will give some idea of the reform which the Promised Messiahas carried out in order to revive Islam and re-establish the glory of Allah the Almighty and His messenger, Prophet Muhammadsa.
The readers are urged to study the writings and sayings of the Promised Messiahas in detail to understand and grasp the scope of his efforts in the service of Islam.