After dying and becoming dust, shall we then be resurrected?
The disbelievers of Quraish received the Prophet (pbuh) and his Message with derision and denial. Khabab t narrated:
I came to Al-‘Asi bin Wail As-Sahmi to demand from him money that he owed me.
He said, “I will not give you (your money) until you disbelieve in Muhammad.”
I said, “No, until you die and then be resurrected.”
He asked, “Will I die and then be resurrected!”
I said, “Yes.”
He said, “Then I will have wealth and children there and pay you back.”
As a consequence, the following Ayah was revealed1: (Have you seen him who disbelieved in Our Ayat and yet said, “I shall certainly be given wealth and children (if I live again).”)2
Although the disbelievers acknowledged that Allah exists, they negated the belief that He would resurrect the dead, seeing it as impossible after death, decay, and becoming dust3 and swore their most solemn oaths that Allah Almighty would not resurrect the dead.
(They swear by Allah their strongest oaths that Allah will not resurrect one who dies. But yes (He will resurrect them) – (it is) a promise (binding) upon Him in truth, but most of mankind know not. In order that He may make manifest to them the truth of that wherein they differ, and that those who disbelieved (in Resurrection, and in the Oneness of Allah) may know that they were liars.)4
They uttered words similar to the past nations who disbelieved and denied the hereafter, their hearts resembling one another, as the Qur’an relates their words:
(“This is not but a human being like you; he eats of that which you eat and drinks of what you drink. If you were to obey a human being like yourselves, then verily, you indeed would be losers. Does he promise you that when you have died and have become dust and bones, you shall be brought out (of the graves)? How far, how far, is that which you are promised? Life is not but our worldly life. We die, and we live, and we will not be resurrected. He is only a man who has invented a lie against Allah, and we are not going to believe in him.”)5
They were blind to the first miracle of bringing them into existence and blind to the nature of Divine Power, which must not be measured by human mentality or against human abilities. Bringing something into being is nothing for Divine Power. It is enough to will a thing to be and it is:
(Verily, Our Word to a thing when We intend it is only that We say to it, “Be!” and it is.)6
To Divine Power there is nothing difficult or easy, possible or impossible; directing the Intention towards a thing is enough to bring it into being or back to being, whatever it be.7
It was narrated that Ubai bin Khalf brought some decayed bones and started crumbling and scattering them in the air in front of the Prophet (pbuh) while wondering and saying: Who can give life to bones that have rotted? The Qur’an responded with the following fact:
(Does not man see that We (Allah) have created him from Nutfah (mixed drops of male and female sexual discharge). Yet behold! He stands forth as an open opponent. He puts forth for Us an example, and forgets his own creation. He says, “Who will give life to these bones when they have rotted away and became dust?”)8
Humans do not doubt that this fragile fluid, comprised of a mixture of male and female discharge without form or worth, constitutes their origin.
A semen drop contains thousands of cells, and one of these thousands of cells joins with an egg to become an embryo, then this human who argues with and opposes his Lord, haughtily demanding evidence.
(Let man see from what he is created. He is created from a fluid, ejected – proceeding from between the backbone and the ribs. Indeed, Allah is Able to bring him back (to life).)9
Divine Power of Creation is what makes this semen drop into a human, who then believes it to be too hard for this Power to bring him back and resurrect him after decay and oblivion. (Those who disbelieve have claimed that they will never be resurrected. Say, “Yes. By my Lord, you will surely be resurrected; then you will surely be informed of (and recompensed for) what you did. And that, for Allah, is easy.”)10
Does a semen drop show more life, power, or worth than decayed bones? Does not the human come from this drop? Does it not constitute the first creation? Is He not Who (Allah) transformed this drop into a human who defies and opposes, able to make his decayed bones living again?11
An answer of simple logic was sent down to push back the denying questioner to the limits he haughtily overstepped:
(Say (O Muhammad), “He will give life to them Who created them for the first time. And He is the All-Knower of every creation.”)12
A more challenging answer is given to the deniers in another Ayah:
(Say (O Muhammad), “Be you stones or iron, or some created thing that is yet greater (or harder) in your breasts.” Then, they will say, “Who shall bring us back (to life)?” Say, “He Who created you first.” Then, they will shake their heads at you and say, “When will that be?” Say, “Perhaps it is near!”)13
Bones and mortal remains still contain the smell of humanity and the relics of life, whereas iron and stones are more devoid of life. Thus, be you (deniers) stones or iron – or any other creation further removed from life than stones and iron, and even more difficult in your thoughts to be given life and resurrected – Allah Almighty shall certainly resurrect you.14
As to how will this be, the Prophet (pbuh) directs the inattentive eyes to the source and substances of mankind’s own creation, nutrition, and place of return, which are land, dust, and water – the element of life.
Abu Razin t asked, “O Messenger of Allah, how will Allah bring the dead to life?”
He (pbuh) said, “Have you not passed by a barren valley, then passed by it green?”
Abu Razin said, “Yes, I have.”
He (pbuh) said, “Thus Allah brings the dead to life.”15
A barren land or a grain in the darkness of the earth is still and dry, neither dead nor alive; then the fall of rain stirs life into it and, by the Will of Allah, it becomes verdant gardens laden with ripe fruits of every kind:
(You see the earth barren, but when We send down water (rain) on it, it is stirred (to life). It swells and puts forth every lovely kind (of growth). That is because Allah is the Truth; it is He Who gives life to the dead, and it is He Who is Able to do all things. And surely, the Hour is coming, there is no doubt about it. And surely, Allah will resurrect those in the graves.)16
Is resurrection anything other than this? (And He revives the earth after its death. And thus shall you be brought out (resurrected).)17
Bringing bodies forth from graves is nothing more than causing a plant in the darkness of the earth to come forth and grow.
(We (Allah) send down blessed water (rain) from the sky, then We produce therewith gardens and grain (every kind of harvests) that are reaped. And tall date palms, with ranged clusters; a provision for (Allah’s) servants. And We give life therewith to a dead land. Thus will be the resurrection (of the dead).)18
The Prophet (pbuh) said, “Allah shall send down rain, as if it is dew, and there will grow out of it the bodies of people.”19
The earth and whatever is on it is only a small, modest creation compared to the immense existence beyond it, and the creation of people compared to the universe is but simple. (The creation of the heavens and the earth is indeed greater than the creation of mankind, yet most of mankind know not.)20
How can humans find it hard to believe that the one who has built a lofty palace, with towering pillars, can rebuild a simple cottage after its destruction? (And if you (O Muhammad) wonder (at these Mushrikin who deny your Message), then wondrous is their saying, “When we are dust, shall we indeed then be (raised) in a new creation?”)21
Resurrection is a truth beyond doubt, which needs for its inevitable journey a provision of righteous deeds. Its back and forth journey from death to life is the everyday journey of awakening after sleep.
The Prophet (pbuh) delivered a sermon at the beginning of his mission, in which he (pbuh) said, “By Allah, you shall die the same as you sleep, be resurrected the same as you wake up, and be recompensed for your deeds, good for good and evil for evil. Then it is either Paradise forever or Hellfire forever.”22
1 Sahih Al-Bukhary, Book of Tafsir Al-Qur’an, Hadith no. 4363; similar versions of the Hadith are also reported by Al-Bukhary (1949, 2114, 2247, 4364, 4365, 4366), Muslim (5003), At-Tirmidhy (3086), and Ahmad (20156, 20163).
2 Translated meanings of Maryam 19: 77.
3 Sayyid Qutb, In the Shade of the Qur’an, interpretation of Surat An-Nahl [16: 38-40], thirty-sixth edition, Dar Al-Shorouk.
4 Translated meanings of An-Nahl 16: 38-39.
5 Translated meanings of Al-Mu’minun 23: 33-38.
6 Translated meanings of An-Nahl 16: 40.
8 Translated meanings of Ya-Sin 36: 77-78.
9 Translated meanings of At-Tariq 86: 5-8.
10 Translated meanings of At-Taghabun 64: 7.
11 Adapted from Sayyid Qutb, In the Shade of the Qur’an, Surat Ya-Sin [36: 77-79].
12 Translated meanings of Ya-Sin 36: 79.
13 Translated meanings of Al-Isra’ 17: 50-51.
14 Sayyid Qutb, In the Shade of the Qur’an, interpretation of Surat Al-Isra’ [17: 50-52], thirty-sixth edition, Dar Al-Shorouk.
15 Musnad Ahmad, Book of Medinans, Hadith no. 15607; similar versions of the Hadith are also reported by Ahmad (15603, 15604, 15605).
16 Translated meanings of Al-Hajj 22: 5-7.
17 Translated meanings of Ar-Rum 30: 19.
18 Translated meanings of Qaf 50: 9-11.
19 Narrated by ‘Abdullah bin ‘Amr: Sahih Muslim, Book of Al-Fitan wa Ashrat As-Sa‘ah (Trials and Portents of the Last Hour), Hadith no. 5233; a similar version of the Hadith is also reported by Ahmad (6268).
20 Translated meanings of Ghafir 40: 57.
21 Translated meanings of Ar-Ra‘d 13: 5.
22 Adapted from Sheikh Muhammad Al-Ghazali, Aqidat Al-Muslim, chapter of Immortality, fifth edition, Dar Ad-Da‘wah; and Al-Mahawir Al-Khamsah lil-Qur’an Al-Karim (The Five Axes of the Noble Qur’an), chapter of Resurrection and Recompense, Dar Al-Shorouk.