What is Islam?

by James William Lovegrove (Habeeb-Ullah)


I need not repeat here what I have already said under the heading “Life after Death.” I have already spoken of Burzakh—a period of the cessation of activity of the progressive element in us. It has to end one day and to begin its further progress in the higher regions. If the soul on its separation from the body was competent enough to make further progress, it would be admitted into those regions called Paradise in the Quran: but if it is incompetent on account of certain impurities and has not become purified of all earthly dross, it will have to go into Hell for purifica­tion. The time when this is to occur has been styled, in Muslim theology, the day of rising after death.

The word resurrection in Islam does not necessarily convey the idea of a materialized resurrection of a physical body. If the life to come is inconceivable, as the Prophet [Muhammad (pbuh)] says, it cannot be a physical resurrection in the true sense of the word. The Muslim con­ception of hell is not hideous, nor does it suggest Divine vengeance. It speaks rather of Divine mercy than of anger. If hell has to cleanse the sinner and prepare him for the heavenly life, it may act like an affectionate mother who subjects her child to a surgical operation to secure his future health. For this very reason the Quran styles hell mother:

“As for him whose measure of good deeds is light, his mother is hell” (The Holy Quran, 101:8–9).