[Al-Quran 50:6-8] Have they not looked at the heaven above them - how We structured it and adorned it and how it has no rifts? And the earth - We spread it out and cast therein firmly set mountains and made grow therein [something] of every beautiful kind, Giving insight and a reminder for every servant who turns [to Allah].

Friday, October 20, 2017

Death & The Pursuit of Immortality

And when I am ill, then He cures me, [Al-Quran 26:80] 

Disease & Cure - VI

Scientists consider death a disease, and much effort is being put in to cure it. However, according to The Quran, death is decreed for all in this temporal life.  This entire world is made to perish. Consider the following ayaat: 

   وَاضْرِبْ لَهُم مَّثَلَ الْحَيَاةِ الدُّنْيَا
 كَمَاءٍ أَنزَلْنَاهُ مِنَ السَّمَاءِ فَاخْتَلَطَ بِهِ نَبَاتُ الْأَرْضِ فَأَصْبَحَ هَشِيمًا تَذْرُوهُ الرِّيَاحُ 
وَكَانَ اللَّهُ عَلَىٰ كُلِّ شَيْءٍ مُّقْتَدِرًا
And present to them the example (of) the life (of) the world,
like water which We send down from the sky, then mingles with it (the) vegetation (of) the earth then becomes dry stalks, it (is) scattered (by) the winds.
And Allah over every thing (is) All Able.
[Al-Quran 18:45]

   وَمَا جَعَلْنَا لِبَشَرٍ مِّن قَبْلِكَ الْخُلْدَ أَفَإِن مِّتَّ فَهُمُ الْخَالِدُونَ
And not We made for any man before you [the] immortality; so if you die, then (would) they live forever?
[Al-Quran 21:34]

The Quran informs us that the ancients were far mightier. Each was punished for the crime of wronging the nafs. As regards the King who reigned at the time of Abraham, we are told:

أَلَمْ تَرَ إِلَى الَّذِي حَاجَّ إِبْرَاهِيمَ فِي رَبِّهِ أَنْ آتَاهُ اللَّهُ الْمُلْكَ إِذْ قَالَ إِبْرَاهِيمُ رَبِّيَ الَّذِي يُحْيِي وَيُمِيتُ قَالَ أَنَا أُحْيِي وَأُمِيتُ قَالَ إِبْرَاهِيمُ فَإِنَّ اللَّهَ يَأْتِي بِالشَّمْسِ مِنَ الْمَشْرِقِ فَأْتِ بِهَا مِنَ الْمَغْرِبِ فَبُهِتَ الَّذِي كَفَرَ
  وَاللَّهُ لَا يَهْدِي الْقَوْمَ الظَّالِمِينَ
Did not you see [towards] the one who argued (with) Ibrahim concerning his Lord, because gave him Allah the kingdom? When said Ibrahim, "My Lord (is) the One Who grants life and causes death." He said, "I give life and cause death." Said Ibrahim, "[Then] indeed Allah brings up the sun from the east, so you bring it from the west." So became dumbfounded the one who disbelieved,
and Allah (does) not guide the people (who are) [the] wrongdoers. 
[Al-Quran 2:258]

The King claims the ability of being able to give life and death. The same ayat also declares that they were wrongdoers. I think this ayat is informing us of a medically advanced civilisation, who were able to tinker with the genetic code, and thus were under the illusion that they had some control over life and death.  

The next ayat presents the contrasts of the perishable life of this world and the everlasting hereafter all in one example: 

أَوْ كَالَّذِي مَرَّ عَلَىٰ قَرْيَةٍ وَهِيَ خَاوِيَةٌ عَلَىٰ عُرُوشِهَا
 قَالَ أَنَّىٰ يُحْيِي هَٰذِهِ اللَّهُ بَعْدَ مَوْتِهَا
 فَأَمَاتَهُ اللَّهُ مِائَةَ عَامٍ ثُمَّ بَعَثَهُ 
قَالَ كَمْ لَبِثْتَ قَالَ لَبِثْتُ يَوْمًا أَوْ بَعْضَ يَوْمٍ قَالَ بَل لَّبِثْتَ مِائَةَ عَامٍ
 فَانظُرْ إِلَىٰ طَعَامِكَ وَشَرَابِكَ لَمْ يَتَسَنَّهْ وَانظُرْ إِلَىٰ حِمَارِكَ وَلِنَجْعَلَكَ آيَةً لِّلنَّاسِ وَانظُرْ إِلَى الْعِظَامِ كَيْفَ نُنشِزُهَا ثُمَّ نَكْسُوهَا لَحْمًا
 فَلَمَّا تَبَيَّنَ لَهُ قَالَ 
أَعْلَمُ أَنَّ اللَّهَ عَلَىٰ كُلِّ شَيْءٍ قَدِيرٌ

Or like the one who passed by a township, and it (had) overturned on its roofs.
He said, "How (will) bring to life this (town) Allah after its death?"
Then he was made to die (by) Allah (for) a hundred year(s), then He raised him.
He said, "How long (have) you remained?" He said, "I remained (for) a day or a part (of) a day." He said, "Nay, you (have) remained one hundred year(s).
Then look at your food and your drink, (they did) not change with time, and look at your donkey, and We will make you a sign for the people. And look at the bones how We raise them, then We cover them (with) flesh."
Then when became clear to him, he said,
"I know that Allah (is) on every thing All-Powerful."
[Al-Quran 2:259]

Surah alKahf relates the story of the people who slept in a cave for more than three centuries.  Though the man in Q2:259 came alive after being dead for a century, the people of the cave were simply sleeping for much longer. Both involve the removal and the return of the Nafs, as mentioned in Surah az-Zumar: 

Immortality is decreed for the Hereafter. The Quran quotes the people who will be granted eternal immortality: 

أَفَمَا نَحْنُ بِمَيِّتِينَ
 إِلَّا مَوْتَتَنَا الْأُولَىٰ وَمَا نَحْنُ بِمُعَذَّبِينَ
 إِنَّ هَٰذَا لَهُوَ الْفَوْزُ الْعَظِيمُ
 لِمِثْلِ هَٰذَا فَلْيَعْمَلِ الْعَامِلُونَ

Then are not we (to) die,
Except our death the first, and not we will be punished?"
Indeed, this surely (is) the attainment great.
For (the) like (of) this, let work the workers.
[Al-Quran 37:58-61]

For more on immortality, please read Immortality & A Kingdom that Never Decays

Links to posts in the series Disease and Cure

Life Extension

And when I am ill, then He cures me, [Al-Quran 26:80] 

Disease & Cure - V 

According to The Quran, the length of our life depends on Allah's decree. Each one of us must live out the span of life Allah has determined for us. We can neither live longer, nor die earlier. Consider the following ayaat:

وَمَا كَانَ لِنَفْسٍ أَن تَمُوتَ إِلَّا بِإِذْنِ اللَّهِ كِتَابًا مُّؤَجَّلًا 
وَمَن يُرِدْ ثَوَابَ الدُّنْيَا نُؤْتِهِ مِنْهَا وَمَن يُرِدْ ثَوَابَ الْآخِرَةِ نُؤْتِهِ مِنْهَا وَسَنَجْزِي الشَّاكِرِينَ
And not is for a soul that he dies except by (the) permission of Allah, (at a) decree determined.
And whoever desires reward (of) the world - We will give him thereof; and whoever desires reward (of) the Hereafter We will give him thereof. And We will reward the grateful ones.
[Al-Quran 3:145]

هُوَ الَّذِي خَلَقَكُم مِّن تُرَابٍ ثُمَّ مِن نُّطْفَةٍ ثُمَّ مِنْ عَلَقَةٍ ثُمَّ يُخْرِجُكُمْ طِفْلًا ثُمَّ لِتَبْلُغُوا أَشُدَّكُمْ ثُمَّ لِتَكُونُوا شُيُوخًا وَمِنكُم مَّن يُتَوَفَّىٰ مِن قَبْلُ وَلِتَبْلُغُوا أَجَلًا مُّسَمًّى وَلَعَلَّكُمْ تَعْقِلُونَ
He (is) the One Who created you from dust, then from a semen-drop, then from a clinging substance, then He brings you out (as) a child; then lets you reach your maturity, then lets you become old - and among you (is he) who dies before - and lets you reach a term specified, and that you may use reason.
[Al-Quran 40:67]

Surah alBaqarah introduces us to the possiblity of an extended lifespan:

وَلَتَجِدَنَّهُمْ أَحْرَصَ النَّاسِ عَلَىٰ حَيَاةٍ وَمِنَ الَّذِينَ أَشْرَكُوا
يَوَدُّ أَحَدُهُمْ لَوْ يُعَمَّرُ أَلْفَ سَنَةٍ وَمَا هُوَ بِمُزَحْزِحِهِ مِنَ الْعَذَابِ أَن يُعَمَّرَ 
وَاللَّهُ بَصِيرٌ بِمَا يَعْمَلُونَ
And surely you will find them (the) most greedy (of) [the] mankind for life, and (greedier) than those who associate[d] partners (with Allah). 
Loves (each) one of them if he could be granted a life (of) a thousand year(s). But not it (will) remove him from the punishment that he should be granted life
And Allah (is) All-Seer of what they do.
[Al-Quran 2:96]

Surah alAnbiya  informs us that lifespan increases with progress and prosperity:

بَلْ مَتَّعْنَا هَٰؤُلَاءِ وَآبَاءَهُمْ حَتَّىٰ طَالَ عَلَيْهِمُ الْعُمُرُ أَفَلَا يَرَوْنَ أَنَّا نَأْتِي الْأَرْضَ نَنقُصُهَا مِنْ أَطْرَافِهَا أَفَهُمُ الْغَالِبُونَ
Nay, We gave provision (to) these and their fathers until grew long for them, the life. Then do not they see that We We come (to) the land, We reduce it from its borders? So is (it) they (who will be) overcoming?
[Al-Quran 21:44]

From Surah alAnkabut, we learn about the long lifespan of Noah: 

وَلَقَدْ أَرْسَلْنَا نُوحًا إِلَىٰ قَوْمِهِ فَلَبِثَ فِيهِمْ أَلْفَ سَنَةٍ إِلَّا خَمْسِينَ عَامًا فَأَخَذَهُمُ الطُّوفَانُ وَهُمْ ظَالِمُونَ
And verily, We sent Nuh to his people, and he remained among them a thousand year(s), save fifty year(s), then seized them the flood, while they (were) wrongdoers.
[Al-Quran 29:14]

A life of almost a thousand years must have been the norm, as his people do not seem impressed by his age at all. Yet long life also eventually somehow must come to an end. From Surah anNajm, we learn:

   وَأَنَّهُ أَهْلَكَ عَادًا الْأُولَىٰ
 وَثَمُودَ فَمَا أَبْقَىٰ
 وَقَوْمَ نُوحٍ مِّن قَبْلُ 
إِنَّهُمْ كَانُوا هُمْ أَظْلَمَ وَأَطْغَىٰ
And that He destroyed Aad the first, 
And Thamud, so not He spared,
 And (the) people (of) Nuh before.
Indeed, they they were more unjust and more rebellious.
[Al-Quran 53:50-52]

Links to posts in the series Disease and Cure