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Life (existence) before Birth and Life after Death
Akbarally  Meherally

Member of Islamic Research Foundation International, Inc.
7102 W. Shefford Lane
Louisville, KY 40242-6462, U.S.A.


(The author of this article, Akbarally Meherally is a world-renowned author of several books; the most popular among them are Understanding Ismailism, a Critical Study of Hadith. He is a prolific writer who has authored several dozen articles on a variety of subjects. The reader is encouraged to visit his Website at

Is there more than one Birth and one Death? YES...

      This article is based upon the revealed verses of the Qur'an and deals with two crucial and mysterious subjects that are intertwined. The observations are significantly and distinctly apart from the rest of my articles. I suggest you to relax, sit comfortably, read this presentation slowly and then reflect deeply. 

      We are told in verse 67:2 that our Death al-Mawwata and our Life al-Hayyat are the Creations of Allah (s.w.t.). The title of this article gives rise to the idea that there are more than one Death and one Birth. The Realty is, there are TWO Deaths and TWO Births, and unless we understand the Truth behind this Reality we are unaware of our sense of duty and the obligations to our Rabb - the Creator, Cherisher and Sustainer. They will say:  "Our Lord! Twice hast Thou made us to die, and Twice hast Thou given us Life! Now have we recognized our sins: is there any way out (of this)?" Qur'an 40: 11.

       Speaking of the Reality, there are two Realities as well. The Eternal one and the Transitory one. Often, the time bound transitory is mistaken for or confused as the Whole Reality. The Eternal Reality is Spiritual, Sublime and Timeless in nature. The Transitory one is Physical, Earthly and fleeting with the passing time in nature. The former is the Sure Reality, Sure Truth and the Absolute Truth, see Chapter 69 entitled Al-Haqqa. The Sure Reality is absolutely independent, whereas the Transitory one is totally dependent upon it. The likeness of which is that of the Sun - a Splendor and a Lamp (as-Shams ziyaa wal siraaj), and the Moon - Sun's Light (reflection), wal Qamar an-nur.

      One may ask; what was the reason for these Two Births and Two Deaths? "...that He may try which of you (meaning us) is the best in deeds" 67: 2. Who is under the trial? Our transitory physical Body or the Soul? And, why? The answers lie within understanding of the Existence of our Soul in the first Primordial Creation and more importantly the acceptance of the Primordial Covenant (details given little later), between our Soul nafs and our Rabb. There are many prevalent theories, some of them propagated by the Muslim scholars based upon documents other than the Revealed Verses or the philosophical contemplation and studies. Contemplation taffakur happens to be an integral part of Islam and is encouraged by the Qur'an (38: 29). The theories having their roots in the "Words of Allah" can only be fully depended. Insha'Allah, this article will dispel some of the prevalent misconceptions, based upon the secondary document and NOT upon the primary document of Islam.

The essential components of Our Life  while it's existence upon this earth:

Our transitory mortal Body (jisam, jasad, badan) is mainly composed of the Organic Matters. From the sounding clay and mud it was created and fashioned (15: 28 - 29). From earth it has come and into earth it goes (71: 17-18). When the Soul is separated from the living Body, that Body is a corpse.

Soul (Ar. Nafs):
Our Soul has its Past, Present and the Future. While united with our human Body, the Soul has the possibilities of its uplift from one stage to another. 

1. Nafs-e-Ammara: A human Soul (Nafs), that is at the lower stage and is prone to evil. "Nor do I absolve my own self (of blame): the (human soul) is certainly prone to evil unless my Lord do bestow His Mercy: but surely certainly my Lord is Oft-Forgiving Most Merciful." 12: 53 (for details, read the various commentaries).

2. Nafs-e-Lawwama: A self reproaching Soul that is aware of the evils and  tries to correct itself. "Nay, I swear by the (self) accusing soul." 75: 2.

3. Nafsul Mutmayinna: A Righteous Soul that is at peace and tranquillity (satisfaction). (To the righteous soul will be said:) "O (thou) soul in (complete) rest and satisfaction! "Come back thou to thy Lord well pleased (thyself) and well-pleasing unto Him! "Enter thou then among my Devotees! Yea enter thou my Heaven"! 89:27-30. "Every soul shall have a taste of death: and We test you by evil and by good by way of trial: to Us must ye return."  21: 35. 

      I have yet to find a verse that can compel me to subscribe to the Sufi concept of fana fi Allah or the notion of Two Realities merging into One or the merger of Self (Soul) into the Haqqa, during our physical life.

Spirit:    The Divine Breath of Life (Ar. Ruh):

The External Divine Force that Governs everything. For reasons best known to our Rabb, who is subtle and all aware Lateeful Khabeer, He has given the mankind no further knowledge than the fact that Ruh is one of His Commands. 

"We verily created a man and We know what his soul whispereth to him, and We are nearer to him than his jugular vein." 50: 16. 

Allah's breath of life - Spirit knows what is in our heart before we even articulate. Once a person is aware and confident of the above Truth, that individual tries to seeks from within and gets the response much faster.

The Primordial Covenant of Mankind...

When thy Lord drew forth from the children of Adam -- from their loins -- their descendants, and made them testify concerning themselves (saying): "Am I not your Lord (who cherishes and sustains you)?"  They said: "Yea! we do testify!" (This), lest ye should say on the Day of Judgment: "of this we were never mindful." Glorious Qur'an 7 : 172

     The above verse is a confirmation of the existence of our Soul prior to its union with our physical body. The testimony and affirmation by our Soul, before our Lord Rabb, is also acknowledged. A warning is also given to our Soul. Least, we may get too involved into the material world and forget the pledge or have doubts for our sacred Covenant with Allah. A Muslim who has his faith in the Day of Judgment has also to believe in the Primordial Covenant with Allah.
This Pledge happens to be the foundation of out test or trial on this earth.

      In his commentary # 1146 to the above quoted verse A. Yusuf Ali writes: 

"According to the dominant opinion of commentators each individual in the posterity of Adam had a separate existence from the time of Adam, and a Covenant was taken from all of them, which is binding accordingly on each individual. The words in the text refer to the descendants of the Children of Adam, i.e., to all humanity, born or unborn, without any limit of time. Adam's seed carries on the existence of Adam and succeeds to his spiritual heritage. Humanity has been given by Allah certain powers and faculties, whose possession creates on our side special spiritual obligations which we must faithfully discharge."

    In brief, the Children of Adam - the entire humanity, has an obligation to its Lord Rabb. In return of their acceptance of the Primordial Covenant 'Ahd al-Alast, the seeds of Adam continue to inherit the human faculties and powers that are preserved and carried forward today and in the days yet to come. We also enjoy the title of "Creator's Vicegerent on Earth" Khaliftur Rehman while on this earth and have opportunity hereafter to be closer to Rehman.

   One day I met a learned Muslim scholar in Toronto, Canada. He was of the middle eastern descent. I asked the scholar; "Brother, where are you from?" He replied; "From Adam (a.s.)". I repeated the question, expecting he would  disclose his place of birth or his residence prior to the immigration. He repeated the earlier answer and questioned; if I had any doubts about his existence from the primeval beginning or his link with Hadhrat Adam (a.s.)? 

A Repeated Reminders...

     Upon a closer study of the Revealed Message - al-Qur'an, one does notice that Allah (swt) gives repeated warnings to mankind on issues of serious consequences. The pledge-oath-covenant taken by our Souls before Allah 
'ahd Allah, being one such issue, here are the repeated reminders: 

"Fulfill the covenant of Allah when ye have entered into it and break not your oaths after ye have confirmed them; indeed ye have made Allah your surety (guarantor kafil) ; for Allah knoweth all that ye do."      16: 91

"Is then one who doth know that that which hath been revealed unto these from thy Lord is the Truth like one who is blind? It is those who are endued with understanding that receive admonition.
Those who fulfill the Covenant of Allah and fail not in their plighted word."  13: 19-20

To Him will be your return of all of you. The promise of Allah is true and sure. It is He Who beginneth the process of Creation and repeateth it that He may reward with justice those who believe and work righteousness but those who reject Him will have nothing but draughts of boiling fluids and a Penalty grievous: because they did reject Him. 10: 4

"There is no soul but has a protector over it." 86. 4
Here is a commentary by Abdullah Yusuf Ali to the above verse:
Commentary Number 6069: 
If man has a true spiritual understanding, he has nothing to be afraid of. He is protected by Allah in many ways that he does not even know. He may be an insignificant creature as a mere animal, but his soul raises him to a dignity above other creation. And all sorts of divine forces guard and protect him.

Repeated New Creations... 

Our Births and Deaths are mere transformations within these transitory segments of the Eternal Reality called Al-Haqqa. Often, the use of word "man" al-insaan within the Qur'an is in the generic connotation referring to the Humanity on this earth. To better understand WHY the Humanity on this earth or in the Quranic term "the children of Adam -- from their loins -- their descendants"  were made to "testify concerning themselves" Saying; "Am I not your Lord?" (see verse 7:172), it is essential to understand the Process of Continuous Repeated Creations. This Process is inter linked with our Pledge, Birth, Trial, Death, Resurrection, Judgment, Reward and Punishment.
The Qur'an also informs us that Allah SWT has NOT been tired of originating and repeating the NEW Creations of the Heavens and Earths (the Universe). 


The Day that we roll up the heavens like a scroll rolled up for books (completed) even as We produced the first Creation 
so shall We produce a new one: a promise We have undertaken: truly shall We fulfill it.  21: 104

It is He Who begins (the process of) creation; then repeats it; and for Him it is most easy.  30: 27

It is Allah Who begins (the process of) creation; then repeats it; then shall ye be brought back to Him  30: 11

From the infinitesimal, the Almighty Allah has Created our expanding Universe. He may collapse the whole thing back into nothing, like a scroll that has been done with. The Universe may be swallowed by a "black hole" and end up into nothing, while going through the high speed spiral in that hole. The concept is similar to the rolling of the ancient Scrolls of the Scriptures. The Qur'an has given an allegorical example and no specific information about the process. The only thing we know is that He has done it in the past and He can repeat it the future. Allah has also promised to create the mankind into NEW FORMS if we do fail. If He wishes, He can remove us all and replace us.


We have decreed Death to be your common lot, and We are not to be frustrated from changing your Forms and creating you (again) in (Forms) that ye know not. And ye certainly know already the first form of creation: why then do ye not celebrate His praises? 
56: 60 to 62

It is We Who created them and We have made their joints strong; but when We will We can substitute the like of them by a complete change 76: 28

Seest thou not that Allah created the Heavens and the earth in Truth? If He so will He can remove you and put (in your place) a new Creation khalqeen jadeed? Nor is that for Allah any great matter.   14: 19-20

"Inna Lillahi wa Inna Ilehi Raajioon"
           "From Allah we come and to Allah we return"

The above sentence is repeatedly recited when a Muslim passes away from this world. As seen earlier, Man Insan is made of THREE components. The next important question is; which of these three RETURN to Allah SWT?


"And Allah hath caused you to grow as a growth from the earth, And afterward He maketh you return thereto, and He will bring you forth again, a (new) forthbringing." 71: 17 - 18

Our dead body is RETURNED to the earth and it disintegrates in course of time. The bodies that are not laid down in the earth, do also disintegrate in the earth. Our Soul gets NEW Body, when it is "aroused" from its sleep, on the Day of Resurrection. In other words, this physical Body does not go to Allah. 


Say: "The Angel of Death put in charge of you will (duly) take your souls: then shall ye be brought back to your Lord." 32 : 11

"Verily the Hour is coming My design is to keep it hidden for every soul to receive its reward by the measure of its endeavor. 
"Therefore let not such as believe not therein but follow their own lusts divert thee therefrom lest thou perish!" 20 : 15 - 16

"In order that I may work righteousness in the things I neglected." "By no means! it is but a word he says." Before them is a Partition Barzakh*  till the Day they are raised up. 23 : 100
* A barrier that is forbidden to pass. This place is a transitory abode of the departed Souls. Here the Souls rest in a quiescent state until they are "aroused" from their sleep, on the Day of Resurrection. This transitory abode is like a Sepulcher 'Ajdathi, a resting place for the Souls. Behind them is the Death from which they came and in front is the forbidden Partition they cannot cross. 

The Day whereon they will issue from their sepulchers in sudden haste as if they were rushing to a goal post (fixed) 70 : 43 

Night Journeys of the Souls

"Allah receiveth (men's) souls at the time of their death, and that (soul) which dieth not (yet) in its sleep. He keepeth that (soul) for which He hath ordained death and dismisseth the rest till an 
appointed term. Lo herein verily are portents for people who take thought.  39 : 42

Allah recalls the Souls of the living during their sleep - withholds a few and returns the rest to their Bodies. Medical history has the records of "clinically dead" coming back to life and speaking of their experiences during that brief  journey. Many people have experienced in their dream state (during the  sleep) that their Souls do enter different bodies and act like the strangers in an atmosphere that is totally unfamiliar and yet the entire experience appears to them to be so real and intimate. Once awakened, on some rare occasions, the body feels the effects of the emotional trauma of that strange encounter while it was sleeping. It is often said that; "The sleep is a twin sister of our Death!" 

The Sorting of the "aroused" Souls...

When the souls are sorted out (Being joined like with like);  81 : 7

When the event inevitable cometh to pass. Then will no (soul) entertain falsehood concerning its coming. (Many) will it bring low (many) will it exalt; When the earth shall be shaken to its 
depths And the mountains shall be crumbled to atoms Becoming dust scattered abroad. And ye shall be sorted out into three 
classes.    56 : 1 to 7

1st.  Nearest to Allah Muqarrabun.  See verses 56: 11ff for the details.
2nd. Companions of the Right Hand Ashab ul-maimana.   See 56: 27ff.
3rd.  Companions of the Left Hand Ashab ul-mash-ama.    See 56: 41ff

That is their recompense because they rejected Our Signs and said "When we are reduced to bones and broken dust should we really be raised up (to be) a new Creation khalqeen jadeed?"    17: 98

If thou dost marvel (at their want of faith) strange is their saying: "When we are (actually) dust shall we indeed then be in a creation renewed?"  13 : 5

Let us not forget, we are told of  a new Creation  and a creation renewed.
He has the power to re-assemble (re-create) in the same manner as in the past.

Was he not a drop of sperm emitted (in lowly form)? Then did he become a leech-like clot; then did (Allah) make and fashion (him) in due proportion. And of him He made two sexes male and 
female. Has not He (the same) the power to give life to the dead?
75 : 37 to 40

Does man think that We cannot assemble his bones? Nay We are able to put together in perfect order the very tips of his fingers. 
75 : 3 - 4 

1400 years ago when the Qur'an was Revealed, the readers of the Qur'an probably thought this was just a term of _expression. Today, we know that 
intricate ridge patterns of our fingerprints are not only exclusive but they are unique codes of dermatoglyphic abnormalities - the chromosomal aberrations.   


The angels and the Spirit ascend unto Him in a Day the measure whereof is (as) fifty thousand years: 70 : 4

We now know it with certainty that our Soul and Spirit, do travel and do ascend to Him. Our mortal BODY does not ascend and thus remains on this earth. 

Misconceptions for the Body

Behold! thy Lord said to the angels: "I am about to create man from sounding clay from mud molded into shape; when I have fashioned him (in due proportion) and breathed into him of My spirit fall ye down in obeisance unto him." 15: 28-29

We know the rest of the story (see verses 15: 30ff). Iblis refused to prostrate to Adam, because he made a serious mistake of identifying and acknowledging the Human Body made from clay. In his pride he failed to identify and/or  recognize the other most important component of Adam - the Spirit of Allah.

Are we not making a some what similar error of recognition, when we see a departed descendant of Adam - insan?  We do repeatedly recite "Inna Lillahi wa Inna Ilehi Raajioon", "From Allah we come and to Allah we return" and Pray to Allah (SWT) for the Peace and the entry into the Paradise for departed SOUL, which had returned to Allah and was awaiting for the Day of Judgment.

BUT, we talk of the punishments, tortures and torments of the BODY that is in the tomb. We are seriously concerned about size of the Tomb and that of the dead Body, which in reality is disintegrating and slowly becoming the dust.
We fail to recognize the TRUTH that it was NOT the Body, but the SOUL of the departed that had taken the Oath in the presence of Allah, before it was fused with the Body. There are several verses in the Qur'an that uphold the concept that the Souls will be rewarded or punished according to their deeds. 

Dear Brothers and Sisters: I have yet to find a verse of the Qur'an that speak of the torments and punishments or of the rewards from Allah SWT, for the Dead Bodies or Corpses, while they are disintegrating in their tombs. I hope the following explicit verses of the Qur'an will dispel the misconceptions for the punishments and torments, before the promised Day of Resurrection and before the Book of their Deeds are Opened and presented to our Souls. 

"And if anyone earns sin he earns it against his own soul: for Allah is full of knowledge and wisdom." 4: 111.

"Verily the Hour is coming, My design is to keep it hidden for every soul to receive its reward by the measure of its endeavor."  20: 15

And if anyone earns sin he earns it against his own soul: 4 : 111

Our Life is a Reality. Our Death too is a Reality. The separation of the Body and the Soul is a Reality. Our Soul that has taken the Pledge is under Trial. Our belief in the Pledge and the Trial, is an essential foundation of Religion.

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