“You never get a second chance to make a good first impression.” (Old Proverb)
True belief earns a reward in the hereafter. Disbelief does too, buuuut . . . you don’t want it. Such has been the message of all the prophets: each and every one of them.
How can we justify an afterlife? Well, where else can the injustices of this life be rectified, if not in an afterlife? If God did not offset the injustices of worldly life with appropriate rewards and punishments in the hereafter, it would be a poor reflection upon His sense of fairness. Some of the worst-of-the-worst enjoy some of the most luxurious and carefree lives. Meanwhile, some of the best-of-the-best suffer terribly. For example, which prophet had an easy time of it? Which prophets lived pampered lives of splendor to match that of a mafia boss, drug lord or tyrannical ruler, either of our time or theirs? If we are to trust in the mercy and justice of our Creator, we cannot believe He restricts the rewards of piety and the punishments of transgression to this worldly life, for the inequities of life are clear.
So there will be a Day of Judgment, we’ll all be there, and it will be a bad time to start thinking about changing our lives for the better. Because . . . now stay with me here . . . because our lives will be, in a word, over. It’ll be too late. The record of our deeds will be done. And there’s no going back.
Mankind will be sorted according to beliefs and deeds. The faithful will be vindicated, the disbelievers condemned, and the transgressors (if not forgiven) punished according to the severity of their sins. Jews declare paradise to be a birthright of the “chosen people,” Christians claim “not to be perfect, just forgiven,” and Muslims believe that all who die in submission to the Creator are eligible for redemption. Those who followed the revelation and prophet of their time will be successful, whereas those who forsook the revelation and prophet of their day did so to the compromise of their souls. According to Islam, the believing Jews were upon the truth right up until they rejected the prophets who followed (i.e., John the Baptist and Jesus Christ) and their teachings, not to mention the revelation Jesus conveyed. In this manner, the Jews lived in submission to God not on His terms, but on their terms. When God sent prophets or revelation they didn’t like, they chose to stick with the religion of their forefathers rather than that of God. In this way they fell into disobedience and disbelief. Similarly, Jesus’ followers followed the truth, right up until they rejected the final prophet, Muhammad. Again, Jesus’ followers submitted to God, but only on their terms. And that’s not good enough. When called upon to acknowledge the prophet Muhammad and the final revelation of the Holy Qur’an, they rejected and fell into the same disobedience and disbelief as their Jewish cousins.
According to Muslims, the religion of truth has always been Islam, since Islam’s core message of submission to the will of Allah is what all prophets taught. However, submission to Allah’s will demands adherence to the final revelation and teachings of the final prophet. Hence, the only group that submits to God’s religion in the present day is the Muslims. Those who know Islam and reject it will be condemned. Those who know of Islam and willfully duck the responsibility of studying the religion will likewise be condemned. However, those who die neither knowing of Islam nor willfully avoiding investigation thereof will be tested on the Day of Judgment, to prove what they would have done, had they known. And on that basis, Allah will judge them.
In this manner, if it can be imagined that there are Jews who died without having known of the prophets who followed, and Christians who died ignorant of Muhammad and the Holy Qur’an, they are not to be condemned. Rather, Allah will judge them according to their submission to the revelation to which they had been exposed during their lifetimes, and test their faith and obedience. So, too, with those who die ignorant of revelation as a whole; if they die sincerely seeking the religion of truth, they have hope for salvation. The same, however, cannot be said for those who willfully ignore the truth.
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