The Bible and Islam/The Future Life

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The Bible and Islam by Henry Preserved Smith
The Future Life

WE have already bad occasion to notice the prominence which the doctrine of the Judgment assumed in the system of Mohammed, and in connection with it the doctrine of the resurrection. In more than one place he intimates that the great stumbling-block which his message put in the way of his compatriots was the doctrine of the resurrection. The unbelievers are represented as saying to their friends : * " Shall we bring you to a man who tells that after you are scattered by the decay of your members, you will be come new creatures?" Elsewhere the unbelievers are characterized as those who do not believe in the future life, while the believers are frequently de scribed as those who believe in the future life the world to come as we may well translate the word.f The stress of the message is laid upon this : " Let those who exchange the present life for the life to come, fight in the cause of God." : The idea that those who lose the present life in order to gain the other make a good bargain is also found in the New Testament. The future is in fact the true good, the present is only a delusion: " Say to them : The pres-

  • Koran, 34 .

f Al-achira : that which comes after this life, 2 , C 92 and often.

J4 16 .

2G6


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ent life is a little thing, and the life to come is [the true] good to the one who fears God : " " The present life is only play and pastime, but the future home is better to those who fear God do you not under stand?"*

Belief in the future life is, then, one of the funda mentals of Moslem faith. How much this article of the creed includes to orthodox Mohammedans can be seen from the following synopsis of the chapters de voted to this subject in a treatise on theology : t

Section 64. To show that the inquisition of Munkar and Nakir, and the punishment of the tomb, and its felicity, and all that is handed down concerning it, are true. . . . Followers of tradition assert that this inquisition of Mun kar and Nakir comes to every man equally, whether he be buried, or devoured by beasts or by birds, or even if his dust be scattered by the wind.

Section 65. To show that all the signs of the Hour, concerning which the Lawgiver has told us, are true, and that it is necessary that all of them come to pass before the coming of the Hour. These are : the appearance of the Mahdi, then of the Antichrist, then of Jesus ; next the coming of the Beast, the rising of the sun in the west, the ascension of the Koran, the opening of the barrier of Gog and Magog. Though there remained for the world but the space of one day, all this would come to pass.

" Section 66. To show the necessity of a firm belief that God will restore us to life in the form in which he first brought us into it ; and the possible modes in which the bodies shall receive the spirits ; to explain the form of the Trumpet, and the reviving of those who are in the tombs.

" Section 67. To show that the assembly after the resur-

  • Koran, 4", 6 32 , cf. 13 M .

t From Fltigel, Scha rani und sein Werk tiler die Muhammmedan- ische Glaubenslehre in the Z. D. M. G., XX. (18GG), pp. 22 24.


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rection is true, and so of the change of the earth to another earth and also of the heavens [to other heavens]. As to the assembly, it is the collection of all created beings that they may appear before God and give account before Him. It extends to all creatures, both the distinguished and the vulgar. All the pious, the prophets, the saints, arid the believers shall appear in the presence of the Compassionate, and the evil-doers of different classes shall assemble before the Almighty and the Avenger.

" Section 68. To show that the Pool and the Bridge and the Scales are true.

"Section 69. To show that the books kept by the record ing angels are true and that they shall be laid before God in the day of resurrection according to the express tradi tions. But as to the records men have different lots : one shall hold his in his right hand, and another shall hold his in his left, and another shall hold his behind his back. Those who hold their books in their right hands are the different classes of believers ; those whose books are given into their left hands, these are the hypocrites, but not idol- ators ; those who hold their books behind their backs are those who received the Scripture but cast it behind them.

" Section 70. To show that our prophet Mohammed (God bless and save him) will be the first intercessor in the Day of Resurrection and the first whose intercession will be ac cepted and the best of them, and 110 one shall have prece dence of him.

"Section 71. To show that Paradise and the Fire are true, and that they were created before Adam (peace be 011 him) as has been already set forth at large. "

The citation, though only from a synopsis, is enough to show the extent to which Mohammedan eschatology has been developed. The theologians have been obliged to find room in their system for every saying on this subject which is attributed to Mohammed by tradition, as well as every declara-


THE FUTURE LIFE 269

tion contained in the Koran. Their harmonistic efforts are evident enough in some sections of this treatise, as where those Avho receive the book of rec ord are divided into three classes. This division is based on different texts of the Koran, in each of which only two classes of men are specified. Thus, we find in several instances that the good are called men of the right and the bad men of the left. These phrases are apparently borrowed from the Gospel account of the Judgment, in which the sheep are placed on the right hand and the goats on the left. Influenced by this phraseology we have in these pas sages the two classes designated as those who receive their book (or account) in their right hand or in their left hand as the case may be.* In another passage the one receives his book in his right hand and the other receives it behind his back.-\ It is clear that the Prophet meant by this various imagery to de scribe two classes and only two. But the literalism of the theologians compels them to adopt a scheme which will allow all the texts to be literally true hence the three classes in our author s presentation.

So extended and well-ordered a system as is here presented was not in the mind of Mohammed. It is not unlikely, however, that he was hospitable to in timations concerning the life beyond the grave which came to him from various quarters. The curious as sertion attributed to him by tradition to the effect that the souls of the martyrs abide in the crops of green birds which inhabit Paradise, is almost cer tainly a survival from Arabic heathenism, in which

  • Koran, 69 19 - 5 . t81 7ll .


270 THE BIBLE AND ISLAM

the departed soul was supposed to take the form of a bird.* Oil the same evidence (that of tradition) we are warranted in asserting that he took the idea of the punishments of the grave from the Jews at Me dina, f

The hypothesis of a future life seems to be a ne cessity to a faith which will maintain its hold on the justice of God. The inequalities of this life are so marked, the lot of man is here so glaringly appor tioned without reference to his deserts, that we must look for another world in which the injustices may be remedied. The perplexity of the Old Testament writers in their attempt to discover God s justice in the assignment of prosperity and calamity in this world, is sufficiently evident from the Book of Job. That they were able to keep their faith in God in spite of the darkness which (to the most of them) hung over the future, is evidence of the intensity of the faith itself. Mohammed never had to go through their struggle. But he felt the force of the moral ar gument for the future life, if wo may judge from the following : J " Or do those who do evil think that We will treat them like those who believe and do good, making their life and their death the same ? Evil is the opinion they have formed. God has made the heavens and the earth in accordance with justice, and in order that every soul may be recompensed for what it has done, and they shall not be wronged." The thought is plain ; God has a purpose in His

  • Kremer, Hcrrschende fJ.ecn, p. 166.

t Bochari, II., p. 93, also p. 24 f. J Koran, 45- .


THE FUTURE LIFE 271

dealings with men. Tliis purpose is the manifesta tion of His justice. The purpose will be accomplished only when all receive their recompense. It follows from the notorious inequalities of this life that the recompense of the other life is the more certain. It is perhaps with some such thought in mind that Mohammed said : * " the poor Refugees will reach heaven before the rich by forty years at the resur rection."

It is hardly to be supposed that Mohammed worked out the logic of this view. His whole idea came ready formulated from Christianity. The point at which it met his religious needs was this the Judgment solves the difficulties which force them selves upon us as we contemplate the divine govern ment of the world. The Judgment, then, is the point of departure for the whole eschatology of the Koran. It appears prominently in the earliest Suras. In the Fatiha, God is King of the Day of Judgment. The phrase Day of Judgment occurs elsewhere in the early period, and is doubtless borrowed from a Christian source.t It reminds us of New Testament usage also, that the Hour is made the name of the Judgment. %

The Koran conception of the Judgment is the dra matic one known to us by the Gospel description. The world shall suddenly be visited by great por-

  • Mishcat, II., p. 507.

f Koran, SI 12 , 56 5S . The word din here used for judgment seems not to have had that sense in Arabic, but to have been borrowed from Hebrew or Aramaic.

j 6 3i, 5 12107, 22 4 , etc. Cf. that day and hour, Matt. 34 36 .

Matt. 24 29 - 3B , 25 ; - 46 .


272 THE BIBLE AND ISLAM

tents ; the Judge will sit on His throne ; all nations shall be gathered before Him ; the good shall be placed on His right hand and be welcomed to happi ness ; the evil shall be placed on the left hand and be consigned to punishment. The picture recurs in all its features in the Koran, except that the Judge is God, and not the Son of Man. In the Gospel, the portents are the darkening of the sun and moon, the falling of the stars from heaven, and the sending out of the angels with the trumpet. To this should be added earthquakes, and the various convulsions of nature which the Old Testament prophets associate with the Day of Yahweh. Compare the Koran :

" When the sun shall be darkened, And when the stars shall be scattered, When the mountains shall be removed, And when the camels shall be uncared for, When the beasts shall be collected, And when the seas shall be dried up, When the souls shall be united, And the girl buried alive shall be asked For what crime she was slain ; When the books shall be opened, And the heavens shall be folded together, When the fire shall burn fiercely, And Paradise shall be brought into view Then each soul shall know what it has wrought. *

The Biblical resemblances of the passage are ob vious, and many other passages of similar import might be cited. Quite in accord with the New Testa ment, is the division of those who are judged into

  • Koran, 81 1 14 . The meaning is not always certain.


THE FUTURE LIFE 273

men of the right hand and men of the left hand. We can scarcely doubt that this goes back to the Gospel picture. As already noted, these two divisions com prise all mankind. Those who believe are the men of the right and those who disbelieve are the men of the left.* In one passage there are said to be three divisions. But this is for the purpose of throwing the prophets into relief, they being allowed to go first to their reward. The fundamental distinction is be tween the good and the bad. Possibly under Persian influence, room was found later for an intermediate class. That the judgment takes place by the help of books of record we have noticed in an earlier lect ure, as also that this is based on Jewish or Christian ideas. The use of the Balance to determine the merit of each one is affirmed in some passages, f and this very natural figure has given the theologians trouble, because, in their literalism, they did not see how actions could be weighed.

In order to the complete vindication of divine justice, all responsible beings must be judged. Hence the importance of the doctrine of the resurrection of the dead. The original form of the doctrine seems to have been different. The Old Testament believer was much exercised that the final triumph of Israel should take place without the presence of those who had suffered most for the good cause. In the Book of Daniel, the faith that Israel shall triumph over the Gentiles is accompanied by the faith that many of those who have died without the sight shall be raised to participate in the glory for which they have longed.

  • Koran, 90 17 30 , cf. 74", 56 8 f . t 23 1M f , 21 4 \

18


274 THE BIBLE AND ISLAM

In mediaeval Judaism, the emphasis of the resurrec tion is laid upon this thought. Saadia, for example, goes into a calculation of the space which would be oc cupied by Israel when all its dead should be raised.* The earthly kingdom of the Messiah thus precedes the final apportionment of rewards and punishments. For the doctrine in this form, Mohammed had no taste, as is evident from his connecting the resurrec tion and the Judgment closely together. In his earlier preaching (and perhaps to the close of his life) he thought the Judgment to be near at hand. He re garded it as a Day of Yahweh which should come suddenly upon the nations. His denunciation of calamity upon Mecca was doubtless based upon a bona fide expectation of the early appearance of God in Judgment. In this he reminds us of the expectation, so common in New Testament times, that the Lord would soon return for judgment. This expectation is not confined to New Testament times. The most re ligious (or the most emotional) minds have frequently felt the course of the world to be so bad, that there must be an immediate intervention of divine power. Thus the Fifth Monarchy expectation becomes acute at times when reverses overtake the Church. For Mohammed we may notice :

" Verily the chastisement of thy Lord is at hand, None can turn it away.

A day when the heavens shall be in commotion, And the mountains shall remove!

Woe, on that day, to those who accuse [the revelation] of falsehood !

  • Emunot wt-Deot,oder Glaubenslehre und Philosophic von Saad-

ja Fajjumi, iibersctzt von Fiirst (Leipzig, 1845 , p. 408.


THE FUTURE LIFE 275

These are they who amused themselves with vanity. The day on which they are roughly thrust into the fire

of Gehenna [they shall be told], This is the fire whose existence you denied." *

The passage seems to assert categorically both that the day of punishment is near, and that there is no interval between its appearance and the condemna tion of the unbelievers. Other assertions that the Day is near can easily be found, f Some of them are guarded in their language. Even these remind us of the New Testament, which is careful to assure us that the exact time is known to God alone. Koran and New Testament agree also in affirming the suddenness with which the Hour shall announce itself: "To God belong the secrets of heaven and earth. The matter of the Hour is like a glance of the eye, or even nearer ; " " They shall discern nothing but a single cry ; it shall come upon them while they are disput ing, and they shall not be able to make their testa ments or return to their families. A blast shall be blown and men shall hasten from the tombs to their Lord. They shall say : Woe to us ! Who has brought us from our resting place ? This is what the Com passionate threatened, and the messengers were truth ful. There shall come a single cry and all [created things] shall appear before Us. On that day no soul shall be wronged at all, nor shall they be recom pensed except for what they have done." J Elsewhere also the single blast of the trumpet is followed at once by the resurrection. In one passage, however, this

  • Koran, 52 -". fE.g., 75 !4 , 77% 27 % 33 W .

JIG 7 - , 3G>.". 37", 27-- , 37".


276 THE BIBLE AND ISLAM

is made two blasts: "The trumpet shall be blown and all that are in heaven and earth shall die, ex cept whom God will. Then it shall be blown again and they shall rise and see. And the earth shall shine with the light of its Lord, and the book shall be placed, and the prophets and the witnesses shall be brought and men shall be judged none shall be wronged.*

It is somewhat difficult to combine in a single picture all the features of Mohammed s description. Besides the sound of the trumpet we have the call of an angel : " On the day when one shall call to some thing difficult, with looks cast down they shall come forth from the graves like the locusts in clouds." | In their terror they shall flee their nearest friends ; the nurse shall forget her charge ; the pregnant woman shall miscarry ; men shall be drunken with terror.:}: All voices are put to silence, and the only sound heard is the tramp of the millions moving to their doom. Angels and men are ranged in ranks. The false gods are judged along with their wor shippers. Each tries to excuse himself and to throw the blame upon others. Gehenna is brought near a flaming monster with fiery maw gaping for prey. ||

Even the animals will be raised and brought into judgment *|f though this is affirmed in but one pas sage. Although the books of record arc brought, they

  • Koran, 39 ;8 f . f T.4 6 f .

i80 ia , 22- . So in the Day of Yuhweh men shall be "drunken but not with wine."

20 107 . || 89 J3 f . 1 6 :i .


THE FUTURE LIFE 277

are, properly speaking, not necessary. Men shall be recognized by their marks ; they shall be com pelled to testify against themselves ; their members will bear witness against them : " Their hearing and their eyes and their skins shall testify concerning what they were accustomed to do ; they will say to their skins : " Why do you testify against us ? They will reply: God who causes everything to speak, causes us to speak ; it is He who created you at first, and to Him you return ; you cannot so conceal your selves that your ears and eyes and skins will not witness but you thought that God would not know what you were doing." * This feature appears also in Rabbinical sources. The thought that, as soul and body are both concerned in the sins of this life, both must be punished in the other world, goes back to the Persian religion, t

The multitude of details must not cause us to lose sight of the main point. This is, that the justice of God will be fully vindicated by a universal Judgment for which the dead will be raised. In this form the idea is undoubtedly Christian. This idea forms a mo tive for faith and good works. Believers are to be rewarded, unbelievers will be punished. This motive is urged by all the religions which have a distinct conception of a future life. As to historical Chris-

  • Koran, 41">- ai , cf. 24 %M , 36 55 and Geiger, /. c., p. 74.

fKohut in Z. D. M. G., XXI. (18G7), p. 565 f. The argument that the resurrection of men is no more difficult to God than their creation, is also given by Zoroaster, adopted by the Jews and found in the Koran Kohut, /. c., p. 578 f. ; Saadia, Emunot (Fiirst), p. 381. The same line of argument is found in the Church Fathers, Har- nuck, Dogmengescliichie, II., p. 65.


278 THE BIBLE AND ISLAM

tianity there can be no doubt on this point, and if we compare Mohammed s descriptions of Paradise and Gehenna with those found in Christian sources we shall not be in doubt as to his dependence upon them. These descriptions are probably the best known portions of the Koran, so that their treatment here may be brief.

Paradise is the Garden, or the Garden of Eden, or with translation of the word Eden, the Garden of Pleasure. This abode of the blessed is watered by perennial streams; the inhabitants repose at their ease in shady bowers ; they eat of the most delicious fruits ; cups of a delicious beverage but which does not intoxicate, are served to them as often as they desire; they are clothed magnificently and adorned with jewels.

To these delights are added the damsels of Para dise, virgins whose beauty passes description. The delights are not all sensuous. The throne of God is in the midst of the Garden, and the blessed be hold the worship of the angels and hear the praises which they sing."* No vain discourse will be uttered, but the universal salutation will be : Peace ! They shall receive visits of congratulation from the angels. Better than all, is the consciousness of the favor of God.f That the saved shall behold the face of God seems to be nowhere asserted in the Koran, though tradition affirms it very strongly. It is perhaps

  • Koran, 39 75 . It is unnecessary to give references for the other

particulars.

f Such seems to be the meaning of 9 3 .


THE FUTURE LIFE 279

implied in the Koran phrase : " Those who endure through desire of the face of their Lord."*

On the whole this must be admitted to be a sensu ous paradise. Mohammed showed his own weakness in introducing the Huris into the picture. For this he had no precedent in the Bible. But for the rest of his description he could plead Jewish and Christian precedent. A recent author calls attention to the de scription of Eden in the hymns of Ephraem Syrus. This Father speaks of its fragrant fountains, its flow ers and crowns ; the blessed are served by angels who bring them wine from the vine of Paradise.f John of Damascus describes Paradise in similar terms. $ That the same features are found in Piabbinical writings is well known. It is aside from our present purpose to notice the resemblances further than to show that Mohammed adopted substantially the view of his predecessors. This went so far as to assert seven heavens, and to affirm that the good are rewarded in different degrees, both which propositions may be found in Jewish and Christian authorities. II

It need scarcely be added that the w r oes of the

  • Koran, 13- 2 . On seeing the face of God cf. Pocock, Notce Mis

cellanea, in his Works, I. (1740), p. 236 ; Mishcat, II., 620.

fGrimme, Mohammed, II., p. 161.

J Harnack, Dogmengeschichte, II., p. 154.

Weber, Altsynagogale Theologie, p. 331.

|| On the seven heavens 2". The idea is Persian, cf. Z. D. M. G., XXI., p. 562, and Talmudic, ibid., p. 567. That the blessed have different degrees of reward is less distinctly asserted in the Koran though abundantly developed in Tradition, as Bochari, III., p. 185. The same idea is found in Christianity (Harnack, 1. c., II., p. 66), and in Judaism (Weber, p. 332).


230 THE BIBLE AND ISLAM

damned are also developed along the lines of Jew ish and Christian belief. The fundamental idea is that Gehenna is a place of fire. The name is bor rowed with the idea.* The description is frequently given. Sometimes Gehenna is almost an animate monster. Its voracity is such that after it has re ceived all its portion of men and demons and is asked whether it is satisfied, it will reply : Is there anything more ? We are reminded of the Biblical proverb which puts Sheol as one of the things insati able. The unhappy souls are dragged to that abode loaded with chains. As they enter they are greeted with curses and reproaches, which they return upon the heads of those who have preceded them. The fire burns with an intensity sufficient to consume stones, and it completely envelops its victims. It consumes their members, which grow again to be a fresh source of torture. They are given to eat of an infernal tree called Zakkum, " whose fruit is like the heads of devils," t and when eaten " boils within them like molten metal." They receive to drink boiling water, or a yet more disgusting liquid. Their prayer for re lief is in vain. Though continually enduring the pangs of death, death never comes to their relief. Of special punishments we hear only that the misers who have heaped up gold and silver will be branded with red hot coins on forehead and side and back.:}: On the

  • Geliannam, approaching the Hebrew more nearly than the Chris

tian Syriac.

f Koran, 37 M f , of. 44 43 f .

\ y J . The Hadith adds that those who have refused the poor-tax of cattle shall be trampled by the cattle, L ucJutri, II., p. 101.


THE FUTURE LIFE 2S1

whole, the description of these torments falls short of the ingenuity of Christian and Rabbinic writers.*

What we have now considered makes up the main view of the Koran. So long as the expectation of an early coining of the Judgment could be entertained, it was sufficient. But the Judgment delayed. Many of the believers were taken away from earth, and many of the enemies of the Prophet were put to death. The question must arise where are these souls for the present time? Do they simply sleep until the resurrection ? The natural answer is that they sleep with the body, and this answer seems to be implied in the assertion that those who are raised will think that they have rested only a brief time in the tomb. In one instance we have the account of a man who was sceptical about the resurrection, whereupon God caused him to die, and after a hun dred years revived him. On being asked how long he had remained in that state, he replied : a day or part of a day.-\ So the scoffers, when they are raised at the last day, shall think that they have been in the grave only an hour, or only a little time4 The only rational hypothesis to account for this state of mind, is that the souls have passed the time in sleep ; and this we suppose to have been Mohammed s original intention. But the impatience of his followers for paradise, and his own impatience for the punishment

  • Of. the Acts of Thomas (Walker s Apocryphal Gospels), p. 419

f . ; Antenicene Fathers, VIII., p. 547 ; Eisenmenger, Enidecktes Ju- denthum, II., p. 341.

t Koran, 2 381 .

\ 46 35 , 17 54 , cf . also, 20 f , 30 >j4 f .


2S2 THE BIBLE AND ISLAM

of liis enemies, could not rest in the simple hypothe sis of sleeping souls. Jewish and Christian tradition came to his help. These, although they asserted a Judgment, found room for a series of scenes to pre cede the final consummation. For the individual soul, moreover, they had provided an extended experience between death and the resurrection. As these theories became known to Mohammed, ho seems to have adopted them more or less completely, but without digesting them into a self-consistent scheme. As further developed by tradition they have all found place in the Moslem eschatology, which thus becomes the complicated thing which we have already contem plated in the extract from Sha rani. These additional details deserve some attention. They are concerned either with the experiences of the individual soul or with the course of the world s history, and we may conveniently arrange them under these two heads.

Death is the separation of soul and body. It is natural to suppose that it is effected by the angels. Such was the theory of Judaism, going back to Par- seeism,* and adopted in popular Christianity, f So we find in the Koran : " If only thou couldst see when the evil-doers are in the pangs of death, while the angels stretch forth their hands [saying] : Give forth your souls ! To-day you shall be recompensed by

  • la Parseeism the man s good deeds appear to him in the form of

a beautiful maiden at his death. Kohut (Z. D. M. G., XXI., p. 564) cites also a passage in which the angels accompany the soul. For Judaism, Weber, p. 324, Saadia (Fiirst s Translation), p. 364.

t The Revelation of Paul in Walker s translation (Apocryphal Gospels), p. 480; Antenicene Fathers, VIII., p. 57C; Budge, Book of the Bee, p. 131.


THE FUTUKE LIFE 28b

severe punishment for wliat you have falsely spoken concerning God," * and more vividly : " If only thou couldst see when the unbelievers die, how the angels strike their faces and backs [saying] : Taste the pun ishment of the fire ! This is for what your hands, have laid up in store." According to tradition, an inquisi tion is held in the grave as to whether the deceased is a sincere believer. If he turns out to be such, his grave is expanded for him and he is given a view of Paradise. If the reverse be the case, the body is beaten and the grave is contracted so as to press upon the body. These are the pains of the grave adopted from Judaism.f The soul remains joined to the body therefore, and is affected by its experiences.

Properly speaking, then, there are three theories discoverable on this point. According to one, the soul sleeps between death and the resurrection. This is implied in the passages already cited, in which the raised think they have been but an hour or a day in the tomb. The second is developed by tradition in the form just noted that the soul is present with the body receiving a foretaste of its final state. And, thirdly, there are traces of a theory that the souls enter at once upon the enjoyment of heaven or the suffering of hell. The only trace of this in the Koran is in an allusion to Pharaoh and his people, who are said to be brought to the fire morning and evening,

  • Koran, 6 93 , 8 5 2 f . The reader who is interested in the theological

development of these passages may consult Gautier, La Ferle Prc- cieuse de Ghazali (1877), pp. 9, 15, 16.

t Cf. Mishcat, I., pp. 38-43; Bochari, II., pp. 84, 92 f . ; Weber, /. c., p. 325; Saadia, p. 3G8.


284 THE BIBLE AND ISLAM

"and when the Hour shall dawn it shall be said: Take the people of Pharaoh to the severest punish ment ! " * In the traditions, however, we have fre quent assertions that the souls of those who die in the holy war go at once to Paradise. It is not for us to endeavor to reconcile these three propositions. But it is fair to point out that a similar confusion pre vails in the Christian treatment of the life which comes immediately after death and before the resurrection.

As remarked above, the Christian theory of the last things embraces more than the final Judgment. When it became evident that the great consummation was not so imminent as Mohammed had supposed, these additional events began to assert themselves, even to Mohammed himself. He was willing at least to allow room for the signs of the Hour. Such signs lie described in the convulsions of nature which are so frequently mentioned in connection with the Judg ment. Cut later he extended the list. One of the most prominent of the additional signs was the ap pearance of Gog and Magog: " A curse shall rest on the city we have destroyed. They shall not revive until Gog and Magog shall have free course and they shall come down in crowds from every height." | The explanation is given in another Sura which re lates at length the story of Alexander the Great (Dhu-1-Karnain). Among other things, this King is said to have made a wall of iron cemented with molten brass.:}; The object of the wall was to keep

  • Koran, 40".

t 21" 5 f . I have substituted the familiar Gog and Magog for the Arabic form Yajnj and Mnjuj.

J The story fills IS ti " j J , athl is Ji-rivt-il from a Christian source.


THE FUTURE LIFE 285

out the ferocious Tartar tribes here called Gog and Magog. It is evident at a glance that we have here an apocalyptic sign which goes back to Ezekiel and which reappears in the New Testament Revelation.* Beyond the assertion that these nations shall come in crowds as a sign of the Day, Mohammed makes no use of them ; and in his presentation there seems to be no room for the extended campaign of Gog which is implied in EzekiePs account.

Another sign of which tradition makes much is the Beast, mentioned once in the Koran : " And when the decree is pronounced upon them, We will bring from the earth a beast which shall say to them that mankind has not kept firm hold of our revela tion, "f Here is evidently a reminiscence of the Beast of the New Testament Revelation. But Mo hammed only alludes to it in connection with the Hour, as one of its signs. The connection is only external. The same may be said of the Second Coming of Jesus, which is once said to be a sign of the approach of the Hour. The coming of Anti christ is certified by tradition only, as it would seem. The expected Mahdi who is also predicted in tradi tion, is another product of the perennial Messianic hope of the Eastern world4 Tradition goes counter to the tenor of the Koran when it makes Jesus the

  • Ezek. 38 and 39 ; Rev. 20 - . On the influence which the pre

diction has had in Christian literature, cf. Bousset, Der Antichrist (1895) pp. 29, 33 f. For Judaism, Weber, 1. c., p. 369 f.

t Koran, 27 ; Rev. 13.

% An extended discussion of these matters is given by Pocock, NotcE Miscellanea, in his Works (1740) I., p. 213 ff. ; cf. also Ruling, Eschatologie des Islam (1895).


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Judge at the Day of Resurrection. The Bridge on which those who are judged will attempt to pass to heaven, only the believers succeeding, has also a large place in tradition, having been borrowed from Persian sources. These embellishments show how many incongruous elements may be swallowed, and in a sense assimilated, by tradition.

One point remains to be noticed. The eternity of reward and punishment seems distinctly affirmed in the Koran. In fact a distinct polemic is found against the Jews who had the contrary theory : " They say : The fire shall affect us only a limited number of days. Say to them : Have you received an engagement from God such that He will not change, or do you say concerning God what you do not know ? Nay ! Whoever has deserved evil, and whose sin has encompassed him these are inhabi tants of the Fire, and they remain forever in it. But those who believe and do good, they are inhabitants of the Garden. They remain forever in it." * We are able to trace the Jewish doctrine to which allu sion is here made. The importance of the covenant made with Abraham was so great, that the Jewish thinkers could not conceive it to be annulled by any act on the part of man. One who had received cir cumcision, and who was thus marked as being in covenant with God, could not be punished eternally, no matter how bad he had been. It was recognized by the Kabbis, therefore, that Gehenna was only a purgatory for the Jews, and that when their purifica tion was accomplished they would be set free. It was

  • Koran, 2 4 ff , cf. 3- ! .


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even said that tlieir sojourn would be only twelve months.* Similar reasoning has led to the theory of the Church that no baptized person can be eternally lost. It is against this theory that Mohammed ar gues, and yet the theory has appeared among his followers. Tradition makes him say that the people of Paradise will enter Paradise, and the people of Gehenna will enter the fire ; then God will bring out whoever has in his heart the weight of a grain of mustard seed of faith. Then they will come out with faces already burnt to a coal and be plunged in the river of life, whereby they will revive as the grain springs up by the side of a river, f In another pas sage he who is thus delivered is said to be the one who says there is no God but Allah and in whose heart is a grain of good. The case seems to be one in which the traditions have invented a doctrine con trary to the express words of the Koran.

One somewhat confused passage should be noticed, lest we seem to ignore some part of Mohammed s doctrine. It is the following : " Between the two is a wall, and on the Aruf are men who recognize all by their marks ; and they call to the inhabitants of Para dise : Peace be upon you ! They do not enter though desiring to. And when their looks are directed toward the men of the Fire, they say : Our Lord, place us not with the unbelievers ! " It is evident

  • Weber, 1. c., p. 327 ff. It is intimated that an occasional sin

ner might be found who must be remanded eternally. In that case the distinguishing mark would be effaced.

f Bochari, I., pp. 10, 15.

J Koran, 7< 4f .


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that we have here no doctrine of purgatory. The most that we can conclude from the passage is that some few will be found whose deserts are so equally balanced that it is impossible to consign them to either place, so they are left perched on the dividing wall. But it is not certain that Mohammed laid any stress on this single passage which indeed may have been uttered for dramatic effect.

The results of this inquiry may be briefly formu lated thus : In regard to the life beyond the grave Mohammed was powerfully influenced by the doc trine of the preceding revealed religions, especially by the doctrine of Christianity. We have no reason to doubt that.it appealed to him on its moral and spiritual side on its moral side because it vindicated the justice of God; on its religious side because it gave promise of satisfaction in the presence of God. The good pleasure of God was one of the joys to which he looked forward. " Do not count those who have been slain in the cause of God as dead nay ! they live with Him, and there they are nourished, rejoicing in what God gives them of His bounty, and receiving the good tidings that those who have not yet attained, but are following after them, shall not suffer fear or grief." * In view of such expressions and tli3 declarations already noted, that the present life is of no value as compared with the life to come, we cannot doubt the real religious conviction of Mo hammed. That, in adopting it, he fitted it to his own taste is only what we find in other religions. The material and the sensuous appealed to him and to his

  • Koran, H 1 3 f .


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Arabs as it appealed to Jews and Christians of that age. His heaven is not very different from the heaven of Ephraem Syrus nor his hell different in kind from that painted by Dante or Michelangelo. The accretions to his doctrine which came from the Messianic expectations of the Jews or the Chiliastic expectation of the Christians, are due rather to the traditionists than to Mohammed himself.