Islam: beliefs and teachings 6 – LIFE AFTER DEATH

Akhirah –Belief in life after death

For a Muslim there is life after death. Life can be divided into two. A short earthly life which is viewed as a test to see whether a person is worthy of Paradise or deserves to be punished in Hell.

When a person dies, their soul is taken by the Angel of Death, called Azra’il. The soul hovers around the corpse, seeing everything. It watches the burial. The angels Munkar and Nakir ask the soul three questions. If answered correctly the soul will be allowed to rest easy until the Day of Judgment. If answered incorrectly the soul will be tortured in the grave. Waiting for the Day of Judgment is called Barzakh meaning ‘barrier’. The barrier between death and judgment.


The Qur’an explains what will happen when the Day of Judgment happens:

  • The Angel Israfil will sound the trumpet, there will be a blinding light and the sky will be cut
  • The Earth will be destroyed and the dead raised from the grave. The living will die instantly
  • The Mahdi will return to Earth with Isa (Jesus) to fight injustice
  • Forty days after the first trumpet a second blast will be given and the dead will be raised to await judgment


How does a belief in judgment and resurrection influence the life of a Muslim?
  • Belief in Akhirah will make a Muslim think carefully about their behaviour. A good record will secure a place in paradise whilst a bad record will result in Hell. As such, Muslims will try to follow the core teachings of Islam such as the Five Pillars etc
  • Belief in Akhirah also gives a Muslim hope. For some Muslims who experience extreme hardship or terrible illness the knowledge that this life is just a test that will be rewarded if lived correctly gives them hope
  • Muslims also believe that as the dead will be raised they are never cremated, as the physical body must be buried complete. For this reason many Muslims are against organ transplantation/donation and would often argue against post mortems to try and find the cause of death.


Paradise (Jannah) & Hell (Jahannam)

“No soul knows what delights of the eye are kept hidden from them of joy, as reward for what they did” (Qur’an 32)


Jannah is the Arabic term for paradise. It is described as a beautiful garden with flowing rivers. There is no fear, death or illness and is viewed as a reward for a life well lived. No one will be alone.

  • People will be invited into paradise, ‘Enter among my servants! Enter my paradise’ (Qur’an 89)
  • People will arrive over the As- Sirat Bridge
  • There are eight gates. People are called to a gate, each one representing a good action. You will be called to the gate that represents the good action you did the best
  • Two angels will welcome you, ‘Peace be upon you’
  • There are seven levels of Jannah; those with the most reward gain the higher levels.


Jahannam is the Arabic word for hell. It is described as a place seventy times hotter than any flame on Earth that they cannot escape from. They will experience terrible pain and torture.

  • Jahannam is the punishment for a wicked life where no forgiveness has been requested or rejecting the teachings of the Qur’an
  • The fire will burn off skin. There are seven levels of hell and different punishments will be given for different sins eg people who have gossiped will have their lips cut off and those who have been arrogant will reduced to the size of an ant.

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