life after death

Although some people claim to have had ‘near-death experiences’ (NDEs), and others claim to be able to talk to the dead, or to have seen ghosts, there is no scientific proof that such experiences actually provide a glimpse into a possible afterlife. It is possible, therefore, that when people die, they simply stop living and that there is nothing beyond this life.

Ideas about what happens after death, and its connection with how life is lived on earth, is a fundamental part of all religions. The details may differ between religions, but belief in an afterlife almost always:

  • helps people to make sense of life, particularly when life seems unfair or at times of suffering (their own, and other people’s)
  • gives support and comfort at times of loss and bereavement
  • provides a purpose to life
HideShow resource information
  • Created by: connie
  • Created on: 11-04-11 16:49

christianity

Christians believe there is an afterlife. Although the body dies and is buried or cremated, they believe that their unique soul lives on and is raised to new life by God.

Their belief that Jesus rose from the dead three days after his crucifixion (a Roman method of execution) gives Christians hope that if they follow Jesus’ teaching and accept him as their Lord and Saviour, then this new resurrection life awaits them. By being born as a human being (the incarnation), and then dying on the cross, Jesus made this new ‘life after death’ possible for all.

Jesus said, ‘I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies.’

John 11:25-26

God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.

John 3:16

1 of 5

heavan, hell and purgatory

Christians believe that God is just and fair, and so cannot let evil go unpunished. Most believe in the idea of judgement after death, and that God will treat people in the afterlife according to how they lived their life on earth.

  • Although heaven is often mentioned in the Bible, it is rarely described. Christians therefore have very different ideas about it. Some believe that heaven is a physical place, where their body goes after death. Others believe that it is their soul that lives on, and that heaven is a state of being united with God.
  • The Bible is even less specific about hell, and Christians have very different ideas about this too. Some Christians believe that hell is a place of suffering, and of separation from God. Others (perhaps most) believe that hell is a spiritual state of being separated from God for eternity.
  • Some Christians, including Roman Catholics, believe in purgatory. This is an in-between state for the majority of people of waiting for heaven, a time of cleansing from sin and preparing for heaven.
2 of 5

Many Christians believe that there is a place in the Kingdom of God for members of other faiths, and for many who have not even believed in God on earth but have ‘done the will of God’ in many ways without knowing it.

Some Christians believe in the Second Coming (Parousia) - the anticipated return of Jesus Christ from heaven to earth. This will herald the general resurrection of the dead, the last judgement of the dead and the living, and the full establishment of the Kingdom of God on earth.

3 of 5

life after death - islam

Islam teaches that Allah (God) has full control over all that happens. Nothing can happen unless permitted by Allah.

Nor can a soul die except by Allah’s leave. The term being fixed as by writing.

Surah 3:145.

However, Allah has also given humans free will; people are able to choose between right and wrong, and are responsible for their actions. This life is a preparation for the eternal life to come (Akhirah). Humans have one life and it is up to them how they choose to live it.

4 of 5

islam

Muslims (followers of Islam) believe that on a day decided by Allah, and known only to Allah, life on earth will come to an end and Allah will destroy everything. On this day all the people who have ever lived will be raised from the dead and will face judgement by Allah. Muslims believe that they will remain in their graves until this day. This day is called by several names:

  • the Day of Resurrection (yawm al-Qiyamah)
  • the Day of Judgement (yawm ad-din)
  • the Last Hour (as-sa’a)

Allah will balance the good deeds a person has done in their life against the bad deeds.

And to every soul will be paid in full (the fruit) of its deeds; and Allah knoweth best all that they do.

Surah 39:70

If the good deeds outweigh the bad, the person will go to paradise (Jannah), a place of joy and bliss.

Of the good that they do nothing will be rejected of them; for Allah knoweth well those that do right.

Surah 3:115

If the bad things outweigh the good, then the person will be punished in hell (Jahannam). When Allah is making a judgement, even a person’s intentions (niyyah) are taken into account.

Those who reject faith – neither t heir possessions nor their (numerous) progeny will avail them aught against Allah: they will be companions of the fire, dwelling therein for ever.

Surah 3:116

5 of 5

Comments

No comments have yet been made

Similar Religious Studies resources:

See all Religious Studies resources »See all Life and death resources »