Reincarnation-the concept that people come back to the world in another body after their death-follows from the belief in karma and is absolutely fundamental to Indian religions. The relationship between karma and reincarnation is explained in a book entitled Dinler Tarihi (The History of Religions) in the following words:
Reincarnation is the belief that the soul passes from one body into another after death. Reincarnation is part and parcel of the philosophy of karma. According to this belief, a soul is either high born or low born in terms of its degree of development. A person may be reborn as a plant, an animal, a human being or a god, depending on his or her actions. (Thus, people are the architects of their own fates.) This rebirth takes place as a result of cause and effect. By means of reincarnation, it is possible for us to be given the moral and spiritual reward of our actions. Happiness in one’s next life depends on right action. Every individual is responsible for his or her own situation. There is no need to fear death. Through continuous rebirths, people achieve their desires and enjoy continual satisfaction. They live in the god Brahma. It is claimed that this belief endows the native of India with a powerful optimism.
As we see here, the belief in karma does not imply a belief in the afterlife; in place of this, there is a belief in rebirth into this world with the same soul but in a new body. This, however, is an erroneous and superstitious belief that conflicts with what Allah tells us in the Qur’an.
Another erroneous aspect of this philosophy that calls for attention is the belief that people can be reborn as gods. This is the most superstitious and unrealistic claim ever made in the history of mankind. Such a claim is polytheism. It is an open denial of Allah’s indivisibility. It is obvious that no one can be a god; Allah is the Lord, the Creator, the Protector and the Sole God of the whole universe and of all living things. Those who hold any belief other than this have departed from the right road and it will be to their detriment in the life after death.
Reincarnation is a superstitious belief unconfirmed by any divine source. However, there are people all over the world, apart from those who follow Indian religions, who believe in reincarnation, or rather would wish that the idea of reincarnation were true. The reason for this is that people who do not believe in religion, who deny the existence of an afterlife and are afraid of either ceasing to exist or of living in Hell forever after their death, see reincarnation as a way of overcoming these fears. Belief in reincarnation necessitates believing that one should not be afraid of death; it misleads one into thinking that he will achieve his desires by means of rebirth.
However, in the Qur’an it is told us that death and resurrection occur only once. Every one of us has only one life to live in this world; after that life, we die, and after death we are brought to life again. Then we stay in the Garden or in the Fire for eternity, depending on what we have done in this world and whether we have worshipped Allah without associating partners to Him. In other words, we only live once in this world, and then we have an afterlife, which goes on forever. The Qur’an tells us quite clearly that we will not be able to return to this world after death:
There is a ban on any city We have destroyed; they will not return.
(Surat al-Anbiya: 95)
When death comes to one of them, he says, “My Lord, send me back again. so that perhaps I may act rightly regarding the things I failed to do!” No indeed! It is just words he utters. Before them there is an interspace until the Day they are raised up.
(Surat al-Muminun: 99-100)
As we see from these verses, when some people meet death, they cherish the hope that they will be brought back to life again. However, at that moment it will be explained to them that this is not possible. In another verse, Allah says this about our death and rising from the dead:
How can you reject Allah, when you were dead and then He gave you life, then He will make you die and then give you life again, then you will be returned to Him?
(Surat al-Baqara: 28)
As we see from this verse, at the very beginning we are dead: we have no existence whatsoever. Then Allah gives us life and human form from this state. Some time after this when our lives are over, our bodies decay and disintegrate into earth once again. This is our second transition to the state of being dead. All that remains is for us to rise again. This happens in the next world. We will all rise again in the afterlife; then we will understand that we can never return again to the world, and we will account for everything we did in this world.
However much one may wish to adopt superstitious beliefs such as a belief in reincarnation in order to overcome the fear of death and the afterlife and so console himself, the reality is that we will never come back to this world again after our death. Everyone will die just once, and after death, in accordance with Allah’s will, we will begin our everlasting life in the next world. Allah will reward a person in the Garden or punish him in the Fire for his living a life in harmony with His unity or his covering over that truth in this world. Allah is the source of eternal justice. He is infinitely Merciful and Kind, and gives humans the true and just reward for their belief or disbelief and actions.
Seeking consolation in superstitious beliefs because of the fear of death and the fear of going to the Fire will undoubtedly bring disaster. Any intelligent and conscientious person, if they are afraid of these things, will turn to Allah with a sincere heart in the hope of going to the Garden and escaping the torments of the Fire, and they will obey the Qur’an, our sole guide to salvation, and live by the Sunnah of the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace.
Harun Yahya is a prominent Turkish intellectual.
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