Chapter 01     Chapter 12

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The subjects listed in the title of this chapter are a source of deep concern to Muslims because nowhere in the previously revealed Holy Books have the matters of reward and punishment, determined by the "balance" in which a person's life and actions will be weighed for merit of paradise or hell, composed the greater part of the Scriptures as is true of the Qur'an. Reward and Punishment In the Qur'an it is stated that those who believe and are steadfast will be rewarded with paradise:
Assuredly they who say, "Our Lord is God, " and take the straight way to Him - no fear shall come on them, neither shall they be put to grief:
These shall be the inmates of Paradise to remain therein for ever, the recompense of their deeds!
(Surih XLVI, "Al Ahkaf ", vv. 12-3) [46:12-13] Hell or an abode of fire is to be the punishment of those who disobey God:
Verily, God hath cursed the Infidels, and hath got ready for them the flame:
For aye shall they abide therein; none to befriend them, no helper shall they find!

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On the day when their faces shall be rolled in the fire, they shall cry: "Oh! would that we had obeyed God, and obeyed the Apostle!"
And they shall say: "Oh our Lord! indeed we obeyed our chiefs and our great ones, and they misled us from the way of God
O our Lord! give them a double chastisement, and curse them with a heavy curse."
(Surih XXXIII, "The Confederates ", vv. 64-8) [33:64-68]

Punishment is also the lot of wayward nations. The Qur'an draws attention to this fact, in relation to those who have denied Muhammad:
See they not how many generations we have destroyed before them? We had settled them on the earth as we have not settled you, and we sent down the very heavens upon them in copious rains, and we made the rivers to flow beneath their feet: yet we destroyed them in their sins, and raised up other generations to succeed them.
(Surih VI, "Cattle" v. 6) [6:6]

Such is the fate of those who have refused to accept the Apostle of God. That the Qur'an states that generations were destroyed because of their sins and replaced by others indicates that there is little reason to believe that the Muslim nation is the last nation or that others shall not be raised up by God, given His designation of the Muslims as an "intermediate nation".1 Judgment and the New Manifestation "Belief and disbelief" "believer and non-believer" are attributes that become significant at the appearance of the Manifestations, for judgment is not pronounced until people are invited to turn to the new

  1. Qur'an 2:137. See also Qur'an 47:40.

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Light and either accept or choose to remain in darkness, ignoring the laws sent by God. The Qur'an states that:
God is the Light of the Heavens and of the Earth ...
(Surih XXIV, "Light ", v. 35) [34:35]

Until the earth shines with the light of her Lord,2 most people will be in complete darkness, as relatively few people will have been ready to embrace the new Light. To this the Qur'an bears witness:
For his own good only shall the guided yield to guidance, and to his own loss only shall the erring err; and the heavy laden shall not be laden with another's load We never punished until we had first sent an apostle ....
(Surih XVII, "The Night Journey", v. 16) [17:16]

God never punishes any individual until He sends an Apostle!
And when we willed to destroy a city, to its affluent ones did we address our bidding; but when they acted criminally therein, just was its doom, and we destroyed it with an utter destruction.
(Surih XVII, "The Night Journey", v. 17) [17:17]

The unjust reject the Apostle and the verses He brings from God. One form of punishment that the "unjust" have been threatened with is that of discord or schism:
Say: It is He who hath power to send on you a punishment from above you, or from beneath your feet, or to clothe you with discord, and to make some of you to taste the violence of others. See how variously we handle the wondrous verses, that haply they may become wise!3
(Surih VI, "Cattle", v. 65) [6:65]

  1. See Chapter X, footnotes 27 and 38.
  2. See Letters and Essays, p. 114.

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It is evident that the followers of previous religions have fallen into the fire of schism, including the Muslims, as foretold by Muhammad Himself in a tradition: At the time of the end, my people will be divided into 72 sects, all in (hell) fire except one. The exception, those to whom Christ referred when He said, "My sheep know My Voice", are those who have recognised the Voice of the Bab and of Baha'u'llah and laid down their lives in Their path, for they are the ones who obeyed God and were guided into paradise.

The Qur'an relates the story of a city whose inhabitants refused three Apostles, but one of the people believed:
... from the end of the city a man came running: He said, "O my people! follow the Sent Ones;4
Follow those who ask not of you a recompense, and who are rightly guided.5
(Surih XXXVI, "Ya. Sin", vv. 19-20) [36:19-20]

Verily in your Lord have I believed; therefore hear me." It was said to him, "Enter thou into Paradise: "And he said "Oh that my people knew.
How gracious God hath been to me, and that He hath made me one of His honoured ones."5
But no army sent we down out of heaven after his death, nor were we then sending down our angels -
There was but one shout from Gabriel, and lo! they were extinct.
Oh! the misery that rests upon my servants! No apostle cometh to them but they laugh him to scorn.
(Surih XXXVI, "Ya. Sin", vv. 24-9) [36:24-29]

  1. Baha'u'llah cites this verse in the Kitab-i-Iqan, p. 165.
  2. Cited in Selections from the Writings of 'Abdu'l-Baha, p. 187.

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As soon as the man said that he believed, he was told to "enter paradise", while those who failed to believe were stilled and silenced.

In the Surih of the Merciful (LV) [55], God tells of "Two Paradises".
But for those who dread the majesty of their Lord shall be two gardens:
Which then of the bounties of your Lord will ye twain deny?
(Surih LV, "The Merciful", vv. 46-7) [55:46-47]

This entire surih is significant to Baha'is because the verse "Which then of the bounties of your Lord will ye twain deny" is repeated 31 times within its 78 verses. The surih was revealed in dual or twin terms, of particular relevance to aspects of the Dispensation of Baha'u'llah.
We never destroyed a city whose term was not prefixed...
(Surih XV, "Hedjr", v. 4) [15:4]

The Balance The "Balance" refers to the Sacred Scriptures through which mankind is enabled to "weigh" its individual and collective actions. The Apostles of God brought the Balance with the revelation of a Book:
We have sent our apostles with the clear tokens, and we have caused the Book and the balance to descend with them, that men might observe fairness ....
(Surih LVII, "Iron", v. 25) [57:25]

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The Qur'an and the Balance were also revealed by the Prophet Muhammad. Through Him, God announced that "the Hour is nigh":6
It is God who hath sent down the book with truth, and the Balance: but who shall inform thee whether haply "the Hour" be nigh?
(Surih XLII, "Counsel", v. 16) [42:16]

And when the Hour comes:
And the Heaven, He hath reared it on high, and hath appointed the balance ...
(Surih LV, "The Merciful ", v. 6) [55:6]

Life and Death

The Qur'an, with its beautiful unique style, often sets spiritual truths in the form of metaphors and allegories, in the same manner as Christ spoke in parables, for the purpose of conveying spiritual truths to His followers, in a manner that would assist their understanding. Life and death, in the spiritual sense, are "belief" or "denial" of the light of God brought into the world through His Manifestations. One of the most obvious verses which support this interpretation is one that was revealed in connection with the declaration of faith in Islam by Hamzih, the uncle of the Prophet Muhammad:
Shall the dead, whom we have quickened, and for whom we have ordained a light7 whereby he may

  1. cf Qur'an 75:34-
  2. The verses read: "That Hour is nearer to thee and nearer. It is ever nearer to thee and nearer still".
  3. M. Mustafa's discussion of this theme has as its basis Baha'u'llah's Kitab-i-Iqan, pp. 120-2, and is further supported by Qur'an 8:24. In An Introduction to Shi'i Islam, p. 151, M. Momen notes that the Shi'ih interpretation of "light", as used in v. 122 of the Surih of the Cattle, is that of reference to the Imams.

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walk among men, be like him, whose likeness is in the darkness, whence he will not come forth? Thus have the doings of the unbelievers been prepared for them.
(Surih VI, "Cattle", v. 122) [6:122]

Hamzih was not physically dead nor restored to physical life, but had been considered dead as long as he denied the Message of the Prophet. He was led to accept and believe in the Message of the Prophet which gave him life.
While the gods whom they call on beside God, create nothing, but are themselves created:
Dead are they, lifeless! and they know not
When they shall be raised!
(Surih XVI, "The Bee", vv. 20-2) [16:20-22]

"To be raised" is therefore understood to mean that the soul will be raised from the grave and given spiritual life. That this "resurrection" is spiritual and not physical is further supported by the following verses:
And when ye said, "O Moses! we will not believe thee until we see God plainly;" the thunderbolt fell upon you while ye were looking on:
Then we raised you to life after ye had been dead, that haply ye might give thanks
(Surih II, "The Cow", vv. 52-3) [2:52-53]

These words of God were addressed to the Jews who had, as explained by the commentators, erred in the wilderness for forty years. The Jews as a nation were not physically struck by a thunderbolt, nor

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were they physically dead. It is evident that what was implied by the terms "death" and "life" was a reference to the spiritual condition of the Jews and not to their physical state. To the Jews God addressed this revealing admonition:
How can ye withhold faith from God? Ye were dead and He gave you life; next He will cause you to die; next He will restore you to life; next He shall ye return to Him!
(Surih II, "The Cow", v. 26) [2:26]

When were the Jews who were dead brought to life if not through their acceptance of Jesus Christ? How were they caused to die were it not through their denial of the Prophet Muhammad? And how will they return to God in the end, if not through their acceptance of Baha'u'llah? In the same manner, light and darkness, sight and blindness, re also meant to indicate spiritual states.
And the blind and the seeing are not alike; neither darkness and light; nor the shade and the hot wind;
Nor are the living and the dead the same thing! God indeed shall make whom He will to hearken, but thou shalt not make those who are in their graves to hearken; for only with warning art thou charged.8
(Surih XXXV, "The Creator", vv. 20-1) [35:20-21]

These words were addressed to the Prophet Muhammad by God. It is evident that "those who are in the graves" could not refer to the physically dead. Likewise, if by "blind", "seeing", "darkness",

  1. Cited in Kitab-i-Iqan, p. 254.

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"light", "shade", "living" and "dead" were meant the physical states of beings or nature, then there would have been no point indeed for the Almighty to have made mention of their inequality in His Revealed Book. God is the patron of believers: He shall bring them out of darkness into light:9
As to those who believe not, their patrons shall be Thagout:10 they shall bring them out of light into darkness: they shall be given over to the fire: they shall abide therein for ever.
(Surih II, "The Cow", vv. 258-9) [2:258-259]

The truth enshrined in these verses is that those who divert themselves from the bounty of belief in the Manifestation sent by God are in a worse condition than dead bodies interred in the graves. The spiritually dead promulgate moral disease. Indeed, when they are invited to accept the Word of God, they stubbornly reject it:
And though we had sent down the angels to them, and the dead had spoken to them, and we had gathered all things about them in tribes, they had not believed, unless God had willed it! But most of them do not know it.
(Surih VI, "Cattle", v. 111) [6:111]

And when it is said to them, "Cause not disorders in the earth:" they say, "Nay, rather do we set them right. "
Is it not that they are themselves the authors of disorder? But they perceive it not!
(Surih II, "The Cow", vv. 10-1) [2:10-11]

  1. 'Abdu'l-Baha quotes this verse from the Qur'an in discussion of teaching and God's love for the believers. See Tablets of the Divine Plan, pp. 21-2.
  2. Pre-Islamic idol of Arabia.

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The Qur'an refers to them as the "vilest beasts":
For the vilest beasts in God's sight, are the deaf the dumb, who understand not.11
(Surih VIII, "The Spoils", v. 22) [8:22]

The worst beasts truly in the sight of God are the thankless who will not believe; ....
(Surih VIII, "The Spoils", v. 57) [8:57]

Of those who have "eyes" but do not "see", it further revealed:
With power had we endued them, even as with power have we endued you; and we had given them ears and eyes and hearts: yet neither their eyes, nor their ears, nor their hearts aided them at all, when once they gainsaid the signs of God; but that punishment which they had mocked at enveloped them on all sides.
(Surih XLVI, "Al Ahkaf", v. 25) [46:25]

The Sun, the Moon, the Stars, Heaven and Earth
When the sun shall be folded up, And when the stars shall fall ... 12
(Surih LXXXI, "The Folded Up", vv. 1-2) [81:1-2] When the stars, therefore, shall be blotted out, And when the heaven shall be cleft... 13
(Surih LXXVII, "The Sent", vv. 8-9) [77:8-9]

  1. See The Secret of Divine Civilization, p. 4, for 'Abdu'l-Baha's use of this verse.
  2. This is cited by Mirza Abu'l-Fadl in The Baha'i Proofs, p. 205, with other verses concerning the coming of the Day of God.
  3. In the Kitab-i-Iqan, pp. 44-5, Baha'u'llah reveals that the "heaven" that has been cleft asunder is that of divine Revelation. See also Epistle to the Son of the Wolf, pp. 134-5 and Gleanings from the Writings of Baha'u'llah, pp. 45 and 333.

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When the heaven shall have split asunder
And duteously obeyed its Lord;
And when Earth shall have been stretched out as a plain,
And shall have cast forth what was in her and become empty,14
And duteously obeyed its Lord...
(Surih LXXXIV, "The Splitting Asunder", vv. 1-5) [84:1-5]

When the Heaven shall cleave asunder,
And when the stars shall disperse...
(Surih LXXXII, "The Cleaving", vv. 1-2) [72:1-2]

And when the moon shall be darkened,
And the sun and the moon shall be together...
(Surih LXXV, "The Resurrection", vv. 8-9) [75:8-9]

With such imagery the Qur'an foretells the happenings that will usher in the Day of God when all shall return unto Him. It is evident that heaven, earth, the sun, the moon and the stars must represent aspects of the spiritual world.

  1. See Gleanings from the Writings of Baha'u'llah, p. 44, where He alludes to this verse.

Chapter 10     Chapter 12

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