IFEW Home Page

 Insight Home Page

 Essence of Being - Home

 [IFEW Home] [Insight Home] [The Essence of Being - Home][Feedback]

BOOK REVIEW

Book: 
Life, Death and the Life After 
Author: 
Dr Ahmad H Sakr
Publisher: 
The Foundation for
Islamic Knowledge
PO Box 665, Lombard,
IP 60148, USA

by Q A Ahmad

This book is basically an informative book describing the Human Life Cycle, Phases of Life, Levels of Life and Human Life Span. The author has given reference to authentic books to prove the correctness of the information.

Dr Ahmad Sakr, a renowned scholar and Islamic worker has fulfilled one of the most important needs of the Muslim Ummah. Because of decadence, Muslims are still undergoing ignorance of Islam. They have hereditary and emotional belief in Islamic principles, but not having the clear picture, there is little motivation for Islamic practice. Life, Death, and Life After Death are the basic beliefs about which a Muslim must acquire the absolute knowledge given by Allah (swt) and should also know which portion of this knowledge has been proved and understood by the scientific findings relating to the material world.

Dr Sakr has discussed the major issues of this life, life after death, and especially life in the grave, as well as the life in the Hereafter (Hell and Paradise). Dr Sakr has very masterfully combined his scientific and religious knowledge in presenting these issues very clearly. He has referred to the Quran, Hadith, Sirah and the books of Tafseer, as Islamic reference, while he has used authentic books of research in the fields of biology, biochemistry, anatomy, genetics, heredity and physics.

The following is a summary of his findings.

The main four phases of the human life cycle:

Phase 1: Life in the womb

The male reproductive cell (sperm) and the female reproductive cell (ovum) both called gametes have a single cell of 22 antosomes (non-sex chromosomes) and a single sex chromosome (either X or Y). Sexual intercourse allows a haploid sperm cell from the father to reach and fuse with an egg cell of the mother in the process of fertilisation. The resulting fertilised egg (zygote) contains the two haploid sets of chromosomes bearing genes representing the maternal and paternal family lines.

Fourteen hundred years ago the Quran informed mankind that the gender of the new foetus is determined by the sperm and not by the egg. The Quran declares in Surah al-Najum (Quran, 3:45-46) and in Surah al-Qiyamah (Quran, 75:36-40) that the determination of gender during the process of fertilisation is through the sperm cells. This is now affirmed by science.

The decision as to who should give birth to a baby daughter or son is in the hands of Allah (swt). He decides with wisdom, knowledge and mercy. He knows exactly which sperm cell should fertilise the ova. There are as many as two billion sperm cells in one ejaculation. Each attempt to fuse with the only egg cell so that fertilisation will take place, and the zygote is formed. It is therefore the decision of Allah to allow one, and only one, sperm cell which He chooses, to fertilise the ovum (Quran, 42:49,50). It is also He who takes care of the foetus in the womb of its mother. It is He who creates, nourishes and provides, and it is He who makes us to live and die, (Quran, 13:8,9).

Forty days after the formation of the zygote of the individual in the womb, the soul is blown into the flesh to become a human being. The person has to live about nine months as a foetus in the womb of his/her mother.

Phase 2: Life on this planet

After being born, the personality of the baby is affected by genetics, foods, society and Hidayah (guidance from Allah). He/she is given the chance to decide after the age of puberty as to which way he/she wishes to follow. Hence he/she will be charged or rewarded accordingly (Quran, 39:12)

During this phase of life, there are continuous biological processes of life and death. In every cell, organ, system of organs, life is being produced and death is being rendered. Allah creates life from death and He produce death from life (Quran, 3:27).

There are some hundreds of thousands of enzymatic reactions that take place in the body every fraction of a second. Some of these are used in the process of anabolism, to build up and to synthesise new materials, while others are being used to catabolize the biological substances of the body. Some of these biochemical reactions are utilised to synthesise living materials, while others are either to synthesise dead materials or to be rid of living materials.

The second phase of life will cease completely when the soul is taken away from the flesh. At that time, the person is to go to his third phase of life.He has no choice as to when to depart this world, or even how to leave it. If he is smart, he plans well in advance. Nothing goes with him. He is to leave everything behind. The only thing that goes with him are his deeds, preceded by his intention.

Phase 3: Life in the grave

This phase of life is one where the soul and flesh have been separated completely from one biological entity. It is understood that the biological entity of the person is to be catabolized, fermented, decayed, autolysed, degraded and finally to become carbon dioxide, oxygen, nitrogen, water and energy. While the inorganic matter will become silicon, calcium, magnesium, sulphur, sodium, etc.

There will remain only the seed and its embryo, namely the 'Ajaf of the Sacrum. During the process of dormancy, the seed is to be prepared for the new life to come. Many processes take place including physiological, physical, metabolic, metamorphic, and others. It stays there till the Day of Judgment.

Since the soul is to stay in Isthmus, it will visit the grave regularly for rewards or punishments. Life in the grave has been explained in depth in the book. One has to recognise that life in the grave is either part of Paradise or a ditch in Hell.

Phase 4: Rebirth

After dormancy, and at time of rebirth, Allah instructs Angel Israfeel to blow the trumpet twice and all the dead will rise in a state of shock. The process of the rising from the dead is described in some detail.

Every one has to come out exactly with the same identification features. The finger prints will be exactly the same. Their DNA and RNA will be exactly the same. There will not be any confusion at all as to the identity of each person

 

The most remarkable aspect of the book is the attempt to combine the relevant verses of the Quran with scientific discoveries giving the impression of proving scientific findings from the Quran. Dr Sakr has maintained the principle that Quranic statements are absolute and most of them are affirmed by scientific findings.

There are a few ideas that are presented with certainty but no particular reference from the Quran or the Ahadith has been cited for these. For example Dr Sakr claims that the soul is blown in the zygote after forty days of its formation. The source for this information is not mentioned.

Secondly, the author claims that the soul permanently stays in Isthmus and visits the grave frequently for rewards or punishments. Again no source has been mentioned. Moreover the question arises, what about those who die and their bodies are not buried in graves? Also, where the soul has to leave its abode for reward or punishment and why is this reward or punishment before the Day of Judgment.

Thirdly, Dr Sakr is definite that the first trumpet will be blown by Angel Israfeel to shake up every seed to be ready for germination and for the coming of the soul to join the seed in this process while the second blow of the trumpet will produce every person. No verse from the Quran and no Hadith of the Prophet (s) refers to this statement.

He has tried to simplify the concepts by inserting figures and diagrams. The question arises about the exactness of these diagrams.

The setting of the chapters is a little haphazard. He has mentioned the main four phases of the life-cycle in chapter two under the heading 'Forms of Life' and then he has again written these as eight phases in chapter 20 'Our Life Cycle'. The fourth phase has been further divided in this chapter into 5 subsections: Rebirth, Assembly Day, Judgment Day, Life in Hell, and, Life in Heaven.

This is a very informative book for Muslims but not very suitable to non-Muslims who do not believe in the Quran. It is better to have introduced one chapter giving the concepts of these subjects in other religions so that one could compare and find which is the best.

As expressed by the author there is need to do more research. This is a very good topic to be followed by Islamic scholars. We strongly recommend this book to the Muslim scholars to make a start for further research.



Copyright: [(c) IFEW 1997] This material is published in Insight and is the property of the Islamic Foundation for Education and Welfare (IFEW) [http://www.IFEW.com/]. Such material may be reproduced only in print or e-mail on the condition that this copyright notice follows it and that a copy of the publication is sent to Insight (PO Box 111 Bonnyrigg NSW 2177 Australia), [email protected]. Electronic publishing of this article on the internet, whether through the web or ftp is prohibited. However, those wishing to make internet users aware of a particular article or the publication are welcome to direct others to the relevant URL or the Insight home page [http://www.IFEW.com/insight/]. Note that opinions expressed in Insight are not necessarily those of the editorial board.