Reincarnation in Islam
"The Hindu belief in reincarnation is well known. But it is not known that the Koran refers as kafir (deviant) anyone who doesn't believe in the possibility of rebirth. Not many in India have perhaps come across the verses of the great mystic, Hazrat Jalal-ud-Deen Rumi, describing the process of evolution through reincarnation - from mineral and plant to animal and man and then to angelhood and beyond. Take the verses from the world famous Masnawi by Hazrat:
I died as mineral and became a plant,
I died as plant and rose to animal,
I died as animal and I was man.
Why should I fear?
When was I less by dying?
Yet once more I shall die as man,
To soar with angels blest;
But even from angelhood I must pass on ...
Another great mystic, Mansur al-Hallaj, famous for his formulation, Anal Haq (I am the truth: Aham Brahmo Asmi) wrote:
Like the herbage
I have sprung up many a time
On the banks of flowing rivers.
For a hundred thousand years
I have lived and worked
In every sort of body.
The Koran itself seems quite clear:"And you were dead, and He brought you back to life. And He shall cause you to die, and shall bring you back to life, and in the end shall gather you unto Himself."(2:28). The words"you were dead"can only mean that they had lived before becoming dead. And the words"in the end shall gather you unto Himself"could very well mean the attainment of moksha (release) rather than an eternal life in heaven or hell. Those who disagree, however, contend that"dead"is very commonly used for non-living things."It does not necessarily mean that you were alive before being a non-living thing or dead."(S Abdullah Tariq in Islamic Voice, February 2002)
Responding to my published view that the concept of reincarnation may be a part of Islamic teaching as well, Tariq also quotes the following verses in support of his contention that reincarnation is not an aspect of Islamic teaching:"Every living being shall taste death, then unto us you will be returned."(29:57)"Until when death comes to a wrongdoer, he will say: 'Lord let me go back, that I may do good works in the world I have left behind'. Never! It is only a word which he will speak. Behind them, there shall stand a barrier till the day of resurrection."(23:99-100)"And spend of that with which we have provided you before death befalls any of you and he says: 'Reprieve me my Lord a while that I may give in charity and be among righteous'. But Allah reprieves no soul when its term expires and Allah has knowledge of all your actions."(63:10-11)"They [the unbelievers] will say:"Our Lord! Twice you have caused us death and twice you have given us life. We now confess our sins. Is there any way out [now]'?"(40:11)
But Tariq and other critics seem to be confusing reincarnation with transmigration of souls, which are not necessarily the same concepts. He goes on:"The theory of transmigration of souls popularly known as avagaman or punarjanam is non-existent even in the Hindu scriptures proclaimed as the word of God by them. Following are the declarations of two well-renowned scholars of Hindu philosophy. The rishis [seers] of the Vedic era were not aware of punarjanam (Rahul Sankrityayan, Darshan Digdarshan, Kitab Mahal Allahabad, 1992, page 388.
"In the ancient Indian literature, Chandogya [author of an Upanishad] was the first to talk of punarjanam ie besides parloka [the world hereafter] a being takes birth in this loka [this world] also according to deeds. (ibid P.403) There are dozens of Koran-like descriptions of heaven in Vedas, but at no place do the Vedas talk of humans taking rebirth in inferior moulds according to deeds. Much later, the philosophers of the Upanishads presented the idea of transmigration of souls."
Thus the debate goes on. One thing, however, is certain: most of the greatest saints Islam has produced believed in reincarnation and it does constitute a part of many Muslims' belief system. This is primarily caused by a reluctance on the part of many Muslims to believe that God will merely reward or punish human beings on the basis of a lifetime in which they may not have received the guidance necessary to improve their conduct. That God will just be reconciled to their being sent to an eternal life in heaven or hell without their being given another chance to improve themselves becomes a proposition difficult to believe."
Reincarnation in Islam
Sultan Shahin, Asia Times Online, Dec 25, 2003
1. Surah 2.28 Al Baqarah (The Heifer)
2. Surah 4:97-99 Al Nisa (The Women)
3. Surah 22:5 Al Hajj (The Pilgrimage)
4. Surah 23:12-15 Al-Mu'minum (The True Believers)
5. Surah 39:42 Al Zumar (Crowds)
6. Surah 56:60-61 Al Waqi'h (The Inevitable)
7. Surah 71:13-14 Nuh (Noah)
Reincarnation quotes from famous people
"I look upon death to be as necessary to the constitution as sleep. We shall rise refreshed in the morning."And,"Finding myself to exist in the world, I believe I shall, in some shape or other always exist."
Jack London, author, best known for book Call of the Wild
"I did not begin when I was born, nor when I was conceived. I have been growing, developing, through incalculable myriads of millenniums. All my previous selves have their voices, echoes, promptings in me. Oh, incalculable times again shall I be born."
"I have been born more times than anybody except Krishna."
"As we live through thousands of dreams in our present life, so is our present life only one of many thousands of such lives which we enter from the other more real life and then return after death. Our life is but one of the dreams of that more real life, and so it is endlessly, until the very last one, the very real the life of God."
"I adopted the theory of reincarnation when I was 26. Genius is experience. Some think to seem that it is a gift or talent, but it is the fruit of long experience in many lives"
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, (German poet, playwright and scientist)
"As long as you are not aware of the continual law of Die and Be Again, you are merely a vague guest on a dark Earth."
"Live so that thou mayest desire to live again - that is thy duty - for in any case thou wilt live again!"
"I cannot think of permanent enmity between man and man, and believing as I do in the theory of reincarnation, I live in the hope that if not in this birth, in some other birth I shall be able to hug all of humanity in friendly embrace."
Ralph Waldo Emerson
"The soul comes from without into the human body, as into a temporary abode, and it goes out of it anew it passes into other habitations, for the soul is immortal.""It is the secret of the world that all things subsist and do not die, but only retire a little from sight and afterwards return again. Nothing is dead; men feign themselves dead, and endure mock funerals... and there they stand looking out of the window, sound and well, in some strange new disguise."
General George S. Patton
"So as through a glass and darkly, the age long strife I see, Where I fought in many guises, many names, but always me."
"Reincarnation contains a most comforting explanation of reality by means of which Indian thought surmounts difficulties which baffle the thinkers of Europe."
"I know I am deathless. No doubt I have died myself ten thousand times before. I laugh at what you call dissolution, and I know the amplitude of time."
"Our birth is but a sleep and a forgetting; The Soul that rises with us, our life's Star, Hath had elsewhere its setting. And cometh from afar."
Jalalu Rumi (Islamic Poet of the 13th century)
"I died as a mineral and became a plant, I died as a plant and rose to animal, I died as animal and I was man. Why should I fear? When was I less by dying?"
"My life often seemed to me like a story that has no beginning and no end. I had the feeling that I was an historical fragment, an excerpt for which the preceding and succeeding text was missing. I could well imagine that I might have lived in former centuries and there encountered questions I was not yet able to answer; that I had been born again because I had not fulfilled the task given to me."
Henry David Thoreau
"Why should we be startled by death? Life is a constant putting off of the mortal coil - coat, cuticle, flesh and bones, all old clothes."
"I am confident that there truly is such a thing as living again, that the living spring from the dead, and that the souls of the dead are in existence."
Jesus Christ in Gnostic Gospels: Pistis Sophia
"Souls are poured from one into another of different kinds of bodies of the world."
"It is not more surprising to be born twice than once; everything in nature is resurrection."
Josephus (most well known Jewish historian from the time of Jesus)
"All pure and holy spirits live on in heavenly places, and in course of time they are again sent down to inhabit righteous bodies."
Honore Balzac (French writer)
"All human beings go through a previous life... Who knows how many fleshly forms the heir of heaven occupies before he can be brought to understand the value of that silence and solitude of spiritual worlds?"
Arthur Schopenhauer (Philosopher)
"Were an Asiatic to ask me for a definition of Europe, I should be forced to answer him: It is that part of the world which is haunted by the incredible delusion that man was created out of nothing, and that his present birth is his first entrance into life."
Paul Gauguin (French post-impressionist painter)
"When the physical organism breaks up, the soul survives. It then takes on another body."
"Friends are all souls that we've known in other lives. We're drawn to each other. Even if I have only known them a day., it doesn't matter. I'm not going to wait till I have known them for two years, because anyway, we must have met somewhere before, you know."
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