‘How will the Almighty judge over 1. 7 billion people?’ – Part 1

In the name of the Almighty, the Beneficent the Merciful

“O mankind, if you doubt the day of resurrection and the ability of God to restore life to the dead, know that We have created you from dust, then from a drop of sperm, then from coagulated blood, and then from a lump of flesh, partly formed and partly unformed, demonstrating Our power through all of these stages. We appoint a certain time for what lies in the womb, and then We bring you forth from the womb in the shape of an infant, so that you may live and grow to maturity. Some of you die during this process and others of you reach old age and the time of weakness and impotence even to the extent of losing your understanding.” (Quran 22:4).

He wrote to me as follows: “When is this your “judgment day” by the way? How many people will be judged on that memorable day? Everyone who ever lived since Adam? Or only those who came after Jesus the Christ, since there were no Christians before his coming to create them on earth? As of last count, the Chinese alone now number some 1.7 billion souls – alive, be it noted! How many judges will this your God need for the Chinese alone (since they were never Christians anyway, so they are already doomed even before their trial – what a fair God!) on that faithful day, this famous “judgment day” sold to my Nigerian brothers and sisters of the Christian faith (like the 70 promised virgins of the Muslims heaven!)? Or will your God do all the judging by himself – with no Assistant Judges? And why wait till “judgment day” before delivering “judgment” since we already know pretty much who is going to heaven anyways?…”

He is no doubt a “learned” man, not in the legal parlance but in those specifics that differentiate men of intellection from the dregs, the ignorant. He wrote from the United States. Where he is located does not matter with reference to the pursuit of truth and the solemn underbellies of the cosmos. The questions he raised on resurrection could very well have been posed by anyone anywhere in the world- a world which appears like an overripe banana, yellow outside, squishy inside; a world in which piety and Godliness have become an anathema, where atheism and profanity have become the fad. But where he wrote from, going by my experience and knowledge of the United States, does indeed matter. The US is referred to as “God’s Own Country”. It is a place where God is worshipped and loathed with the same fervor and intensity. To be a Muslim or Christian in the US is constitutional; to be a disbeliever and call people to disbelief is legal.

Thus, he wrote not with the intention to know the truth about resurrection but to impugn the possibility that the Almighty will raise humanity up for accounting. His style is that of a man emerging from the saloon of arrogance (to believe in the Almighty is to be humble and pious in deeds and in words (Quran 25: verse 63); his argument betrays the dialect of the chutzpah.

The chutzpah knows of one opinion only – his own; he is scornful of the possibility that he could be wrong. I asked myself again and again: “Is there a precedence in Islamic history for this type of willful negation of a cardinal belief in Islam and in fact Christianity?”

Luckily I found one: When Prophet Muhammad (SAW) expounded the topic of resurrection to the pagan Arabs, a Bedouin (someone living in the backwater of the Arabian Peninsula) named Ubayy b. Khalaf picked up a decayed bone and set out for Madinah to visit the Prophet. Having sought the attention of the Prophet he proceeded to dramatize what he thought was the nodus of irrationality that the whole idea of resurrection smacks of. He wanted to demonstrate the illogicality in the argument that human beings will be raised up for judgment after death. He put up the bone, as if it were a valuable and convincing piece of evidence, and crumbled it to dust, scattering the pieces in the air. Then summoning the vocabulary of Sodom and the speech of the dung-cart, he irreverently addressed the Prophet as follows: “Who will restore to life the scattered particles of this rotten bone?” When humans live in an estate of the moment, it becomes easy for them to forget and to gloss over the impermanence of the present and the moment. They become spiritual cynics who know the price of everything and the value of nothing. Prophet Muhammad could not answer the question of the Arab differently from the answer provided, in the usual Quranic style, by the Qur’an. The Almighty answers the Bedouin as follows: “(O Messenger,) say: ‘God Who first brought them to life will restore them to life. He has knowledge of all His creation.’ … Is the Creator Who brought into being the heavens and the earth incapable of creating the like thereof? Certainly He is the Creator and All-Knowing” (Quran 36: verse 79 and 81).

The above verses, I believe, amply answers the question raised by the reader of Friday Worship. But I found his question curious and highly instructive for one other reason. In other words, when the spiritual cynic says: “How many people will be judged on this memorable day?

… the Chinese alone now number some 1.7 Billion souls – alive, be it noted! How many judges will this your God need…?” he seems to be troubled by some sincere loss of spiritual awareness. He gives a sense of the human who knows only the apparent, the physical and is willing and ever-ready to use the human to measure the super-human. Or rather, he desires to use the known as instrument with which the unknown could be disproved and consequently negated.

The argument which is hinged on numeracy or the sheer huge number of humanity as evidence for the impossibility of resurrection appears puerile if it is situated against the opposite argument: how has it been possible for the Almighty to provide sustenance for the whole of humanity despite their huge number? How has it been possible for the Almighty to bring such huge number of humankind to the world, every minute and every moment? How has it been possible for Him to determine the death of and admit to the other-worldly every human being on planet earth? If the Almighty does all of these without recourse to deputies, assistants and “vices”, would our friend not be accused of idiocy to imagine that the Almighty would need aids or legal assistants (fal ‘iyadh bihi) in order to judge humanity on resurrection day?

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TO BE CONTINUED NEXT WEEK



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