Monday, May 07, 2007

Torture of the Grave

This article (The torture of the grave Islam and the afterlife - International Herald Tribune) appeared in the International Herald Tribune on the weekend.
The interesting thing about it is how this belief adds a layer of incentive to making a short cut, any short cut, through to paradise.
Everyone knows, of course, that after death martyrs go straight to the Garden of Eden, where they recline on couches, savor meats and fruits and enjoy the company of dark-eyed houris while listening to the sound of flowing rivers.
But what happens to the vast majority of Muslims, those who do not die as martyrs?

Let's not worry about what the houris are at the moment, despite any dispute that may still linger. The real point is:
According to Islamic doctrine, between the moment of death and the burial ceremony, the spirit of a deceased Muslim takes a quick journey to Heaven and Hell, where it beholds visions of the bliss and torture awaiting humanity at the end of days.

In the grave, the deceased Muslim - this composite of spirit and corpse - encounters two terrifying angels, Munkar and Nakir, recognized by their bluish faces, their huge teeth and their wild hair.
These angels carry out a trial to probe the soundness of a Muslim's faith. If the dead Muslim answers their questions convincingly and if he has no sin on record, then the grave is transformed into a luxurious space that makes bearable the long wait until the final judgment.
But if a Muslim's faith is imperfect or if he has sinned during life by, for example, failing repeatedly to undertake purity rituals before prayer, then the grave is transformed into an oppressive, constricting space.

Think of it as hell under earth.
I hadn't heard of this before. It seems an extra data point in the mix of the psychology of a suicide bomber.
Given an extra layer of hell before Hell, it's hard not to see how people wouldn't want to do any kind of end run around it with a suicide vest.
If you believe that sort of thing.

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