Dr Maleeha Mansur, Hayes, UK
With the news of the mother of a 14 year-old girl who has died of cancer being granted the right to cryo-preserve her body in line with her wishes, many questions, and indeed emotions, about death have come to the fore.
Whilst medicine and science give little support to the proposition of revival of cryopreserved bodies in the future, it seems some are still keen to invest in such a proposition, with individuals setting aside pots of up to £30,000 to be cryopreserved in a pursuit of immortality.
It is not just the little scientific reasoning that is baffling but the ethics of being revived in a world unknown to you, surrounded by people unknown to you. Perhaps fascinating to begin with but what purpose would such a life serve?
The science and ethics can be debated endlessly; however, there are deeper issues such pursuits raise. A longing for “something” after death, for surely death cannot be the “end”. Is life without purpose and only for the acquirement of wealth and physical comforts? Pinning hope on a fictional concept of revival following cryopreservation, the argument is that it is “something”, the alternative being up in fumes or buried in the earth.
But, is there an alternative? An alternative with evidence? Indeed, an alternative with evidence, and in which one can find deep solace and meaning to life?
What about a life after death; a never-ending life where there is only peace, truth and justice. A life free from trials and tribulations. A life of peace and tranquillity where one’s every wish and desire is fulfilled. Where the goodness one strives for in this world is remunerated in abundance and the patience shown through tribulations one endures is also remunerated. A life after death that gives meaning and purpose to life on earth.
Such is the after-life that Islam presents to us.
It is an afterlife determined by one’s actions in this life, for man has not been created in vain to merely pursue the physical comforts of this world. Man has a far greater purpose – to attain spiritual excellence and closeness to his Creator, God Almighty. This life is not the “be all and end all”, but merely an examination hall to determine one’s standing in the everlasting life to come. With this hopeful future in mind, life on earth gains purpose – Man becomes sincerely devoted to God, he sails through all the trials and obstacles in life with a higher objective in mind. He knows that all the injustices or inequalities in the world will be justified and rectified in the life to come. Suddenly, all the anguish and anxiety of the heart dissipates and is replaced with oceans of tranquillity. Having recognised that there is a Creator, a Maker, a Fashioner Who has begun the seed of life, He has not left His creation to wonder idly. Rather, He has given Man the freedom and opportunity to strive and determine his Paradise.
One may ask, why is such a Paradise left to the afterlife alone? Not quite! For those who strive in the way of God, there is enjoyment of two gardens of Paradise – the garden of tranquillity from being freed from the clutches of material pursuits and the garden of God Almighty’s pleasure in the afterlife.