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ABRAHAM

Date of Birth: 2150 BCE

Location: Ur Kaśdim, Kaldea, Sumer (present-day Southern Iraq)

Current Followers: Approx. 3,800,000,000

The patriarch Abraham  started with humble beginnings as a son of Ur. Abraham is now regarded as one of the most influential people in all of history. The world's three largest monotheistic religions—in fact possibly monotheism itself—found their beginnings with him. Over 3 billion people in the modern world cite Abraham as the "father" of their religion. Abraham was promised by his God descendants as numerous as the stars of the sky, but today two branches of his family, the Jews and the Muslims, continue to battle for his birthright.

ABRAHAM's BELIEF in THE AFTERLIFE

The Abrahamic religions (in most of their branches) agree that a human being comprises the body, which dies, and the soul, which need not do so. The soul, capable of remaining alive beyond human death, carries the essence of that person with it, and God will judge that person's life accordingly after they die. The importance of this, the focus on it, and the precise criteria and end result differs between religions.

 

Reincarnation and transmigration tend not to feature prominently in Abrahamic religions. Although as a rule they all look to some form of afterlife, Christianity and Islam support a continuation of life, usually viewed as eternal, rather than reincarnation and transmigration which are a return (or repeated returns) to this Earth or some other plane to live a complete new life cycle over again. Kabbalic Judaism, however, accepts the concept of returning in new births through a process called "gilgul neshamot," but this is not Torah-derived, and is usually studied only among scholars and mystics within the faith.

 

Judaism's views on the afterlife ("the World to Come") are quite diverse and its discussion is not encouraged. This can be attributed to the fact that even though there clearly are traditions in the Hebrew Bible of an afterlife, Judaism focuses on this life and how to lead a holy life to please God, rather than future reward, and its attitude can be mostly summed up by the rabbinical observation that at the start of Genesis God clothed the naked (Adam and Eve), at the end of Deuteronomy He buried the dead (Moses), the Children of Israel mourned for 40 days, then got on with their lives. If there is an afterlife all agree in Judaism that the good of all the nations will get to heaven and this is one of the reasons Judaism does not normally proselytize.

 

In Islam, God is said to be "Most Compassionate and Most Merciful" (Qur'an 1:1). However God is also "Most Just," Islam prescribes a literal Hell for those who disobey God and commit gross sin. Those who obey God and submit to God will be rewarded with their own place in Paradise. While sinners are punished with fire, there are also many other forms of punishment described, depending on the sin committed; Hell is divided into numerous levels, an idea that found its way into Christian literature through Dante's borrowing of Muslim themes and tropes for his Inferno.

 

Those who worship and remember God are promised eternal abode in a physical and spiritual Paradise. In Islam, Heaven is divided into numerous levels, with the higher levels of Paradise being the reward of those who have been more virtuous. For example, the highest levels might contain the Prophets, those killed for believing, those who help orphans, and those who never tell a lie (among numerous other categories cited in the Qur'an and Hadith).

 

Upon repentance to God, many sins can be forgiven as God is said to be the most Merciful. Additionally, those who ultimately believe in God, but have led sinful lives, may be punished for a time, and then ultimately released into Paradise. If anyone dies in a state of Shirk (the association God in any way, such as claiming that He is equal with anything or worshiping other than Him), then it is possible he will stay forever in Hell; however, it is said that anyone with "one atom of faith" will eventually reach Heaven, and Muslim literature also records reference to even the greatly sinful, Muslim and otherwise, eventually being pardoned and released into Paradise.

According to Islam, once a person is admitted to Paradise, this person will abide there for eternity.

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