Does the Quran support

The Theory of Reincarnation?

By : Khurram Shahzad

Reincarnation, a religious belief in essence, is adopted by millions of people worldwide. The concept promotes cyclic rebirths based on the transmigration of the human soul from one physical body to another. The dictionary meaning of the word reincarnation is 'coming back in the flesh'. The process of reincarnation allegedly continues until the soul reaches its full maturity and perfection when it joins its source - God or the 'Universal Soul'.

The Karma is defined as a kind of debt that one incurs as a result of his/her actions during a lifetime. If the actions are good, the person will have good karma and will be born again in a desirable state. Conversely a bad karma would result in a miserable rebirth. Thus one's condition in life is a direct effect of his/her actions during his/her past life dictated by the law of Karma. Therefore it is a simple case of cause and effect.

The roots of this religious belief can be traced back to ancient Greek and Egyptian philosophy. The Hindu and Buddhist teachings are also centred around this concept. The main idea is the same except for minor variations, that being the constant evolution of the soul until it reaches through trial and error, a state when it can merge back into the 'Universal Soul'. The ancient Egyptians on one hand believed that the dead person returns back to this earth for another life as the same person he/she used to be. Consequently, the pharaoh was buried with all his treasure and wealth intact so that he can claim them back upon his re-birth. The Hindu version of reincarnation is slightly different, whereas the dead pharaoh would return to life as the same person he used to be (the pharaoh), the Hindu version believes that a dead person would not return as the same person he/she used to be, but return as a completely different person but with the same soul. The idea of this paper is not to go into the depth and details of the various beliefs regarding the reincarnation theory, but to present a Quranic perspective of the concept and its validity.

Reincarnation is refuted by all the main Monotheistic religions of the world. The reason for this is that it is against their basic teachings of a finite life for the human upon which he/she is judged and rewarded accordingly. If the human is to go through numerous lives, on which life is he/she to be judged? The first life? The last life? The Holy Quran, the last and proven word of God, unequivocally rejects this false religion of reincarnation.

Numerous Quranic verses confirm this position regarding the reincarnation concept, they can be classified as follows:

First : The 'barzakh' (barrier)

When death comes to one of them, he says, "My Lord, send me back so that I may do good deeds regarding what I have neglected." But no! These are just words which he utters. A 'barzakh' (barrier) is placed behind them until the Day they are resurrected. 23:99-100

The above words confirm that when a person dies, God takes his/her soul while he is still in the process of imploring God for another chance. As soon as the human dies a barrier is immediately in place. This barrier prevents his/her soul from returning to earth. This barrier is maintained until the Day of Resurrection.

Second : Number of death's (two death's or one death?)

The mention of two deaths and two lives in 40:11 may cause some interpreters to somehow connect the Quranic teachings to the concept of multiple births, however on closer examination we realise that the opposite is true.

They said, "Our Lord, twice You have put us to death and twice You have brought us to life; now we have confessed our sins, is there any way out?" 40:11

The truth of the matter is that this very verse serves as another solid proof against any such theory. 40:11 traces the progress of our course from the feud in the Heavenly Society (38:69) to the Day of Judgement. We made a covenant with God (5:7) and then we were put to death. That was our First death.

The fact that we were all living in a previous life before being brought to earth is well confirmed in the Quran, for more information on this topic please visit: Why we are here

Consequently, the first death ended our life in the previous life which was in God's Kingdom and not here on earth. The second death ends the life of the disbelievers here on earth, hence they say to God:

Twice You have put us to death and twice You have brought us to life.

The believers on the other hand do not taste the second death, after the end of their life on earth the angels invite them to enter Heaven, they do not die but move straight to Heaven. For more info on this topic please visit: Righteous do not die

Upon our first death, we were brought to this life to be given a further chance to redeem our souls and submit to God's absolute authority. This is our first and only life on earth. The 'one death' for the believers and the 'two deaths' for the disbelievers set the rule that all humans have only one life on earth and that no one returns to earth after their death. This is clearly different from reincarnation which implies multiple lives and deaths for each individual.

Third : Apportioned share in life

In this life every human being is apportioned a share in accordance with God's will. The Quran explains this concept in the following verse:

And seek, through what God has given you, the abode of the Hereafter, and do not forget your share in this world. 28:77

This means that God has decreed for each human a share in this earthly life, which is entirely dependent on His will, and has nothing to do with one's actions in previous lives.

A concession for multiple lives would violate the concept of a fixed and preset share in this life, this is because each different life would encompass a different share, and not a set share as we read in 28:77.

God provides for whomever He wills without count. 24:38

Once again this verse points to the fact that there is no such thing as a Karma or debt. God out of His infinite mercy gives to whomever He wills without any count.

There are always some case studies which may influence one's thinking causing some to believe in such multiple life theories. Many observations and beliefs are based on so called 'past life recall' or 'dejas vu'. Many interpret such occurrences to having been living in a different place and time in a previous life. However, there are many plausible explanations to such phenomenon. One such explanation is the unseen contact with the jinn who could be transferring such visions to us and tricking us into believing that we were alive in a previous life and place. The stories of jinn and their interactions with humans is well documented in the Quran. It is worth noting here that the majority of the jinn are disbelievers, and it is understandable that they would try to trick us into thinking that we have numerous lives, and thus impale the urgency to strive for righteousness in this only life we are given.

To conclude, the Quranic evidence against the concept of reincarnation leads us to reject this theory. This life on earth is our only chance for redemption. We should set our goals and priorities straight and seek God's approval through righteousness and good deeds. Contrary to what the devil may want us to believe, we will not get another chance.