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Index / Religions /

1. Judaism
2. Christianity
3. Islam
4. Alevism
5. Ahl-e Haqq
6. Yazidism
7. Ismailism
8. Druze religion
9. Baha'i
10. Zoroastrianism
Dead religions
11. Ancient Egyptian
12. Mesopotamian
13. Canaanite and Phoenician
14. Hittite
15. Manichaeism

Ancient Egyptian religion, the Weighing of the Heart ceremony.
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Ancient Egyptian religion, the Weighing of the Heart ceremony.

Last Judgment

In religions, the idea that the soul or spirit of human beings, and sometimes also other living creatures, lives on after the corporeal death.
Afterlife is usually defined to the following two systems: Either entry into a new state of being, or return to earthly life. In the first type of system, the religion promises rewards for the just in the form of a paradise and punishment for everyone else, often in the form of hell. There often is a Last Judgment to sort who goes where. In the second system, human beings returns to a new body, or stays on earth as a spirit.

In Judaism there is a focus on corporeal resurrection and the immortality of the soul. Early Jewish tradition told that souls enter Sheol, a vague designation for the underworld, or possibly the grave.

Christianity is a religion where the soul moves on to new forms of existence following the corporeal death, the soul passes on to new forms of existence. The good are rewarded with entry into Paradise, the bad punished to Hell.
With the sacrifice of Christ, Christians believe that those redeemed of sin enters Paradise immediately after death. Some Christian orientations believe in a purgatory, a state of purification needed for souls to pass through before being admitted into Paradise.

Islam is a religion where the soul moves on to new form of existence following the corporeal death. There are many structural similarities with Christianity, but Islam's paradise has a great focus on luxury and sex. Islam also promises Hell to all not permitted into Paradise.

Alevism has no concept of neither a hell or paradise. Defending their faith angainst Muslims, Alevis may state that a judgement of God will never deal with how a person has been with the performance of religious duties, rather how he has acted towards other human beings.

Ahl-e Haqq
Ahl-e Haqq teaches reincarnation. Since achieving Haqiqat cannot be done within one lifetime, each soul has been given 1,001 incarnations to complete this. Some souls can reach Haqiqat in fewer incarnations, but no soul is granted more than 1,001. On the Day of Judgment, good souls will enter Paradise, while bad souls will be destroyed.

Information on Yazidism's ideas about an afterlife is very limited. There appears to be the concept of a paradise, but there is no hell. Rather it seems that souls that do not go to paradise are lost or extinguished.

In Isma'ilism afterlife is a state in which each living creature, in the quality of being a "spark of light", can be saved. It happens when the soul answers correct to the question whether he recognizes the true imam. A wrong answer here, and the soul will be brought back to earth for reincarnation.

Druze religion
Druze religion views afterlife in a view not too far from Gnostic philosophy and religion. Paradise is only spiritual, involving the salvation of the soul from rebirths. Hell is also just spiritual, where punishment is the longing to unity with God.

Afterlife in Baha'i is like a spiritual journey. The soul in the afterlife can develop to come closer to God. If not it remains distant from God. This is the closest Baha'i comes to Hell. Baha'i teaches that what happens in the afterlife only will be known to the soul in its actual journey.

In Zoroastrianism, there is a Paradise awaiting the just after the Judgment Day. Depending on the teaching, all souls are either purified by terror, or sent to Hell or a neutral place to await this day.
Zoroastrian mythology tells that the soul on the fourth day after death has to pass the Bridge of the Requiter, where all deeds in life are weighed. If there are more bad then good acts, the bridge becomes narrow, and the soul will fall, and pass onto the Zoroastrian version of Hell. The good, on the other hand, passes on to the other side, entering Paradise.

Ancient Egyptian Religion
Ancient Egyptian Religion had a focus on afterlife that was so strong that it has sometimes been called a death cult. The pyramids, the most dramatic religous structures ever built, dealt solely with the interests of the dead king.
There was an eleborate mythology defining afterlife in which ba, akh and ka together formed what in other religions would be considered soul or spirit.

Mesopotamian religions
In both Sumerian religion and Babylonian and Assyrian religion there was no positive image of what happened to the human spirit after death. The spirit would wander the world as a ghost, or enter the underworld. Burial into family graves is believed to have had as one of its functions to allow dead family members to aid and protect one another.
One shift in this image may have come in Babylonian religion, where the gods of the underworld, Nergal and Ereshkigal, were revered as gods, and not within a fearful framework.

Canaanite and Phoenician religions
According to Canaanite and Phoenician religions a human dying had nothing to expect but death. But, even death was a form of existence which required access to nutrition. Such could be provided through sacrifices made by the families of the deceased.

Hittite religion
In Hittite religion the king and prominent royal members ascended to the realm of the gods (they, having the character of gods, themselves), while ordinary humans faced a destiny as spirits in the underworld. The idea of an existence after death is not very positive in Hittite religion.

Being a Gnostic religion, Manichaeism has no afterlife for a soul. Rather death is the event that allows the seed of light of every human being to be liberated from the human body.

By Tore Kjeilen