In religions, the concept of a divine trial deciding the afterlife for human beings. Some religious systems have one final judgment for all human beings, other systems have individual judgments after each person dies. There are also systems combining both types of judgment.
Last Judgment by Michelangelo. From Sistine Chapel, Rome, 16th century.
In the case of the final judgment for all, the world comes to an end and both living and dead are judged.
Last Judgment decides who shall be rewarded for their good deeds and/or correct faith, and who shall be punished. The reward usually is the right to enter a paradise, punishment inolves being sent to a form of hell or the annihilation of that human being.
It is particularly in prophetic religions that the concept of Last Judgment became elaborately developed. Prophets faced hardship from society, rulers and competing religious traditions, and the threat of a Last Judgment could easily help promote the message.
In Zoroastrianism, both types of judgment are represented. There is an individual one, and there is one representing the final end to the world, in which evil is defeated and goodness is established.
The individual judgment happens on the fourth day after death. The soul has to pass the Bridge of the Requiter, where one has to balance ones good and bad deeds. Should bad deeds outweigh, the bridge becomes too narrow to cross, and the soul falls into the cold and dark abyss of hell. Good souls will pass over to arrive in Paradise.
The grand judgment happens between the powers of the world, when the evil Ahriman will be defeated by Ahura Mazda. Following this, all good human beings will resurrected and a new world begins.
Judaism holds the view of a Last Judgment, but no final and definite content has been given to it.
Religious speculation involves a judgment of mankind, which is divided into three categories: Those who enter Paradise directly, those you are condemned forever and those you will enter Hell for a duration of up to 12 months.
Judaism is quite distinct in the matter that even non-Jews can be permitted into Paradise, provided they have lived a pious life.
A big day of judgment also has its place in early Jewish theology, awaiting the coming of the Kingdom of God. This day will involve the judgment of Israel and all nations.
In Christianity, the concept of one final judgment for all human beings and the universe as a whole is elaborately described, but there are also ideas about individual judgment immediately upon a person's death.
The final judgment of all and everything is to happen with the second coming of Christ, the Parousia. Many of the ideas concerning the Day of Judgment are developed by theologians and have taken quite dramatic forms. The emphasis on the contrast between Paradise and Hell finds few parallels in other religious systems.
In Islam, the concept of one final judgment for all human beings is clearly defined. This day, all living will die, before all human beings ever lived are resurrected, into a physical body. The judgment happens so that each person will have his life judged by two books, one containing the good deeds, one the bad. Tied around the person's neck the weight will decide who goes to Paradise and who goes to Hell. Most people have to pass through a period of purgatory before admitted into Paradise. Existences in both Paradise and Hell are eternal.
Before that final judgment a minor judgment happens after each person dies. Two angels, Munkar and Nakir, asks the person about his or her faith. All souls will remain in their graves awaiting the resurrection, where unjust souls will suffer and the just will have peace. If a person has died a martyr death, he or she will immediately go to Paradise. And a person considered an enemy of Islam will enter Hell directly.
There is no concept of Last Judgment in Alevism.
Ahl-e Haqq is a religion of reincarnation, yet there universe will reach its final end and there will be a Day of Judgment, where good souls will enter Paradise and bad souls will be destroyed.
In Isma'ilism there is no judgment, rather a test for each individual. A question is asked, about who is the true imam. Correct answer allows the "spark of light" of each individual to be saved, wrong answer and the soul is reincarnated on earth.
Druze religion appears not have any judgment for the dead.
Baha'i appears not to have any judgment for the dead.
Ancient Egyptian Religion
Ancient Egyptian religion had individual judgments immediately after a person's death. The heart of the deceased was placed on a weight held by Anubis. The better a heart the lighter it was. The good were permitted into the regions ruled by Osiris. Those with heavy hearts would have their souls destroyed by the demonic goddess, Ammut.
In both Sumerian religion and Babylonian and Assyrian religion there appears not to have been any judgment for the dead.