Facing death of a close family member or a dear friend is a difficult task for anyone. During such a time often people think about the mysterious aspects of life, and most especially death. There are different types of questions that come to the mind and people start looking for answers. If you wish to understand death, different religious viewpoints can help a lot.
Most of the religions have a strong viewppoint regarding life and death. Nearly all the religions believe in afterlife, reincarnation, heaven and hell, or soul. Religion is a major part of life and death. In fact, the concept of death in different religions differs a lot. For instance, Christianity, Islam, Buddhism, and Hinduism have discrete opinions about death and what comes after.
Let’s check out what the viewpoints:
Views on Death in Christianity
Christian beliefs about the afterlife vary between denominations and individual Christians, but vast majority of Christians believe in some kind of heaven, in which believers enjoy the presence of God and other believers and freedom from suffering and sin. Most of the Christians follow the idea that Jesus died on the cross for the sins (immoral acts) of humanity, so that we could achieve salvation. There are references of heaven and hell in the Bible. It is clearly stated that those who do not follow and believe in Jesus will ultimately end up in hell, while those who do will achieve salvation and end up in heaven. In the Bible it is explained that there is a time to be born, and a time to die.
Initially, most Christian favored burial of the dead body but today both cremation and burial are practiced by Christians. Whether it is burial or cremation, there are many rituals that Christians practice for the deceased.
Views on Death in Islam
Muslims believe that the present life is only a preparation for the next realm of existence. For them death is merely movement from one world to another. It can be described as a journey through a separate dimension of existence. The Prophet taught that three things can continue to help a person even after death; charity which he had given, knowledge which he had taught and prayers on their behalf by a righteous child.
Upon the death of a Muslim person, the body of the deceased is washed and covered in a clean white cloth and preparation for burial takes place as soon as possible. Muslims gather and prayers are performed for the dead and soon after the prayer the body of the deceased is buried. The body is to be laid on its right side facing the direction of Makkah. Charity, fasting, prayers, and pilgrimage are often performed by the family members on behalf of the deceased.
Views on Death in Hinduism
Death in Hinduism is very spiritual, and it strongly believes in the rebirth and reincarnation of souls. So, according to Hinduism, death is regarded as a natural process in the existence of soul as a separate entity. When a person dies, the soul travels for sometime to another world and finally returns again to the earth to continue its journey.
After death, Hindus are not buried, but cremated. According to Hinduism, a human body is made up of five elements. Out of the five elements four elemenst are fire, earth, water and air. The fifth element is known as ether and it belongs to the domain of the subtle body and does not belong to the Earth. By cremating the body, the elements are rightfully returned to their respective spheres, while the subtle body along with soul returns to the world for the continuation of its afterlife. A lot of rituals are associated with the cremation ceremony.
Views on Death in Buddhism
In Buddhism a lot has been said about the importance of death. It was awareness of death that prompted Lord Buddha to explore the truth behind worldly concerns and pleasures. After a long search, Lord Buddha finally came to the conclusion that death is inevitable for a person who thinks about worldly pleasures and attitudes. Today, Buddhists look at death as taking a break from this materialistic world. Buddhist people do not think death as a continuation of the soul but consider it as an awakening. They believe in reincarnation: once a person dies on this earth, he will be reborn to a new life here and the status of that life depends on the work he did before his previous death.
When a person is close to death, family members and monks recite scriptures and mantras. By doing so, they help the dying person to achieve a peaceful state of mind.
The role of religion in death is immense and when it comes to death you simply cannot ignore the religious viewpoints.
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