For Christians whose lives are guided by the Bible, the reality of death is acknowledged as part of the current human condition, affected by sin (Genesis 2:17; Romans 5; Hebrews 9:27).
There is "a time to be born, and a time to die" (Ecclesiastes 3:2). Although eternal life is a gift that is granted to all who accept salvation through Jesus Christ, faithful Christians await the second coming of Jesus for complete realization of their immortality (John 3:36; Romans 6:23; 1 Corinthians 15:51-54). While waiting for Jesus to come again, Christians may be called upon to care for the dying and to face personally their own death.
When death approaches, the close family and friends try to support and comfort the dying person through supplication as well as remembrance of Allah and His will. The attendance is to help the dying person to iterate his commitment to unity of God.
Upon death, the eye lids are to be closed, the body should be covered, and preparation for burial takes place as soon as possible. The whole body is washed and wrapped in a shroud. Muslims gather and a prayer is performed for the dead. The body is to buried soon after the prayer. The wrapped body is to be
directly at the bottom of the dug grave. The body is to be laid on its right side facing the direction of Makkah. A ceiling is attached to the grave and then covered with dirt. The grave is to be marked by raising its top level of dirt above
surrounding grounds. A stone may be used to mark its location, but no writings are allowed. Buildings or other forms of structures are not allowed on top of the grave.
The family of the dead has a responsibility to fulfill any debts he had as soon as possible. They have the commitment to maintain contacts and courteous relationships with close relatives and close friends. They frequently pray and
supplicate for him. Charity, fasting, prayers, and pilgrimage is often performed on behalf of the dead. Visiting the graves is recommended for the living to remember death and the day of judgment.
Hinduism believes in the rebirth and reincarnation of souls. Death is therefore not a great calamity, not an end of all, but a natural process in the existence of soul as a separate entity, by which it reassembles its resources, adjusts its course and returns again to the earth to continue its journey. In Hinduism death is a temporary cessation of physical activity, a necessary means of recycling the resources and energy and an opportunity for the soul to review its programs and policies. When a person dies, his soul along with some residual consciousness leaves the body through an opening in the head and goes to another world and returns again after spending some time there. What happens after the soul leaves the body and before it reincarnates again is a great mystery .
The Bhagavad gita describes two paths along which souls travel after death. One is the path of the sun, also known as the bright path and the other is the path of the moon, also known as the the dark path. When a soul travels along the path of the sun, it never return again, while those which travel along the path of the moon return again.
What happens to a soul after the death of a mortal being on earth depends upon many factors, some of which are, his previous deeds, his state of mind at the time of death,the time his death, the activities of his children, that is whether they performed the funeral rites in the prescribed manner and satisfied the scriptural injunctions.
Hinduism believes in the existence of not one hell and one heaven but in the existence of many sun filled worlds and many dark and demonic worlds. Vaikunth is the world of Vishnu, Kailash is the world of Siva and Brahmalok is the world of Brahman. Indralok is the standard heaven to which those who please the gods through their activities upon the earth go. The standard hell is Yamalok, which is also ruled by a god called Lord Yama, who is also the ruler of the southern quarter.In the ultimate sense, the purpose of these worlds is neither to punish or reward the souls, but to remind them of the true purpose of their existence.
After death, Hindus are not buried, but cremated. The idea is that the human personality is made up of five elements of which four belong to the body and come from this world, namely fire, earth, water and air while the fifth the ether (fine matter) belongs to the domain of the subtle body and comes from the higher worlds. By cremating the body, the elements are rightfully returned to their respective spheres, while the subtle body along with soul returns to the worlds beyond for the continuation of its afterlife.
A lot of rituals are associated with the cremation ceremony. When a person dies, the body is given a final bath, carried on a wooden stretcher by his kith and kin and cremated on the community cremation grounds generally by the eldest son. This is followed by some rituals in which the sons make offering of food to the departed soul under the supervision of a priest. Generally a function is organized on the fifteen day and guests are invited for a meal. Generally Hindus who have lost an important relation in their families do not celebrate functions and festivals for a specific period of time as a mark of respect. While cremation is the standard procedure, Hindus consider it very auspicious if a dead body is immersed in the Ganges or cremated on its banks since the river is considered very sacred.
From its inception, Buddhism has stressed the importance of death, since awareness of death is what prompted the Buddha to perceive the ultimate futility of worldly concerns and pleasures. Realizing that death is inevitable for a person who is caught up in worldly pleasures and attitudes, he resolved to renounce the world and devote himself to finding a solution to this most basic of existential dilemmas.
A Buddhist looks at death as a breaking apart of the material of which we are composed. However Buddhism does not look at death as a continuation of the soul but as an awakening. Dying and being reborn has been compared by some Buddhist as a candle flame. When the flame of one lit candle is touched to the wick of an unlighted candle, the light passes from one candle to another. The actual flame of the first candle does not pass over but is responsible for lighting the second candle.
When preparing for death Buddhist generally agree a person?s state of mind while dying is of great importance. While dying the person can be surrounded by friends, family and monks who recite Buddhists scriptures and mantras to help the person achieve a peaceful state of mind.
Buddhism asserts that all being live beyond the various fluctuations of this life. Death is merely a passage to rebirth in another realm such as the human world, a pure land or the flowering of the ultimate nature of the mind.
The Parsees (Zoroastrians ) do not cremate, bury or submerge their dead in water because they consider the dead to be impure, and their Zoroastrian faith does not permit them to defile any of the elements with them. This desert ritual, which originated along with their faith in Persia more than 3,000 years ago and regards death not as the work of God but of the devil, dictates that that the dead be left to vultures on hilltops.
It is common for Parsees to travel long distances to bring their dead to the Mumbai towers (India) because prayers for the dead can only be said for those who have passed through its gates. Dead Parsees are carried on a bier to a ceremonial gate near the five Towers of Silence, where relatives hand them to pallbearers, the only people allowed inside. The black stone towers, about 36 metres high, are like three-tiered, open-air arenas where the men are placed in the outer circle, women in the middle and children in the innermost for the vultures to feed on. But with an average of three Parsees dying every day, the handful of vultures at the towers are overfed.
Experts say about 100-120 birds would be needed to deal with the daily intake of bodies. The Zoroastrians, or Parsees, have installed solar reflectors in their Towers of Silence in Mumbai to help dispose of their dead after a decline in the number of vultures that scavenge their corpses in keeping with tradition.
Judaism has stressed the natural fact of death and its role in giving life meaning. The fear of death, concern about the fate of our own soul and those of our loved ones, ethical concerns that some people die unfairly, all these and many other issues are discussed in Jewish literature. Since God is seen as ultimately just, the seeming injustice on Earth has propelled many traditional Jewish thinkers into seeing the afterlife as a way to reflect the ultimate justice of human existence.
Traditional thinkers considered how individuals would be rewarded or punished after their deaths. There are a few rare descriptions of life after death. Traditionalists gave the name Gehenna to the place where souls were punished. Many Jewish thinkers noted that since, essentially, God is filled with mercy and love, punishment is not to be considered to be eternal. There are, similarly, many varying conceptions of paradise, such as that paradise is the place where we finally understand the true concept of God. It is also possible that there is no separate Heaven and Hell, only lesser or greater distance from God after death.
Judaism does not believe people who are Gentiles will automatically go to Hell or that Jews will automatically go to Heaven on their basis of their belonging to the faith. Rather, individual ethical behavior is what is most important.
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