Thus surah focuses on the oft-repeated theme of the Day of Judgment, when the believers and unbelievers will be separated. Here’s how it will go down. People will be separated into three positions: those in front of God (the best of the believers), those to the right of God (the ordinary believers), and those to the left of God (the unbelievers). Based on their position, people will be either rewarded or punished eternally in the hereafter.
This view is quite similar to the Christian vision of the final judgment, an event which both early Christians and Muslims believed was imminent (thus adding urgency to their prophet’s message. Unfortunately, the Day of Judgment never actually happened, and believers today (Christian and Muslim alike) are still waiting for it.
One wonders how long people are willing to wait before they go, “Hmm. Maybe we are waiting in vain.” Maybe the whole ‘Day of Judgment’ thing was just a clever tactic to scare people into belief. For Christians, this question should have extra urgency, as Jesus directly claimed (in Matthew 16:26) that some of his disciples would live to see his return as righteous Judge. Then they all died having not seen it. The faithful are still waiting.
To me, this final separation of "the righteous and the wicked" represents a rather out-moded, dualistic view of humans. According to this view, humans are either totally evil or totally good--and their ultimate destination (heaven or hell) confirms this view. But this does not match my lived experience. Most humans I've met have been complex mixtures of "good" and "bad." But, even categories like "good" and "bad" are problematic, because sometimes a person's worst qualities are the result of traumatic/painful experiences that were not his/her fault. I'm not saying there is no such thing as "good" and "evil." I'm just saying that, when it comes to human beings, drawing hard lines between "good" and "bad" people seems oversimplistic.
|A Christian vision of the Day of Judgment.|