In 6 century, an Arabian scholar from Saudi Arabia man named Ali fell ill and, by all appearances, died. His family began funeral preparations according to Islamic faith , the faith of Abraham who believe in one God only and that no God beside him no son and no family , no trinity no one but God alone.
He said All at once I saw a shining light great light trying my soul. I looked and saw my body had no soul looked at my own body it was dead.
His soul, according to one account, had ascended to a house where a man asked him if he believed in God. Inside the house, he encountered a book of life that somehow revealed all the bad and the good deeds he had committed in life. He then witnessed people he knew being burned in fire. Islam is the faith in heaven.
Ultimately, he met God and was given a choice between returning to Earth to preach the faith of Abraham –Islam and teach Quran or going to hell. Before awakening, Ali was shown a beautiful, luminescent world where he experienced feelings of peace and comfort. He was transformed by the experience, explaining: ‘I have seen a great light in my soul from that good land; I have [understood] what God all wants us to do. Before I came alive, I saw I was [a] sinner.’
This is an example of what would later be known as a near-death experience (NDE). NDEs have been popularly recognized in the West since the mid-1970s, but people from the largest empires to the smallest hunter-gatherer societies have been having them throughout history. Accounts are found in ancient sacred texts, historical documents, the journals of explorers and missionaries, and the ethnographic reports of anthropologists.
Among the hundreds I’ve collected are those of a 7th-century BCE Chinese provincial ruler, a 4th-century BCE Greek soldier, a 12th-century Belgian saint , a 15th-century Mexican princess, an 18th-century British admiral, a 19th-century Ghanaian victim of human sacrifice, and a Soviet man who’d apparently killed himself but was revived during resuscitation experiments. NDEs can happen to followers of any religion, and to those of none.
Descriptions of NDEs from around the world often bear striking similarities to myths of afterlife journeys in different religions. In stories from ancient Sumer and Egypt to India and China and beyond, a soul leaves the body, travels through a dark place to a bright other realm, is greeted by deceased relatives, undergoes some kind of evaluation based on one’s life on Earth, meets a deity or other entity that’s often described as radiating light, and so on. It’s important to keep in mind that these common features are found despite the vast stretches of time and space that separate these cultures.
Is it possible that this type of extraordinary experience that is universally associated with nearly dying is a fundamental source of beliefs about the afterlife? For many societies, there’s no need to speculate. In historical as well as modern accounts, NDEs are often said to lead directly to new beliefs, including the belief that consciousness can separate from the body and that it continues after death. I’ve unearthed more than 70 Native American NDE accounts dating from the 16th-19th centuries, and in more than 20 of them it was stated that the experience was a source of knowledge about the afterlife. Likewise, from the Pacific islands, 19 of the 36 NDE accounts I found had similar claims.
NDEs have even been foundational to entire religious movements. Some NDE-based movements promoted revitalization – a symbolic rebirth – of local culture. A major example is the Ghost Dance religion founded by the Northern Paiute shaman Wodziwob following his NDE and other visionary experiences. But these movements have occurred around the world. In Brazil, Guyana and Venezuela, the Hallelujah religion of the Akawaio people had its origins in the NDEs and visions of its founder.
The resulting teachings of such traditions included ritual practices (such as repetitive drumming and dancing, or hallucinogenic drug use) to bring about visionary experiences similar to NDEs. Not only were these religions grounded in individuals’ NDEs, they served to democratize NDEs and allow their followers to experience them without having to die.
Some larger religions, such as Pure Land Buddhism in East Asia, valorize NDEs and include numerous accounts of them in their sacred texts. In one example from 705 CE, an assistant governor of the Miyako district of Japan named Hirokuni was apparently dead for four days but then revived. He described how messengers had led his soul across a bridge and took him to a golden palace where he met the king of the other world. He saw punishments being inflicted on his father for his transgressions on Earth, and was told how to avoid such a fate:
Those who have Buddhist scriptures recited will live in the eastern golden palace and be born in the heaven according to their wish; those who have Buddha-images made will be born in the Western Pure Land of Unlimited Life; those who set living beings free will be born in the Northern Pure Land of Unlimited Life.
Whether such accounts have a basis in any actual historical NDE is unknown, though they do demonstrate how the phenomenon is commonly seen in a religious or spiritual context. As with numerous examples from medieval Europe and from 19th- to early 20th-century Mormons, Hirokuni’s story was obviously written to promote religious teachings, for like many people who’d had an NDE, he was reportedly transformed by the experience, and he became a model for pious behaviour within his tradition.
It’s important to note that NDEs don’t always emerge from a religious context, and that their impact on spiritual beliefs is not limited to people who are already religious. Committed atheists can also alter their beliefs and worldviews following an NDE. Upon revival from his NDE, the British logical positivist philosopher A J Ayer allegedly told his doctor: ‘I saw a Divine Being. I’m afraid I’m going to have to revise all my various books and opinions.’
We must also be careful not to overstate the cross-cultural similarities with regard to NDEs. Although they share similar themes wherever they occur, no two NDEs are exactly alike. As with any other experience, they are filtered through our complex layers of culture, language and individuality.
Today, the NDE phenomenon continues to play a major role in our beliefs about souls, bodies, death and beyond. It is both a staple of popular culture and firmly a part of much alternative spirituality. There are even NDE groups and societies in which members seek to renegotiate their spirituality in light of such experiences. These groups share much in common with religious movements, elevating those who’ve had NDEs to a higher, often guru-like status, and attempting to codify and disseminate beliefs derived from the experiences.
They provide a way for unaffiliated ‘spiritual but not religious’ people to find a community with certain common beliefs. The testimonies of people who’ve had NDEs also give comfort to those who grieve the loss of loved ones, and to those who are fearful of death. These benefits come without the attendant commitments and potential philosophical compromises involved in mainstream religious affiliation. After all, believing in an afterlife based on personal experience doesn’t necessitate believing in myths of deities and their alleged concern for our daily lives. Near-death experiences can make it rational to believe in an afterlife while remaining an atheist.
There have been many explanations for why people believe in an afterlife at all. Afterlife beliefs have been described as a ‘carrot and stick’ invention of the ruling class to control behaviour with threats of ultimate punishment and promises of eternal reward. Others argue that such beliefs arose from observations of the dying-and-returning cycles of nature – the setting and rising of the Sun, the waning and waxing of the Moon, the annual rebirth of plants and trees.
Or perhaps they stem from our yearnings for justice after a life of Earthly disappointments, and are essentially wish-fulfillment fantasies. Most recently, cognitive science has suggested that we’re actually hard-wired to intuitively believe in an afterlife.
Each of these theories might play a role in explaining certain aspects of particular beliefs in specific societies. But they all ignore the single human experience most obviously relevant to beliefs in an afterlife: near-death experiences. Whatever the true source of NDEs – biological, psychological or metaphysical – there’s no question that they’re part of human experience, that they can influence our beliefs about an afterlife, and that they can even contribute to the formation of new religious movements. The phenomenon of NDEs reinforces what humans already seem predisposed to believe: that, in fact, we do not die.
When Squ-sacht-un returned from his NDE, he fulfilled the promise he’d made in the spirit world and began to teach Christianity – though with a markedly indigenous character. This was the foundation of the Indian Shaker Church, so named because of the ecstatic convulsions of its members during ceremonies.
While the Shakers considered themselves Christians, they did not favor the Bible as a revelatory source – relying instead on the testimony of Squ-sacht-un, and some say he met demons and the devil who taught him to deviate the people to make God as trinity and make son to God , and as the Torah tell us that is all false and fake, GO IS ONE AND NO TRINITY ION THE TORAH.