A brother of mine asked me about my opinion on the following subject: “Ethics may help us in the afterlife. Some religious traditions believe ethics is the key to something even greater than personal success and social stability: eternal life. No one can be sure about an eternal life, but people of faith from many different religions believe that good behavior in this life leads to rewards in the next life. Do I agree ? if yes then Why?”
As they say piety and moral conduct construct the countries and prolong the ages. The most perfect believers, in the sight of Allah those who had full faith in him and those who are the most well-mannered.
Well if you ask me Ethics’ fruits are always sweet, it always helps because what good deeds we give, we are going to receive. The reward for Good behaviors will always be good but the important thing where we are going to receive the fruits of our ethics is it in this life or the afterlife.
God promised those with great ethics and morals to reward them but God may reward them in this life or afterlife; it depends on the belief of the human and the level of his sincerity. If a human had good ethics and morals, say like Hatem at-Ta'iy a man well known among the Arabs for his extreme generosity which made him an icon to them. He wasn’t a Muslim meaning he wasn’t what God asked him to be but for his act of kindness God gave him what he deserved in this life and made him an icon for the Arabs in generosity. You can hardly find an Arabian who never heard of Hatem and his generosity. Most people are striving to be a good memory because nothing remains in this world, for the good memory is another life for a dead person.
Another example is Mother Teresa, her acts of kindness might be countless; that’s why she is loved by the people of many different religions besides Christianity. She already received her reward for her great behaviors in this world but since she received her reward in this life, is she going to receive another reward in the afterlife!? This leads us to another important topic. People usually wonder how come people like Hatem would not receive rewards in the after-life after all they did for the people. Not only Hatem but even Abu-Taleb who received his reward in this life and the famous uncle of our Prophet Mohammed (peace be upon him) who was popular for defending Prophet Mohammed and aiding him, how such a person will not receive a reward in the after-life.
Almighty God always reward those acts of kindness those who helped others, were honest, generous…etc most of them got their rewards in this world. The above people passed a part of the exam but not the most important part. They obeyed God’s orders in being kind, honest, brave, generous, patient…etc but they failed the other part of the Exam. The other and the greater part of the exam is believing in one Almighty God and never associate with him any partner.
Since they passed part of the exam and since Allah is All-Just, Allah rewarded them for the first part (This Life). Those who failed in the first part but passed the second part Allah will reward them on the second part based on the level of their faith, it’s only those who passed the whole exam will receive the whole reward in this life and the afterlife. Some might say Allah is the Most Merciful can’t he just reward those who failed the important part of the exam!? Well this would only have happened if Allah wasn’t fair and All-Just.
It’s true that Allah is most merciful but he is The Wise and the all-Just, he wouldn’t equalize between two who are not equal. In school if you answered 100% of the question in a Physics Exam and your friend only answered 50% yet you both received the same grade, you are given the same reward by the teacher. Most likely if you were sane you would say the teacher is unfair and you would complain and in fact this teacher might be kicked off the school. If we can’t accept such thing from a human being who is not All-Just how can we allow our mind to even think that God should give his servants the same reward for their very different efforts.
Don’t be surprised because just working hard, day and night is not a proof of success! It could be a waste of time and efforts. For example if you had an exam in Math but you studied History hard, you wasted 10 days studying day and night and at the day of the exam you realized you studied the wrong subject- how can your efforts help you in the exam! If Gandhi read Quran, knew about Islam knew that God gave us orders and gave us exam, yet he ignored the exam but he did good things. Will that make him pass the exam of God!
For example if I was your king, I gave you anything you needed for your life and decisions. I gave you a task to do and some of my servants gave you a task to do. If I asked you did you finish the tasks I gave you, you answer me: “No! I finished tasks of your servants even though I knew your task was more important and I could do it!!!”
Another example: You have two roads in front of you; one of them takes you to your house the second to a hole. Once you selected the wrong path even if you did everything, it will not help you. That's why the most important thing in every-book-God-revealed was to believe in one Almighty God.
So my answer is yes God will reward those with good behaviors in the afterlife if they passed the exam given to them, However if they failed the important part of the exam the only reward for their good behavior they will receive will be in this Life.
If a man who passed both parts of the exam well Allah gives a servant for his moral conduct the same reward that he gives to those sacrificed their life for the sake of Allah. He who has a good nature will have the reward of those who observe fasting in days and keep awake praying at nights. Finally I will leave you with a translation of what God said in the Quran:
((The believers must (eventually) win through,- Those who humble themselves in their prayers; Who avoid vain talk; Who are active in deeds of charity; Who abstain from sex, Except with those joined to them in the marriage bond, or (the captives) whom their right hands possess,- for (in their case) they are free from blame, But those whose desires exceed those limits are transgressors;- Those who faithfully observe their trusts and their covenants; And who (strictly) guard their prayers;- These will be the heirs, Who will inherit Paradise: they will dwell therein (for ever)…..))
The Holy Quran (23:01-11)
((For Muslim men and women, for believing men and women, for devout men and women, for truthful men and women, for men and women who are patient and constant, for men and women who humble themselves, for men and women who give in Charity, for men and women who fast (and deny themselves), for men and women who guard their chastity, and for men and women who engage much in God's praise, for them has God prepared forgiveness and great reward.))
The Holy Quran (33:35)