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Last Updated: 2013/08/26
Summary of question
How do we return to nothingness?
How do we return to nothingness?
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Detailed Answer

What do you mean by “returning to nothingness”? Do you mean returning to the condition prior to birth, like those who say “we wish we were not born”?

It’s obvious that returning to that condition is not possible. Time never stops nor does it wait for our demands and will; it doesn’t go back either. Therefore, returning to nothingness in this sense is impossible.  But if what is meant by nothingness is “death”, then one must note that death is not nothingness, rather it is a change from one condition to another and or  transference from one world to another.  Hence, by accepting this definition, death is actually progress and it is considered advancement.

Molavi, the great Persian poet, in one of his psalms talks about the process of becoming a human by giving an example of the human physical shape that comes to life first which then becomes like plants (breathing and growing) and finally similar to like an animal that eats, sleeps, moves and does things. Each of these three steps in fact is a level occurring prior to the level, death.[1] Therefore; we can conclude that when one dies, he doesn’t end up in a state of ruin and nothingness; rather, he rises to a higher level which is the realm of the angels.

If we look at this issue of life after death from a philosophical perspective, this idea of “bringing-back of something that has been annihilated” is not accepted either and they (philosophers) believe that returning to or from nothingness is impossible, and that resurrection isn't returning from nothingness.[2] Some may perceive that resurrection is the restitution of something that has totally perished and the creation of something else again, but such a theory is wrong because: First of all, with death nothing is destroyed; rather it’s a kind of completion. When the spirit (which is the true essence of “us”) separates from the it continues its life.  In this stage, his or her abilities and powers will increase because it no longer carries the soul is no longer in the captivity of the body. Secondly, resurrection and the Day of Judgment don’t mean that anything will be recreated after becoming nothingness. Rather, it means regression, and not any regression, but regression to Allah (swt), not a return from nothingness to existence. And therefore, to conclude in brief it must be said: Returning to nothingness is meaningless and impossible.[3]


[1] According to the Sadrai school of thought, this type of death is like wearing something over something already worn, not taking off something after being worn.

[2] For more information on philosophical reasoning, see: Allameh Tabatabaie, Nihayatul-Hikmah, pp. 22-25.

[3] In Philosophy, there is a debate about whether something that exists can go back to nothingness or not, and if not, whether that entails the eternity of all things or not.

There are two methods of reasoning for this issue: One is through experience that is presented by “Lavaziyah”, and the other is the Philosophical way. For more info, refer to: Usule Falsafeh va Raveshe Realism, vol. 3, both the part written by Allameh Tabatabaie and the introduction and footnotes by Martyr Motahhari, pp. 111-121; Allameh Tabatabaie, Nihayatul Hikmah, pp. 326.

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