Raj’ah – The Return before the Day of Judgement

September 28, 2008

Al-Raj’ah literally means ‘the return’, and refers to the Shia doctrine that certain people will return back to life before the Day of Judgement. Narrations from Ahlul Bayt [as] have identified these people as the best of humanity and the worst of humanity.

الإمام الصادق عليه السلام قال: وإن الرجعة ليست بعامة وهي خاصة ، لايرجع إلا من محض الايمان محضاً ، أو محض الشرك محضاً . البحار:53/ 36

Imam ASadiq [as]: The Raj’ah isn’t general, rather it is specific. Only those that were absolute believers will return, or those that were absolute Mushriks (polythiests). Bihar AlAnwar 53/36

The exceptionally evil will be brought back to life and will recieve their just punishments in this life before the hereafter. Some narrations have mentioned that martyred Imams of Ahlul Bayt [as] will be brought back to rule after the death of Imam Mehdi [aj]. These details have all been mentioned in the hadith, but the purpose of this article is to prove the concept of Raj’ah from the Qur’an, so has the Qur’an mentioned that certain people will be resurrected before Qiyamah? In Surah Naml we read:

وَيَوْمَ نَحْشُرُ مِن كُلِّ أُمَّةٍ فَوْجًا مِّمَّن يُكَذِّبُ بِآيَاتِنَا فَهُمْ يُوزَعُونَ {83

[27:83] And on the day when We will gather from every nation a group from among those who rejected Our communications, then they shall be kept in ranks.

Imam Sadiq [as] asked one of his companions what the people say regarding the above quoted verse. His companion replied: They say it’s about the Day of Judgement. The Imam replied: Would Allah gather [yahshur] (only) a group of every people and leave the rest?! Rather the verse is referring to Raj’ah, and the verse of Qiyamah is this : and We will gather them and leave not any one of them behind [18:47]. Bihar AlAnwar 53/40

عن الإمام الصادق عليه السلام أنه سئل عن قوله تعالى: وَيَوْمَ نَحْشُرُ مِنْ كُلِّ أُمَّةٍ فَوْجاً مِمَّنْ يُكَذِّبُ بِآياتِنَا فَهُمْ يُوزَعُونَ ؟ فقال: ما يقول الناس فيها ؟ قلت يقولون إنها في القيامة . فقال: يحشر الله في القيامة من كل أمة فوجاً ويترك الباقين ؟! إنما ذلك في الرجعة ، فأماآية القيامة فهذه:وَحَشَرْنَاهُمْ فَلَمْ نُغَادِرْ مِنْهُمْ أَحَداً.. الى قوله: موعداً. البحار:53/40

The Imam’s argument is clear. The verse is saying that the hashr (gathering after resurrection) will be limited to a group of people and will not be for everyone, whilst in Qiyamah everyone will be resurrected and gathered, not just a group from amongst the people. As 18:47 says: ‘Hasharnahum fa lam nughadir minhum Ahada’ . This proves that the verse is not referring to the resurrection of the Day of Judgement, but is referring to an event that will occur before it.

Allamah Tabataba’i [r] in his tafsir of this verse offers another proof. He says that if we read the verses that follow 27:83, we will see that they go on to talk about the blowing of the trumpet and other events that will be in Qiyamah.

[27:87] And on the day when the trumpet shall be blown, then those who are in the heavens and those who are in the earth shall be terrified except such as Allah please, and all shall come to him abased.
[27:88] And you see the mountains, you think them to be solid, and they shall pass away as the passing away of the cloud– the handiwork of Allah Who has made every thing thoroughly; surely He is Aware of what you do.

The famous Sunni exegete Ibn Kathir says the following about the blowing of the Trumpet:

The Sur (trumpet), as described in the Hadith, is, «قَرْنٌ يُنْفَخُ فِيه» (a horn which is blown into.) According to the Hadith about the Sur (Trumpet), it is (the angel) Israfil who will blow into it by the command of Allah, may He be exalted. He will blow into it for the first time, for a long time. This will signal the end of the life of this world. (see Tafsir ibn Kathir, verse 27:87)

So if the blowing of the trumpet will cause the end of all life, this means that whatever occurs before the blowing will be in this life, not the hereafter. The context therefore shows that the resurrection of certain groups of people will occur during this life and not the hereafter, as it will be before the blowing of the Trumpet according to the sequence of events that are described by the verses. This leaves no doubt that the verse is referring to Raj’ah before the Day of Judgement.

The doctrine of Raj’ah is clearly in the Qur’an, but like every other belief, we must refer to the hadith for the specific details. It is only the hadith of Ahlul Bayt [as] that have been narrated in the books of Shia Muslims that have mentioned these details. Everyone else has overlooked them, and denied this reality in its entirety. We thank Allah swt for blessing us with the Wilayah of Ahlul Bayt [as]. May we live long enough to see their return.