Life after ‘death’


After this article, most of you will think I’m mad – those who don’t already do so that is. Two watershed events of the last breathless week had to do with life before death: the US and Chinese presidents’ election and selection. Both could accelerate the swing of the pendulum of power from west to east – for better or for worse depends on the collective wisdom or lack of it of the two and many others, including Pakistan. I will write about it later, after I have fully absorbed them. Here I want to write about life after death.

Man has always wondered about what happens after death on the earth planet, no matter how strong his faith in God the Supreme Creator and belief in the Hereafter. He has usually convinced himself that there is life after death in spirit form largely based on some faith, yet many still keep wondering whether there is because what the mind cannot fully comprehend it usually doubts to some extent. No one has ever returned to tell us conclusively what it is like, except for the few glimpses we have got from those who have died clinically – near death experience or NDE. I have read most of what has been written on NDEs over the last 40 years and even met some people who had the experience. All have the same story to tell – except one whom I met personally. All have belonged to different parts of the world, died at different times and belonged to different faiths, and some none.

They report that the moment died they floated up and saw their bodies but at first didn’t recognise themselves and wondered whose body it is. When realisation dawned that it is their own body they got utterly confused. They heard and saw what was going on – in a hospital doctors and nurses working feverishly to revive them, for example. They shout at them to tell them where they are, that they are fine, but the living can neither see them nor hear them. So they panic, but momentarily. Some see dead relatives come to meet them; some see those they don’t recognize. Either way, those that come to see them are kindly but upset that they have come before their time and tell them to return. Others go further, through a tunnel, very fast, during which they see their entire life flash before their eyes but in every little detail. Remember, time is relative and is different in different dimensions.

Comprehension too is relative and probably becomes much better when the mind is not encased in a brain with its physical limitations. Often they are accompanied by a benign, kindly being who sees their life’s ‘film’ with them without making any comment, critical or complimentary. At the end of the tunnel there is a bright, yellow light that is neither hot nor hurts the eyes. They are enveloped by the light and experience a peace so serene such as they have never known before nor can adequately explain in human language. They see more people. They are asked to go back because their work on the earth planet is not yet finished. They feel so much peace that they don’t want to return, but have to. Some opt to, especially if they have young children, but not many. Most return reluctantly. All have said later that they are not afraid of dying any more.

I know a gentleman who had an NDE in the Cardiovascular Institute of Karachi. In spirit form he started begging the doctors “don’t revive me, don’t revive me” and continued saying this even after he returned to his body. His wife who was standing there heard him and confirmed it to me. He told me that he experienced such peace that he didn’t want to return.
Then there is a first cousin of my wife who was undergoing routine heart bypass surgery in Los Angeles. For some reason the doctors had mistakenly given him less anesthesia than he needed so he woke up midway through the operation, chest wide open. The pain was unbearable. He wiggled his toes but no one noticed. He died of trauma and his spirit went up to a corner of the operation theatre near the ceiling. They soon noticed that he had flat-lined and started working on him furiously. He heard and saw everything the doctors and nurses did. He met his dead parents and other relatives, who told him that he it was not yet time for him to come and must go back. A few days later he described his experience to his doctors and told them what they had said and done. They were stunned. They worried that they would be slapped with a malpractice suit. They were not because one cannot prove such an experience in a mundane human court of law.

Then there was this Sri Lankan Christian who worked in the Commonwealth Secretariat in London who fell down a stairwell and died. Taken to hospital, the doctors revived him. I especially met him and his local pastor for dinner at my sister Naveed and brother-in-law Rumman’s house. His was the opposite experience. He said he went to ‘hell’. He begged and begged to return to make amends. Finally, he was allowed to. Ever since he has been doing good works and helping people. “What was hell like,” I asked. “Horrible, terrible, I cannot describe it. I don’t have the words. I just felt awful, no peace at all.” “So can one say that hell is the absence of peace and heaven the presence perfect peace?” I asked. “Yes,” he said. “That is the best way to put it that I can think of.” I asked him what he had done to go to hell. “I was horrible, I did terrible things, so awful that I cannot tell you. Now I have changed.” Amongst other things, I discerned that he had been giving loans like a loan shark and taking loans from loan sharks that he would lend on at higher interest rates. Bankers of the world beware, because they have all become legalised loan sharks and hell is not a nice place to be at.

There are thousands of stories like this from all over the world. I once came close to death myself because I had been given a medicine to which I am allergic. I clearly saw my dead paternal grandparents sitting on chairs at my bedside, brows furrowed and looking somewhat worried. They said nothing. They were not the last people on my mind at the time, my living family was. It was not a hallucination. I stopped smoking once and lying down during withdrawal I thought the rug next to my bed was grass and started spitting on it, because I was salivating like mad. My son, then little, stopped me: “What are you doing, what are you doing?’ he asked. That is hallucination.

The majority of doctors and scientists have always maintained that such experiences – though so similar over time, space and faith that no scientist worth his salt can ignore them – are inbuilt hallucinations that come from the cortex in the brain to comfort a dying person. But then how do they explain the accurate report a person gives about what they saw and heard when they died? Even if the ears are the last to die and so hear everything, what about the eyes? How do they see everything? Hallucination? Doesn’t quite gel.
How does one explain the following stories, all in the USA, all in hospitals? Most such stories come from those who have died in hospitals because it is easy to record them. A man died and when he returned he told his doctors that the hospital would soon become very busy, as there had been a terrible accident outside. They thought he was hallucinating. Sure enough, minutes later the dead and injured started coming to the hospital because there had indeed been a terrible accident outside.

Two men died at about the same time on different floors in the same hospital and were revived. They met each other. Each reported the other man’s death to their respective doctors after they returned to their bodies, gave the other man’s name and also the name of the other’s wife who was sitting outside. His doctors thought nothing of it until they exchanged stories with the team of doctors of the other man who had died clinically and had told them virtually the same story. Try that on for size. Some hallucination. Soon the scientists will tell us that life is a hallucination too.
Make of it what you will. I am still wondering in wonderment. We will all soon find out anyway. There is so much more to tell that has recently happened, but I have run out of space. I will continue next week in ‘Life after Life’. Obama and Xi Jinping can wait. What a relief!

The writer is a political analyst. He can be contacted at humayun.[email protected]


  1. Yes there are many books and stories which gives details about what takes place after death. I also faced the same situation when I had heart attack and was taken to Cardiology center at Jinnah Hospital – Karachi.My wife had died a couple of years before and she was telling someone that what has Aftab done that you have come to take him. Though, thanks God, I am fine now and have no heart problem but your column has forced me to write.

  2. We know and have firm faith about life after death and deeds done here will be justly rewarded or punished hereafter. Only Kafirs can say you a mad man.

  3. I had an experience when I was nearly 21 years old. I had an operation for my year problem in Lucknow. After operation (same night) I was feeling a lot of pain, unbearable pain. After midnight, it seemed to me that I'll not survive and I am dying. Suddenly I saw my grand father, his brothers, my uncle and other family members (who all had died long before and whom I had great affection from my child hood) had come and were standing near my bed in the hospital. I got very much frightened and thought my last moment has come. I started praying Allah Almighty to save from death. Nearly after half an hour, I saw my grand father and others are leaving the place and suddenly I saw my father speaking loudly to me and trying to see if I am fainted or if something has happened. Whole night I was awake and my father was besides me. Later when we returned back home (nearly 300 kms from Lucknow), my mother told me that she was feeling very much horrified and worried that night for me (the night she told us was the same night). She had praid to Allah Almighty and had supplicated to give Sadaqaa for my life. In the morning she found one of our animals had died with blood in its mouth. This experience I have always remembered.

  4. Very intresting.
    I have heard story from my mother that how one of their relative who passed away complaining loudly of chest pain in the middle of night showed signs of life when they were giving him last bath the following day before funeral, and told stories about thier experience.

    No one knows the complete truth. My religion says soul never dies, it is just the body that dies and based on your deeds Almighty can bless you with next life that could be very much on same planet or somewhere else.
    The moral of story for me is do good deeds to the best of your abilities.

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