1. DEAR ABE: What does Islam think will happen in the afterlife? --MIKE P., TEXAS
DEAR MIKE : There will be a Judgment Day . Following judgment, humans will permanently reside in Heaven or Hell . Nearness to God is Heaven and distance from God is Hell. One can only get near God by developing the soul through worshipping God alone . A fitting proverb comes to mind on a related point; “There are two paths you can go by, but in the long run there's still time to change the road you’re on.” It symbolizes the good news that, out of God’s Mercy, He gives individuals a lifetime of chances to purify their souls for redemption back to Him . So, trying to work righteousness while not getting distracted with the adornments of this life is indeed a fruitful path to the afterlife .
Relevant Quran Verses:  19:39, 40:59, 51:6;  Appendix 11 and Appendix 5 of the Quran translation by R. Khalifa;  46:20, 39:57-59, Appendix 32 of the Quran translation by R. Khalifa;  39:53, 39:58-59, 43:29;  42:18, 2:3-5, 5:69, 31:33, 35:5, 3:14-15.
2. DEAR ABE: In the Quran it mentions "people of the right hand" in relationships and marriage. What exactly does this mean, because the Quran says you can have sexual relations with your spouses and with “what your right hand possesses” and there will be no blame? --HAMEED, SACRAMENTO, CA
DEAR HAMEED: The crucial word is OR, not AND. One can have sexual relations with one's spouse OR common law wife (what your right hand possesses) but not one's spouse AND common law wife . The categories of “what your right hand possesses” (Ma Malakat Aymanukum in Arabic) include: preexisting marriage from a forbidden category (God does not impose the hardship of splitting up once they become aware) , common law marriages without proper paperwork , slaves freed through the marriage , and spouses who left former disbelieving husbands during war . One category does not involve sexual relations, which is servants . We can clearly see that responsibilities and marriage rights apply to “what your right hand possesses.”
Relavant Quran Verses:  23:6;  4:3, 33:50, 33:52;  70:30, 23:6;  4:25, 24:33;  4:24, 60:10;  24:31, 33:55, 24:58, 4:36, 16:71, 30:28.
3. DEAR ABE: I am curious if a beard means that a man is a very devoted Muslim? --JANICE, CINCINNATI
DEAR JANICE: A beard does not mean an individual is more righteous. Some consider shaving the beard as modifying God’s perfect design, so they abstain from shaving. But, we can not make regulations that God does not impose . We can also take a cue from Hajj rituals. The pilgrims cut their hair, nails, and beard in order to enter a state of Ihram or sanctity, and at the end of Pilgrimage, they cut their hair . This may symbolize God granting permission for the pilgrim’s to return to daily life, vanities and all. Also, common sense dictates that refraining from cutting hair, nails, beard, etc. would cause hardship and God does not impose hardships on us in observing our religion . In the end, a beard is not a religious regulation imposed by God.
Relevant Quran Verses:  42:21, 6:114, 6:115, 45:18, 5:48;  2:196, 48:27;  3:108, 22:78, 2:185, 20:2-4.
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