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What Hope Do Other Religions Have in the Afterlife?

If you don’t place your faith in Jesus before you die, you will go to hell. However, salvation is open to all and Jesus wants all people to accept His free gift of eternal life. Christianity is the only religion with true hope for life after death.

Contributing Writer
Jun 14, 2021
What Hope Do Other Religions Have in the Afterlife?

There are many different religions throughout the world. Each religion has different views on what happens after you die. None of these religions have the same hope as Christianity. 

The Importance of Learning about Other Religions

This article will detail the different beliefs of the afterlife for Buddhism, Islam, Judaism, Hinduism, and Atheism. You can judge for yourself as to how hopeful these religions are for the afterlife.

1. Buddhism

Buddhism is a religion taught mainly across Asia and is growing in popularity among Americans today in the post-modern world. After a person dies, Buddhism teaches the individual will either be reincarnated or enter into nirvana.

Nirvana is the ultimate goal for all Buddhists. Nirvana is becoming liberated and freed from the endless cycles of rebirth. Once a person enters into nirvana, the individual is declared to be a Buddha.

Since Buddhists believe all people go through many stages of rebirth before reaching nirvana, Buddhists do not enjoy hearing about the eternal life Jesus offers mankind (John 3:16-17).

According to Buddhism, a person can obtain nirvana by eliminating and obliterating any desires. Buddhists place a heavy emphasis on avoiding any bad karma as a key mantra is “not to do any evil; to cultivate good; to purify one’s heart — this is the teaching of all the Buddhas” (“Fundamental Teachings,” The Buddhist Society).

Nirvana is focused on becoming liberated from the cords of existence and entering into the oneness with the universe. The only way to obtain nirvana is by following the “middle way.” One can follow the middle way by abstaining from selfish desires.

The founder of Buddhism, Siddhartha Gautama, discovered the way to nirvana is by following the middle way and by adhering to the Four Noble Truths and the Noble Eightfold Path (“Fundamental Teachings, The Buddhist Society).

The Noble Eightfold Path consists of having the right view, thought, speech, action, livelihood, effort, mindfulness, and concentration (“Fundamental Teachings, The Buddhist Society). Only by following the middle way through the Four Noble Truths and the Noble Eightfold Path can one obtain nirvana. If one does not obtain nirvana, the individual has to go through reincarnation.

When the individual goes through rebirth and reincarnation, there are six different rebirths the individual could possibly be born into. It is important to note that Buddhists believe the cycle of rebirth and reincarnation is never-ending and one can never escape from the endless cycle of rebirths.

Within reincarnation, the six possible avenues of rebirth could be hell, reborn as an animal, experience with the hungry ghost, living in asura, rebirth into a new human life, or heaven. Hell is the worst possible rebirth and heaven is the best. According to Buddhists, heaven is a place of pleasure, which contains 37 different levels (“Buddhist View on Death and Rebirth”).

Being reborn into human life can have a variety of different possibilities. Either you could be reborn wealthy, in the middle class, or poor. Asura is the place of jealous demi-gods, who are overcome with desires and longings to be in heaven.

The hungry ghost is the rebirth of those who struggled with gluttony, were inebriated, and never had their fill of sinful desires and wants. Being reborn as an animal is becoming any sort of animal. This is reserved for people who have killed animals in a past life.

Lastly, the worst reincarnation is into hell. In Buddhism, hell is a place of constant torment, pain, and suffering (“Buddhist View on Death and Rebirth”). In each of these six levels of reincarnation, none of them are permanent. The goal is to move through these lives and enter into the liberated stage of nirvana. If not, you are stuck in the endless cycles of rebirths.

2. Islam

Islam is a major religion today taught across the globe. There are two different types, Shia and Sunni Islam. Both types of Islam believe in the afterlife, which is known as Akhiran. The Quran teaches in the existence of a Judgment Day after death.

Quran 45:24-26 states: “God causes you to live, then causes you to die; then He will assemble you for the Day of Resurrection, about which there is no doubt” (The Noble Quran). Islam teaches the life an individual lives now will affect their afterlife.

It is believed among Muslims if you are good while you live, you will go to Jannah, which is a beautiful Garden of Paradise. If you are bad, you will go to the Islam concept of hell, Jahannam. Jahannam is a place of agony, pain, and suffering.

Muslims believe Allah is in control of when a person dies. He is the one who decides whether a person goes to hell or not. No person can be assured of going to Jannah as it is up to Allah.

You may catch Allah on a good day, and he will let you go to Jannah, or you may catch him on a bad day, and he will send you to Jahannam even if you were a good person. The truth is, according to Islam, no one can be assured of salvation. Not even the great prophet Muhammad was assured of his salvation.

According to the Meccan Surah 46:8-9, Muhammad didn’t know if Allah was going to save him or not (The Noble Quran). Ultimately, Muslims today, don’t know if Allah will have mercy on them or not when they die.

3. Judaism

Judaism does believe in life after death. Judaism believes anybody can enter into heaven if they have been faithful in doing good deeds (“Do Jews Believe in an Afterlife?” Reform Judaism). It doesn’t matter if you were a Jew, Muslim, Buddhist, Atheist, etc. Anybody can enter if you are good.&

According to Judaism, “The afterlife can take many forms” (“Do Jews Believe in an Afterlife?” Reform Judaism). Traditional Jews believe in a resurrected body after death; whereas, Reformed Jews adhere to a more spiritual concept of living through one’s children (“Do Jews Believe in an Afterlife?” Reform Judaism).

Traditional Jews believe in hell, called Gehinnom. Gehinnom is a place of suffering, torture, and pain. Traditional Judaism teaches that only the truly righteous can enter into heaven, which is known as Olam Ha-Ba (“The Garden of Eden”).

Only really good people can enter the Jewish concept of heaven as most people have to serve some time in Gehinnom before going to Olam Ha-Ba (“Heaven and Hell in Jewish Tradition”). Ultimately, only really good people can enter heaven, whereas, most people will have to serve some period of time in hell.

4. Hinduism

Hinduism has many similar concepts to Buddhism. Hinduism believes after a person dies, the individual will go into a cycle of reincarnations, also known as samsara. Your karma will dictate whether you have a better reincarnation or a worst reincarnation. If you do good in your life, you will get good karma.

If you do bad, you will get bad karma. The goal of Hinduism is to escape the never-ending cycle of rebirths. Hinduism teaches that moksha will enable a release from the endless cycles of rebirths and will cause a person to become one with the Brahman.

Hindus believe in many heavens and hells. Hinduism teaches that souls are eternal, thus, souls can never be obliterated. Between reincarnations, individual souls will remain at different heavens and hells, and return to earth in different rebirths until all of their karma is used up (“Death and Afterlife in Hinduism”).

Ultimately, Hinduism believes after you die, your soul goes either to heaven or hell to await your next reincarnation unless you are righteous enough to become one with the Brahman.

5. Atheism

Atheism is the belief that there is no God. Atheists believe that after we die, we simply cease to be. It’s a “lights on, lights off” mind frame. Basically, just like the other religions, there is no hope.

Christianity Is Hopeful

Christianity is the only religion that is hopeful for the future. Christianity teaches you either go to heaven or hell when you die. It is not based on following the “middle way,” doing good deeds, or winning Allah’s favor.

There are no reincarnations or endless cycles of rebirths. Christianity tells us anyone will go to heaven after one dies if they have placed their faith in Jesus (1 Corinthians 15:1-4).

Jesus is the Way, the Truth, and the Life (John 14:6). If you place faith in Jesus and accept Him as your Savior, you will go to heaven to be with God forever when you die (Luke 23:43).

If you don’t place your faith in Jesus before you die, you will go to hell. However, salvation is open to all and Jesus wants all people to accept His free gift of eternal life (1 Timothy 2:4-6). Christianity is the only religion with true hope for life after death.

For further reading:

Why Are There So Many Versions of the Afterlife?

What Is Heaven Like According to the Bible?

What Happens after We Die According to the Bible?

Why Is the Gate of Salvation Narrow?

Why Is Being a Good Person Not Enough to Get into Heaven?

Photo Credit: ©iStock/Getty Images Plus/mangojuicy

Vivian BrickerVivian Bricker loves Jesus, studying the Word of God, and helping others in their walk with Christ. She has earned a Bachelor of Arts and Master's degree in Christian Ministry with a deep academic emphasis in theology. Her favorite things to do are spending time with her family and friends, reading, and spending time outside. When she is not writing, she is embarking on other adventures.

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