• And if you were to ask: How can one conceive of the torments of the grave, for if one placed an egg on the chest of a corpse and left it there for days, not the slightest movement would be felt in it. So how could there be life and torment?
You would be told: The World of Similitudes (al-‘ālam al-mithālī) has proved it, in the relevant places; indeed, its existence is certain according to the punctilious divine scholars. That world [of Similitudes] is characterized by its embodying meanings, transforming accidents into substance, and making mutable things immutable. The eyes that look to it from this manifest world are true dreams, true illuminations (kashf), and wraith-like bodies, for these all intimate its existence. The Intermediate Realm (‘ālam al-barzakh) is a firmer reality than the World of Similitudes, which is its image or exemplification. While the World of Dreams is the shadow of the latter [intermediate] world, and the World of Imagination is the shadow of the World of Dreams. These bodies are as transparent as mirrors.
Now, if you have understood this, consider the World of Dreams and think of a person who is sleeping near you. He is resting peacefully and silently, but in his world he is fighting and being wounded by the blows he receives, or is bitten by a snake and he suffers pain at this. If it were possible for you to enter his dream, you would say to him: “Hey! Don’t feel hopeless and angry! This isn’t real [it’s a dream]!” You would swear it a thousand times but he would not believe you, and would say: “Can’t you see that I’ve been wounded and the pain I’m suffering? Can’t you see the man and his sword and the snake that’s hissing at me?” For the significations of his painful shoulder or cold in his head had been embodied as a cutting sword, for the result was the same. Or he imagined in the form of a snake what a betrayal that had wounded his heart had signified for him, for the pain was the same. Friend! Now that you have seen this in the shadow of the World of Similitudes, [the World of Dreams,] wouldn’t you accept it in the Intermediate Realm, the reality of which is far firmer and more distant from us?
“Will bring you again to life,” in regard to the life of the hereafter: the life of the hereafter is the outcome of all the world. If it were not for that life, there would be no fixed and constant reality, and all truths – such as bounties – would be transformed into calamities. You can think of further examples in the same way. We summarized its proofs when expounding “And in the hereafter they have certain faith.”(2:5)
The Fifth Matter, regarding “and again to Him will you return (thumma