As explained earlier, accounts of Muslim NDEs have dried up. There will I am convinced be millions of Muslims around the world who have had NDEs but are not saying so. I have selected a few anecdotes of interest from amongst those I have read.
Wan I 11 was a 15-year-old Muslim domiciled in Malaysia at the time of his NDE in 1995. We pick up his account from the time that his spirit left his body.
For a few seconds, I saw myself from above, lying on the floor. I saw uncle Muharram on my left and my dad on my right, my mother near the sofa looking worried, but I kept on floating upwards and away. For a brief second I saw the rooftop of my house. I saw the housing area where I lived from above, and as I got higher I could see some night clouds in the sky. I felt sad leaving my parents and my family, of leaving this world, as I knew that I might never come back.
As I turned to face the direction to which I was being pulled, the moment I turned around, there was a bright blinding light – I expected to see the moon. But at that precise moment as I faced towards the direction I was floating or being pulled towards, it felt like an instantaneous ‘vacuum’, as if I was being sucked at incredible speed towards that light.
It felt like a tunnel with a light at the end of it. I felt as if I was in outer space being sucked like a vacuum racing towards the light at the end as I could make out the dots like stars around me while rushing towards that light. The only way to describe the feeling was almost like riding a motorcycle at breakneck speeds without your helmet on, or skydiving with the wind blowing hard against you, that feeling of tremendous speed where you’re helpless to do anything about it, as you have no control.
He added later that ‘It felt almost as if my field of vision was like 360 degrees as I could see everything, but I couldn’t control where I was going, which was towards the light.’ Movement like this without control often causes fear, but another concern dominated his thinking just at that moment.
I felt so afraid, as I thought that I might go to Hell for some of the things I’ve done.
I’ve only ‘heard’ them talk about it [Hell], but this time I realized I might be GOING there! Worst of all, so many thoughts were happening at the same moment as I also thought how young I was. I haven’t felt what it was like to fall in love, I haven’t gotten married yet, I wouldn’t see my family again or my friends and I haven’t had the chance to experience so many things in my life; all these sad thoughts occurring at once made me sad.
But as I grew closer to the light and felt its shine, a sudden cool and calmness came over me. For the light made me feel peaceful all of a sudden as I grew closer. It was a kind of peace and calm which I’ve never felt in my entire lifetime, even until this very day.
From afar, as I grew closer to the light, I could see almost like figures in the light, like heads, people all dressed in white, as if it were some sort of congregation or a crowd. The more I came closer, the more I felt like ‘staying’ and my sadness and fears disappeared. It felt like that comfort feeling of ‘home’.
Elsewhere, he states that this feeling of peace was like the joy of a child.
My mind began to change with that overwhelming feeling of peace, comfort and calm, a sort of happiness I’ve never felt – when getting closer to the light. The peace and comfort felt like being embraced or hugged by a lover, and the calmness felt like the feeling of lying in your lover’s embrace after making love to someone special. The safety feeling it gave was almost that soft, safe and comfort feeling that we got when we were just a child being embraced and carried around in our parents’ arms.
As I finally arrived or hit the light, for a few seconds I saw a young man – he seemed around 17 to 20’s. He looked a bit familiar and smiled at me as if he ‘knew’ me. He raised his hand to signal me to stop – and at that precise moment I started breathing again.
I awoke, which felt as if I had been holding my breath underwater far too long. Slowly my physical consciousness came back to me.
Since his return, Wan believes that there definitely is a God and that there is a life after death, and angels. His experience has removed all fear of death from him.
The youthful figure in the light that Wan saw turned out to be his late grandfather, who Wan recognised later when looking through old pictures in his grandmother’s photograph album. ‘I could not recognise him as I’ve only known him as the way he looked when he was around his 70’s, but the picture of my grandpa in his late 20s looked exactly like the young man whom I met in the light who had smiled at me.’ Once again we see the goodness of God, sending a loving relative to meet Wan in order to send him back to Earth.
Please note that Wan has remained a Muslim, but his focus has changed, becoming more determined to obey God and also to do good for others. ‘Today I try not to be racially or even religiously biased, even though I do very much believe in my own faith, but I believe that doing good to one another as human beings is much more important as this is what God wants…’
Khadija 12 had an accident falling from a horse while working with a film crew in Egypt.
The next thing I remember was saying ‘I cannot breathe…’ And then darkness. I was high above my body looking down when I next became aware. There were people around me. I did not care to return and turned around. At this time, I seemed so light and happy and could actually look down at the Sphinx below! I then saw another level of existence opening up. There were many beings who had come to meet me. I was told that I could either come or go back, but that I would suffer great pain if I did. I remember making a choice, as I thought there was something else I needed to accomplish in this life.
Khadija has a charming non-Western way of unfolding what others have described as the spirit leaving the body while the inactive brain remains behind: ‘I have come to believe that we are NOT the body. Especially the brain. I see it as sort of a radio receiver that can be broken and unable to respond. I clearly wanted to talk to my friends when they were hysterical and crying, to tell them I was OK, but the brain was not functioning. I clearly remember being annoyed with it and knew it was like a sort of machine that was malfunctioning. I felt separate from the body – totally! I could not get it to work, or even move my fingers to tell them I was not dead!’ It is interesting that Western theorists Pim van Lommel, Simon Berkovich and Chris Carter have conjectured that the brain acts as a receiver for the mind and not vice-versa, as is most commonly supposed. Khadija’s impressions would fit this new model. NDEs would suggest consciousness can act as an alternative storage unit, because consciousness functions outside the brain and stores vivid and precise memories during afterlife experiences.
Khadija did not progress as far as a Life Review, but other Muslims have done so. Some use great brevity to state what has happened to them. For example, Sameer 13 (a Muslim in Israel) describes his Life Review as: ‘I also saw all my past life since my breast feeding till now.’ That is his total description! Others give more detail, such as Muhammad F 14 (a Muslim in Egypt) whose Life Review occurred during a car accident.
During this I remembered everything with all the details and very accurately, since my birth till the time of accident. I remembered all the people I knew, even the ones whom I met once or twice. I remembered all the events, the important and non-important ones when my age is less than a year. I remembered it with all its details. The past was in front of me and I saw it as a cinema show in just 15 minutes.
A 2009 study by Iranians of local Muslim NDEs concluded that while the sample was too small (ten men and nine women] to draw definite conclusions: ‘Our informal assessment was that both the contents and after-effects of the Muslim NDEs were quite similar to those of Westerners. We concluded that NDEs are not particularly rare in Muslim groups and that their similarity to Western NDEs suggests they may be a cross-culturally universal and transpersonal phenomenon.’ Dr Scott Young of the Florida Mental Health Institute acted as the Western analyst for this interesting research, but the researchers themselves remain incognito for obvious reasons.
Dr Nasir Siddiki 15, claims his own life was saved when critically ill through a deathbed vision of Jesus Christ, and thereafter he became a Christian. Several years later, he received a phone call from London that his brother Asif, an ardent Muslim, had died. Nasir lived in the USA, and he and his wife agonised in prayer for hours, during which time a sheet that was covering the brother’s face in the London hospital morgue moved and attracted attention. Nasir flew to the UK to be with his brother, who by now had been declared alive but in a coma.
Nasir prayed and sat with Asif, who subsequently revived and described the frightening NDE he had experienced, beginning with an OBE during which he watched doctors trying to restart his heart before covering his face with a sheet and wheeling his body into an elevator and down to the morgue in the basement. Meanwhile, in his spirit body, Asif had experienced the sensation of falling into a very dark space inhabited by demons – his eyes grew large as he spoke to Nasir about this and he did not want to talk further. During this terrifying NDE, he had looked up and seen a cross with a figure hanging on it.
‘You saw Jesus on the cross?’ Nasir asked incredulously.
‘No. No. I saw myself hanging on the cross.’ It had been a confronting vision! ‘It was the most horrific thing I had ever seen. I never want to see it again.’
Immediately Nasir perceived the significance of the vision. ‘Asif, you deserved to be on that cross, because the wages of sin [what you earn from wrongdoing] is death, as the Bible teaches.’ He explained that the sins we have committed may result in eternal spiritual death unless we ask Jesus to substitute for us. That mysterious substitution then sets a man or woman free from future punishment, because Jesus has served their death sentence already for them.
Asif understood. He and Nasir prayed and Asif accepted Christ’s forgiveness.
There are accounts of professing Christians who have converted to Islam in their search for a deeper knowledge of God. A prominent convert was Mark Hanson 16 (now Hamza Yusuf), who aged 17 in 1977 experienced an NDE during a car crash. He does not go into details. While he does not report a ‘deep’ NDE, his experience showed him there was an afterlife and that he should investigate what religions taught about it. He found Islam to have a more detailed theology of the afterlife than did Christianity, and after intense study he converted. Now he is very influential. In fact in 2009 he was ranked 17 as ‘the Western world’s most influential Islamic scholar’. Nevertheless, as one would expect of an NDEr who has understood that God is more interested in love than in hate and terrorism, he has aligned himself strongly against Muslim fanaticism. He described the 9/11 attacks as ‘an act of mass murder, pure and simple’. Condemning the attacks, he expressed the opinion that ‘Islam was hijacked on that plane as an innocent victim’.
These tend to be similar to the ‘regular’ NDEs as recorded by others, but with a couple of differences that are peculiarly Jewish. They tend to be more questioning and confrontational than many others.
Some Jews report being confused by the Being of Light, and uncertain as to the identity of other spiritual beings they meet as well.
Beverly Brodsky 18 described her encounter: ‘I was joined by a radiant being bathed in a shimmering white glow… I felt a reverent awe when I turned to him; this was no ordinary angel or spirit, but he had been sent to deliver me. Such love and gentleness emanated from his being that I felt that I was in the presence of the Messiah.’ The Messiah! The one for whom the Jews have waited so long, to rescue them from oppression! But elsewhere she described this being as an angel. In April 2014, as a kind answer to my ‘please explain’, she wrote: ‘I don’t call him the Messiah any more. It just confuses people. I believe he was an archangel.’
So far so good, but later in her NDE she met with God the Father: ‘I immediately lashed out at him with all the questions I had ever wondered about; all the injustices I had seen in the physical world. I don’t know if I did this deliberately, but I discovered that God knows all your thoughts immediately and responds telepathically. My mind was naked; in fact, I became pure mind. The ethereal body which I had travelled in through the tunnel seemed to be no more; it was just my personal intelligence confronting that Universal Mind, which clothed itself in a glorious, living light that was more felt than seen, since no eye could absorb its splendour.’
Beverly goes on to describe the nature of their interchange: ‘I don’t recall the exact content of our discussion; in the process of return, the insights that came so clearly and fully in Heaven were not brought back with me to Earth. I’m sure that I asked the question that had been plaguing me since childhood about the sufferings of my people. I do remember this: there was a reason for everything that happened, no matter how awful it appeared in the physical realm.’
Dr Rene Hope Turner 19, another Jewish lady, who died after a dreadful car accident that smashed up her head and face, described meeting her Guide whom most Christians would at once assume to be Jesus, but who did not identify himself as such, nor did he indicate that he was her expected Jewish Messiah: ‘I arrived in an explosion of glorious light into a room with insubstantial walls, standing before a man about in his thirties, about six feet tall, reddish brown shoulder length hair and an incredibly neat, short beard and moustache. He wore a simple white robe. Light seemed to emanate from him and I felt he had great age and wisdom. He welcomed me with great love, tranquillity, and peace indescribable – no words. I felt within myself, “I can sit at your feet forever and be content,” which struck me as a strange thing for me to think/say/feel. I became fascinated by the fabric of his robe, trying to figure out how light could be woven!’
The rest of her NDE illustrates similarities to others. For example, here is her Life Review, through which her Guide led her:
He stood beside me and directed me to look to my left, where I was replaying my life’s less complimentary moments. I relived those moments and felt not only what I had done but also the hurt I had caused. Some of the things I would have never imagined could have caused pain. I was surprised that some things I may have worried about, like shoplifting a chocolate as a child, were not there, whilst casual remarks, which caused hurt unknown to me at the time, were counted. When I became burdened with guilt, I was directed to other events that gave joy to others, although I felt unworthy. It seemed the balance was in my favour. I received great love.
Her subsequent meeting with her beloved grandfather was also fairly typical, as was the instruction to return and the warnings she received about problems she would experience.
There coming towards me was my grandfather. He looked younger than I remembered and was without his harelip or cleft pallet, but (was)undoubtedly my grandfather. We hugged. He spoke to me and welcomed me. I was moved to forgive him for dying when I was 14 and making me break my promise to become a doctor to find a cure for his heart condition. Until that moment, I had not realized I had been angry with him!
Granddad told me that grandma was coming soon and he was looking forward to her arrival. I inquired why she was coming soon as she had been travelling from her home in Manchester to New Zealand to Miami for continual summer for a number of years. Granddad told me she had cancer of the bowel and was coming soon. Granddad seemed to have no grasp of time when I pressed for how soon. [Grandma was diagnosed three months later and died in August. I upset my mother by telling her about it when I regained consciousness.]
The Person who first welcomed me came and placed his hand on my shoulder and turned me towards him. He said, ‘You must return. You have a task to perform.’
I wanted to argue. I wanted to stay.
Rene awoke in hospital, and a painful recovery process began. ‘I was for two years angry at God for sending me back in such torment with a task to do with no clues or instructions – only one thing: a clear message I have no idea how to pass on, which is:
“It is time to live according to your beliefs, whatever they may be – to put your house in order – for the end times are upon us!”
It took me five years as a zombie before I was able to rehabilitate myself. I have gainful employment, formed the Head Injury Society of New Zealand in 1987, and am paraded as the example of how well it is possible to recover from acquired brain damage. I still don’t know my task – still have pain, anosmia, diplopia, etc.’
Despite the brain injury, her NDE remains clear in her memory. ‘The memory of the NDE is more real than what I did yesterday. Salom… Rene Turner.’
Many Jewish people have become secular atheists on Earth, and are shocked when their spirit rises out of the body at death. Barbara Harris Whitfield 20 recalls: “I suddenly realized that what I had believed in the past might not be real. Maybe my belief systems were really messed up. Maybe this was real and everything else had been an illusion.”
Barbara had a very positive afterlife experience. She was eased into it by having a wonderful interaction with her dead grandmother, whom she had always loved very much. Her Life Review later on taught her a great deal about herself, her parents and others in her life. God walked her through it. “I realise now that without this God force holding me, I wouldn’t have had the strength to experience what I am explaining to you.”
Barbara’s Life Review included many painful memories, but enabled a radical course-correction in her life once she had returned to her body. Materialism went out of the window; to love and help people became her passion. She forgave those who had bruised her emotionally and became involved with helping hospital patients who were dying. She researched NDEs and trained as a therapist who practises in Atlanta, Georgia. She has written a number of books about NDEs and helps struggling returnees through her work with IANDS.
Religious Founders in NDEs.
If a figure is seen within the radiant light encountered during an NDE, some NDErs make an assumption about who that figure is. However, this person hardly ever identifies himself. On the rare occasions he does, it is interesting that the Being of Light does not seem to identify himself as Brahma, Shiva, Buddha, Krishna, Vishnu, Mohammad, Allah, Matreya – or any of the other religious gods or spiritual leaders that people follow. He has however identified himself to a growing number of NDErs as Jesus – usually to those who are Christians already, but also to unbelievers.
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