Please click the following link to read this article in Urdu:
عذابِ برزخ ۔ ان زمینی گڑھوں میں کوئی زندگی نہیں
Bismillah al-Rahman al-Rahim
(They are things) dead, lifeless: nor do they know when they will be raised up. [16:21]
The beliefs of different sects vary on this issue. The official doctrine of almost all sects/sub-sects is that the souls of the dead are returned in their respective graves; which means in one way or the other, these sects believe in life in ‘earthly’ graves. As we shall prove through quoting the relevant Quranic verses and Sahih Ahadith, the belief of the dead being ‘alive in earthly graves’ is false and actually represents a denial of the Quran and/or Sahih Ahadith. Various scholarly interpretations are brought to justify this belief whose advocates forget that this false belief falls in the category of ‘Taghoot’ just as their scholars who are responsible for issuing interpretations which contradict the Quran and the Sahih Hadith are also ‘Taghoot’.
When the soul is attached with the body then it is alive and we call it life. When the soul is taken away the body dies and we call it death. This is the very basic and simple Islamic rule of life and death.
There are only 2 types of lives proven from Quran, which are; this worldly life when the soul is attached with the body at the time of birth and then the second life on the Day of Resurrection when the soul will again be attached with the body:
“How do you deny Allah and you were dead and He gave you life? Again He will cause you to die and again bring you to life, and then you shall be brought back to Him”. [02:28]
“They shall say: Our Lord! Twice didst Thou make us subject to death, and twice hast Thou given us life, so we do confess our faults; is there then a way to get out?” [40:11]
We are living in Aalam-e-Duniya. ALL humans (whether good or bad), after death, are sent to a place which is a barrier or partition called, “AALAM-e-BARZAKH” and they shall be raised only on the Day of Resurrection.
“and before them is a barrier (Barzakh) until the day they are raised.” [23:100]
It is evident that return of Ruh (soul) in the dead-body (in the earthly grave) before the Day of Resurrection is against the Quran and Hadith. The souls of all humans will experience the reality of Barzakh. All good people, including martyrs, messengers and prophets are blessed in Barzakh. Similarly, all bad people are tormented in Barzakh as a forerunner to eternal punishment in hell. This torment is called Azaab-e-Qabar or Azaab-e-Barzakh. Therefore, it should be understood that in this context, “grave” does not stand for the “ditch” dug in this earth, in which we bury the dead. Rather, “grave” refers to the life AFTER death and BEFORE the Judgment Day, namely, the life of Barzakh.
The life of Barzakh is neither identical to the life in this world, nor is it like life in the Hereafter. This we cannot fully comprehend like most other matters regarding life after death and the Hereafter. We only know through Sahih Hadith that the deceased experience a different kind of life and are rewarded or punished by Allah in Barzakh. It should be understood that all Ahadith must be analysed in the light of Quran and should only be accepted if found in conformity with the Quranic information on the subject.
The Holy Quran itself has made it clear that we do not and cannot comprehend this world of souls and it has not provided extensive information on the subject. The Quran says:
And do not speak of those who are slain in Allah’s way as dead; nay, (they are) alive but you do not perceive [02:154]
The question is, CAN we PERCEIVE something about which Allah says “YOU DO NOT”? There’s another ayah in Quran about martyrs:
“Think not of those who are slain in Allah’s way as dead. Nay, they are alive, finding their sustenance in the presence of their Lord..” [03:169] [Emphasis added]
To understand this ayah we have to refer to the Tafseer in the Sahih Hadith given below:
[Sahih Muslim - Book 020, Hadith 4651]
It has been narrated on the authority of Masruq who said: We asked ‘Abdullah about the Quranic verse: “Think not of those who are slain in Allah’s way as dead. Nay, they are alive, finding their sustenance in the presence of their Lord..” (3:169). He said: We asked the meaning of the verse (from the Holy Prophet) who said: The souls, of the martyrs live in the bodies of green birds who have their nests in chandeliers hung from the throne of the Almighty. They eat the fruits of Paradise from wherever they like and then nestle in these chandeliers. Once their Lord cast a glance at them and said: Do ye want anything? They said: What more shall we desire? We eat the fruit of Paradise from wherever we like. Their Lord asked them the same question thrice. When they saw that they will continue to be asked and not left (without answering the question). They said: O Lord, we wish that Thou mayest return our souls to our bodies so that we may be slain in Thy way once again. When He (Allah) saw that they had no need, they were left (to their joy in heaven).
The Sahih Muslim hadith quoted above proves that the souls of martyrs can fly and they live happily in Jannah (not inside their graves on this earth!) Allah talks to them and keeps asking for anything they desire but when the martyrs say that they wish to be returned back into their bodies so they can again die for Him, He does not change His Will for them (i.e. does not bring them back to live on this earth) and leaves them to enjoy in Paradise.
Both the above-mentioned ayahs [02:154] and [03:169] are often quoted as proof of life in graves. First of all, both these ayahs are about martyrs (shaheeds) and cannot be applied to all humans and/or messengers of Allah, as many died natural deaths, including our beloved Prophet Muhammad (PBUH).
As for martyrs, Bukhari also brought a hadith to prove that they are in Jannah:
[Sahih Bukhari - Volume 4, Book 52, Hadith 64]
Narrated Anas bin Malik: The mother of Hartha bin Suraqa came to the Prophet and said, “O Allah’s Prophet! Will you tell me about Hartha?” Hartha has been killed (martyred) on the day of Badr with an arrow thrown by an unidentified person. She added, “If he is in Paradise, I will be patient; otherwise, I will weep bitterly for him.” He said, “O mother of Hartha! There are Gardens in Paradise and your son got the Firdausal-ala (i.e. the best place in Paradise).”
Thus, both the Quran and Sahih Hadith prove that martyrs are in Paradise and not in their earthly graves.
In addition to this hadith about martyrs, there is another Hadith concerning the son of the Prophet (PBUH), Ibrahim (R.A):
[Sahih Bukhari - Volume 2, Book 23, Number 464]
Narrated Al-Bara’: When Ibrahim (the son of Prophet) expired, Allah’s Apostle said, “There is a wet-nurse for him in Paradise.”
After martyrs come ALL the other dead humans, including the messengers of Allah. For this we have to refer to another Sahih Hadith brought by Imam Bukhari, which is [Sahih Bukhari - Book 23, No. 468]. This Hadith tells us that all bad and good people after death, including Prophets, momineen (believers) and their children are alive in Barzakh where they are either punished or rewarded together and not individually in their respective graves on earth. The Hadith also tells us that during his lifetime, the Prophet (PBUH) was shown his place after death and now, after his death, he is alive in the highest and most exalted house in Jannah (Maqam-e-Mahmood) and NOT in his grave in Medina! Following is this rather long hadith from Bukhari which beautifully explains the concept of Barzakh (life after death):
[Sahih Bukhari – Volume 2, Book 23, Hadith 468]
Narrated Samura bin Jundab: Whenever the Prophet finished the (morning) prayer, he would face us and ask, “Who amongst you had a dream last night?” So if anyone had seen a dream he would narrate it. The Prophet would say: “Ma sha’a-llah”. One day, he asked us whether anyone of us had seen a dream. We replied in the negative. The Prophet said, “But I had seen (a dream) last night that two men came to me, caught hold of my hands, and took me to the Sacred Land (Jerusalem). There, I saw a person sitting and another standing with an iron hook in his hand pushing it inside the mouth of the former till it reached the jaw-bone, and then tore off one side of his cheek, and then did the same with the other side; in the mean-time the first side of his cheek became normal again and then he repeated the same operation again. I said, ‘What is this?’ They told me to proceed on and we went on till we came to a man Lying flat on his back, and another man standing at his head carrying a stone or a piece of rock, and crushing the head of the Lying man, with that stone. Whenever he struck him, the stone rolled away.
The man went to pick it up and by the time he returned to him, the crushed head had returned to its normal state and the man came back and struck him again (and so on). I said, ‘Who is this?’ They told me to proceed on;
So we proceeded on and passed by a hole like an oven; with a narrow top and wide bottom, and the fire was kindling underneath that hole. Whenever the fire-flame went up, the people were lifted up to such an extent that they about to get out of it, and whenever the fire got quieter, the people went down into it, and there were naked men and women in it. I said, ‘Who is this?’ They told me to proceed on.
So we proceeded on till we reached a river of blood and a man was in it, and another man was standing at its bank with stones in front of him, facing the man standing in the river. Whenever the man in the river wanted to come out, the other one threw a stone in his mouth and caused him to retreat to his original position; and so whenever he wanted to come out the other would throw a stone in his mouth, and he would retreat to his original position. I asked, ‘What is this?’ They told me to proceed on and we did so till we reached a well-flourished green garden having a huge tree and near its root was sitting an old man with some children. (I saw) Another man near the tree with fire in front of him and he was kindling it up. Then they (i.e. my two companions) made me climb up the tree and made me enter a house, better than which I have ever seen. In it were some old men and young men, women and children.
Then they took me out of this house and made me climb up the tree and made me enter another house that was better and superior (to the first) containing old and young people.
I said to them (i.e. my two companions), ‘You have made me ramble all the night. Tell me all about that I have seen.’ They said, ‘Yes. As for the one whose cheek you saw being torn away, he was a liar and he used to tell lies, and the people would report those lies on his authority till they spread all over the world. So, he will be punished like that till the Day of Resurrection.
The one whose head you saw being crushed is the one whom Allah had given the knowledge of Qur’an (i.e. knowing it by heart) but he used to sleep at night (i.e. he did not recite it then) and did not use to act upon it (i.e. upon its orders etc.) by day; and so this punishment will go on till the Day of Resurrection.
And those you saw in the hole (like oven) were adulterers (those men and women who commit illegal sexual intercourse).
And those you saw in the river of blood were those dealing in Riba (usury).
And the old man who was sitting at the base of the tree was Abraham and the little children around him were the offspring of the people.
And the one who was kindling the fire was Malik, the gate-keeper of the Hell-fire. And the first house in which you have gone was the house of the common believers, and the second house was of the martyrs. I am Gabriel and this is Michael. Raise your head.’ I raised my head and saw a thing like a cloud over me. They said, ‘That is your place.’ I said, ‘Let me enter my place.’ They said, ‘You still have some life which you have not yet completed, and when you complete (that remaining portion of your life) you will then enter your place.’”
Knowing that a dream of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) is also Wahi (Revelation), the above Hadith proves the following:
- Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) was shown his place in heaven where he was to live his life-after-death.
- The Prophet (PBUH) is not alive in his grave in Medina but is alive in the highest and most exalted house in Jannah (Maqam-e-Mahmood). This by no means is a worldly life, like the one he lived when he was alive; instead it is a Barzakhi life.
- All souls are experience torment or bliss together and in Barzakh.
- These Barzakhi bodies have the ability to regenerate repeatedly after experiencing torment.
- Adulterers (men and women) who died and were buried in different parts of the world are all thrown together in one pit of fire in Barzakh and will be tormented until the Day of Judgment.
- Pious men (including Prophets), women and children also live together in Bazakh. The martyrs are given bodies that have wings and they are allowed to fly freely in Jannah.
Therefore, it is obvious from both the Quran and Sahih Hadith that the real “grave” for each and every human is in Barzakh and not on this earth and it is in this Barzakhi grave that the reward or torment takes place. We all know that humans experience different types of death. Some are burnt alive, some are blown to pieces in bomb blasts, some die in plane crashes, car accidents or other natural disasters and some are even eaten alive by animals. We also know that different religions advocate different ways of disposing off dead bodies. For instance, Hindus burn their dead and throw their ashes in the Ganges, while Parsees (Zoroastrians) believe that letting vultures and other birds eat a dead body is a more respectable way of giving it back to nature.
Logically speaking, if many humans never even get a grave for burial, then what does Allah mean when He says in the Quran that every human that dies is given a “grave”:
Cursed be man! How ungrateful is he! Of what thing did He create him? Of a small seed; He created him, then He made him according to a measure, Then (as for) the way– He has made it easy (for him) Then He causes him to die, then assigns to him a grave, Then when He pleases, He will raise him to life again. [80: 17 to 22]
It is quite obvious that victims of all the above-mentioned incidents, who do not find graves on earth, are given graves in Barzakh, where they experience torment or bliss, depending on their Aqeeda, as well as their deeds. Therefore, anyone with a rational mind will find it difficult to believe in life in earthly graves.
Another proof of the concept that graves are assigned to all humans in Barzakh is found in the incident of Pharaoh and his companions, as narrated by the Quran:
“And We brought the Children of Israel across the sea, and Pharaoh with his hosts pursued them in rebellion and transgression, till, when the (fate of) drowning overtook him, he exclaimed: I believe that there is no Allah save Him in Whom the Children of Israel believe, and I am of those who surrender (unto Him). What! now! and indeed you disobeyed before and you were of the mischief-makers. But We will this day deliver you with your body that you may be a sign to those after you, and most surely the majority of the people are heedless to Our communications.” [10: 90 to 92]
“So Allah protected him from the evil (consequences) of what they planned, and the most evil punishment overtook Pharaoh’s people: The fire; they shall be brought before it (every) morning and evening and on the day when the hour shall come to pass: Make Pharaoh’s people enter the severest chastisement.” [40: 45-46]
Allah says in the Quran that the Pharaoh and his companions are being tormented day and night and this torment will become more severe after Qayamah. So the question is, where are all these people being tormented when we know that the bodies of Pharaoh and many of his companions have been preserved in the form of mummies and kept in museums, where everyone can see them? They are indeed being punished in Barzakh.
Let us take a look at another Sahih Hadith on this subject:
[Sahih Muslim - Book 004, Number 2026]
Hisham b. ‘Urwa narrated on the authority of his father that the saying of Ibn ‘Umar, viz.” The dead would be punished because of the lamentation of his family over him” was mentioned to ‘A’isha. Upon this she said: May Allah have mercy upon Abu ‘Abd al-Rahman (the kunya of Ibn ‘Umar) that he heard something but could not retain it (well). (The fact is) that the bier (coffin) of a Jew passed before the Messenger of Allah (PBUH) and (the members of his family) were wailing over him. Upon this he said: You are wailing and he is being punished.
Where was that Jew being tormented when he was not even buried at the time of this incident? It is, then, of utmost importance for a Muslim to believe without any doubt that immediately after death, the dead person is assigned a grave in Barzakh, where two angels approach him for questioning about his faith and his deeds; that the dead shall be raised only on the Day of Resurrection and therefore, cannot possibly become alive in their earthly graves:
“After that, surely, you will die. Then (again), surely, you will be resurrected on the Day of Resurrection”. [23:15-16]
[Sahih Bukhari - Volume 6, Book 60, Number 338]
Narrated Abu Huraira: The Prophet said, “Between the two blowing of the trumpet there will be forty.” The people said, “O Abu Huraira! Forty days?” I refused to reply. They said, “Forty years?” I refused to reply and added: Everything of the human body will decay except the coccyx bone (bone of the tail) and from that bone Allah will reconstruct the whole body.
The message is very clear that all human bodies will decay in the ditches dug on this earth. Then, Allah will re-create humans from the tailbone on the Day of Resurrection, and not before that.
Probably the most absurd belief is taught by the Salafiyyah a.k.a. Ahl-e-Hadith sect, who says that some part of the soul remains with the dead or that the soul is returned to the body in the earthly grave from time to time. When posed with the question- “What about the people who are eaten alive by animals?” they reply; “With regard to those who die by drowning or burning, or are eaten by wild animals, their souls will have their share of torment or blessing, and that will come to their bodies on land or in the sea, or in the bellies of the wild animals…”
(For reference see following Islam-qa.com link: http://www.islam-qa.com/en/ref/9381 ).
How outrageous can one get while defending the teachings of one’s sect or its favourite scholars, especially when these teachings stand in stark contrast to what the Quran tells us? Islamqa.com’s confusing opinion on Barzakh is so meddled because it is supported by their prominent scholars, so they go to great lengths to justify it. It is the official Ahle Hadith (Salafi) creed that the soul is adjoined with the body (after burial) from time to time and the dead becomes alive in the grave and he listens to the living and even sees them. Famous Ahle Hadith scholars like Ibn e Taymiyyah and Ibn e Qayyim have supported this belief; others have even said that ‘Assalam o alaikum ya ahl ul qaboor’ should be said in a way that we assume the dead can hear us.
When a Muslim believes the dead to be alive in their earthly graves, he repudiates many verses of the Quran (which repeatedly state that the dead experience a different kind of life in Barzakh). If a “Muslim” harbors such a belief, and negates the Quranic verses on the subject, he becomes a part of Taghoot (because he is blindly following the interpretations of different scholars without bothering to confirm whether these are aligned to the Quran and Sahih Hadith or not). Therefore, it is important that all Muslims believe in life after death (which is a basic tenet of the definition of Emaan), and that they should build their concepts based on the information provided in the Quran and Sahih Hadith.
The belief in humans being alive in their earthly graves is the root cause of ‘grave worship’ in the Muslim Ummah today. It has lead to outright Shirk as many so-called Muslims worship the graves of dead saints or believe that they can hear their supplications. They regularly visit the shrines of these saints in order to convey their wishes to them and believe that these saints can in turn convey these directly to Allah.
We shall, inshallah, soon add a blog post on the ‘dead can hear’ belief; taken together with the above post, the two articles should refute all claims, scholarly or otherwise, that the died are alive in earthly graves or that they can hear the living.
Assalam o alaikum
[All emphases are mine]