Islam-beliefs

Short: What Happens to the Dead Ones before the Judgement Day and What can We do for Them?

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Table of Contents

Introduction – What is Death?

In Surah Ali Imran Ayat 185 Allah(swt) says that every soul shall taste death. Death is such an inevitable truth that even an atheist can not deny. The same ayat further mentions that we shall die in order to receive the results of our actions & intentions and some will be granted hell and some will be fortunate to be admitted in Paradise.

Every soul will taste death, and you will only be given your [full] compensation on the Day of Resurrection. So he who is drawn away from the Fire and admitted to Paradise has attained [his desire]. And what is the life of this world except the enjoyment of delusion.

Allah(swt) says in the second Ayat of Surah Al-Mulk, that this life is nothing but a test.

[He] who created death and life to test you [as to] which of you is best in deed – and He is the Exalted in Might, the Forgiving

In fact, this life is nothing but a test and once a person dies, his test is over. So, there is no logical reason for the soul of a dead person to wander around in this world, as his/her test is already over. All of us will be resurrected on the Day of Judgment and the results will be declared together and Allah will be the Master of that Day of Judgement. On that day, our fate will be determined depending on our deeds within this testing period. This is applicable for everyone – from the first human i.e. Adam (may peace be upon him) till the last human being to live on earth, including us.

What Happens when a Person Dies?

What happens to the soul once a person dies? The answers for this question relates to the matters of the unseen. Matters of the unseen are those matters that can’t be experienced by human senses (seeing, hearing, touching, smelling and tasting) or proven with science. In such matters, the only authentic source of knowledge are the authentic Hadiths of Muhammad(saw) and Quranic Revelations, and we must not rely on any other sources to avoid misconceptions & superstitions.

What happens to the Soul when we Die?

Now, we know that when someone dies the soul leaves the body permanently. The soul then enters a state known as Barzakh.

After the death of a person, the soul goes back to Allah(swt) and stays in a completely different dimension to us waiting for the final Judgement Day known as the Barzakh.

State of Soul during sleep and death

During Sleep: The soul leaves the body temporarily having some connection to it.

After Death: The soul permanently leaves the body and waits for the Judgement Day.

After the death of a person, the soul leaves this lively world and stays in a completely different dimension to us waiting for the final Judgement Day known as the Barzakh.

So, our life has actually 3 stages:
  1. Life of this World – being alive which begins from our birth and lasts till our death;
  2. Life of Al-Barzakh – which starts after death and ends at the Judgement day;
  3. The afterlife – that starts after our resurrection and continues after the Day of Judgment (including heaven, hell etc.)

What is Barzakh

Barzakh is a stage between this life and the hereafter. This is completely different from this world that we are living which is unexplainable to us. It is a special kind of life which is not like the life of this world. It is impossible for us to understand its realm.

Barzakh is the interval between the death and the Day of Resurrection, where people stay years after years till the Day of Judgement to come. It is a stage between this life and the Day of Judgement which is completely different from both this worldly life and the day of Judgement.

Starting and Ending of Barzakh

So, for a person:-

Barzakh starts: From the time when the soul is permanently leaving the body; and

Barzakh ends: At Judgement Day, when the trumpet will be blown to start that day.

Barzakh in the Quran: The Physical Form

Allah (swt) has mentioned the word Barzakh in the Quran illustrating things of this physical world. The word Barzakh, is used in the Quran while explaining the barriers between the salt water and the sweet water. The same word is also used to explain the barrier between two seas/oceans.

And it is He who has released [simultaneously] the two seas, one fresh and sweet and one salty and bitter, and He placed between them a barrier(Barzakh) and prohibiting partition. {Surah Al-Furkan: Ayat 53}

In Surah Ar-Rahman, Allah(swt) says Bayna Huma Barzakhulla Yabgian, means the barrier between two oceans. This is a barrier between the two seas, where they do not mix. The same word is used in the Quran, where Allah(swt) says that after those who have died, behind them is a Barzakh or barrier which means that, after you die there is a barrier world until the day of resurrection.

He released the two seas, meeting [side by side]. Between them is a barrier(Barzakh) [so] neither of them transgresses. {Surah Ar-Rahman: Ayat 19-20} 

Barzakh in the Quran: Direct Reference of the Meta-Physical Form

This particular stage is a kind of barrier that does not mix with this life, we don’t know what’s happening to them and they don’t know what’s happening to us. This is a temporary station between this life and the hereafter, i.e. the day of judgement.

Surah Al-Mu’minum teaches us about this Barzakh, the below Ayats illustrates the scenario of a disbeliever when he reaches this stage of Barzakh. At that time he is begging Allah to send him back to earth and give him some time, so that he can do some good deeds. He will be rejected and it will be said to him that the time of barzakh is starting.

When death comes to one of them, he[disbeliever] says, “My Lord, send me back. That I might do righteousness in that which I left behind.” No! It is only a word he is saying; and behind them is a Barzakh(barrier) until the Day they are resurrected. {Surah Al-Mu’minun: Ayat 99-100}

Indirect References in the Quran

The above ayat is dealing with direct reference to the concept of Barzakh after death. However, there are few indirect references of the concept of the Meta-Physical Barzakh in the Quran. If we look in Surah Taubah Ayat 101

And among those around you of the bedouins are hypocrites, and [also] from the people of Madīnah. They have persisted in hypocrisy. You, [O Muḥammad], do not know them, [but] We know them. We will punish them twice [in this world]; then they will be returned to a great punishment. {Surah At-Tawbah: Ayat 101}

This Ayat mentions that Allah will punish them twice in this world and then send them to Hell. The word twice suggests that they will be once punished in this world while they were alive and then they will be again punished in this world in Barzakh.

The Day their plan will not avail them at all, nor will they be helped. And indeed, for those who have wronged is a punishment before that, but most of them do not know. {Surah At-Tur: Ayat 46-47}

Surah Ghafir Ayat 46 mentions one of the most explicit indirect references. Where it is mentioned that, Hell will be shown or exposed to some dead peoples in Barzakh

The Fire; they are exposed to it morning and evening. And the Day the Hour appears [it will be said], “Make the people of Pharaoh enter the severest punishment.” {Surah Ghafir: Ayat 46}

Time in Barzakh

Time in Barzakh is not the same as the time in this world. In Barzakh the time for the believers will be different than that of the disbelievers. A good person who has died thousands of years ago, might feel a lesser waiting period in comparison to a bad person who has died recently. So, whether this time will be easy or difficult, will depend upon the actions that these people have actually done while they were alive.

Journey of the Soul after Death in the Barzakh

Famous Hadith of the Journey

The famous hadith narrated by al-Bara’ ibn ‘Aazib (RA) is the main foundational Hadith that mentions the first journey of the soul after death. We will try to discuss this Hadith with two more Hadiths narrated by Abu Huraira: The first one in Ibn Maajah and the second is found in al-Nasaai. The combination of these three Hadiths have informed us that, the below things actually occur after death:

For Believing Souls

If the person was a believer, then:

  • Before taking the soul, the angels give glad tidings of the forgiveness and good pleasure of Allah. The same is illustrated in Surah Fussilat Ayat 30

Indeed, those who have said, “Our Lord is Allah” and then remained on a right course – the angels will descend upon them, [saying], “Do not fear and do not grieve but receive good tidings of Paradise, which you were promised.

  • The soul comes out soothly like following of water from jug
  • Then the angels wrap the soul in a perfumed cloth from the heaven 
  • Then the angels carry it up, in a blessed state
  • Other angels in the way ask – “Who is this blessed soul?” The soul is introduced with honor
  • When the angels reach below the lowest Heaven with the soul – Permission is sought to proceed further. Permission is granted
  • Similar things happens when they reach below the next heavens up until the 7th Heavens –  Thus it crosses all 7 heavens
  • There is another Hadith that mentions that, the soul meets other souls and they have some conversations
  • The Soul then reaches to the highest Heaven
  • Then Allah, may He be glorified and exalted, says: “Record the name of my slave (the soul) in i’lliyeen (a registrar/list of the righteous people) and take the soul back to the earth”
  • So the soul is returned peacefully to the earth, where the jasad (remnant of his/her body) is
  • The soul hears the footsteps of his/her close relatives, while they are walking away from the grave – after the burial
  • The deceased is then made to sit (in the Barzakh world – not physically in this world) for the Questioning of the Grave
  • Two angels named Munkar and Nakir asks 4 Questions – successfully answers to those questions
  • Squeezing inside the grave occurs
  • The grave is made spacious and illuminated
  • Good deeds meets as a soothing person
  • Jahannam is shown (from where he/she is saved) – then Jannat is shown (which will be the ultimate destination).
For Disbelieving Souls:

But if it is the soul of a disbeliever, then: 

  • Before taking the soul, the angels give woeful tidings of hell and divine wrath
  • The soul doesn’t want to come out and is forcefully pulled out like iron comb is forced out of wet wool
  • Then the angels wrap the soul in a stenchful cloth from the hell
  • Then the angels take the soul up in a cursed and humiliated state which remains in an afraid state
  • Other angels in the way ask – “Who is this foul soul?” The soul is introduced with disgrace
  • When the angels reach below the 1st Heaven with the soul – Permission is declined to proceed further
  • The name of the soul is recorded in Sijjeen (a registrar/list of the bad people)
  • Then the is thrown back down to earth, where the jasad (remnant of his/her body) is
  • The deceased is then made to sit (in the Barzakh world – not physically in this world) for the Questioning of the 
  • Two angels named Munkar and Nakir asks 3 Questions – fails to answer all questions
  • Squeezing inside the grave occurs
  • The grave is made compressed and darkened
  • Bad deeds meets as a horrible person
  • Jannat is shown (which he/she failed to achieve) and Jahannam is kept shown to him/her (which will be the ultimate destination).
First Hadith: The famous hadith of Imam Ahmad (17803) narrated by Al-Bara’ ibn ‘Aazib (RA)

Ahmad (17803) and Abu Dawood (4753) narrated that al-Baraa’ ibn ‘Aazib said:

Second Hadith: Ibn Maajah (4262) narrated from Abu Hurayrah that the Prophet (blessings and peace of Allah be upon him) said:

“Angels come to the dying person, and if the man was righteous, they say: ‘Come out, O good soul that was in a good body, come out praiseworthy and receive glad tidings of mercy and fragrance and a Lord Who is not angry.’ And this is repeated until it comes out, then it is taken up to heaven, and it is opened for it, and it is asked: ‘Who is this?’ They say: ‘So-and-so.’ It is said: ‘Welcome to the good soul that was in a good body. Enter praiseworthy and receive the glad tidings of mercy and fragrance and a Lord Who is not angry.’ And this is repeated until it is brought to the heaven above which is Allah. But if the man was evil, they say: ‘Come out O evil soul that was in an evil body. Come out blameworthy, and receive the tidings of boiling water and the discharge of dirty wounds,’ and other torments of similar kind, all together. And this is repeated until it comes out, then it is taken up to heaven and it is not opened for it. And it is asked: ‘Who is this?’ It is said: ‘So-and-so.’ And it is said: ‘No welcome to the evil soul that was in an evil body. Go back blameworthy, for the gates of heaven will not be opened to you.’ So it is sent back down from heaven, then it goes to the grave.”

The Hadith is classed as Sahih (Darussalam).

Other Good People meeting on the journey

It was narrated from Abu Hurayrah that the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said:

“When the believer is dying, the angels of mercy come to him with white silk and say: ‘Come out content and with the pleasure of Allah upon you to the mercy of Allah, fragrance and a Lord Who is not angry.’ So it comes out like the best fragrance of musk. They pass him from one to another until they bring him to the gate of heaven, where they say: ‘How good is this fragrance that has come to you from the earth!’ Then the souls of the believers come to him and they rejoice more over him than any one of you rejoices when his absent loved one comes to him. They ask him: ‘What happened to So and so, what happened to So and so?’ They say: ‘Let him be, for he was in the hardship of the world. When he says, ‘Did he not come here?’ They say: ‘He was taken to the pit (of Hell).’

When the kaafir is dying, the angers of punishment come to him with sackcloth and say: ‘Come out discontent and subject to divine wrath to the punishment of Allah. So it comes out like the foulest stench of a corpse. They bring him to the gates of the earth, where they say: ‘How foul is this stench!’ Then they bring him to the souls of the kuffaar.” {Narrated by Sunan an-Nasa’i 1833}

The Hadith is classed as Sahih (Darussalam)by al-Albaani in al-Silsilah al-Saheehah, 2758.

The Soul either desires to hasten towards grave or are worried

In Saheeh al-Bukhaari and Sunan an-Nasaa’i, Abu Sa‘eed Al-Khudri (RA) mentioned:

“The Messenger of Allah said: ‘When the Janazah (prepared body) is placed (on the bier) and the men lift it onto their shoulders, if it was a righteous person it says: Take me quickly, take me quickly. And if it was not a righteous person it says: Woe to me! Where are you taking me! And everything hears its voice except man, and if man heard it he would faint.”‘ {Sunan an-Nasa’i 1909}

Questioning inside the Grave

In Sahih al-Bukhari, Hadith 1374 Anas bin Malik(RA) narrated and Sunan Abi Dawud Hadith 4753 and, Al-Bara’ ibn Azib(RA) narrated: The dead person can hear the beat of their companions’ sandals/footsteps when they go back after burying him/her.

Then 2 angels come to him, make him/her sit up (in the metaphysical world).

Al-Tirmidhi in Hadith 1071 narrated that, whenever someone is buried, then two black angels with blue eyes come to that deceased person, one of whom is called al-Munkar and the other al-Nakeer. They will question the dead person.

In the case of a believer:

Question 1: ‘Who is your Lord?’

He replies, ‘My Lord is Allah.’ 

Question 2: ‘What is your religion?’

He replies, ‘My religion is Islam.’ 

Question 3: ‘What do you say about this man who was sent among you?’

He replies, ‘He is the messenger of Allah.’

Question 4: ‘What is your [source of] knowledge or what made you aware of this?’

He replies, ‘I have read Allah’s Book, believed in it and considered it to be true.’

Then one cries from heaven, ‘My servant has spoken the truth, so spread out carpets from paradise for him, clothe him from paradise, and open a gate for him into paradise.’ Then some of its joy and fragrance comes to him, his grave is made spacious for him as far as the eye can see, and a man with a beautiful face, beautiful garments and a sweet odour comes to him and says, ‘Rejoice in what pleases you for this is your day which you have been promised.’

In the case of a disbeliever:

Question 1: ‘Who is your Lord?’

He replies, ‘Alas, alas, I do not know.’

Question 2: ‘What is your religion?’

He replies, ‘Alas, alas, I do not know.’ 

Question 3: ‘Who is this man who was sent among you?’

He replies, ‘Alas, alas, I do not know.’ 

Then one cries from heaven, ‘He has lied, so spread out carpets from hell for him, and open a gate for him into hell.’ Then some of its heat and hot air comes to him, his grave is made narrow for him so that his ribs are pressed together in it.

Hitting with the Hammer (for a disbeliever)

It was narrated from Anas (may Allah be pleased with him) that the The Prophet (ﷺ) said, “When a human being is laid in his grave and his companions return and he even hears their foot steps, two angels come to him and make him sit and ask him: What did you use to say about this man, Muhammad ? He will say: I testify that he is Allah’s slave and His Apostle. Then it will be said to him, ‘Look at your place in the Hell-Fire. Allah has given you a place in Paradise instead of it.’ “The Prophet (ﷺ) added, “The dead person will see both his places. But a non-believer or a hypocrite will say to the angels, ‘I do not know, but I used to say what the people used to say! It will be said to him, ‘Neither did you know nor did you take the guidance (by reciting the Qur’an).’ Then he will be hit with an iron hammer between his two ears, and he will cry and that cry will be heard by whatever approaches him except human beings and jinns.{Sahih al-Bukhari 1338}

Squeezing of the Grave

There will be squeezing inside the grave for everyone – even for the believers. It even happened to Sa`d bin Mu`adh. Allah’s Throne shook at the death of him.

Jabir narrated that he heard the Prophet (ﷺ) saying, 

“The Throne (of Allah) shook at the death of Sa`d bin Mu`adh.” {Sahih al-Bukhari 3803}

It was narrated from Ibn ‘Umar that the Messenger of Allah said: 

This is the one at whose death the Throne shook, the gates of heaven were opened for him and seventy thousand angels attended his funeral. It squeezed him once then released him.” {Sunan an-Nasa’i 2055}

There is a difference between the punishment in the grave that will affect the sinners and the questioning & the squeezing of the grave. Questioning of the Grave & Squeezing of the Grave are not punishments, these will happen to everyone; even the righteous among the believers will experience some of that. Punishment of the Grave is much worse and terrifying in comparison to this squeezing to the grave.

Good or Bad Deed will come as a companion for comfort or punishment

As per the hadith of Al-Bara’ b. ‘Azib, right after the questioning of the grave, the below happens:

In the case of a believer:

A man with a beautiful face, beautiful garments and a sweet odour comes to him and says, ‘Rejoice in what pleases you for this is your day which you have been promised.’ He asks, ‘Who are you, for your face is perfectly beautiful and brings good?” He replies, ‘I am your good deeds.’ He then says, ‘My Lord, bring the last hour; my Lord, bring the last hour, so that I may return to my people and my property.’

In the case of a disbeliever:

A man with an ugly, face, ugly garments and an offensive odour comes to him and says, ‘Be grieved with what displeases you, for this is your day which you have been promised.’ He asks, ‘Who are you, for your face is most ugly and brings evil?’ He replies, ‘I am your wicked deeds.’ He then says, ‘My Lord, do not bring the last hour.’

Shown Jannat and Jahannam

As per the hadith of Al-Bara’ b. ‘Azib, right after the above, the below things happen:

In the case of a believer:

For the believing soul a gate to Paradise will be opened for him, and he will feel its rest and provision and blessings. It will be said, This is your place until Allah resurrects you to it. And he will be shown his place in Hell, and it will be said to him, This would have been your place if you had disbelieved in Allah, but now Allah has granted you refuge from it and you have ended up in Paradise. 

Anas narrated:

The Prophet (ﷺ) said, “When a human being is laid in his grave and his companions return and he even hears their foot steps, two angels come to him and make him sit and ask him: What did you use to say about this man, Muhammad ? He will say: I testify that he is Allah’s slave and His Apostle. Then it will be said to him, ‘Look at your place in the Hell-Fire. Allah has given you a place in Paradise instead of it.‘ “The Prophet (ﷺ) added, “The dead person will see both his places. But a non-believer or a hypocrite will say to the angels, ‘I do not know, but I used to say what the people used to say! It will be said to him, ‘Neither did you know nor did you take the guidance (by reciting the Qur’an).’ Then he will be hit with an iron hammer between his two ears, and he will cry and that cry will be heard by whatever approaches him except human beings and jinns.”  {Sahih al-Bukhari  Hadith no. 1338}

Anas b. Malik reported Allah’s Apostle (ﷺ) having said:

“When the servant is placed in his grave, his companions retrace their steps, and he hears the noise of their footsteps, two angels come to him and make him sit and say to him: What you have to say about this person (the Prophet)? If he is a believer, he would say: I bear testimony to the fact that he is a servant of Allah and His Messenger. Then it would be said to him: Look to your seat in the Hellfire, for Allah has substituted (the seat of yours) with a seat in Paradise. Allah’s Messenger (ﷺ) said: He would be shown both the seats. Qatada said: It was mentioned to us that his grave (the grave of a believer) expands to seventy cubits and is full with verdure until the Day when they would be resurrected.”  {https://sunnah.com/muslim:2870a}

In the case of a disbeliever:

As for the kaafir, a gate to Hell  will be opened for him, and his grave will constrict until his ribs intermingle, and his grave will be like one of the pits of Hell. A door to Paradise will be opened for him and he will be shown his place in Paradise, and it will be said to him, This would have been your place if you were guided. A gate to Hell will be opened for him and he will feel its heat and torment. This will be his/her place until Allah resurrects him/her. you to it. 

In the hadith of Anas b. Malik who have reported that Muhammad(ﷺ) said:

When the servant is placed in his grave, his companions retrace their steps, and he hears the noise of their footsteps, two angels come to him and make him sit and say to him: What you have to say about this person (the Prophet)? If he is a believer, he would say: I bear testimony to the fact that he is a servant of Allah and His Messenger. Then it would be said to him: Look to your seat in the Hellfire, for Allah has substituted (the seat of yours) with a seat in Paradise. Allah’s Messenger (ﷺ) said: He would be shown both the seats. Qatada said: It was mentioned to us that his grave (the grave of a believer) expands to seventy cubits and is full with verdure until the Day when they would be resurrected. {Sahih Muslim Book 53, Hadith 8}.

Hell will be shown or exposed to some dead peoples in Barzakh

The Fire; they are exposed to it morning and evening. And the Day the Hour appears [it will be said], “Make the people of Pharaoh enter the severest punishment.” {Surah Ghafir: Ayat 46}

The good souls will sleep till The Judgment Day

Abu Hurairah narrated that  that Muhammad(ﷺ) said:

“When the deceased – or he said when one of you – is buried, two angels, black and blue (eyed_ come to him. One of them is called Al-Munkar, and the other An-Nakir. They say: ‘What did you used to say about this man?’ So he says what he was saying (before death) ‘He is Allah’s slave and His Messenger. I testify that none has the right to be worshipped but Allah and that Muhammad is His slave and His Messenger.’ So they say: ‘We knew that you would say this.’ Then his grave is expanded to seventy by seventy cubits, then it is illuminated for him. Then it is said to him: ‘Sleep.’ So he said: ‘Can I return to my family to inform them?’ They say: ‘Sleep as a newlywed, whom none awakens but the dearest of his family.’ Until Allah resurrects him from his resting place.“”If he was a hypocrite he would say: ‘I heard people saying something, so I said the same; I do not know.’ So they said: ‘We knew you would say that.’ So the earth is told: ‘Constrict him.’ So it constricts around him, squeezing his ribs together. He continues being punished like that until Allah resurrects him from his resting place.”  {Jami` at-Tirmidhi Book 10, Hadith 107}

From hadiths we came to know that, for a good soul the grave is expanded (example is provided as 70 x 70 cubits) and filled with fragrance & divine light.

After this, the soul will be told to sleep in peace. The soul then asks, can I return back to my family, at least to inform them not to worry as I am now safe and sound.

The soul is then said again to sleep like a newly wed groom. You should be able to understand how the sleep of a newly wed groom should be after everything that is expected to happen after the marriage and then the groom goes for a peaceful and tension-free sleep knowing that his beloved will wake him again in the morning. A point to note is that, the example is provided to make us understand how peaceful and tension free the sleep is going to be, so this is applicable for both of the genders (male and female soul).

The soul will then remain in this super peaceful state until he/she will be resurrected by Allah(swt) on the day of judgement.

Surah Yasin Ayat 52 illustrates the situation of the believers when they will be resurrected in the day of judgment:

They will say, “O woe to us! Who has raised us up from our sleeping place?” [The reply will be], “This is what the Most Merciful had promised, and the messengers told the truth.”{Surah Yasin Ayat 52}

Grave is Dark and Narrow by Default

The grave is dark and narrow as most are sinners by default. But with the below story we can understand that the grave can be illuminated.

There is a story of an old lady during the time of Muhammad(pbuh) who was probably a black woman known as Umm Mahjan. She used to clean up the mosque. One day, the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) sensed her absence and asked about her. The companions replied that she actually passed away. So, he (pbuh) said, “Why didn’t you tell me about it?”. Abu Huraira RA responded as if they thought that the death of that woman was a trivial thing. The Messenger of Allah (pbuh) then said, “Show me where her grave is!” where he (pbuh) made dua. Then he(pbuh informed us. “Truly, these graves were filled with darkness upon its dwellers, and Allah has illuminated it for them because I’ve prayed for them.”

Narrated Abu Huraira: A black person, a male or a female used to clean the Mosque and then died. The Prophet (p.b.u.h) did not know about it . One day the Prophet (ﷺ) remembered him and said, “What happened to that person?” The people replied, “O Allah’s Messenger (ﷺ)! He died.” He said, “Why did you not inform me?” They said, “His story was so and so (i.e. regarded him as insignificant).” He said, “Show me his grave.” He then went to his grave and offered the funeral prayer. {Sahih al-Bukhari: Hadith No 1337}

Azaab/Torment of the Grave

Two old Jewish ladies once came to AIsha RA and told regarding the torment of the grave. Aisha RA later asked the Prophet(pbuh) regarding this and he(pbuh) confirmed it to be true. After that day Aisha RA noticed that Muhammad(pbuh) would always seek refuge in Allah from the torment of the grave after each of his prayer.

It was narrated that ‘Aishah(RA) said:

Two old ladies from among the Jewish ladies entered upon me and said’ “The dead are punished in their graves,” but I thought they were telling a lie and did not believe them in the beginning. When they went away and the Prophet (ﷺ) entered upon me, I said, “O Allah’s Messenger (ﷺ)! Two old ladies..” and told him the whole story. He said, “They told the truth; the dead are really punished, to the extent that all the animals hear (the sound resulting from) their punishment.” Since then I always saw him seeking refuge with Allah from the punishment of the grave in his prayers. {Sahih al-Bukhari Hadith 6366}; {Sunan an-Nasa’i; Hadith 1308}

Abu Hurairah RA narrated that surah Mulk will protect us from punishment after death:

that the Prophet (ﷺ) said: “Indeed there is a Surah in the Qur’an of thirty Ayat, which intercedes for a man until he is forgiven. It is [Surah] Tabarak Alladhi Biyadihil-Mulk.” {Jami` at-Tirmidhi: Hadith No. 2891}

It was narrated that ‘Abd-Allaah ibn Mas’ood said: Whoever reads Tabaarak allaahi bi yadihi’l-mulk [i.e., Soorat al-Mulk] every night, Allah will protect him from the torment of the grave. (Al-Nasaa’i, 6/179; classed as hasan by al-Albaani in Saheeh al-Targheeb wa’l-Tarheeb)

What can lead to Azab of the Grave?

We can find few explicit Hadiths that mention the reasons for the Torment of the Grave:

  • Kufr or Disbelief
  • Nifaq or hypocrisy
  • Istinja or Not purifying oneself from urine
  • Nameema or Tattle-Taling
  • Geebah or Backbiting
  • Khibr or Arrogance
  • Stealing in a battlefield
  • Dying in a state of debt
  • Eating Riba or interest
  • Lying
  • Zina
  • Not praying on time

So, we can easily extrapolate that any kind of Khabair or Major Sin might lead to Azab of Grave.

The Dead Person can not Hear anything except certain things

This is also a matter from the unseen, so we must get each and every details of this from the Quran and authentic Hadiths. In short, Allah allows them to hear certain things and does not allow them to hear the other things.

We must be very clear about the matter of fact that there are many controversies over this matter among the scholars. The majority scholars of Islam hold this general principle that, the dead do not hear the words of the living, and because Allah(SWT) has informed us about this in the Quran:

And not equal are the living and the dead. Indeed, Allah causes to hear whom He wills, but you cannot make hear those in the graves. {Surah Faatir: Ayat: 22}


Indeed, you will not make the dead hear, nor will you make the deaf hear the call when they have turned their backs retreating. {Surah Al-Naml: Ayat 80}{Surah Ar-Rum: Ayat 52}.

`Aisha(RA) narrated, in respect of this Ayat:

The Prophet (ﷺ) said, “They now realize that what I used to tell them was the truth. “And Allah said, ‘Verily! You cannot make the dead to hear (i.e. benefit them, and similarly the disbelievers) nor can you make the deaf hear.

{Sahih al-Bukhari 1371}

The Dead Person can Hear the footsteps of the companions

However, there are few exceptions to the above situation. According to the below Hadiths, Allah(swt) allows the dead people to hear only the footsteps of his/her companions, when they return back after burying them:

Anas bin Malik narrated that:

Allah’s Messenger (ﷺ) said, “When (Allah’s) slave is put in his grave and his companions return and he even hears their footsteps…

{Sahih al-Bukhari 1374}

Similar was also mentioned in Sunan Abi Dawud 4753; [Grade: Sahih (Al-Albani)]

In order to understand the scenario, we can consider the example of a Radio. When we tune in to the broadcasting frequency of any radio station, we can only hear what’s playing on that particular station. No matter what’s happening on all the other stations, we cannot hear them. The Hadith suggests a similar situation, where we can consider that the dead persons are only tuned to a certain frequency and Allah(swt) only allows them to hear certain things only.

When a person dies his/her Deeds come to an End – Except 3

Abu Hurairah(RA), narrated that the Prophet Muhammad(ﷺ) said,

“When a person dies, all his deeds come to an end, except three (as continuing Bonus).

  1. Sadaqah Jaariyah (ongoing charity, e.g. a building a Masjid),
  2. Beneficial Knowledge (which he has left behind and others are benefited from it), and
  3. A righteous child who will pray/supplicate for him.”

{Sahih Jami` at-Tirmidhi; Hadith No 1376}

Sadaqah Jaariyah

Sadaqah Jaariyah is such an act of charity, that the person may be engaged in, which would result in continuous benefit. Sadaqah means charity and Jaariah means continuous. These charities are of such a nature, that its benefit continues even after the person dies.

Examples of Sadaqah Jaariah:

  1. Building a primary school for the poor; or
  2. Contributing to the building of a masjid.

As long as the people continue using these, the donator will continue getting the reward even after his/her death.

Beneficial Knowledge

There are many Beneficial Knowledge that continues to spread, even after the death of the conveyer and helping out humanity. According to this Hadith, these will keep on adding as a bonus to his/her good deeds. An important point to note here is that, this hadith does not limit the knowledge to be Islamic or religious knowledge alone.

Examples includes:

  1. A motivational speech given in a gathering;
  2. Any written authentic Islamic article; or
  3. Even forwarding/sharing/conveying any Quranic Reminders, Hadith, Islamic Article or study material might constitute beneficial knowledge.

Such knowledge that a person may have disseminated, will continue as much as the people continue learning as a result of it and its fruits will continue to be carried on even after the death of such a person.

A Righteous Child who will Pray/Supplicate for the Deceased

The most powerful gift that a person could ever have is a pious child, who will make dua for that deceased person. And of course, the dua of other person might the deceased, but the dua of the child will be more effective for the deceased person, which might be considered as almost the good deed done by the dead person himself/herself.

Abu Hurairah, may Allah be pleased with them, narrated that:

Allah’s Messenger said: “Qintar is twelve thousand ‘Uqiyah, each ‘Uqiyah of which is better than what is between heaven and earth.” And the Messenger of Allah(ﷺ) said: “A man will be raised in status in Paradise and will say: ‘Where did this come from?’ And it will be said:’From your son’s praying for forgiveness for you.'”

{Sunan Ibn Majah 3660}

Other people who will Suplicate for the Deceased

The counters of all the Good Deeds done during the lifetime of a deceased person stops as soon as he dies. But, these 3 things will continue to be added on the counters as a direct Bonus. Any dua offered by other persons can surely benefit the soul but they will not be counted as equivalent to these 3 things.

Regarding Remaining Uncertain Matters

Many questions regarding other uncertain matters related to these things which are not found in the Qur’an or Sahih Hadith might come into our mind.

For example, one might ask:

  • We know that the deceased can hear the footsteps of the close people, as they are leaving the grave. Can the deceased see us?
  • The dead person will be made to sit in the grave before questioning. How is it possible to make him/her sit, if there is no space in the grave?
  • How will the body feel the punishment together with the soul?

We don’t have any explanation of these matters. Wherever a matter of the unseen is not found in the Quran and the Sunnah, we must mention that, Allah(swt) knows best and we must stop at that point. Regarding any knowledge of the unseen, we cannot add or subtract anything beyond these two authentic sources of the knowledge – to avoid superstitious beliefs. And there is no room for superstition in Islam.

What can be done for the Dead

  1. First and foremost make a lot of Dua. Every time when we feel grief, let’s just raise our hands up to Allah(swt) and make dua that Allah forgives the sins of our close ones, saving him/her from the hellfire and torment of the grave. Ask Allah(swt) to increase his/her status in Jannah and expand and enlighten his/her grave and make it a vast place.
  2. However, if the person had a Debt, then it might help – if we can contribute towards or pay off in full the amount of the debt and ask Allah to forgive the soul. The below Ayah obliges us to clear any debt before the distribution of the property of the deceased to its rightful inheritance. Allah instructs you concerning your children[inheritor] [distribute as prescribed by Allah(swt)]… after any bequest he [may have] made or debt… [These shares are] an obligation [imposed] by Allah . Indeed, Allah is ever Knowing and Wise. {Surah An-Nisa: Ayat 11}
  3. Thirdly, we can give charity on behalf of the dead person. We may give some money to the orphans or the poor people and ask Allah(swt) to reward the dead person for it. {Sahih al-Bukhari 1388} {Sahih al-Bukhari 2756} {Sunan an-Nasa’i 3664}
  4. Fourthly, it is also allowed to go for Hajj and Umrah on the behalf of a dead person, but we may only do this when we have already completed our own mandatory Hajj at least once in our lifetime. However, we need to know that, this matter is slightly controversial. {Sahih al-Bukhari, Hadith 7315}
  5. Fifthly, We may also fast for the dead person. {Sahih Muslim, Hadith 1149}
  6. Sixthly, we can also do a Qurbani for the dead person.  We can offer sacrifice of an animal in the name of Allah, saying bismillah ar-rahman rahim and then distribute its meat to the poor and pray to Allah to reward the dead people.
  7. Seventhly, we must try to frequently visit the Grave, greeting with Salaams & making Dua for him and pray for his/her forgiveness. Visiting graves is mustahab for men. {Sahih Muslim 977a} {Sunan Ibn Majah; Hadith 1569} {Sahih Muslim Hadith 974} — We should not walk between the graves wearing shoes. {Sunan Ibn Majah, Vol. 1, Book 6, Hadith 1567} {Sunan Abi Dawud 3230}
  8. We may visit the friends and relatives of the dead person as our prophet(saw) used to do so. Visiting the close relatives or friend circle instead of the deceased is encouraged in our religion as we all know that our Prophet Muhammad used to visit the friends of his wife Khadiza RA after her death.
  9. There is some difference in opinion as to whether we can recite the Quran for the dead, but majority of the scholars have allowed it, but we should not recite any particular surah a fixed number of times etc without verifying them from any authenticated Hadith.
  10. We can try to arrange a greater Zanajah, so that we can have  more probability of 100 Muslims to be present there. Let’s have a look over the below Hadiths: {Sunan an-Nasa’i 1992} {Sunan Ibn Majah; Vol. 1, Book 6, Hadith 1488}

9 comments

  1. I am really blessed to have leant today all of these in Islam. With a heart of gratitude am deeply appreciative. thanks once more

    1. Thanks, I am planning to update the information to include more details, please pray for me, so that I can share most authentic information.

  2. Thank you for all the beautiful information .. I have read it myself for the first time and understand it .. May Allah swt bless you with victory and prosperity ameen

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