Islam-beliefs

What happens to the Dead Ones and What can we do for Them

Introduction

In Surah Ali Imran Ayat 185 Allah(swt) says:

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 Surah Al-Mulk Ayat 2

[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

If we have a close look to this Ayat, we can find out one noticeable thing that, Death is mentioned before Life. So, 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. In that day, we will go to the heaven or hell 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.

Fairness of Justice on that Day

Allah says in the Quran that no one will be treated unjustly on that day:

And fear a Day when you will be returned to Allah . Then every soul will be compensated for what it earned, and they will not be treated unjustly. {Surah Al-Baqarah Ayat 281}

There will be multiple witnesses present on that day, either in favour or against ourselves. Even our organs like our eyes, our hands will give witness, so there will be no escape from the truth. We also know that, there are two angels who are always recording all of our activities.

On a Day when their tongues, their hands and their feet will bear witness against them as to what they used to do. {Surah An-Nur Ayat 24}

The disbelievers will say, give us one more chance, but Almighty God will say it is too late – the exam is over. This illustration is found in Surah Mu’minun, as mentioned below. So, on the day of judgment, depending upon our good deed and bad deeds, we will either pass or fail and will go to paradise or hell.

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. These are the matters that can’t be experienced by human senses 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.

The Soul goes to Barzakh

After the death of a person, the soul goes back to Allah(swt) and stays on 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.

Surah Al-Mu’minum teaches us about this Barzakh, the below Ayats illustrates the scenario of a disbeliever when he reaches this stage.

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}

The Dead Person can not Hear anything except Certain Things

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

The general principle is that, the dead do not hear the words of the living, 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 certain footsteps

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 certain frequency and Allah(swt) only allows them to hear certain things only.

What is Barzakh

Barzakh is a barrier between this life and the hereafter, this is barrier between this world that we live and a world that is completely unexplainable to us. It it is a special kind of life which is not like his life in this world, where we need food and drink etc. We can’t understand its realm.

Barzakh is the interval between the death and the Day of Resurrection, where people stays 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 this worldly life and the day of Judgement.

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}

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}

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 to died, behind them is a Barzakh or barrier which means that, after you die there is a barrier world until the day of resurrection.

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.

Questioning of the Grave

The questioning of the grave is real. The deceased person’s soul are restored and questioned inside the grave.

In Sunan Abi Dawud Hadith 4753, which is graded Sahih (Al-Albani), Al-Bara’ ibn Azib(RA) narrated: The death person can hear the beat of their companions sandals/footsteps when they go back. And at that moment, two angels will come to him/her, make him sit up and ask him the below questions.

If the dead person is a good person then the below happens:

  1. The two angels Asks him- Who is your Lord? He will reply: My Lord is Allah.
  2. They will ask him: What is your religion? He will reply: My religion is Islam.
  3. They will ask him: What is your opinion about the man who was sent on a mission among you? He will reply: He is the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ).
  4. They will ask: Who made you aware of this? He will reply: I read the Allah’s Book (Quran), believed in it, and considered it to be true.

Then an announcement will be given that: My servant has spoken the truth, so spread a bed for him from Paradise, clothe him from Paradise, and open a door for him into Paradise. So some of its air and perfume will come to him, and a space will be made for him as far as the eye can see.

If the dead person is a bad person then:

  1. When the two angels ask him- Who is your Lord? He will reply: O! O! I do not know.
  2. They will ask him: What is your religion? He will reply: O!, O! I do not know.
  3. They will ask: Who was the man who was sent on a mission among you? He will reply: O!, O! I do not know.

Then an announcement will be given that: He has lied, so spread a bed for him from Hell, clothe him from Hell, and open for him a door into Hell. Then some of its heat and pestilential wind will come to him, and his grave will be compressed, so that his ribs will be crushed together.

In Sahih al-Bukhari, Hadith 1374 Anas bin Malik(RA) narrated: Allah’s Messenger (ﷺ) said, “When (Allah’s) slave is put in his grave and his companions return and he even hears their footsteps. After that, two angels come to him and make him sit and ask:

If the deceased is a faithful Believer

  1. The Angels will ask: “What did you use to say about this man (i.e. Muhammad)?”. He will say: “I testify that he is Allah’s slave and His Apostle.” Then they will say to him: “Look at your place in the Hell Fire; Allah has given you a place in Paradise instead of it.” So, he will see both his places.”

Whereas if the deceased is a hypocrite or a non-believer:

  1. The Angels will ask: “What did you use to say about this man.” He will reply, “I do not know; but I used to say what the people used to say.” So, they will say to him, “Neither did you know nor did you take the guidance (by reciting the Qur’an).”

Then he will be hit with iron hammers once, that he will send such a cry as everything near to him will hear, except Jinns and human beings.

Al-Tirmidhi in Hadith 1071 narrated that, these are the two black and blue angels, one of whom is called al-Munkar and the other al-Nakeer.

Torment of the Grave

It was narrated that ‘Aishah(RA) said:

“I asked the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) about the torment of the grave, and he said: ‘Yes, the torment of the grave is real.’” ‘Aishah said: “After that I never saw the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) offer any prayer but he would seek refuge with Allah(SWT) from the torment of the grave.” {Sunan an-Nasa’i; Hadith 1308}

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 waqf or endowment),
  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 to provide continuous benefit. 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 in 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

Any Beneficial Knowledge, that continues to spread even after the death of the person will keep on adding as a bonus to his/her good deeds.

Examples includes:

  1. A motivational speech given in a gathering;
  2. Any authentic Islamic article written over the internet; or
  3. Even forwarding/sharing/conveying any Quranic Reminders, Hadith, Islamic Article or Teaching to more and more people.

Such knowledge that a person may have disseminated, it 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

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 help, but the dua of the child will be more effective for the deceased person.

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 making Dua 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 other Uncertain Matters

Many questions regarding other uncertain matters might arise, for example, one might ask:

How will the body feel the punishment together with the soul?

We don’t have any explanation of these matter. 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. We cannot add or subtract anything beyond these two authentic sources of the knowledge of the unseen.

What can we do for our deceased loved ones?

Our Sharia actually allows us to show grief or cry when our loved one passes away and these are considered to be completely natural emotions. It is a misconception, if someone tells that, crying or mourning are not allowed in Islam.

It was narrated that, Asma’ bint Yazid said: When Ibrahim, the son of the Prophet(saw) died in his hands, he began to cry and weep. The Sahaba rarely saw him cry, so they were amazed to see him crying. So, the Prophet(saw) explained that, crying is a sign of mercy crying is a sign of mercy that Allah has placed in the hearts of his servants. But, we should not say anything that angers Allah(swt), which goes beyond natural grief. {Sunan Ibn Majah; Book 6, Hadith 1589}

We should not beat ourselves or say Oh! How am I going to live now? Who will take care of me? Why did this happen to me? Screaming and pulling out our hair, etc. This are the things, that our Sharia has considered to be paganism and are not befitting the dignity of a Muslim.

Mourning for 3 Days

So crying is permitted, feeling sorry is permitted, but at the same time life should carry on so one should not go beyond these things. That is why, the Prophet(pbuh) he allowed mourning for somebody for three days. The Prophet(pbuh) said that, after this, we need to move on with our daily life.

Um Habiba Narrated:

The Prophet (saw) said, “It is not lawful for a Muslim woman who believes in Allah and the Last Day to mourn for more than three days, except for her husband, for whom she should mourn for four months and ten days.” {Sahih al-Bukhari; Hadith 5339}

Now, what does it mean to mourn for three days, this may be considered as the state of shock and abandoning normal lifestyle or day to day schedule, like:

  • Not eating normally;
  • Dressing a bit shabby;
  • Skipping office or regular business; or
  • Stop cooking and taking care of the family members.

All of these out of the state of shock as a result of the death of the peerson. We should try of level best to overcome all of these and get back to our regular life after three days have passed by, because at the end of the day, every one of us has to die and every Muslims accepts that death is a part of our life.

But one thing to note that is that, we must not try to teach these things while a family of a deceased in engrossed in a state of sorrow. Normally, in these times they are not in a position to take advise on their reactions. Rather, we need to convey these messages when people are in normal condition to avoid such incidents to happen repeatedly.

What can be done for the Dead

  • 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 expands his/her grave and make it a vast place.
  • 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.

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}

  • 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.

Narrated Aisha(RA): A man said to the Prophet (p.b.u.h), “My mother died suddenly and I thought that if she had lived she would have given alms. So, if I give alms now on her behalf, will she get the reward?” The Prophet (ﷺ) replied in the affirmative. {Sahih al-Bukhari 1388}

Narrated Ibn `Abbas: The mother of Sa`d bin ‘Ubada died in his absence. He said, “O Allah’s Messenger (ﷺ)! My mother died in my absence; will it be of any benefit for her if I give Sadaqa on her behalf?” The Prophet (ﷺ) said, “Yes,” Sa`d said, “I make you a witness that I gave my garden called Al Makhraf in charity on her behalf.” {Sahih al-Bukhari 2756}

It was narrated that Sa’d bin ‘Ubadah said: “I said: ‘O Messenger of Allah, my mother has died; shall I give in charity on her behalf?’ He said: ‘Yes.’ I said: ‘What kind of charity is best?’ He said: ‘Providing drinking water.'” {Sunan an-Nasa’i 3664}

  • 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.

Abdullah b. Buraida (Allah be pleased with him) reported on the authority of his father: When we were sitting with the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ), a woman came to him and said: I had gifted to my mother a maid-servant, and now she (the mother) has died. Thereupon he (the Holy Prophet) said: There is a definite reward for you and she (the maid-servant) has been returned to you as an inheritance. She (that woman) again said: Fasts of a month (of Ramadan) are due upon her; should I observe them on her behalf? He (the Holy Prophet) said: Observe fasts on her behalf. She (again) said: She did not perform Hajj, should I perform it on her behalf? He (the Holy Prophet) said: Perform Hajj on her behalf. {Sahih Muslim, Hadith 1149}

Narrated Ibn `Abbas: A woman came to the Prophet (ﷺ) and said, “My mother vowed to perform the Hajj but she died before performing it. Should I perform the Hajj on her behalf?” He said, “Yes! Perform the Hajj on her behalf. See, if your mother had been in debt, would you have paid her debt?” She said, “Yes.” He said, “So you should pay what is for Him as Allah has more right that one should fulfill one’s obligations to Him. ” {Sahih al-Bukhari, Hadith 7315}

  • Fifthly, we can also do a Qurbani for the dead person.  or.This means that, 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 you say oh Allah reward the dead people.
  • Sixthly, we must try to frequently visit the Grave, greeting with Salaams & making Dua for him and pray for the forgiveness for him. This applies only to Muslims.  Visiting graves is mustahabb for men, because according to the hadeeth of Ibn Buraida reported on the authority of his father that the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) said:

I forbade you to visit graves, but you may now visit them…

{Sahih Muslim 977}

It was narrated from Abu Hurairah that the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) said:

“Visit the graves, for they will remind you of the Hereafter.”

{Sunan Ibn Majah; Hadith 1569}

As narrated that ‘Aa’ishah (may Allaah be pleased with her) said to the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him): “O Messenger of Allaah, what should I say to them (i.e., to the occupants of the graves)?” He said, “Say: Al-salaamu ‘ala ahl il-diyaar min al-mu’mineen wa’l-Muslimeen, wa yarham Allaah al-mustaqdimeena minna wa’l-musta’khireen, wa innaa in sha Allaah bikum la laahiqoon (Means: “Say, Peace be upon the inhabitants of this city (graveyard) from among the Believers and the Muslims, and may Allah have mercy on those who have gone ahead of us, and those who come later on, and we shall, God willing, join you.”

{Sahih Muslim Hadith 974}

We should not walk between the graves wearing shoes.

It was narrated from ‘Uqbah bin ‘Amir that the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) said:

‘If I were to walk on a live coal or a sword, or if I were to sew shoes to my feet, that would be better for me than walking on the grave of a Muslim.” {Sunan Ibn Majah, Vol. 1, Book 6, Hadith 1567}

Another Hadith was Narrated Bashir that:

Once, The Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) suddenly saw a man walking in shoes between the graves. He said: O man, wearing the shoes! Woe to you! Take off your shoes. So the man looked (round), When he recognized the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ), he took them off and threw them away. {Sunan Abi Dawud 3230}

  • Seventhly, the prophet(saw) also said you may visit the friends and the relatives of the dead person whom he/she used to visit. 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.
  • 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.
  • Try to arrange a greater Zanajah for more probability of 100 Muslims. Let’s have a look over the below Hadiths:

“No Muslim dies and a group of people whose number reaches one hundred offers the funeral prayer for him, interceding for him, but their intercession for him will be accepted.” {Sunan an-Nasa’i 1992}

“Whoever has the funeral prayer offered for him by one hundred Muslims, he will be forgiven.” {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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