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Muslims believe in the punishment of the grave (Arabic transliteration: Adhaab al-Qabr) for those who deserve it, and in the questioning in the grave by Munkar and Nakir about one's Lord, one's religion and one's prophet (as has come down in ahadeeth from Muhammad and in reports from the Sahaba). Therefore, the grave is either one of the meadows of the Garden or one of the pits of the Fire.[1][2]


History of belief in the punishment of the grave

From the early sects which denied eemaan (firm faith) in the Punishment of the Grave were the khawarij and a group from the Mu'tazili.[3] The Mu’tazilah said, “Our scholars deny the Punishment of the Grave and its rewards.”[4] What they denied was having faith, or Aqidah in what the narrations entailed, not that they denied the existence of ahaadeeth concerning the Punishment of the Grave. This is because they innovated a rule that only Mutawatir[5] ahaadeeth amount to knowledge, whereas the authentic Ahaad[6] ahaadeeth do not. And this statement of theirs, that the aahaad ahaadeeth do not amount to knowledge means that such ahaadeeth – in their opinion – are not free from the possibility of falsehood, nor error.

Due to this principle of theirs, they denied those ahaadeeth affirming that the Punishment of the Grave in indeed a true fact, and that it will definitely occur for the disbelievers and some of the sinful Muslims, since these ahaadeeth were to them of the aahaad category. So this principle of theirs caused them to deny Iman (concept) in the Punishment of the Grave – not holding it as part of the ’aqeedah (belief) which is in total opposition to that of the Salaf us-Saalih (Righteous Predecessors) and the Ahlus Sunnah wal Jamaah who followed them.[7]

Nature of the punishment

The Grave or the Interspace is the third stage of human existence. The first is the domain of the mother's womb. The second is the domain of the world in which humans grow up. The third is the domain of the Interspace which is wider and vaster than the domain of this world. The fourth and final stage is the Everlasting Domain which comprises the Garden and the Fire.

When someone dies, the Angel of Death comes to take his soul, no matter where he is or in what state he died (such as cremation, being consumed by animals or drowning and not having his body retrieved). The punishment of the grave is measured by criteria, which are completely different from those that the living use. The living cannot perceive these things with their eyes, ears or inner senses. However, the dead person is completely aware of them, but according to the criteria of the Next World.

Also, animals are able to hear the punishment in the Grave while human beings cannot.[8]

Embrace of the grave

The Grave has an embrace from which neither believer nor unbeliever can escape. Afterwards, the believer is relieved of its pressure while the unbeliever remains in punishment.[8]

Evidences and descriptions from the Sunnah

The Sunnah contains numerous evidences and descriptions of the punishment of the grave. These include:

  • Al-Baraa‘ said: We went out with the Messenger of Allah in the Funeral Prayer for a man from the Ansaar (helpers). So we stopped at the grave, and the niche at the side of it had not been dug out yet. So the Messenger of Allaah raised his head to the sky, and then he looked down to the ground and conversed to himself. Then he said: “Seek refuge with Allah from the Punishment of the Grave,” a few times. Then he said: “Verily when the Muslim man has yet to reach the Hereafter, but he has already been cut off from this world, Angels from the sky descend upon him having faces like the sun. So they sit as far as him as the eye can see, with them are the burial shrouds from the burial shrouds of Paradise, and embalming perfume from the embalming perfumes of Paradise. So then the Angel of Death comes and sits at his head, so he says: “Come out, O good soul to the forgiveness of Allaah and His pleasure.” He said: “So it flows out as a drop flows out [from] a water-skin. So when he takes it, he does not leave it in his hand for the blinking of an eye.” He said: “And there comes out from him a smell like the best musk to be found upon the face of the earth. So they ascend with him, and they do not pass by any of the angels except that he says: Who is this good soul? So they say: This is so and so. So the doors of the heavens are open for him, and they follow him through every level of heaven, until they reach the end of the seventh heaven. It is then said: “Write his book in highness (’illiyyeen).” He said: “So it is written. Then it is said: “Return to the earth, because it is from there that We created you and it is to there that we return you, and it is from there that We raise you up again.” So it is returned to his body, then the Angels come to him, then they say to him: Sit. Who is your Lord? So he says: My Lord is Allaah. He said: “They say: What is your Religion? He says: My Religion is Islam. So they say: Who is this man who was sent amongst you? He says: He is the Messenger of Allaah. So they say: How did you come to know of him? So he says: I read the Book of Allaah, and I believed in it, and I attested to it. So it will be called out from the heavens: “Indeed he has spoken the truth, so make space for him in Paradise, and clothe him with the clothes of Paradise, and show him his place in Paradise.” He said: “So he will be allowed to see it and his grave will be made spacious for him as far as the eye can see. A man with beautiful clothes, a handsome face, and a good smell will be presented to him; he will say: “Receive the glad tidings that will please you upon this day that you were promised. So [he] will say: May Allaah have mercy upon you, who are you; because your face seems to represent goodness? So he says: I am your righteous deeds.” He said: “However, if he was a disbeliever, Angels with black faces will descend upon him, and with them are coarse woolen cloths. So they sit as far from him as the eye can see.” He said: “And the Angel of death comes and sits at his head, so he says: Come out O foul soul to the Anger of Allaah and His displeasure.” He said: “So he does not like to be taken out of his body. So he takes it out, he does not leave it in his hand for the blinking of an eye. So the Angels take it in the burial shrouds of coarse woolen cloth. And there emanates from him the most offensive smelling stench like the foulest smelling corpse upon the face of the earth. So they ascend with him, so they do not pass by any one of the Angels, except that he says: Who is this foul soul? He says: “So and so,” using the most evil of names. So when they reach the heaven, they open the door, but it closes upon him, and it is called out: “Return to the earth, since I created you from it, and to it I return you, and from it I shall raise you again.” So he is placed back in his body, so the Angels come to him and they say: Sit. So they say: Who is your Lord? He says: Haah, [haah], I do not know. So they say: What is your Religion? So he says: Haah, haah, I do not know. I heard the people speaking. So they say: Who is this man who was sent amongst you? So it is called out from the sky: “Verily he has lied, so make space for him in the Fire, and clothe him with the clothes of the Fire. And he will be shown his place in the Fire.” He said: “So he will see his place in the Fire, and he will be overtaken by its heat and its scorching air, and his grave will be constricted for him, until his ribs start to interlace. And then there will be represented a man with an ugly face, repulsive clothes, and a repugnant smell, so he will say: ‘Woe to you, who are you? So by Allaah your face seems to resemble evil.’ So he will say: O lord, do not establish the Hour! [O Lord,] do not establish the Hour!”[9]

Then various forms of Punishment rain down on him according to the type of wrong actions he committed.

  • From ’Aa‘ishah who said that: A Jewess came to her and mentioned the Punishment of the Grave, saying to her: May Allaah protect you from the Punishment of the Grave. So she asked the Messenger of Allaah about it and he said, “Yes, there is Punishment in the Grave!” ’Aa‘ishah said: After that, I never saw the Messenger of Allaah, except that he sought refuge from the Punishment of the Grave in every Prayer that he prayed.[10]
  • Narrated Ibn 'Abbas: Allah's Apostle passed by two graves and said, "Both of them (persons in the grave) are being tortured, and they are not being tortured for a major sin. This one used not to save himself from being soiled with his urine, and the other used to go about with calumnies (among the people to rouse hostilities, e.g., one goes to a person and tells him that so-and-so says about him such-and-such evil things). The Prophet then asked for a green leaf of a date-palm tree, split it into two pieces and planted one on each grave and said, "It is hoped that their punishment may be abated till those two pieces of the leaf get dried."[11]
  • From Abu Hurayrah who said: The Prophet said, “When one of you finishes the last tashahhud (testimony of faith in prayer), he should seek refuge in Allaah from four things: From the Punishment of Hell, from the Punishment of the Grave, from the trials of life and death, and from the evil trials of the Maseehud-Dajjaal (Anti-Christ).”[12]
  • Anas reported Allah's Apostle as saying: If you were not (to abandon) the burying of the dead (in the grave), I would have certainly supplicated to Allah that He should make you listen to the torment of the grave.[13]
  • Narrated 'Aisha (the wife of the Prophet): Once Allah's Apostle passed by (the grave of) a Jewess whose relatives were weeping over her. He said, "They are weeping over her and she is being tortured in her grave."[14]
  • Al-Bara' b. 'Azib reported Allah's Apostle as saying: This verse:"Allah grants steadfastness to those who believe with firm word," (i.e. Qur'an quote 14:27) was revealed in connection with the torment of the grave. It would be said to him: Who is your Lord? And he would say: Allah is my Lord and Muhammad is my Apostle, and that is (what is implied) by the words of Allah, the Exalted:"Allah keeps steadfast those who believe with firm word in this world and in the Hereafter."[15]
  • Narrated Anas: The Prophet said, "When a human being is laid in his grave and his companions return and he even hears their footsteps, 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 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 Quran).' 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."[16]
  • Narrated Asma' bint Abi Bakr : Allah's Apostle once stood up delivering a sermon and mentioned the trial which people will face in the grave. When he mentioned that, the Muslims started shouting loudly.[17]
  • Umm Salama reported: The Messenger of Allah came to Abu Salama (as he died). His eyes were fixedly open. He closed them, and then said: When the soul is taken away the sight follows it. Some of the people of his family wept and wailed. So he said: Do not supplicate for yourselves anything but good, for angels say "Amen" to what you say. He then said: O Allah, forgive Abu Salama, raise his degree among those who are rightly guided, grant him a successor in his descendants who remain. Forgive us and him, O Lord of the Universe, and make his grave spacious, and grant him light in it.[18]

There are also numerous other ahadeeth mentioning the punishment of the grave.[19][20][21]

The statements of Muslim scholars

It is clear, that the Salaf and those who followed them were agreed that the Punishment in the Grave will definitely occur (for the disbelievers and some of the sinful ones from amongst the Muslims) and that it is obligatory to have eemaan in it, and to consider it as part of the Islaamic ’aqeedah (firm belief). These Muslim scholars include:

  • Muhammad ibn Idris ash-Shafi`i (d.204H), who said: “Indeed al-Qadar (pre-destination); both good and evil consequences are from Allaah – the Mighty and Majestic. Indeed the Punishment of the Grave is a true fact, the Resurrection is a true fact, the Accountability is a true fact, Paradise and Hellfire are true facts. Whatever else is related in the Sunnah and so mentioned by the scholars, and their followers throughout the lands of the Muslims is also true.”[22]
  • Abu Dawood (d.275H), who named one of his chapters: “Chapter: Questioning in the Grave and the Punishment of the Grave.’’[23]
  • Yahya ibn Sharaf al-Nawawi (d.676H), who said: ‘‘This chapter shows the virtue of seeking refuge - between the tashahhud and tasleem - from these (four) matters; and in it is an affirmation of the Punishment of the Grave, and it is the position of the people of the truth - as opposed to the Mu’tazilah.’’[24]
  • Ahmad ibn Hanbal (d.241H), who said: “From the essential Sunnah, which if a person leaves any one of its points – not accepting it and not having eemaan in it – then he will not be from amongst its people are: (he then mentions) eemaan in the Punishment of the Grave.” And, “Punishment in the Grave is a true fact. The servant will be questioned about his Religion and his Lord. Munkar and Nakeer and Paradise and Hellfire are also true facts.”[25] He also said, ‘‘The Punishment of the Grave is a true fact; and no one denies it except one who is misguided and misguiding others.’’[26]

Some other Muslim scholars include: Sufyaan Ibn ’Uyaynah (d.197H),[27] Ibn Qutaybah (d.278H),[28] Ahmad ibn Muhammad al-Tahawi (d.321H),[29] Abu al-Hasan al-Ash'ari (d.324H),[30] Imaam al-Aajurree (d.360H),[31] Ibn Abee Haatim al-Razi (d.327H),[32] Al-Hasan ibn 'Ali al-Barbahari (d.329H),[33] Al-Ismaa’eelee (d.371H),[34] Ibn Abi Zayd (d.386H),[35] Ibn Abee Zamneen (d.399H),[36] Imaam al-Laalikaa‘ee (d.418H),[37] Ahmad Bayhaqi (d.458H),[38] Al-Qurtubi (d.671H),[39] and An-Naasiree (d.652H).[40]

Islamic views on what the living can do to rescue the dead person from punishment in the grave

When someone who is alive intercedes for a dead person who is being punished, his punishment is halted, even if only for a time. When he intercedes for the person enjoying bliss, that person is raised a degree.[8]

Muhammad said: 'After he has died, the believer only gets the benefit of the following actions and good deeds: knowledge which he has taught and passed on, a righteous son or daughter he leaves behind, a copy of the Quran which he has bequeathed, a mosque he has built, a house he has built for the traveler, a water channel he has dug, or an act of charity which he spent out of his property when he was alive and in good health and which comes to him after his death.'

See also


  1. ^ Aqeedatut-Tahaawiyyah, by Imaam at-Tahaawi
  2. ^ FOUNDATIONS OF THE SUNNAH, by Al-Imaam Ahmad Ibn Muhammad ibn Hanbal ash-Shaibaanee
  3. ^ As quoted by Abul-Hasan al-Ash’aree in al-Maqaalaatul-Islaamiyyeen (p. 430)
  4. ^ Fiqhul-Usoolil-Khamsiyyah (p. 733), and Fadlul-I’tizaal (p. 202) of Qaadee Abd al-Jabbar, the Mu’tazilee
  5. ^ Shaykh Mahmood at-Tahhaan says in Tayseer Mustalahil-Hadeeth (p. 20-21) about the definition of mutawaatir, “Technically, it is that which is related by such a large number of people, that it is impossible that they could have invented a lie. It’s conditions are i) that it must be narrated by a large number of people, scholars differ about the actual number required, ii) That this number must be found in every level of the chain, iii) That it is impossible that they could have gathered together upon a lie.” Refer to Nuzhatun-Nadhr fee Tawdeehi Nukhbatil-Fikr (p. 57) of Ibn Hajar al-Asqalani, and Tadreebur-Raawee (2/177) of Imam al-Suyuti
  6. ^ Ibn Hajar says in Nuzhatun-Nadhr (p. 71), about the definition of the aahaad hadeeth, “It is that which does not fulfill the condition of the mutawaatir.” And the aahaad narrations constitute the majority of narrations, whether in the collections of al-Bukhaaree and Muslim, or in other than them
  7. ^ The Grave Mistake
  8. ^ a b c THE SOUL'S JOURNEY AFTER DEATH, An Abridgement of Ibn Al-Qayyim's Kitabar-Ruh, Commentary by LAYLA MABROUK
  9. ^ The Hadeeth of the Grave
  10. ^ Related by Sahih al-Bukhari (no. 1372)
  11. ^ Bukhari, Book 8, Volume 73, Hadith 78: Good Manners and Form
  12. ^ Related by Sahih Muslim (2/93), Abu Daawood (no. 983), and others from Abu Hurayrah
  13. ^ Muslim, Book 40, Hadith 6860: The Book Pertaining to Paradise, Its Description, Its Bounties and Its Intimates
  14. ^ Bukhari, Book 2, Volume 23, Hadith 376: Funerals
  15. ^ Muslim, Book 40,Hadith 6865: The Book Pertaining to Paradise, Its Description, Its Bounties and Its Intimates
  16. ^ Bukhari, Book 2, Volume 23, Hadith 422: Funerals
  17. ^ Bukhari, Book 2, Volume 23, Hadith 455: Funerals
  18. ^ Muslim, Book 4, Hadith 2003: The Book of Prayers
  19. ^ Saheeh: Related by Al-Tabarani (3/78/2), and it was authenticted by Muhammad Nasiruddin al-Albani in as-Saheehah (no. 1377)
  20. ^ Hasan: Related by Al-Tirmidhi (no. 2424), and Ibn Maja (no. 4267), and it has been authenticated by Shaykh al-Albaanee in Takhreejul-Mishkaat (no. 132)
  21. ^ Related by at-Tabaraanee in al-Kabeer from Umm Khaalid Bint Khaalid Ibn Sa’eed Ibnul-’Aas, it was authenticated by al-Albaanee in as-Saheehah (no. 1444)
  22. ^ al-Manaaqibush-Shaafi’ee (1/415)
  23. ^ Kitaabus-Sunnah (p. 900) of Sunan Abee Daawood
  24. ^ Sharh Saheeh Muslim (5/85)
  25. ^ Usoolus-Sunnah (no. 8)
  26. ^ Tabaqaatul-Hanaabilah (1/174) of Ibn Abee Ya’laa
  27. ^ Sharh Usoolul-I’tiqaad Ahlus-Sunnah wal-Jamaa’ah (no. 312) of al-Laalikaa‘ee
  28. ^ Ta‘weel Mukhtaliful-Hadeeth (p. 18)
  29. ^ ’Aqeedatut-Tahaawiyyah (no. 79-80)
  30. ^ al-Ibaanah ’an Usoolid-Diyaanah (p. 201), and Risaalah ilaa Ahlith-Thaghr (p. 279)
  31. ^ ash-Sharee’ah (p. 358-364)
  32. ^ Aslus-Sunnah wa I’tiqaadud-Deen (no. 14)
  33. ^ Sharhus-Sunnah (no. 18)
  34. ^ I’tiqaad A‘immatul-Hadeeth (no. 22)
  35. ^ Related by Ibn Qayyim Al-Jawziyya in Ijtimaa’ul-Juyooshil-Islaamiyyah (p. 152)
  36. ^ Usoolus-Sunnah (Q.7)
  37. ^ Sharh Usoolul-I’tiqaad (6/1127)
  38. ^ al-I’tiqaad (p. 107)
  39. ^ at-Tadhkirah (p. 137)
  40. ^ an-Noorul-Laami’ (no. 110)

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