Barzakh – life in the grave

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Barzakh is the stage between the worldly life and Qiyaamah. A person enters into this temporary stage from the time the soul leaves the body, to the time of resurrection. Allah says: “ (In falsehood they will be) until, when death comes to one of them he says “oh my Lord send me back (to life), in order that I may work righteousness in the things I neglected” by no means! It is but a word he utters and before them is a partition (Barzakh) till the Day they are raised up”. (23:99-100)

The time spent in the grave or Barzakh stage will be with the body and the soul Allah will order that the soul be returned to the earth after the book has been recorded in either Illiyyeen or Sijjeen (places where the books of deeds of people are kept). The Prophet in a lengthy hadith describes this in the following words: ‘… Allah will say: “Register the book of My servant in Illiyyeen” (a register where the records of those closest to Allah are kept). So his book will be kept in Illiyyeen. Then Allah will say: “Take him back to the earth, from it (the earth) I have created them, and to it I will return them, and from it I will resurrect them once again”. Then he will be taken back to the earth and his soul will be returned to his body…”. (Ibnu Maajah).

Mental faculties will be restored to the dead in the graves. The deceased are also aware of the comforting presence of the righteous people around the grave at the time of burial. They also hear their footsteps when they leave them. The Prophet [sallallaahu alayhi wasallam] once mentioned the tormenter of the grave and Umar [radhiallaahu anhu] asked: “Will our faculties be restored to us, Oh Messenger of Allah?” He [sallallaahu alayhi wasallam] said: “Yes, just as they are now”. The Prophet [sallallaahu alayhi wasallam] said: “When a person is laid in his grave and his companions leave his graveside, he will hear their footsteps going away”. (Bukhaari).

Every person will be questioned by the angels named Munkar and Nakeer. The questioning begins immediately after the burial. Allah will help and make the believer firm at this time. The righteous will remain unafraid whilst the Kaafir will be confused and unable to answer. After burial the Prophet [sallallaahu alayhi wasallam] would stand by the grave and say: “Ask Allah to forgive your brother and make him firm for he is being asked right now”. (Tirmithi). The Prophet [sallallaahu alayhi wasallam] said : “When the deceased is buried, two black and blue coloured angels will come to him, one is called Munkar and the other Nakeer. They will ask: “What did you say about this man? He will say: “He is the servant of Allah and His messenger. I bear witness that there is none worthy of worship besides Allah, and that Muhammed is the messenger of Allah”. (Tirmithi). The Prophet [sallallaahu alayhi wasallam] also said: ‘When the believer is sat up in his grave he will bear witness that none is worthy of worship except Allah and that Muhammed is the Messenger of Allah, and that is the meaning of the verse: “Allah will fortify those who have accepted faith with a statement of finnness in th world and the hereafter”.

The grave of the believer will be widened as far as the eye can see and he will see his place in paradise. His good deeds will come to him in the form of a well dressed, handsome , finely perfumed man. The believer will also be shown the fire from which Allah has saved him. The grave will be well-lit and filled with greenery, he will long to tell his family of his good fortune. The believer will sleep peacefully in his grave. The grave of the disbeliever will be constructed, he will see his place in hell-fire. The graves of the disobedient will be filled with darkness. The Prophet [sallallaahu alayhi wasallam] said “When any of you dies, he is shown his place in paradise morning and evening. If he is from the people of paradise, then he is one of them, and if he is from the people of hell, then he is one of them. He is told: “This is your place until Allah raises you on the day of resurrection” (Bukhaari). The Prophet [sallallaahu alayhi wasallam] also said; then he (the believer) will be told: “Look at your place in hell fire, which Allah has exchanged for a place in paradise. So he will look at them both. Then his grave will be widened for him to a distance of seventy cubits, and it will be filled with greenery until the Day of Resurrection”. (Agreed upon).

There will be physical torment and punishment in the grave for disbelievers and sinful believers. The living are not able to hear the punishment of the grave. Animals can hear the voices of those who are being punished in their graves. Ibn Masood narrates that the Prophet [sallallaahu alayhi wasallam] said: “ The dead are being punished in their graves, and even the animals can hear their voices”. The Prophet [sallallaahu alayhi wasallam] also said: “This Ummah will be tried in their graves. If it were not for fear that you might not bury your dead, I would ask Allah to make you hear what I hear”. (Ahmed)

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