Death: the Grave

Bismillah. We’re continuining in our journey through death. Now we’re going to discuss what the soul experiences after death – the angels coming, the punishments of the grave and so forth.

Results Time

The scary thing about the grave it that once you’re there, you know whether you’re destined for hell or whether you’re destined for heaven. We ask Allah to make us amongst those who are destined for Jannah. It’s results time in the grave. Our whole test of life, we gave, and now we are going to see either the benefits of it….or the sad consequences.

Haani’, the freed slave of ‘Uthmaan ibn ‘Affaan, narrated that whenever ‘Uthmaan (may Allah be pleased with him) stood over a grave, he would weep until his beard was wet. It was said to him, “You remember Paradise and Hell and you do not weep, but when you remember the grave you weep?” He said: “I heard the Messenger of Allah say:

‘The grave is the first stage of the Hereafter. Whoever  passes through it safely, whatever comes after that will be easier for him, but if he does not pass through it safely, whatever comes after that will be harder for him.’

And the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah on him) said: ‘I have never seen any (disturbing) scene, more terrifying than the grave.'” [Tirmidhi]

Come Forth

Ibn Maajah narrated from Abu Hurayrah (may Allah be pleased with him) that the Messenger of Allah (blessings and peace be upon him) said:

The deceased is attended by the angels. If he was a righteous man, they say, ‘Come forth, O good soul which was in a good body. Come  forth praiseworthy, and receive the glad tidings of rest and provision, and a Lord Who is not angry.’ They continue to say this until it comes out, then they take it up to heaven. They ask for it to be opened, and it is asked, ‘Who is this?’ They say, ‘So and so.’ Then it is said, ‘Welcome to the good soul which was in a good body. Enter praiseworthy and receive the glad tidings of rest and provision, and a Lord Who is not angry.’ They continue to say this until they take him up to the heaven in which is  Allah, may He be blessed and exalted. But if he was an evil man, they say, ‘Come forth, O evil soul which was in an evil body. Come forth blameworthy and receive the tidings of a boiling fluid and dirty wound discharges and other torments of similar kind, all together! (cf. 38:57-8).’ They continue to say this until it comes forth, then they take it up to heaven. They ask for the heaven to be opened for it, and it is asked, ‘Who is this?’ They say, ‘So and so.’ It is said, ‘There is no welcome for the evil soul which was in an evil body. Go back blameworthy.’ So the gates are not opened for it, and it is sent down from heaven and goes back to the grave…’

The Squeezing

Every person will be squeezed in the grave: man, woman, righteous, immoral, adult or child. The Prophet (peace and blessings upon him) said, “There is squeezing in the grave; if anyone were to have been saved from it, it would have been Sa’d ibn Muaadh.” [Musnad Ahmad]

The grave squeezed even Sa’d ibn Muaadh – the one for whom the Throne shook at his death! The one whose funeral 70,000 angels attended! The Prophet (peace and blessings upon him) said:

“This one at whose death the Throne shook, for whom the gates of heaven were opened, and whose funeral was attended by seventy thousand angels, has been squeezed once, then relieved him.” [an-Nasaa`i]

Sa’d ibn Muhaadh was the leader of the Ansaar. And we all know how hospitable the Ansaar were to the Muhajireen (the Muslims who migrated). Hence, they were given the name of ‘Ansaar’ or the Helpers 🙂  This Ansari man was the best host to the best man to ever walk the face of this earth and he defended RasulAllah until he died.

The Last Trial

We’ve all learned the names of these two angels at Sunday school and/or Islamic schools – Munkar and Nakir. They are the angels that will come to question you in the grave. When we die, these two black and blue angels come to visit us in the grave. These angels are scary looking and harsh – whether you were bad or not. That is, even if it is a righteous person, these angels will be scary and severe in their questioning. They want an immediate and straight forward answer from you.

If the soul who is questioned is a believer, then this will be the last trial for him – the scary questioning of the angels. They will sit him up and treat him roughly. And what are their questions? Ma rabbuk? Wa ma deenuk? Wa man nabiyyuk? — Who is your Lord? What is your religion? Who is your Prophet?

Three simple questions. This is what we should be studying our whole life. This simple test. We spend days, weeks, months…years on test for this life – but what about the last and most important of all? What have we done to prepare for it?

The believing slave will respond, of course, with, “My Lord is Allah, my religion is Islam and my Prophet is Muhammad (sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam).” Then a voice from heaven will cry out, “My slave has spoken the truth.” The evil doer will resond to each question with, “Oh, oh, I don’t know!” The angels will say to him, “May you never know and may you never say what the people said!” Then a voice will call out, “My slave is lying.”

A Door to the Eternal Home

One of the things I personally fear a lot about the grave is being alone. Just being alone and accountable before Allah and not having any psychological security. My husband frequently reminds me that we will not be alone in the grave. We will all have a companion in the grave in the form of our deeds. Were we a good soul, a believer, we shall have a beautiful companion to give us company in the grave. Similarly, if the soul was evil, then the companion in the grave shall be likewise.

When the kaafir or evildoer is in the grave, he is shown a door to Jannah. He is told that had he been good, he would have gone here. Then he is shown his place in hell and he is told that this will be his final abode. Just imagine the psychological torture of the soul then! 😦

When a believing soul is in his grave, he is shown a place in hell. He is told, “This was for you, but Allah has saved you and has replaced it with a house in Paradise.” When he is shown his place in Paradise, he is so excited that he wants to go and tell his family, but the angels ask him to settle down 🙂

The Prophet sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam said that whenever anyone of us dies, he is shown his abode morning and evening in his grave. The believing soul’s grave is expanded for him and illuminated. It is said to him, “Sleep.” He says, “Let me go back to my family and tell them.” They tell him, “Sleep like the bridegroom who will not be woken by anyone except the dearest of his family to him, until Allah resurrects you from your place of rest.” But for the hypocrite, they say, “We knew you would say this.” Then it is said to earth, “Squeeze him.” So it squeezes him until his ribs interlock, and he will be tormented until Allah resurrects him from the grave.

Torment of the Grave

RasulAllah sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam said that if it weren’t for the fact that we wouldn’t bury our dead, he would ask Allah to allow us to hear the sounds of the people in the grave.

We know that the disbeliever and hypocrite will be punished in the grave – but what about the believer? Can the believer also be punished in the grave? And for what?

Generally, Muslims may be punished for ignorance of Allah, for disobeying His Commands, and for committing sin. However, we also know of specific reasons that Muslims may be tormented in the grave.

Carelessness About Urine and Slander

In a hadith in Bukhari and Muslim, the Prophet sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam said, as he passed by two graves: “They are being punished, but they are not being punished because of a major sin.” Then he said, “Yes, one of them used to go around spreading slander, and the other used not to take precaustions to prevent himself from being soiled with urine.” Then he took a fresh branch, broke it in two, and planted each part on a grave, then he said, “Perhaps it may be reduced for them, so long as this does not dry out.”

The Prophet sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam said: “Protect yourselves from urine, for most of the torment of the grave is because of it.”

Taking from the War Booty

A Muslim was shot and killed on the battlefield. The people said, “How fortunate he is! Paradise is his.” The Prophet sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam said: “No, by the One in Whose Hand is my soul, the cloak which he took fromt he war-booty on the day of khaybar before the booty had been shared out will burn him with fire.” When the people heard that, a man came bough one or two shoelaces to the Prophet sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam and said, “A shoelace of fire” or “Two shoelaces of fire.” (Bukhari and Muslim)

Lying, Neglecting the Qur’an, Adultery and Riba (Interest)

Narrated Samura bin Jundub:

Allah’s Apostle very often used to ask his companions, “Did anyone of you see a dream?” So dreams would be narrated to him by those whom Allah wished to tell. One morning the Prophet said, “Last night two persons came to me (in a dream) [and we know that the dreams of the prophets are true] and woke me up and said to me, ‘Proceed!’

I set out with them and we came across a man lying down, and behold, another man was standing over his head, holding a big rock. Behold, he was throwing the rock at the man’s head, injuring it. The rock rolled away and the thrower followed it and took it back. By the time he reached the man, his head returned to the normal state. The thrower then did the same as he had done before. I said to my two companions, ‘Subhan Allah! Who are these two persons?’ They said, ‘Proceed!’

So we proceeded and came to a man lying flat on his back and another man standing over his head with an iron hook, and behold, he would put the hook in one side of the man’s mouth and tear off that side of his face to the back (of the neck) and similarly tear his nose from front to back and his eye from front to back. Then he turned to the other side of the man’s face and did just as he had done with the other side. He hardly completed this side when the other side returned to its normal state. Then he returned to it to repeat what he had done before. I said to my two companions, ‘Subhan Allah! Who are these two persons?’ They said to me, ‘Proceed!’

So we proceeded and came across something like a Tannur (a kind of baking oven, a pit usually clay-lined for baking bread).” I think the Prophet said, “In that oven t here was much noise and voices.” The Prophet added, “We looked into it and found naked men and women, and behold, a flame of fire was reaching to them from underneath, and when it reached them, they cried loudly. [it was cone-shoped, and if they tried to escape, they would slide down because of the cone-shape] I asked them, ‘Who are these?’ They said to me, ‘Proceed!’

And so we proceeded and came across a river.” I think he said, “…. red like blood.” The Prophet added, “And behold, in the river there was a man swimming, and on the bank there was a man who had collected many stones. Behold, while the other man was swimming, he went near him. The former opened his mouth and the latter (on the bank) threw a stone into his mouth whereupon he went swimming again. He returned and every time the performance was repeated, I asked my two companions, ‘Who are these (two) persons?’ They replied, ‘Proceed! Proceed!’

And we proceeded till we came to a man with a repulsive appearance, the most repulsive appearance, you ever saw a man having! Beside him there was a fire and he was kindling it and running around it. I asked my companions, ‘Who is this (man)? They said to me, ‘Proceed! Proceed!’

So we proceeded till we reached a garden of deep green dense vegetation, having all sorts of spring colors. In the midst of the garden there was a very tall man and I could hardly see his head because of his great height, and around him there were children in such a large number as I have never seen. I said to my companions, ‘Who is this?’ They replied, ‘Proceed! Proceed!’

So we proceeded till we came to a majestic huge garden, greater and better than I have ever seen! My two companions said to me, ‘Go up’ and I went up. The Prophet added, “So we ascended till we reached a city built of gold and silver bricks and we went to its gate and asked (the gatekeeper) to open the gate, and it was opened and we entered the city and found in it, men with one side of their bodies as handsome as the handsomest person you have ever seen, and the other side as ugly as the ugliest person you have ever seen. My two companions ordered those men to throw themselves into the river. Behold, there was a river flowing across (the city), and its water was like milk in whiteness. Those men went and threw themselves in it and then returned to us after the ugliness (of their bodies) had disappeared and they became in the best shape.”

The Prophet further added, “My two companions (angels) said to me, ‘This place is the Eden Paradise, and that is your place.’ I raised up my sight, and behold, there I saw a palace like a white cloud! My two companions said to me, ‘That (palace) is your place.’ I said to them, ‘May Allah bless you both! Let me enter it.’ They replied, ‘As for now, you will not enter it, but you shall enter it (one day).’

I said to them, ‘I have seen many wonders tonight. What does all that mean which I have seen?’ They replied, ‘We will inform you:

As for the first man you came upon whose head was being injured with the rock, he is the symbol of the one who studies the Quran and then neither recites it nor acts on its orders, and sleeps, neglecting the enjoined prayers.

As for the man you came upon whose sides of mouth, nostrils and eyes were torn off from front to back, he is the symbol of the man who goes out of his house in the morning and tells so many lies that it spreads all over the world.

And those naked men and women whom you saw in a construction resembling an oven, they are the adulterers and the adulteresses;

and the man whom you saw swimming in the river and given a stone to swallow, is the eater of usury (Riba)

and the bad looking man whom you saw near the fire kindling it and going round it, is Malik, the gatekeeper of Hell

and the tall man whom you saw in the garden, is Abraham and the children around him are those children who die with Al-Fitra (the Islamic Faith).”

The narrator added: Some Muslims asked the Prophet, “O Allah’s Apostle! What about the children of pagans?” The Prophet replied, “And also the children of pagans.” The Prophet added, “My two companions added, ‘The men you saw half handsome and half ugly were those persons who had mixed an act that was good with another that was bad, but Allah forgave them.’” (Bukhari 9/87/171)


One of the sahabah passed away and left behind 300 dirhams, and he left children. The sahabah’s brother said that he wanted to spend the money on the brother’s children, but the Prophet sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam told him, “Your brother is being detained by his debt, (so go and) pay off his debts.” (This hadith is in ibn Maajah, Ahmad and Al-Bayhaqi)

Du’aa to Seek Protection

The Prophet sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam used to make this du’aa` at the end of prayer: “Rabba Jibraa’eel was Mika`eel wa Israfeel, a’idhni min harr an-naar wa ‘adhaab al qabr.” (Lord of Gabriel, Michael and Israfeel, protect me from the Hellfire and the torment of the grave.) [hadith an-Nasaa`i]

There is also a du’aa` which we should be reading every day in prayer that seeks protection from the grave. It is read before the tasleem. The meaning of the du’aa is: “O Allaah, I take refuge in You from the punishment of the grave, from the torment of the Fire, from the trials and tribulations of life and death and from the evil affliction of the Al-Maseeh Ad-Dajjaal.” The Arabic of it is below.

inshaAllah the next post will discuss what protects from the punishment of the grave.

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