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Friday, December 25, 2009

Punishment Of The Grave


Question
I have read your reply regarding the categorisation of hadith into ahaad and mutawatir. Based upon that principle dear Shaykh, is punishment of the grave taken into aqidah or not?


Answer

In the name of Allah, Most Compassionate, Most Merciful,
The punishment of the grave (adhab al-qabr) for the unbelievers and for some of the disobedient believers is established and proven by the Qur'an, narrations that reach the level of certainty (tawatur) and the consensus of the Ummah (ijma'), and it is a agreed upon concept among the Ahl al-Sunnah wa al-Jama'ah. Only some members of the deviated sect Mu'tazila and the Khawarij denied the punishment of the grave.

Many scholars throughout the ages discussed this issue and compiled short and detailed works on the subject. Scholars such as Imam al-Bukhari, Hafidh Ibn Hajar, Imam al-Suyuti, Imam al-Bayhaqi, Mulla Ali al-Qari, and others have proved the occurrence of the punishment in the grave in light of the numerous evidences found in the Qur'an and Sunnah.

Evidences from the Qur'an

1) Allah Most High says regarding the punishment for Pharaoh and his people:

"In front of the fire they will be brought morning and evening. And (the sentence will be) on the day that judgment will be established (it will be ordered) cast you the people of Pharaoh in the severest penalty."(Surah al-Mu'min, 46).

The famous scholar, Imam Fakhruddin al-Razi (Allah have mercy on him), in his renowned exegesis Tafsir al-Kabir, commentating on this verse states:

"Our scholars have substantiated the punishment of the grave with this verse of the Holy Qur'an. They say: "The verse indicates that fire will be brought to them morning and evening and this does not refer to the day of judgment as Allah says: "And on the day judgment will be established, cast you the people of Pharaoh in the severest penalty" (i.e. it is referring to a time that is before the day of judgment, m). It also does not refer to this world, as bringing them to the fire did not occur in this world. Therefore, it becomes evident that this happened after their death and will happen before the Day of Judgment, thus it proves the establishment of the punishment in the grave. When it is established and proved for Pharaoh's people it will also be established for others, as there is no reason for distinction." (Tafsir al-Kabir).

Another great Tafsir scholar, Imam Ibn Kathir (Allah have mercy on him) states:

"This verse is a fundamental evidence for the Ahl al-Sunnah wa al-Jama'ah in establishing the punishment of the grave." (Ibn Kathir, Tafsir al-Qur'an al-Adhim, 4/84).

Hafidh Ibn Hajar al-Asqalani (Allah have mercy on him) reports a narration in the explanation of this verse in his monumental commentary of Imam al-Bukhari's Sahih, Fath al-Bari:

"Shurahbil narrates from Abd Allah ibn Mas'ud (Allah be pleased with him): "The souls of Pharaoh's people will in the form of black birds. They are brought to the fire every morning and evening and shown their aboard" (See: Musannaf Abd al-Razzaq, Ibn Abi Hatim & Tafsir al-Mazhari).

2) Allah Most High says:

"If you could but see how the wicked (do fare) in the flood of confusion at death and the angels stretch forth their hands (saying): "Yield up your souls. This day shall you receive your reward, a punishment of shame." (Surah al-An'am, 93).

Ibn Hajar (Allah have mercy on him) quotes Tabrani narrating from Sayyiduna Ibn Abbas (Allah be pleased with him):

"This will occur at the time of death. And the meaning of "stretching forth their hands" is smiting their faces and backs."

3) Allah Most High says:

"If you could see when the angels take the souls of the unbelievers (at death), (how) they smite their faces and their backs (saying): "Taste the penalty of the blazing fire." (Surah al-Anfal, 50).

The above two verses indicate that the punishment will commence at the time of death, which in effect is the punishment of the grave.

4) Allah Most High says regarding the people of Sayyiduna Nuh (Peace be upon him):

"Because of their sins they were drowned (in the flood) and were made to enter the fire (of punishment), and they found in lieu of Allah none to help." (Surah Nuh, 250).

This verse indicates that the people of Nuh were entered into the fire directly after drowning.

5) Allah Most High says:

"Twice shall we punish them, and thereafter shall they be sent to a grievous penalty." (Surah al-Tawba, 101).

Ibn Hajar al-Asqalani (Allah have mercy on him) states in his Fath al-Bari:
"Tabrani narrates from Sayyiduna Ibn Abbas (Allah be pleased with him) that he said: "Once on Friday the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him & give him peace) gave a sermon......and then he said: "Allah has disgraced the hypocrites in the world and that is the first punishment and the second punishment will be in the grave." (Fath al-Bari, 3/18).

There are many other evidences in the Qur'an that prove the punishment of the grave, which can not obviously be covered here. One may look at the following verses with the relevant commentaries: 14/27, 20/124, 32/21, 89/27, 102/1-2, and many other verses.

Evidences from the Hadith

There are many narrations of the blessed Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him & give him peace) that prove the punishment of the grave. Imam al-Suyuti (Allah have mercy on him) compiled seventy such narrations in his excellent work Sharh al-sudur fi ahwal al-mawta wa al-qubur. He says:

"The narrations with regards to the punishment of the grave have reached the level of certainty (tawatur). They have been reported by a group of Companions (Allah be pleased with them all)", and then he named the names of theses companions. (Sharh al-Sudur).

Imam al-Taftazani states in his commentary of al-Aqa'id al-Nasafiyya:

"In general the narrations on this subject (punishment of the grave) and on many of the states of the next world are mutawatir in meaning, although the individual narrations taken separately do not attain the rank of tawatur." (Sa'd al-Din al-Taftazani on the creed of Najm al-Din al-Nasafi, P.160).

As the scholars have mentioned that the Ahadith with regards to the punishment of the grave collectively have reached the level of tawatur, even though individually the incident of each Hadith may not have reached this level.

Scholars of the principles of fiqh (Usul al-Fiqh) categorize Tawatur into two categories:

a) Narrations that reach the level of tawatur in that all the reports are identical in terms of the wording of the hadith and the incident mentioned therein. This type of Mutawatir is known as Mutawatir bi'l lafz (verbal mutawatir).

b) Narrations that reach the level of Tawatur with the common meaning found in all of them, even though they differ in wording or incident. This is called Mutawatir bi'l-ma'na (conceptual Mutawatir). For example, one report says that Zaid gave a book, the other says, he gave a pen, the third says, he gave money. Now, collectively all the reports indicate that Zaid gave, however they differ as to what he gave. Therefore, tawatur will be considered in that Zaid gave. Examples of this kind of Mutawatir are numerous in the Hadith. (See Imam Suyuti's Tadrib al-Rawi, 460-461).

So the narrations regarding the punishment of the grave have reached the level of tawatur bi'l Ma'na.

Imam al-Bukhari (Allah have mercy on him) formed a special chapter titled 'Chapter regarding the punishment of the grave' and reported six narrations in this regard.

Below are some of the narrations regarding the punishment of the grave:

1) Sayyiduna Anas ibn Malik (Allah be pleased with him) narrates that the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him & give him peace) said: "When a individual is placed in his grave and his companions return and he even hears their footsteps, two angels come to him, make him sit and ask: "What did you use to say regarding this man (i.e. Muhammad, Allah bless him & give him peace)? The believer will say: "I bear testimony that he is the servant and Messenger of Allah" It will be said to him: "Look at your place in the fire of Hell, Allah has changed instead of it a place for you in Paradise" So he will see both of his places, (Qatada said: "we were informed that his grave would be made spacious" then he went back to the narration of Anas who said: "As far as the hypocrite and non-believer is concerned, it will be said to him: "What did you use to say regarding this man? He will reply: "I do not know, but I use to say what people use to say" It will said to him: "Neither did you know nor did you recite (the Qur'an and took guidance), and he will be hit with a iron hammer once, and he will send such a cry that everything near him will be able to hear, except the Jinns and human beings." (Sahih al-Bukhari, no.1308 & Sahih Muslim, no. 2870).

2) Sayyida A'isha (Allah be pleased with her) narrates that a Jewish woman came to her and mentioned the punishment of the grave and said: "May Allah save you from the punishment in the grave." A'isha (Allah be pleased with her) then asked the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him & give him peace) regarding the punishment of the grave and he replied: "Yes, the punishment in the grave is true." A'isha (Allah be pleased with her) said: "After that I never saw the Messenger of Allah except that he sought refuge of Allah from the punishment in the grave in every prayer that he prayed." (Sahih al-Bukhari, no. 1306, & Sahih Muslim).

3) Abu Ayyub (Allah be pleased with him) narrates: "Once the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him & give him peace) came out after sunset and heard a (dreadful) sound. He said: "The Jews are being punished in their graves." (Sahih al-Bukhari, no. 1309 & Sahih Muslim, no. 2869).

4) Asma bint Abi Bakr (Allah be pleased with her) narrates: "once the Messenger of Allah stood up delivering a sermon and mentioned the tribulations of the grave that people will face in their graves. When he mentioned this, the Muslims started to shout out loudly." (Sahih al-Bukhari, no. 1307).

5) Anas ibn Malik (Allah be pleased with him) narrates that the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him & give peace) said: "If (I had not feared) that you would stop burying your deceased, I would have asked Allah to make you hear the punishment in the grave." (Sahih Muslim).

6) The daughter of Khalid ibn Sa'id ibn al-As (Allah be pleased with her) narrates that she heard the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him & give him peace) seeking refuge from the punishment of the grave. (Sahih al-Bukhari, no. 1310).

7) Abu Huraira (Allah be pleased with him) narrates: "The Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him & give him peace) used to make the following supplication: "O Allah! I seek your refuge from the punishment in the grave and from the punishment in the fire of Hell and from the tribulations of life and death and from the tribulations of the Antichrist (masih al-Dajjal)." (Sahih al-Bukhari, no. 1311).

8) Ibn Abbas (Allah be pleased with him) narrates: "The Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him & give him peace) once passed by two graves and said: "They (in the grave) are being punished not for a great thing to avoid" Then he added: "Yes, (they are being punished for a great sin), for one of them used to go about with calumnies while the other never saved himself from the splashes of urine." Ibn Abbas said: "Then he (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam) took a green leaf and split it into two pieces, then placed one piece on each of the two graves and said: "Their punishment may decrease until these two pieces become dry." (Sahih al-Bukhari, no. 1312).

9) Abu Sa'id al-Khudri narrates that the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him & give him peace) said: "The grave is either a garden from the gardens of Paradise or a pit from the pits of Hell." (Sunan Tirmidhi).

10) Bara ibn Azib (Allah be pleased with him) narrates that the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him & give him peace) said: "When a believer is made to sit in his grave, then the angels come to him and he testifies that none has the right to be worshiped besides Allah and Muhammad is Allah's Messenger. That corresponds with the statement of Allah "Allah will establish in strength those who believe, with the word that stands firm." (14/27). Shu'ba added: "This verse was revealed concerning the punishment of the grave" (Sahih al-Bukhari, no. 1303).

The above are just some of the narrations recorded regarding the punishment in the grave (adhab al-Qabr, May Allah save us all). As mentioned previously, there are many other such narrations and up to seventy in Imam Suyuti's work. The majority of the above mentioned narrations are recorded in Sahih al-Bukhari and should be more than sufficient for an individual seeking the truth in establishing that the punishment in the grave is true and will occur.

Consensus of the Ummah

Imam Ibn al-Qayyim al-Jawziyya (Allah have mercy on him) states in his book Kitab al-Ruh:

"This (punishment of the grave) is a well accepted fact among the Ahl al-Sunnah wa al-Jama'ah. al-Marwazi relates from Imam Ahmad (Allah have mercy on him) that only a severely deviated person who also deviates others denies the punishment of the grave." (Kitab al-Ruh).

Hafidh Ibn Hajar (Allah have mercy on him) mentions that the Khawarij and some of the Mu'tazilites denied the punishment of the grave, where as the majority of the Mu'tazilites and all of the Ahl al-Sunnah wa al-Jama'ah opposed them."(Fath al-Bari).

Imam al-Nasafi (Allah have mercy on him) states:

"The punishment of the grave for unbelievers and for some of the believers, and the bliss of the obedient in the grave by that Allah knows and wills, and the questioning of Munkar and Nakir are established by proofs based on authority." (al-Aqaid al-Nasafiyya, 156-157).

Imam al-Taftazani (Allah have mercy on him) states commentating on this in his commentary:

"Some of the Mu'tazilites and the Rawafid denied the punishment of the grave because a dead man is solid (jamad) devoid of life and comprehension, so punishing him is impossible. The answer to this is that it is possible for Allah to create in all or in some of the parts a kind of life such as would be able to comprehend the pain of punishment or the enjoyment of bliss. This does not require that the soul (ruh) be returned to the body nor that it move or be troubled or show any mark of punishment, for even a drowned man in water, or the one devoured in the bellies of beasts, or the one crucified in the air is punished, although we do not see it. Whosoever ponders the wonders of Allah in the kingdoms of this world (mulk) and of Heaven (malakut) and the marvels of His Power and Might (jabarut) will not consider such things improbable, let alone impossible." (Sharh al-Aqaid al-Nasafiyya, 160-161).

Shaykh Ibrahim al-Laqqani al-Maliki (Allah have mercy on him) states in his al-Jawhara:

"Our questioning, then the punishment of the grave, the bliss (tan'im) in the graves is established as is resurrection and the assembling of the bodies." (Jawhara al-Tawhid with the commentary of Imam al-Bajuri, 167).

And finally Imam al-Tahawi (Allah have mercy on him) states in his famous al-Aqida al-Tahawiyya:

"We believe in the punishment of the grave for those who deserve it, and in the questioning in the grave by Munkar and Nakir about one's Lords, one's religion and one's Prophet, as has come down in the narrations from the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him & give him peace) and his Companions (Allah be pleased with them all)" (P. 14).

In light of the above evidences from the Qur'an, Hadith and the statements of the great scholars of the Sunni way, it becomes clear that the punishment of the grave is an established part of the Aqidah of the Ahl al-Sunnah wa al-Jama'ah.

However, scholars mention that despite disbelieving in this Aqidah being kufr in itself, caution should be exercised in branding somebody a Kafir for not believing in the punishment of the grave. The reason for this is that the denying of the punishment in the grave has come about due to misinterpretation (ta'weel) and as Suyuti says that a rejecter of the punishment in the grave and the questioning is severely deviated and an innovator. May Allah save us all from the tribulations of the grave (Ameen).

And Allah Knows Best
Muhammad ibn Adam
Darul Iftaa
Leicester , UK 






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