Friday, September 18, 2009
Hadith: "When the believer is about to depart from this world and go forward
into the Next World, angels with faces as bright as the sun descend
from the heavens and sit around him in throngs stretching as far as
the eye can see. Then the Angel of Death comes and sits at his head
and says, "Good soul, come out to forgiveness and pleasure from
Allah!" Then his soul emerges like a drop of water flows from a
water-skin and the angel takes hold of it. When he has grasped it,
the other angels do not leave it in his hand even for the twinkling
of an eye. They take it and place it in a perfumed shroud and
fragrance issues from it like the sweetest scent of musk found on the
face of the earth.'
"Then they bear it upwards and whenever they take it past a company
of angels, they ask, 'Who is this good soul?' and the angels with the
soul reply, 'So-and-so the son of so-and-so,' using the best names by
which people used to call him in this world. They bring him to the
lowest heaven and ask for the gate to be opened for him. It is
opened for him and angels who are near Allah from each of the heavens
accompany him to the subsequent heaven until he reaches to the heaven
where Allah the Great is. Allah, the Mighty and Majestic, says,
'Register the book of My slave in 'Illiyun and take him back to
earth. I created them from it and I return them to it and I will
bring them forth from it again.'
"His soul is then returned to his body and two angels come to him.
They make him sit up and say to him, 'Who is your Lord?' He replies,
'My Lord is Allah.' They ask him, 'What is your religion?' He
replies, 'My religion is Islam.' They ask him, 'Who is this man who
was sent among you?' He replies, 'The Messenger of Allah.' They ask
him, 'How did you come to know these things?.' He replies, 'I read
the Book of Allah, believed it, and declared it to be true.' Then a
Voice from on high declares, 'My slave has spoken the truth, so
spread out carpets from the Garden for him and open a gate of the
Garden for him!'
"Then some of its fragrance and perfume comes to him, his grave is
expanded for him as far as the eye can see, and a man with beautiful
garments and a fragrant scent comes to him and says, 'Rejoice in what
delights you for this is the day which you were promised.' He asks,
'Who are you? Yours is a face which presages good.' He replies, 'I
am your good actions.' Then he says, 'O Lord, let the Last Hour come
soon so that I may rejoin my family and my property!'
"When an unbeliever is about to depart from this world and go forward
into the Next World, angels with black faces descend from the heavens
carrying rough hair-cloth and sit around him in throngs stretching as
far as the eye can see. Then the Angel of Death comes and sits at his
head and says, 'Foul soul, come out to the wrath and anger of Allah!'
Then his soul divides up in his body and it is dragged out like a
skewer is pulled out of wet wool. Then the angel takes hold of it.
When he has grasped it, the other angels do not leave it in his hand
even for the twinkling of an eye. They take it and wrap it in the
rough haircloth and a stench comes out of it like the worst stench of
a corpse on the face of the earth.'
"Then they take it up and whenever they take it past a company of
angels, they ask, 'Who is this foul soul?' and the angels with the
soul reply, 'So-and-so the son of so-and-so,' using the worst names
by which people used to call him in this world. They bring him to
the lowest heaven and ask for the gate to be opened for him. It does
not get opened.'
"The Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace,
then recited, 'The gates of heaven will not be opened to them nor
will they enter the Garden until the camel passes through the eye of
the needle.' (7:40) Then Allah the Mighty and Majestic, will say,
'Register his book in Sijjin in the lowest earth.' Then his soul is
flung down. The Prophet then recited, 'Whoever associates anything
with Allah, it is as though he has fallen from heaven and the birds
snatch him away or the wind sweeps him headlong into a place far
"Then his soul is returned to his body and two angels come and say to
him, 'Who is your Lord?' He replies, 'Alas, alas, I do not know!'
Then a voice calls from on high, 'My slave has lied, so spread out
carpets from the Fire for him and open a gate of the Fire for him!'
then a hot blast from it comes to him, his grave is made so narrow
for him that his ribs are pressed together, and a man with a hideous
face and clothing and a foul odour comes to him and says, 'Grieve on
account of what has brought you disgrace for this is the day which
you were promised.' He asks, 'Who are you? Yours is a face which
presages evil.' He replies, 'I am your bad actions.' Then he says, 'O
Lord, do not let the Last Hour come!'"
This life in the grave or Interspace is the next part of our
journey. An 'interspace' is something that separates two things:
heaven and earth, this world and the Next World or the period between
death and resurrection. The bliss or punishment of the Interpsace is
not the same as that of the Herafter, but rather something that
happens between the two worlds.
In death, the body remains in the ground while the soul is in the
interspace or Barzakh between the two worlds. However, the two are
still connected and so the bliss or punishment happens to both of
them. When Allah desires bliss or punishment for the soul, He
connects it to the body. This is dependent on the will of Allah and
dependent on a person's own actions. The soul is diffused in more
than one place at the same time. The proof of this is that the
prophet (saw) saw Musa (as) on the night of the Night Journey
standing in prayer in his grave and he also saw him in the sixth and
During this life in the grave part of our journey the souls are
divided into two groups: one group is punished and the other group is
in bliss. Usually when we think of the 'grave', it is a word that
inspires fear. We are pained, but not aware of the delight it can
contain. Indeed, the bliss of the Grave is better than any delight
that this world can offer.
The liberated souls of those who are in bliss visit each other and
discuss what happened in the world they have left and the people of
that world. Allah says, "Whoever obeys Allah and the Messenger, they
are with those whom Allah has blessed, the prophets, the sincere, the
martyrs and the righteous. Very excellent companions they are!"
As the hadiths narrate, if the soul was a believing one, a door onto
the fire is opened and the soul is shown it's place in the Fire had
they disobeyed Allah. Then that door is locked and another door onto
the Garden is opened and they are shown their place there. This door
will remain open until the Day of Rising. Some of the sweetness and
fragrance of the Garden reaches them and their grave is made
spacious. The believer sleeps in peace just as if they were in one
of the meadows of the Garden. Their narrow grave expands and
stretches for the soul as far as the eye can see.
This spaciousness, light and greenery in which the believer remains
from the time of his death until the Day of Rising is not the same as
we know in our world. If a living person were to open a grave, they
would not find any expanse, light or greenness there. They would not
find an open door through which they could see the Garden. They do
not see bliss or torment. It is only the dead person who is aware of
these things and sees them. Allah, through His wisdom, has the power
to veil this from the living. The proof that this is so is shown by
the fact that there are other creatures like the Jinn who live with
us on the earth. They converse in raised voices among us but we do
not see or hear them. There were angels who fought with the
believers (at Badr) and struck down the unbelievers and shouted at
them, but the Muslims did not see or hear them. Jibril came to the
prophet (saw) in the midst of the people and they did not see or hear
If however the soul was a disbelieving one, a door to the Garden is
opened for the unbeliever and they are told to look at what their
place would have been in the Garden had they obeyed Allah. Then it
is locked and another door is opened and they are told to look at
their place in the fire. It stays open and the blast of hot air from
it continues to reach them until the Day of Rising. The earth
presses in on them and they are crushed to the point that their ribs
If a righteous person were to be buried in a fiery furnace, their
portion of bliss would still reach their soul and body and Allah
would make the fire cool and peaceful for them. For the wrongdoer,
the cool air becomes fire and hot wind. The elements and the matter
of the universe obey their Lord, Originator and Creator. None of them
are able to do anything except what He wills and everything obeys His
will in humble submission to His decree.
This part of our journey in our graves is still mostly unknown
territory. Outwardly the grave is stillness and quiet while inwardly
it contains secrets and terrors which an ordinary person cannot
percieve. It is a strange fact that animals are able to hear the
punishment in the grave while human beings as a general rule cannot.
The prophet (saw) said, "They are punished and the animals hear it."
Various forms of punishment rain down on a person in the grave
according to the type of wrong actions they committed. There are
hadiths of the prophet (saw) about the Night Journey which contain
descriptions of the many types of punishment he saw in the interspace
between the two worlds.
There are those who are driven like cattle and forced to eat herbage
more bitter than aloes and the bitter fruit of Zaqqum and driven on
to the hot stones of Jahannam because they did not purify their
property by paying Zakat.
There are those who have to eat foul putrid meat because they
fornicated. Some of them have bellies as big as houses and whenever
one of them gets up, they are knocked down and say, "O Allah, do not
let the Hour come!" They are in the path of the people of Pharaoh who
come and trample them while they can do nothing but scream. These are
people who devoured usury.
Some of them are screaming with their mouths gaping open while they
devour hot coals which come out of their anuses. These are people
who consumed the property of orphans.
Some of them cut pieces from their own sides and eat their own
flesh. They are the slanderers and those about whom the prophet
(saw) said, "We saw people cutting flesh from their sides and eating
it. It was said, "As you used to consume the flesh of your brother!"
I asked, "Who are they?" and I was told, "Those of your community who
slandered." Some of them have brass nails with which they scratch
their faces and chests. They are those who were backbiters and
maligned peoples honour.
Part of the hadith of the Night Journey is as follows: "Some people
were cracking open their heads with a stone. Every time they did
this, their heads were restored to what they were like in the first
place. This went on and on without stopping. I said, "Jibril, who
are they?" Jibril replied, "They are the people who turned away from
All of this shows that the Punishment of the Grave is true beyond any
"Race to forgiveness from your Lord, and a Garden whose breadth is
like the breadth of the Heaven and the Earth" (57:21)
The intelligent are those who protect themselves against the evil of
this punishment before it is too late. They know with certainty that
sooner or later this day will come and maybe without any warning.
When it does, they will leave behind everything and move to another
world. Only there will they feel regret, but regret then will not
do them any good. In that place, only good actions will be of any
use. They alone will be useful currency on that Critical day. Only
with them will a person be able to purchase a magnificent mansion in
the Garden with all the luxuries and blessings it contains, an
everlasting mansion, not one which will disappear as things do in
this world. The intelligent person is the one who acts for this world
as if they were going to live forever and acts for the Next World as
if they were going to die tomorrow.
The Grave is an embrace from which neither believer or unbeliever can
escape. Our souls stay in the Barzakh and visit the grave regularly
for rewards or punishments. Afterwards, our journey continues and
the believer is relieved of its pressure while the unbeliever remains
Sheikh Abo Muhammed Samir Faid
Know that the state of one's religious and worldly affairs depend upon soundness of one's reflection. Anyone who has a share of it has an abundant share of everything good. It has been said : 'An hour's reflection is better than a year's worship.' 'Ali, may God ennoble his face, has said: 'There is no worship like reflection.' And one of the gnostics; may God have mercy on them all, said: 'Reflection is the lamp of the heart; if it departs the heart will have no light.' Reflections by Imam Al-Haddad (ra)