Keeping Imaan on the Afterlife

Excerpt from Weekly Khutbah, Volume 3

All Mumins need to have firm faith regarding the reality of the Day of Judgement. This belief in fact falls under the seven fundamental beliefs a Muslim should exhibit in order to have proper Imaan. These beliefs have been declared in the Imaan-e-Mufassal (the statement of faith) and for anyone to enter Jannah, one must be acute in observing his belief on these seven entities:

  1. Allah
  2. Angels of Allah (Mala’ikah)
  3. Books of Allah (Kutubullah)
  4. Messengers of Allah (Rusulullah)
  5. The Day of Judgement (Yawmuddin)
  6. Pre-destination or Supremacy of Divine Will (Al-Qadr)
  7. Life after death (Akhirah)

Mankind’s belief on the Day of Judgement needs to be keen as that is when a soul receives its judgement from its Lord and based on what it has achieved, it will be achieving either Jannah or Jahannam.

Many of us think that the Akhirah starts after the Day of Judgement but the reality is that afterlife for an individual starts right from the moment the person dies and the experience during afterlife is such that we can never fathom.

It is mentioned in one Hadith:

It was narrated that Haani’ the freed slave of Uthman Ibn Affan said: When ‘Uthman Ibn Affaan stood by a grave he would weep until his beard became wet. It was said to him, “You remember Paradise and Hell and you do not weep, but you weep because of this?” He said, “The Messenger of Allah (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam) said: ‘The grave is the first of the stages of the Hereafter; whoever is saved from it, whatever comes afterwards will be easier  for him, but if he is not saved from it, what comes afterwards will be worse for him.’” And the Messenger of Allah (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam) said: “I have never seen any scene but the grave is more frightening than it.”

References: Jami At-Tirmidhi, Hadith 2308; Sunan Ibn Majah, Hadith 4567. Classed as Hasan by Shaykh Al-Albani in Saheeh al-Jaami’, 1684.

Moreover, at our present situation we can never uphold any logic regarding what is going to happen to us in the afterlife. An illustration of such reality has been mentioned in the following Hadith:

Abu Sa’eed (Radi Allahu Anhu) narrated: “The Messenger of Allah (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam) entered his Musalla and saw the people who looked as if they were smiling. So he said: ‘Indeed, if you were to increase in remembrance of the severer of pleasures, then you would find yourselves too busy for what I see. So increase in remembrance of death, the severer of pleasures. For indeed there is no day that comes upon the grave except that it speaks, saying: “I am thee house of the estranged, I am the house of the solitude, I am the house of dust, and I am the house of the worm-eaten.” When the believing worshipper is buried, the grave says to him: “Welcome, make yourself comfortable. Indeed, to me, you are the most beloved of those who walked upon me. Since you have been entrusted to me and delivered to me today, you shall see what I have arranged for you.” It will then widen for him so that his sight extends, and the door to Paradise is opened for him. And when the wicked worshipper or the disbeliever is buried, the grave says to him: “You are not welcome, do not get comfortable. Indeed, to me, you are the most hated of those who walked upon me. Since you have been entrusted to me and delivered to me today, you shall see what I have arranged for you.'” He said: ‘It will begin closing in on him (squeezing him) until his ribs are crushing each other.'” He said: “The Messenger of Allah (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam) clasped some of his fingers between others and said: ‘Seventy giant serpents will constrict him, if even one of them were to hiss on the earth, nothing upon it would grow as long as it remained. They will chew on him and bite him until he is brought to the Reckoning.'” He said: “The Messenger of Allah (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam) said: ‘The grave is but a garden from the gardens of Paradise, or a pit from the pits of the Fire.'”

Reference: Jami At-Tirmidhi (4/639), Hadith 2460

Now there are several things in this Hadith which will never go along our logic. Firstly, we may ask, “How can graves speak?” or “How can seventy snakes appear inside our graves out of nowhere?” or “How can graves extend to become a garden of Paradise?” or “How can graves even squeeze?” Since all of these facts have been spoken out from the mouth of our Prophet Muhammad (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam), we need to firmly believe in it no matter what even if our logic can’t hold any explanation as it falls under our seven fundamental beliefs. This is the reality and this is what we will be facing in our afterlife.

Another Hadith illustrates how the two Angels will be approaching the one who has been laid in his grave:

Narrated Abu Hurairah (Radi Allahu Anhu): The Messenger of Allah (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam) said, “When the dead person is buried two black-blue angels come to him, one called Al-Munkar and the other called An-Nakeer, and they will say to him: ‘What you used to say about this man (about the Prophet Muhammad (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam))?’ So he says what he used to say: ‘Allah’s slave and His Messenger, I bear witness that none has the right to be worshipped except Allah and that Muhammad is His slave and Messenger.’ So they say: ‘Verily we knew that you (would) say that.’ Then his grave is widened for him to the extent of seventy cubits by seventy, then it is made light for him, then it is said: ‘ Sleep.’ So he says: ‘I should go to my family and inform them.’ So they say: ‘Sleep as the newly married sleeps whom no one awakes except his favourite wife.’ Until Allah raises him up from that place of sleep. And if he is a hypocrite (munafiq), he says: ‘I heard the people saying something so I said it too, I don’t know.’ So they say: ‘We knew that you (would) say that.’ So it is said to the earth: ‘Crush him’, so he is crushed until his ribs cross over and he remains in the state of torture until Allah raises him up from that resting place.”

Reference: Jami At-Tirmidhi. This Hadith has been graded Hasan (fair).

Every morning and evening the residents of the grave are shown their place in either Heaven or Hell depending on which destination they have achieved. Hadith states:

The Prophet Muhammad (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam) said: “When any one of you dies, he is shown his position (in Paradise or Hell) morning and evening. If he is one of the people of Paradise, he will be shown his position in the Garden as one of the people of Paradise, and if he is one of the people of Hell, he will be shown his place in Hell as one of the people of Hell, and he will be told: ‘This is your position until Allah resurrects you to it on the Day of Resurrection.”

Reference: Sahih Muslim

We have mentioned that two Angels- Munkar and Nakeer will be visiting the grave to ask us three questions. So what are those questions and how are we expected to answer them? Let’s find out:

  1. Man Rabbuka (Who is your Lord)?
  2. Ma Deenuka (What is your religion)?
  3. Ma kunta taqoolu fa haazar rujul (What do you have to say about this person)? When the Beloved Prophet Salla Allahu ta’ala ‘alayhi Wa Sallam will appear in front of him.

If the deceased is a Muslim, then he or she will answer:

  1. Rabbiyal Lah – (Allah is my Lord)
  2. Deeniyal Islam – (Islam is my religion)
  3. Huwa Rasoolullah Salla Allahu ta’ala ‘alayhi wa Sallam (He is the Messenger of Almighty Allah)

A part of a very long Hadith states:

Upon the authority of Al-Bara’ Ibn `Aazib (Radi Allahu Anhu) who said, the Messenger of Allah (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam) informed us: Then his soul is returned to his body and there come to him two Angels who makes him sit up and they will say to him, ‘Who is your Lord?’ He says, ‘Allah.’ They say, ‘What is your religion?’ He says, ‘My religion is Islam.’ They say, ‘Who is this man who was sent among you?’ He says, ‘He is the Messenger of Allah (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam).’ They say, ‘What did you do?’ He says, ‘I read the Book of Allah and I believed in it.’ Then a voice calls out from heaven, ‘My slave has spoken the truth, so prepare for him a bed from Paradise and clothe him from Paradise, and open for him a gate to Paradise.’ Then there comes to him some of its fragrance, and his grave is made wide, as far as he can see.

References: Musnad of Imam Ahmad Ibn Hanbal (Rahmatullah Allaih), Sunan Abu Dawud, Ibn Majah.

In some Hadiths, it is mentioned that the dead person will be questioned but no Angel has been mentioned. One such Hadith has been mentioned below:

Prophet Muhammad (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam) said, “The dead person is put into the grave. If he is a good person, he is placed in the grave without anxiety or fear. Then, he is asked; ‘What was your religion?’. He answers: ‘I was in the religion of Islam’. Then, he is asked: ‘Who is that man (the Messenger of Allah (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam))?’. He says: ‘He is Muhammad (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam), the Messenger of Allah. He brought us obvious verses from Allah and we approved him.’ Then they ask him, ‘Have you seen Allah?’ He says: ‘Nobody is worthy of seeing Allah.’ After those questions and answers, a window on the side of the fire is opened. When the dead person looks at it, he sees that the flames of the fire try to beat one another. Then, he is told: ‘Look at the fire that Allah protected you from.’ Then a window on the side of Paradise is opened. This time, he looks at the ornaments and bounties of Paradise. He is told: “That place is your position, then he is told: ‘You were on a sincere belief, you died on that sound belief and In Shaa Allah you will be revived on that belief.’”

Reference: Sunan Ibn Majah

If a person lives on sincere faith, Allah will never allow him to go astray and thus when he dies, the answering in the grave will be made easier for him. There are ways we can save ourselves from the torment of the grave.

One way is by reciting Surah Mulk before going to bed. Hadiths state:

It was narrated that Abdullah ibn Masud (Radi Allahu Anhu) said: Whoever reads Tabaarak Allaahi bi Yadihi’l-Mulk [i.e. Surah Al-Mulk] every night, Allah will protect him from the torment of the grave. At the time of the Messenger of Allah (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam) we used to call it Al-Mani’ah (that which protects). In the Book of Allah it is a Surah which, whoever recites it every night has done very well.

Reference: Sunan An-Nasa’i, 6/179. Classed as Hasan by Shaykh Al-Albani in Saheeh al-Targheeb wa’l-Tarheeb, 1475.

It was narrated from Abu Hurairah (Radi Allahu Anhu) that the Prophet (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam) said: “A Surah from the Qur’an containing thirty verses will intercede for a man so that he will be forgiven. It is the Surah Tabaarak Alathi bi Yadihi’l-Mulk [i.e. Surah Al-Mulk].”

References: Jami At-Tirmidhi, Hadith 2891; Sunan Abu Dawood, Hadith 1400 & Sunan Ibn Majah, Hadith 3786. Imam Al-Tirmidhi said, this is a Hasan Hadith. It was classed as Sahih by Shaykh Al-Islam Ibn Taymiyah (Rahmatullah Allaih) in Majmoo’ al-Fataawa, 22/277, and by Shaykh Al-Albani (Rahmatullah Allaih) in Saheeh Ibn Maajah, 3053.

Jabir Ibn Abdullah (Radi Allahu Anhu) said, “The Prophet Muhammad (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam) never used to sleep before reciting Surah Al-Sajdah & Tabaarak Alathi bi Yadihi’l-Mulk [i.e. Surah Al-Mulk].”

Reference: Jami At-Tirmidhi, Hadith 2892 & 3404

Another way a person can be saved is by performing Salah duly 5 waqts a day. It is mentioned in a Hadith:

The Prophet (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam) said, “Salah is the cause of Allah’s pleasure, is loved by the angels, is a tradition of the Prophets, gives enlightenment about Allah, causes prayers to be granted, blesses the daily bread, is the root of Imaan, refreshes the body, is a weapon against the enemy, shall intercede for its adherent, is a light in the darkness and a companion in the grave, is a reply to the questioning of the angels (in the grave), is a shade against the sun on the Day of Resurrection, is a protection against the hellfire, is a weight for the scales of good deeds, is a means of swift crossing over the siraat, and is a key to paradise.”

Reference: The Complete Guide to Islamic Prayer (Salah) by Sheikh Ramzy

We need always remind ourselves about the reality of the Hereafter and abolish our greed for this temporary world because here, we are not meant to stay forever as our permanent abode is either at Paradise or Hell.

Hadith states:

Narrated by Ibn Abbas (Radi Allahu Anhu): The Prophet (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam) once passed by two graves, and those two persons (in the graves) were being tortured. He said, “They are being tortured not for a great thing (to avoid). One of them never saved himself from being soiled with his urine, while the other was going about with calumnies (to make enmity between friends). He then took a green leaf of a date-palm tree split it into two pieces and fixed one on each grave. The people said, “O Allah’s Apostle! Why have you done so?” He replied, “I hope that their punishment may be lessened till they (the leaf) become dry.”

Reference: Sahih al-Bukhari, Volume 2, Book 23, Hadith 443

This Hadith clearly teaches us that we should take care while urinating and a Muslim is always expected to stay clean if he chooses to be a part of this Ummah. Spreading false rumors to ignite enmity among friends is also a grave sin and both of these sins show that even if you die as a Muslim, even after being a Sahabi, you are never saved from Hell-fire if you choose to live your life in wickedness and negligence.

There is a misconception regarding the above-mentioned Hadith. Many people have interpreted the Prophet (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam)’s act of splitting a leaf and putting on the grave as an obligation of planting shrubs or plants on the graves. This is a completely misunderstood notion. The Prophet (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam) did this act so as to calculate the time while making dua for the souls of the two Sahabahs; we must not assume that planting trees on graves is going to lessen the punishment of the graves for the dead but it is rather the dua we make for them which will add value to their afterlife.

Many people ask about how the dead coming from religion who act upon cremating the bodies get punished in the grave since they don’t possess any grave. Here’s what scholars believe, for the dead who get their bodies cremated, it is the ruh or soul which gets punished, thereby their burned bodies are also punished through this process.

Another explanation by scholars is that we have two forms of bodies within us- one which exist in reality, another one is spiritual- that one can only be visualized in our dreams when the Angels take out our soul during nighttime upon Allah’s command when we sleep. The Quran states:

Allah takes the souls at the time of their death, and those that do not die [He takes] during their sleep. Then He keeps those for which He has decreed death and releases the others for a specified term. Indeed in that are signs for a people who give thought.

Surah Az-Zumar, Ayah 42 (39:42) Translation: Sahih International

Since the physical body has been burned, the alternate soul will be punished in its place in a similar manner.

One illustration of the existence of the alternate soul is through the demonstration of something in Islam we call it as ‘Karaamah’. The Karaamah is an extraordinary event that Allah causes to occur at the hands of His believing close friends (Awliya’), such as knowledge, power, and so on.

In order for something to be regarded as a Karaamah, it is stipulated that the one at whose hand this miracle occurs should be adhering strictly to Islam and following sharee‘ah. If that is not the case, then these extraordinary things happen are the result of devilish work. Moreover, it should be noted that the fact that Karaamah does not happen for some Muslims does not mean that they are lacking in faith, because Karaamah only happens for certain reasons, such as the following:

  • To strengthen the person’s faith and make him steadfast. Hence many of the Sahabah did not see any Karaamah, because of the strength and absolute certainty of their faith.
  • To establish proof against the enemy of Islam.

One example of Karaamah was demonstrated by Umar (Radi Allahu Anhu) when he got to stop an earthquake from emerging in Medina. It has been mentioned in the Kitaabs:

“One day an earthquake hit Medina, and Umar (Radi Allahu Anhu) hit the ground with his stick and said, ‘Be calm, by the permission of Allah,’ and the earthquake ceased because Umar told it to.

Reference: Tafsir Fakhr al-Din al-Razi, 21:88

All these circumstances are part of our Aqeedah and we must keep firm faith on the realities of the Akhirah as that is when our lives in the eternity begin.

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May Allah reward us for our dedication towards Islam, Ameen. Let’s all be a part of a well-refined Muslim Ummah!



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