Question: Is the torment in the grave a reality?
Some evidence that establishes the occurrence of the torment in the grave is as follows:
Hadrat Imâm-i A’zam stated:
The Qur’ân al-karîm says, “They are exposed to the fire morning and evening. On the day when Doomsday comes, it will be said, “Make the dynasty of Pharaoh enter the severest torment!” (Sûrat-ul-Mu’min 46)
The torment they will undergo morning and evening is before the Resurrection. It is declared in the following part of the âyah (Qur’anic verse) that they will be made to enter a severe torment. The former refers to the torment in the grave while the latter refers to the torment in Hell. (Al-Qawl-ul fasl)
Hadrat Imâm-i Ghazâlî stated, “This âyat-i karîma demonstrates the torment in the grave” (Ihyâ).
The 25th âyat-i karîma of Nûh Sûra purports, “Because of their sins, they were drowned and then thrown into the fire.” The letter F in the word Faudkhilû that appears in the âyat-i karîma (in the original text) stresses that there is no interval or pause at all. That is, it means, “No sooner were they drowned than they were subjected to the torment of the grave” (Al-Qawl-ul fasl).
Also, the 169th âyat-i karîma of Âl-i ‘Imrân Sûra, which purports, “Do not think of those who are killed in the way of Allah as dead. Rather, they are alive,” indicates the life in the grave. (Al-Qawl-ul fasl)
Hadrat Imâm-i Sharânî stated:
The phrase ma‘îshatan dankan in the 124th âyat-i karîma of Tâhâ Sûra points out the torment in the grave because it was declared in a hadîth-i sharîf:
(A Believer is in an extremely green garden in his grave. It is illuminated like the full moon. The verse “Fainna lahu ma‘îshatan dankan” says the torment disbelievers will suffer in the grave. In their graves, 99 tinnin will torture them by biting until the Resurrection.) [Tirmidhî]
[The serpent called tinnin is not an earthly serpent. It is a creature Allahu ta’âlâ has created so that it will torture disbelievers and sinners.]
The statement “You will know later on [the dire consequence of this boasting of yours],” which appears in the 3rd verse of Takâthur Sûra, means “when you are dying.” The statement “Again, you will know later on,” which appears in the 4th âyah of the same sûra, means “in the grave” (Jalâlayn, Madârik, Mukhtasar-i Tadhkira-i Qurtubî).
The second resurrection stated in the 28th verse of Baqara Sûra, which purports, “He gave you life when you were dead. Again He will make you die and again will give you life,” will be in the grave. Imâm-i Nasafî, too, stated that this verse pointed to the torment and blessings in the grave. (Tafsîr-i Shaikhzâda)
Hadrat Imâm-i Nasafî said that the word “there” in the 25th verse of A’râf Sûra, which purports, “You will live there, and you will die there. You will be resurrected and brought forth again from there,” refers to the life in the grave. (Shaikhzâda)
Imâm-i Nasafî stated:
The 26th verse of Jâthiyah Sûra, which purports, “Allah gives you life, then makes you die,” shows that resurrection will be in the grave. (Shaikhzâda)
One of the two torments that are stated in the 101th verse of Tawba Sûra, which purports, “We will torment them twice,” is the torment in the grave. (Qâdi Baydâwî)
Hadrat Imâm-i Suyûtî wrote a special work entitled Sharh-us sudur on the torment in the grave, in which he quoted the relevant hadîth-i sharîfs from Bukhârî, Muslim, and other hadîth books. The punishment in the grave is written in every hadîth book. A person who rejects the torment in the grave has rejected all hadîth books.
When our mother Hadrat Â’isha asked, “O Messenger of Allah! This Ummah will be inflicted torment in the grave. What will become of such weak people as me?” the Messenger of Allah recited the 27th verse of Ibrâhîm Sûra, which purports, “In the world and in the Hereafter, Allah grants steadfastness in their firm sayings to those who believe” (Bazzâr). That the life in the grave is haqq (truth, reality) and Believers have been granted a firm saying is declared in this verse. (Tafsîr-i Jalâlayn)
Islamic scholars said that the life in the grave is of the life to come and the torment in the grave is one of the torments of the life to come. (Maktûbât-i Rabbânî)
We have explained with the Qur’anic verses above that the torment in the grave is haqq, that is, a reality. Now we will list some of the hadîth-i sharîfs relating to the torment in the grave. Our master the Prophet declares:
(The torment in the grave is true.) [Bukhârî]
(The grave will be either a garden of Paradise or a pit of Hell.) [Tirmidhî]
(Much of the torment in the grave will be due to splashing urine on oneself.) [Ibn Mâja, Nasâî, Hakim, Dâra Qutnî]
(Avoid splashes of urine because the first questioning and accounting in the grave will be about it.) [Tabarânî]
(Allahu ta’âlâ has created some people so that they meet the needs of others. People turn to them for their needs. Such are safe from the torment in the grave.) [Tabarânî]
(A martyr is safe from the torment in the grave.) [Ibn Mâja, Bayhaqî, Imâm-i Ahmad]
(Last night in my dream I saw that the grave was squeezing a person. His namâz came and saved him from the torment.) [Hâkim]
(On Friday night a person who performs two rak’ats of namâz reciting the “Fâtiha” and 15 times “Idhâ zulzilat …” will be safe from the torment in the grave.) [Daylamî]
(He who dies when keeping watch in the way of Allah will not experience the torment in the grave.) [Imâm-i Ahmad]
(O my Allah! I am taking refuge in You from the torment in the grave.) [Muslim, Nasâî, Hâkim, Harâitî]
(Take refuge in Allah from the torment in the grave.) [Muslim, Imâm-i Ahmad, Ibn Abi Shayba]
(If you could keep it a secret, I would pray to Allah so that you could hear the torment in the grave.) [Muslim, Imâm-i Ahmad, Nasâî]
(I swear by Allah that 99 tinnin will torture a disbeliever in his grave until the Resurrection.) [Abû Ya’la, Ibn Hibbân, Tirmidhî]
(The grave of a person who does not perform namâz will be filled with fire, which will burn him day and night. A tinnin will bite him at each namâz time.) [Qurrat al-‘uyûn]
[The serpent called tinnin is not an earthly serpent. It is a creature Allahu ta’âlâ has created so that it will torture disbelievers and sinners.]
Our master Rasûlullah stopped near two graves and stated, “One of them is suffering torment in the grave because he did not use to refrain from urine splashes, and the other is suffering torment because he used to spread gossip among Muslims” [Ibn Mâja].
Hadrat Ya’la bin Murra, one of the Blessed Companions, heard the torment in a grave and informed our master Rasûlullah about the incident. Our master the Prophet stated, “I heard it, too. Torment is being inflicted because he used to spread gossip and splash urine on himself” (Bayhaqî).
When our master the Prophet came near two graves, he ordered that a date branch be brought. He broke it into two, put one half on one grave and the other half on the other grave, and said, “Their suffering will be less as long as this branch remains green. They are suffering torment because of backbiting and splashes of urine” (Ibn Mâja).
(The dwellers of Hell will be disturbed by the torment four persons will suffer: Of them, one will be in a closed coffin of fire; one will drag his bowels; one will vomit blood and pus; and one will eat his own flesh. The one in the coffin has died as indebted; he has another’s rights on himself. [Also, as he did not leave any property behind himself, his debt was not cleared.] The one who is dragging his bowels did not refrain from splashes of urine. The one who is vomiting blood and pus spoke indecent words. The one who is eating his own flesh backbit and spread gossip.) [Tabarânî]
Our master the Prophet prayed at a funeral as, “O my Lord! Protect him from the torment in the grave” (Muslim, Nasâî, Tirmidhî).
Hadrat Imâm-i A’zam, the chief of Ahl as-Sunnat and Hanafî Madhhab, stated:
“The soul’s being returned to the body in the grave, the grave’s squeezing disbelievers and some sinful Muslims, and torment in the grave are true” [Qawl-ul fasl].
Hadrat Imâm-i Rabbânî, one of the greatest of Islamic scholars, stated, “The grave’s squeezing the body will occur” (Maktûbât-i Rabbânî, Vol. 3, Letter 17).
Also, Imâm-i Ghazâlî, one of the greatest of Islamic scholars, stated, “Torment in the grave will be inflicted on both the body and the soul” (Ihyâ-i ‘ulûmiddîn)
The one who dies on land or in the sea will be questioned. This questioning will be after the soul is returned to the body. [Nuhbat-ul-la’âlî, p. 116; Bidâya, p.91]
Because the soul and the body commit sins together, the torment in the grave will affect both. (Al-Mustanad)
Hadrat Imâm-i Suyûtî, in his book Sharh-us-Sudûr, Hadrat ‘Abdurrahman ibni Rajab Hanbalî, in his book Ahwâl al-qubûr, and Hadrat Imâm-i Sharânî, in his book Mukhtasar-i Tadhkira-i Qurtubî, wrote: “Hadrat ‘Abdullah bin ‘Umar, one of the Blessed Companions, said: ‘I saw someone chained up by his neck come out from the earth. A man beat him and he disappeared into the ground. This was repeated whenever he rose from the earth.’” Our master Rasûlullah said to him, “It was Abû Jahl that you saw. He will be tortured like that until the Resurrection” (Tabarânî).
That Abû Jahl wanted water from Hadrat Ibn ‘Umar is also written in the full text of this hadîth-i sharîf, which we now quoted in a nutshell. This means to say that torment is inflicted not only on Abû Jahl’s soul but also on his body. In Hell, a new body will be created in place of the decomposed one. Thus, both the souls and the bodies of people in Hell will suffer the torment. It is not the body that undergoes the torment and decays. The body, which is at the soul’s disposal, will go through the torment.
Hadrat Imâm-i Suyûtî declares:
The soul of every deceased is bound to his body in an unknown way. The souls are permitted to affect and dispose (tasarruf) their bodies and be present in their graves. The attachment of the soul to the body will not fade even after the body decays in the grave. (Al-mutaqaddim)
Because they commit sins together, the punishment of the soul solely is not compatible with Divine hikmah and justice. Although the body decays in the grave, it exists in Allahu ta’âlâ’s knowledge. Just as Allahu ta’âlâ has the power to bring the dead to life, so He has the power to inflict torment on the body. Allahu ta’âlâ has power over all things. A person who doubts His omnipotence becomes a disbeliever. (Advice for the Muslim)
Torment in the grave for those who have burnt to death
Nowadays, some people who consider their minds to be a gauge in the religion assume that there cannot be questioning or torment in the grave.
There will be questioning in the grave also for those who have been mummified and thus always stay outside or for the dead that have not been buried at all or for those who have burnt to ashes. (Sirâj-ul-vahhâj and the Commentary of Jâmi-us-saghir)
It is declared in the well-known commentary to Amâlî, “Even if a corpse has been broken into pieces and then eaten by wolves, or burnt in a fire, or decayed in the sea, he or she will certainly be questioned and will suffer the torment or enjoy the blessings in the grave.”
Hadrat Imâm-i Rabbânî states:
The torment in the grave is one of the torments of the next world. It is like neither worldly torment nor torment seen in dreams. To think it so results from not knowing. A person who does not believe in the torment in the grave becomes a bid’at holder. But a person who says, “I do not believe in the torment in the grave, whether it is written in hadîth-i sharîfs or not. The mind and experiments do not confirm it,” becomes a disbeliever. (Maktûbât-i Rabbânî, Vol. 3, Letter 17-31)
It is very wrong to attempt to solve with the mind what is beyond the mind’s grasp. The mind is like the eye, and religious knowledge is like light. The eye cannot see in the dark unless there is light. In this case, the eye cannot say, “It does not exist,” about the things it cannot see in the dark. The mind cannot comprehend spirituality and metaphysics. Allahu ta’âlâ has sent the light of religion so that we can benefit from our minds. As the eye cannot see objects in the dark without light, so the mind cannot understand spiritual things without there being religious knowledge. Then the mind can understand spiritual things only by means of the light of religion.
The dead feel pain
The poison called curare, with which the savages in America tip their arrows, has a paralyzing effect on nerve endings, thus blocking the movements of muscles. As it does not cause pain, the victims are not aware that they have been poisoned. They cannot move their hands or feet. They fall over and remain petrified. Even though they see and hear, they cannot blink their eyes nor wiggle their tongues to shout. The torment in the grave can be likened to this. The deceased feel the pain but cannot react.
Human beings stand thanks to their souls. Their process of reasoning and thinking functions thanks to their souls. The human body is like the tools of a carpenter. When a human dies, the soul cannot do any work because it has no tools. However, since the soul is not dead, it goes and returns and recognizes people. Moreover, the souls of awliyâ’ help humans. This helping of theirs is not with the tools of the bodies they had in worldly life. Allahu ta’âlâ granted souls the peculiarity of performing work without having tools as well. For example, the soul of Khidir ‘alaihis-salâm, who passed away, helps many people in a variety of ways.
If all of the organs of a person were transplanted to another, no change occurs in the mind and thoughts of the recipient. It means that new tools came for the carpenter in place of the old ones. His knowledge and skill does not change with the change of his tools. If a sharp saw comes in place of the blunt one, he performs tasks more easily.
The human exists thanks to the soul
If a healthy eye is transplanted in place of the one lacking sight, it will see. Similarly, if blood is transfused or heart and brain are transplanted, they will not affect attitude of mind. If a healthy organ is put, one will carry out tasks more easily because the human means the soul.
A person does not become nonexistent after burning. He or she is just stripped of its tools. New tools will be given to him or her in the life to come. If he or she is a Believer, he or she will go to Paradise. If he or she is a disbeliever, then he or she will go to Hell. The soul will either attain blessings or suffer torment through the body given to itself.
Those who are with no knowledge of the nature of the soul or who doubt the omnipotence of Allah assume that a person becomes nonexistent after burning and that there is no questioning or torment in the grave. However, our religion says clearly that there is torment in the grave. We have listed above pertinent Qur’anic verses and Prophetic utterances.
Is it summary execution?
Question: Some people say, “There is no torment before the Resurrection. It would be summary execution to subject a person to torment in the grave before sins and rewards are determined and before offences are brought to light. It is like smiting a person in the police station before he or she appears in court. This, in turn, is incompatible with Divine justice.” Is the torment in the grave not true?
To utter such remarks means having no knowledge of the religion whatsoever, for Allahu ta’âlâ certainly knows who committed what offence and who will go to Paradise and who will go to Hell. In fact, He had known these even before humans were born. The Angels of Haphaza are determining the good and evil deeds of humans. Who committed what sins are known, so there is no summary execution in the grave. People are exposed to torment as a retribution for their sins. The sins of a Believer who suffers the torment in the grave will decrease, and he or she may go to the Place of Reckoning without any sins.
The Mu’tazila sect, who accepted the mind as a gauge, denied the life and the torment in the grave. Ahl as-Sunnat scholars, on the other hand, substantiated the authenticity of the torment in the grave with evidence.