Short Answer: It depends on how you live your life. The Quran verse you mentioned says nothing about rest or peace, but “sleep”. Just as your sleep can be restless if you don’t have a good conscience, your sleep in the grave before the Day of Judgment will either be peaceful or full of torment, depending on the choices you made in life.
Asalamu Alaikum Khan,
Thank you for contacting About Islam with your question.
Regarding this verse (They will say: “Woe to us! Who has raised us up from our place of sleep? [Quran 36:52]), Ibn Kathir says:
This does not contradict the fact that they will be punished in their graves, because in comparison to what is to come afterwards, that will seem like a nap. Ubayy ibn Ka`b (may Allah be pleased with him), Mujahid, Al-Hasan, and Qatadah said, “They will sleep before the Resurrection.” Qatadah said, “That will be between the two trumpet blasts, they will say, ‘Who has raised us up from our place of sleep?’ When they say that, the believers will respond (as the ayah mentions). This was the view of more than one of the Salaf (early generation).”
It’s important to note that Ibn Kathir has not mentioned the word “peaceful” in his interpretation of this ayah.
Sleep is the Brother of Death
Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him-PBUH) has been quoted in many hadiths that inform us about what is in store for people in their graves.
Prophet Muhammad mentioned that “sleep is the brother of death.”
This is an excellent way of looking at what we will experience in our graves.
Sleep may be restful and peaceful or it may be frightening and tormenting, as in a nightmare.
The grave we reside in after death will be similar.
Our Grave, Our Choices
It is understood among the scholars that the grave will either be a pleasant experience or it may be a frightening one, depending on our beliefs and deeds in this life.
There are minor rewards in the grave in that, for the believer, it will be spacious and well lit.
Our deeds in this life will appear to us in the form of a kind companion who will keep us company until the Day of Judgment.
We will be shown our place in Paradise, in sha’ Allah (God Willing), through an opening in the side of the grave.
For those who were not believers or those who led a sinful life, their deeds will appear to them in the form of an ugly and mean companion who beats and torments them until the Day of Judgment.
The grave will be dark and constricting, and the punishments will be minor compared to what is waiting for them in the Hellfire, their place in which will be shown to them through an opening in their grave.
Prepare Your Resting Place Before the Day Of Judgment
The real rewards and punishments will be reserved for Hellfire and Paradise.
The Day of Judgment is a fixed point in time in the future, the exact date of which is known only to Allah.
Those who have gone to their graves before us are presently waiting in their graves for that Day.
The grave is really a resting place, either comfortable or not, until that time.
We can seek Allah’s help by following the Prophet’s (PBUH) example.
He informed his followers that they can make dua (supplications) just before finishing their prayers by saying:
O Allah, I seek refuge in You from the punishment of the Hellfire, and from the torment of the grave, and from the trials of life and death and from the trials of the Dajjal (False Messiah).
And Allah knows best.
I hope this helps.
Salam and please keep in touch.
(From Ask About Islam archives)
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