What Actually Happens in the Grave?

When a believer is questioned in the grave, s/he testifies that, ‘there is no true god except Allah and Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah.’ About her/him the Words of Allah, the Exalted, are: {Allah will keep firm those who believe, with the firm statement (The Testimony of Faith) in this world and the Hereafter…} (Ibraheem 14:27)

SubhanAllah, how most of us take so much of our time, health and wealth in improving our current lives but although this is only our ‘temporary’ life and our eternal one is yet to come; we tend to forget preparing for the latter. May Allah make us among those who pronounce the Testimony of Faith upon death and in the grave; with Allah’s mercy and our stock of good deeds. Ameen.

The Grave: The First Stage of the Hereafter

It was narrated that Haani’ the freed slave of ‘Uthmaan ibn ‘Affaan 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 (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) 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 (peace be upon him) said:

“I have never seen any scene but the grave is more frightening than it.” (al-Tirmidhi, Ibn Majah)

Sufficient are Prophet Muhammad’s (peace be upon him) words and ‘Uthman ibn ‘Affaan’s state of how grave the grave is!

Al-Munkar and Al-Nakeer Questioning Me

It was narrated that al-Bara’ (may Allah be pleased with him) said:

“We went out with the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) for the funeral of a man from among the Ansar. We came to the grave and when (the deceased) was placed in the lahd, the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) sat down and we sat around him, as if there were birds on our heads (i.e., quiet and still). In his hand he had a stick with which he was scratching the ground. Then he raised his head and said:

“Seek refuge with Allah from the torment of the grave”, two or three times. Then he said:

“When the believing slave is about to depart this world and enter the Hereafter, there come down to him from heaven angels with white faces like the sun, and they sit around him as far as the eye can see. They bring with them shrouds from Paradise and perfumes from Paradise. Then the Angel of Death comes and sits by his head, and he says:

‘O good soul, come forth to forgiveness from Allah and His pleasure.’

Then it comes out easily like a drop of water from the mouth of a waterskin. When he seizes it, they do not leave it in his hand for an instant before they take it and put it in that shroud with that perfume, and there comes from it a fragrance like the finest musk on the face of the earth. Then they ascend and they do not pass by any group of angels but they say: ‘Who is this good soul?’ and they say:

‘It is So and so the son of So and so, calling him by the best names by which he was known in this world, until they reach the lowest heaven. They ask for it to be opened to them and it is opened, and (the soul) is welcomed and accompanied to the next heaven by those who are closest to Allah, until they reach the seventh heaven. Then Allah says:

“Record the book of My slave in ‘Illiyoon in the seventh heaven, and return him to the earth, for from it I created them, to it I will return them and from it I will bring them forth once again.”

So his soul is returned to his body and there come to him two angels who make him sit up and they 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 (peace be upon him).’

They say: ‘What did you do?’

He says: ‘I read the Book of Allaah 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. Then there comes to him a man with a handsome face and handsome clothes, and a good fragrance, who says:

‘Receive the glad tidings that will bring you joy this day.’

He says: ‘Who are you? Your face is a face which brings glad tidings.’

He says: ‘I am your righteous deeds.’

He says: ‘O Lord, hasten the Hour so that I may return to my family and my wealth.’

But when the disbelieving slave is about to depart this world and enter the Hereafter, there come down to him from heaven angels with black faces, bringing sackcloth, and they sit around him as far as the eye can see. Then the Angel of Death comes and sits by his head, and he says: ‘O evil soul, come forth to the wrath of Allah and His anger.’

Then his soul disperses inside his body, then comes out cutting the veins and nerves, like a skewer passing through wet wool. When he seizes it, they do not leave it in his hand for an instant before they take it and put it in that sackcloth, and there comes from it a stench like the foulest stench of a dead body on the face of the earth. Then they ascend and they do not pass by any group of angels but they say: ‘Who is this evil soul?’ and they say:

‘It is So and so the son of So and so, calling him by the worst names by which he was known in this world, until they reach the lowest heaven. They ask for it to be opened to them and it is not opened.”

Then the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) recited (interpretation of the meaning):

{for them the gates of heaven will not be opened, and they will not enter Paradise until the camel goes through the eye of the needle} (Quran 7:40)

He said: “Then Allah says, ‘Record the book of My slave in Sijjeen in the lowest earth, and return him to the earth, for from it I created them, to it I will return them and from it I will bring them forth once again.’ So his soul is cast down.”

Then the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) recited the verse (interpretation of the meaning):

{and whoever assigns partners to Allah, it is as if he had fallen from the sky, and the birds had snatched him, or the wind had thrown him to a far off place} (al-Hajj 22:31)

He said: “Then his soul is returned to his body, and there come to him two angels who make him sit up and they say to him: ‘Who is your Lord?’

He says: ‘Oh, oh, I don’t know.’

They say: ‘What is your religion?’

He says: ‘Oh, oh, I don’t know.’

Then a voice calls out from heaven: ‘Prepare for him a bed from Hell and clothe him from Hell, and open for him a gate to Hell.’

Then there comes to him some of its heat and hot winds, and his grave is constricted and compresses him until his ribs interlock. Then there comes to him a man with an ugly face and ugly clothes, and a foul stench, who says: ‘Receive the bad news, this is the day that you were promised.’

He says: ‘Who are you? Your face is a face which forebodes evil.’

He says, ‘I am your evil deeds.’

He says, ‘O Lord, do not let the Hour come, do not let the Hour come.’” (Abu Dawud, Ahmad)

“O Allah! I seek refuge with You…from the tribulation of the grave and the torment of the grave.” (Al-Bukhari)

References

Authentic Descriptions of Munkar and Nakeer

Three questions in the grave

About Suzana Nabil Saad
Suzana Nabil Saad is the Ask About Islam Editor. She holds a Bachelor’s Degree in English from the Faculty of Languages, Ain Shams University, Egypt. She obtained her Master’s Degree of Arts in English Literature from Gothenburg University, Sweden. She currently resides in Colorado, USA with her husband, and two kids. When she is not writing, she enjoys reading, ideally followed by nature excursions.