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 Imām-i Azam stated:
The Qurān al-karīm 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! (Sūrat-ul-Mumin 46)
The torment they will undergo morning and evening is before the Resurrection. It is declared in the following part of the āyah (Quranic 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 Imām-i Ghazālī stated, This āyat-i karīma demonstrates the torment in the grave (Ihyā).
The 25th āyat-i karīma of Nūh Sūra purports, Because of their sins, they were drowned and then thrown into the fire. The letter F in the word Faudkhilū that appears in the āyat-i karīma (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 āyat-i karīma of Āl-i Imrān Sūra, 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 Imām-i Sharānī stated:
The phrase maīshatan dankan in the 124th āyat-i karīma of Tāhā Sūra points out the torment in the grave because it was declared in a hadīth-i sharīf:
(A Believer is in an extremely green garden in his grave. It is illuminated like the full moon. The verse Fainna lahu maīshatan dankan says the torment disbelievers will suffer in the grave. In their graves, 99 tinnin will torture them by biting until the Resurrection.) [Tirmidhī]
[The serpent called tinnin is not an earthly serpent. It is a creature Allahu taālā 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 Takāthur Sūra, means when you are dying. The statement Again, you will know later on, which appears in the 4th āyah of the same sūra, means in the grave (Jalālayn, Madārik, Mukhtasar-i Tadhkira-i Qurtubī).
The second resurrection stated in the 28th verse of Baqara Sūra, 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. Imām-i Nasafī, too, stated that this verse pointed to the torment and blessings in the grave. (Tafsīr-i Shaikhzāda)
Hadrat Imām-i Nasafī said that the word there in the 25th verse of Arāf Sūra, 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. (Shaikhzāda)
Imām-i Nasafī stated:
The 26th verse of Jāthiyah Sūra, which purports, Allah gives you life, then makes you die, shows that resurrection will be in the grave. (Shaikhzāda)
One of the two torments that are stated in the 101th verse of Tawba Sūra, which purports, We will torment them twice, is the torment in the grave. (Qādi Baydāwī)
Hadrat Imām-i Suyūtī wrote a special work entitled Sharh-us sudur on the torment in the grave, in which he quoted the relevant hadīth-i sharīfs from Bukhārī, Muslim, and other hadīth books. The punishment in the grave is written in every hadīth book. A person who rejects the torment in the grave has rejected all hadīth books.
When our mother Hadrat Āisha 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 Ibrāhīm Sūra, which purports, In the world and in the Hereafter, Allah grants steadfastness in their firm sayings to those who believe (Bazzār). That the life in the grave is haqq (truth, reality) and Believers have been granted a firm saying is declared in this verse. (Tafsīr-i Jalālayn)
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. (Maktūbāt-i Rabbānī)
We have explained with the Quranic verses above that the torment in the grave is haqq, that is, a reality. Now we will list some of the hadīth-i sharīfs relating to the torment in the grave. Our master the Prophet declares:
(The torment in the grave is true.) [Bukhārī]
(The grave will be either a garden of Paradise or a pit of Hell.) [Tirmidhī]
(Much of the torment in the grave will be due to splashing urine on oneself.) [Ibn Māja, Nasāī, Hakim, Dāra Qutnī]
(Avoid splashes of urine because the first questioning and accounting in the grave will be about it.) [Tabarānī]
(Allahu taālā 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.) [Tabarānī]
(A martyr is safe from the torment in the grave.) [Ibn Māja, Bayhaqī, Imām-i Ahmad]
(Last night in my dream I saw that the grave was squeezing a person. His namāz came and saved him from the torment.) [Hākim]
(On Friday night a person who performs two rakats of namāz reciting the Fātiha and 15 times Idhā zulzilat ... will be safe from the torment in the grave.) [Daylamī]
(He who dies when keeping watch in the way of Allah will not experience the torment in the grave.) [Imām-i Ahmad]
(O my Allah! I am taking refuge in You from the torment in the grave.) [Muslim, Nasāī, Hākim, Harāitī]
(Take refuge in Allah from the torment in the grave.) [Muslim, Imām-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, Imām-i Ahmad, Nasāī]
(I swear by Allah that 99 tinnin will torture a disbeliever in his grave until the Resurrection.) [Abū Yala, Ibn Hibbān, Tirmidhī]
(The grave of a person who does not perform namāz will be filled with fire, which will burn him day and night. A tinnin will bite him at each namāz time.) [Qurrat al-uyūn]
[The serpent called tinnin is not an earthly serpent. It is a creature Allahu taālā has created so that it will torture disbelievers and sinners.]
Our master Rasūlullah 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 Māja].
Hadrat Yala bin Murra, one of the Blessed Companions, heard the torment in a grave and informed our master Rasūlullah 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 (Bayhaqī).
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 Māja).
(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.) [Tabarānī]
Our master the Prophet prayed at a funeral as, O my Lord! Protect him from the torment in the grave (Muslim, Nasāī, Tirmidhī).
Hadrat Imām-i Azam, the chief of Ahl as-Sunnat and Hanafī Madhhab, stated:
The souls being returned to the body in the grave, the graves squeezing disbelievers and some sinful Muslims, and torment in the grave are true [Qawl-ul fasl].
Hadrat Imām-i Rabbānī, one of the greatest of Islamic scholars, stated, The graves squeezing the body will occur (Maktūbāt-i Rabbānī, Vol. 3, Letter 17).
Also, Imām-i Ghazālī, one of the greatest of Islamic scholars, stated, Torment in the grave will be inflicted on both the body and the soul (Ihyā-i ulūmiddīn)
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-laālī, p. 116; Bidāya, p.91]
Because the soul and the body commit sins together, the torment in the grave will affect both. (Al-Mustanad)
Hadrat Imām-i Suyūtī, in his book Sharh-us-Sudūr, Hadrat Abdurrahman ibni Rajab Hanbalī, in his book Ahwāl al-qubūr, and Hadrat Imām-i Sharānī, in his book Mukhtasar-i Tadhkira-i Qurtubī, 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 Rasūlullah said to him, It was Abū Jahl that you saw. He will be tortured like that until the Resurrection (Tabarānī).
That Abū Jahl wanted water from Hadrat Ibn Umar is also written in the full text of this hadīth-i sharīf, which we now quoted in a nutshell. This means to say that torment is inflicted not only on Abū Jahls 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 souls disposal, will go through the torment.
Hadrat Imām-i Suyūtī 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 taālās knowledge. Just as Allahu taālā has the power to bring the dead to life, so He has the power to inflict torment on the body. Allahu taālā 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. (Sirāj-ul-vahhāj and the Commentary of Jāmi-us-saghir)
It is declared in the well-known commentary to Amālī, 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 Imām-i Rabbānī 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 bidat holder. But a person who says, I do not believe in the torment in the grave, whether it is written in hadīth-i sharīfs or not. The mind and experiments do not confirm it, becomes a disbeliever. (Maktūbāt-i Rabbānī, Vol. 3, Letter 17-31)
It is very wrong to attempt to solve with the mind what is beyond the minds 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 taālā 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 awliyā help humans. This helping of theirs is not with the tools of the bodies they had in worldly life. Allahu taālā granted souls the peculiarity of performing work without having tools as well. For example, the soul of Khidir alaihis-salām, 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 Quranic 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 taālā 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 Mutazila 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.