Tuesday, November 21, 2017 - 3 Rabi' al-Awwal 1439

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Do the deceased hear the salutations of the living to them or do they not hear?

Do the deceased hear the salutations of the living to them or do they not hear?

Answer

Death is not the final and total annihilation of man nor it is the end of his existence that was created by God. Death is rather one of the most difficult phases in man’s total existence as it is the time when the soul departs the body to live in another realm, and this is a difficult stage. We may accordingly understand death as the actualization of the soul leaving the body. Al-Ghazzali has stated that, “the meaning of the soul leaving the body is that the soul no longer governs the body as the body has ceased controlling the soul.” 

Abu Hurayra narrates that the Prophet said, “none of you passes by a grave of his believing brother that he used to know in this life, sends salutations to him except that the deceased knows him and responds the salutation.” After mentioning this hadith al-Manawi adds, “al-Hafidh al-Iraqi says, ‘Intellection and responding to a salutation are results of life and a returning of the soul to the body, and there is nothing wrong with the soul being able to return partially to the body. Some of the great scholars have said that the clinging of the soul to the body is the same as intoxicating love and perpetual love in that if the soul leaves the body the intoxicating love does not immediately leave so the soul remains clinging to the body. It is for this reason that it is impermissible to desecrate bones and trample upon graves.’”

It is also rigorously authenticated that the Prophet ordered the slain amongst the enemy from the battle of Badr to be buried and he went to them and called them out one by one and said, “have you found what your Lord has promised you to be true for I have found what my Lord has promised me to be true” so ‘Umar said to him, “O messenger of God why do you speak to a people that have turned into corpses?” and the Prophet said to him, “by the One who has sent me with the truth you can not hear me more clearly then they can except that they cannot respond.”

By these text proofs we can see that the deceased perceives with a type of perception those who come to visit them and are pleased with these visits. It is for this reason that the Prophet ordered us to send salutations to the dead when he taught the companions upon passing by a graveyard to say “Peace be upon you the people of the dwelling of the believers and those who have submitted to God (Muslims), and May God give mercy to those who passed first and those who will come to pass, and we will, by the will of God, join you”.

Imam al-Nawawi has stated, “it is good for one visiting a grave to draw near to the deceased the same distance they would draw near to them if they were visiting them while alive.”

Ibn Taymiyya was asked about the dead hearing the living and he replied, “yes the dead hears the living” and he listed many text proofs to support this statement. Upon mentioning the hadith of the sending salutations to the deceased while visiting their graves he said that “this is speech directed to them and directed speech is only done to one who hears. It is narrated by Ibn ‘Abd al-Barr that the Prophet said, ‘none of you passes by a grave of his believing brother that he used to know in this life, sends salutations to him except that the deceased knows him and responds the salutation’, and in the sunnah it is narrated that the Prophet said, ‘increase prayers and salutations on me during Fridays, and on the eves of Friday as your sending prayers and salutations on me is sent to me’, the companions said, ‘O messenger of God how is it that our sending prayers and salutations on you is sent to you and you will have passed?’ and he said, ‘God has made it forbidden for the earth to consume by bodies of the Prophets’.

It is also narrated in the sunnah that the Prophet said, “God has tasked an angel to stand by my grave and pass to me my nation’s prayers and salutations upon me.” These texts and others similar make it clear that the deceased hear the living and this hearing does not have to be continual, rather it can be during certain conditions only as is the case with the living in that they can sometimes hear speech directed to them and other times they cannot. This hearing of the deceased is by way of perception; there is no retribution for it.”

Ibn Qayyim said, “the Messenger of God has legislated upon his nation that if they send salutations to the people of the graves that they do so in a way similar to the salutations of the living by saying, ‘peace be upon you dwellers of the believers’ and this speech is for those who hear and perceive, and were it not then this speech would be like the speech to inanimate objects. The pious ancestors are in agreement with this and the texts narrated from them has reached the level of high congruence (tawatur) that the deceased hear the salutations of the living and are pleased by visitation.”

As it has been made clear that the deceased hear and are pleased by the actions of those who visit them, so it should also be clear that death is not the cessation of existence as the soul is attached to the body after death in a special relationship. We ask God to give pleasure to those who have rights over us of those who have passed before us by our visitation to them. May the peace of God be upon them, and God is most high and all Knowledgeable.

 

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» Does the deceased hear the salutations of the living?