Concerning the punishment and bliss of the grave
We have reviewed request no. 963 for the year 2005 includes the following request:
Please clarify the legal ruling for what is called punishment and bliss of the grave.
It is established in Islamic theology ('Aqeedah) that the punishment and bliss of the grave is a fact. Al-Bukhari has reported through ‘A’ishah (may God be pleased with her) that the Messenger of God (peace and blessings be upon him) said: “The punishment of the grave is true.” This fact is well-grounded in Islam through multiple evidences.
Evidence from the Quran
- God Almighty says about Pharaoh’s people:
"A terrible punishment engulfed Pharaoh’s people; they will be brought before the Fire morning and evening. On the Day the Hour comes, it will be said, ‘Throw Pharaoh’s people into the worst torment’ " (Quran 40:45-46).
The verse denotes that Pharaoh’s people are afflicted with the terrible punishment of being exposed to hellfire morning and evening until Resurrection day while in their graves. When that day strikes, the Angels of torture will be told:
"Throw Pharaoh’s people into the worst torment" (Quran 40:46), i.e. the terrible torment of the hellfire.
- God Most High says:
"Whoever turns away from it will have a life of great hardship" (Quran 20:124).
Abu Sa‘id al-Khudri and ‘Abdullah Ibn Mas‘ud said that great hardship means punishment of the grave.
Evidence from the Sunnah
- The Messenger of God (peace and blessings be upon him) said:
"The grave is either a garden from the gardens of Paradise or a pit from the pits of hell" (reported by al-Tirmdhi).
Thus, the Prophet's words, 'or a pit from the pits of hell' proves that punishment in the grave is true and established.
- Zir Ibn Hubaysh also narrated through ‘Ali (may God be pleased with him) that he said:
"We were uncertain about torment in the grave till this chapter was revealed: "Striving for more distracts you until you go into your graves. No indeed! You will come to know" (Quran 98:1-3), meaning inside the graves.
- Al-Bukhari, Muslim and Ibn Shaybah reported through ‘A’ishah (may God be pleased with her) who narrated that the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) said:
“Verily, they are greatly tortured in their graves and the animals hear it” (Musnad Ahmed).
- Al-Bukhari, Muslim and Ibn Shaybah also reported through Ibn ‘Abbas who said:
"The Messenger of God (peace and blessings be upon him) happened to pass by two graves, then said: “These two people are being tortured and not for a major sin. One of them did not make sure that he was free of traces of urine, while the other engaged in tale-bearing.” Then, he took a fresh stalk of a palm-tree, split it into two and planted one on each grave.
They [the Companions] asked: “O Messenger of God, why did you do that?”
He said: "So that their punishment might be reduced as long as these stalks remain fresh."
- Abu Hurairah said:
"The grave constricts on the disbeliever to the point that his ribs spilt apart, and this is the life of great hardship (as mentioned in the Quran (20:124)."
- Abu Hurairah narrated that the Messenger of God (peace and blessings be upon him) asked:
"Do you know what is a life of great hardship?"
They (the Companions) replied: “God and His Messenger know best.”
He said: “It is the disbeliever’s torment in the grave. By Him in Whose Hands is my life, he (the disbeliever) will be inflicted with ninety-nine dragons. Do you know what the dragons are? They are ninety-nine serpents, each with nine heads, assigned to inject their venom into his body and to bite and scratch him till Resurrection Day whereupon he will be brought blind from his grave to stand before God.”
- Ahmed, al-Hakim, al-Tirmidhī in Nawadir al-Usul, and al-Bayhaqi in ‘Adhab al-Qabr (punishment of the grave) reported that Hudhaifah said:
"We were attending a funeral with the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) and when we reached the grave, the Prophet sat at its brink and kept looking into it then said: "The grave is pressed on the believer to the extent that the veins of his testicles are removed, and fire is poured on the disbeliever. Then he said: "Shall I inform you of the most evil servants of God? [He is] the arrogant harsh person. Shall I inform you of the best of God’s servants? [He is] the weak and wretched poor person who has only two pieces of shabby clothes to cover himself, and were he to swear upon God, He will fulfill it".
- Ahmed, al-Hakim, al-Tirmdhi, al-Tabarani and al-Bayhaqi reported through Jabir Ibn Abdullah al-Ansari who said:
"One day, we went out with the Messenger of God (peace and blessings be upon him) to attend Sa‘d Ibn Mu‘adh’s funereal. After the Messenger of God prayed the funeral prayer and he [Sa‘d] was laid in his grave and earth was leveled over him, the Messenger of God glorified then magnified God [saying ‘subhan Allah’] many times and we did the same.
It was asked: “O Messenger of God, why did you glorify then magnify God?”
He said: “The grave had constricted and tightened on this righteous slave. [We did this until] God Almighty made it spacious for him.”
Based on the above, the punishment and bliss of the grave are well-established facts that are based on the Quran, Sunnah, and consensus of the scholars. It is impermissible for any Muslim who believes in God and the Last Day to deny the punishment and bliss of the grave.
God the Almighty knows best.