Does the deceased hear the salutations of the living?
Does the deceased hear the salutations of the living?
Death is not the final and total annihilation of man nor is it the end of his existence that was created by God. It is 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. Accordingly, we may understand death as the actualization of the soul leaving the body. Al-Ghazzali said, “The soul leaving the body means that it no longer governs the body as the body is no longer under the soul’s control.”
Abu Huraira narrated that the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) said, “None of you passes by the grave of a fellow believer that he knew in this life and sends salutations to him except that the deceased recognizes him and responds to his salutation.” After mentioning this hadith al-Manawi adds, “Al-Hafidh al-Iraqi said, ‘Intellection and responding to a salutation are the consequence of life and the return of the soul to the body; there is no objection to the soul being able to partially return to the body. Some of the great scholars have said that the soul’s attachment to the body is the same as intoxicating and perpetual love in that, if the soul leaves the body, love does not immediately leave so the soul remains attached to the body. It is for this reason that it is impermissible to desecrate bones and trample on graves.’”
It has also been rigorously authenticated that the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) ordered the bodies of the idolaters slain in the Battle of Badr to be buried. He then approached them and called them one by one and said, “Have you found what your Lord promised to be true for we have found what our Lord promised us to be true.” ‘Umar asked him, “O messenger of God! Why do you speak to lifeless bodies?” The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) replied, “By the One Who has sent me with the truth! You do not hear my words better than they do except that they cannot respond.”
These text proofs demonstrate that the dead are aware of those who visit them and are pleased with these visits. It is for this reason that the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) ordered us to send greeting to them. He taught the Companions to say upon passing by a graveyard, “Peace be upon you O inhabitants of the graves, believers and those who have submitted to God (Muslims). May God have mercy on those who passed away first and those who will pass away later, and we will, by the will of God, join you.”
Imam al-Nawawi said, “It is good if the one who visits a deceased person in his grave to draw near to it and keep the same distance between them that he would have kept while visiting him had he been alive.”
Ibn Taymiyya was asked whether the dead can hear the living and he replied, “Yes, the dead hear the living.” He then listed the many text proofs supporting this statement. Upon mentioning the hadith of sending greetings to the dead while visiting their graves, he said, “These are words that are addressed to them [the dead] and words can only be addressed to those who can hear.”
Ibn ‘Abd al-Barr narrated that the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) said, “None of you passes by the grave of a fellow believer that he knew in this life and sends salutations to him except that the deceased recognizes him and responds to his salutation.”
It was also reported that the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) said, “Invoke greetings and blessings upon me in abundance on Fridays and on the eve of Fridays as they are conveyed to me.” The Companions said, ‘O Messenger of God! How can our prayers and greetings be sent to you and you will have passed away?” He said, “God has forbidden the earth to consume the bodies of prophets.”
The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) said, “God has assigned an angel to stand by my grave and convey to me my community’s prayers and greetings to me.”
These and similar texts clearly indicate that the deceased hear the living though this does not have to be continual. Rather, it can be during certain conditions as is the case with the living who can hear the speech directed to them at some times but not at others. The hearing of the deceased is through perception".
Ibn Qayyim said, “The Messenger of God (peace and blessings be upon him) enjoined upon his community that, if they send greetings to the inhabitants of the graves, they should do so in a way similar to the greetings of the living by saying, ‘Peace be upon you O inhabitants of the believers.’ This speech is directed to those who hear and perceive. Otherwise, it would be tantamount to speaking to inanimate objects. The pious ancestors are in agreement over this and the texts narrated from them on the dead hearing the living and are pleased with their visits have reached the level of tawatur (multiple contiguous channels of transmission leading back to the Prophet).”
As is clear from the above, the deceased can hear the living and are pleased by the actions of those who visit them. It should likewise be clear that death is not the cessation of existence since the soul remains attached to the body after death. We ask God to please the dead who have rights over us by our visits to them. May the peace of God be upon them and God is most High and all Knowledgeable.