State of the Soul After Passage through the Gate

Death separates the physical body from the soul, taking the body away from the comfort and familiarity of this world towards the confinement of the grave. The good soul will be taken to the “seventh heaven.”  AllahSWT will order the angels to record his deeds in Illiyyun, and send the soul back to the grave to join the body for interrogation. He will tell the truth about Allah and His Messenger. He will be asked to sleep in comfort and, bi idhni Allah, a door will open towards the Paradise for him to enjoy the bliss of Paradise.  His grave will be expanded far and wide.  His soul will join the company of good souls, inside green birds, eating from the trees of the Paradise.

A sinning soul on the other hand, will not be allowed to go beyond the lower heaven and will be returned to the grave to join the body for interrogation. His deeds will be stored in Sijjin in the lowest earth.  On questioning, he will lie about Allah and His Messenger.  AllahSWT will order for him fire, and a door will be opened for him to the fire of the hell; his grave will be constricted.  He will remain in this torment, until Allah resurrects him. [Tafeer Ibn Kathir, Vol. 5 (abridged), pages 342-350]

The period of time spent in the grave is called Barzakh or Interregnum.  In the Barzakh, the soul will return from time to time and join the remains of the body to enjoy bliss or punishment, as AllahSWT decrees. Life in Barzakh continues till the Day of Resurrection.

The Hereafter—the Final Return— literally, ‘here after’ means ‘from now on’;, in the religious context, Âkhirah/Hereafter refers to a plane of existence after death. A person’s Âkhirah is heralded by the onset of stupor, an altered mental state before death. It is during this state that the unseen world slowly becomes visible to the dying person as the angels start to appear before him.

The only authentic source of knowledge about the Unseen World is Divine Revelation – the Qur’an, and the authentic Traditions of Allah’s MessengerSAW, which have provided extensive details to account for the circumstances surrounding the dying person and his condition in the grave.  There are various authentic narrations that portray for us the various aspects of life in the Barzakh, the minor Resurrection:

  • When a believing servant [of Allah] is reaching the end of his term in the life of this world and the beginning of his term in the Hereafter, a group of angels, whose faces are dazzling and as radiant as the sun, will descend onto him from heaven. They will carry with them a white shroud from Paradise, and fragrance for enshrouding from Paradise. They will sit as far from him as the sight goes. Then the Angel of Death will come until he sits right next to his head, saying, “O, good and pure soul! Depart (your body) to Allah’s forgiveness and pleasure.” So, the soul flows (out of its body), just as the drop flows out from the spout of a jug, and the Angel of Death captures it. When he captures the soul, they (the group of angels) will not leave it with him for more than an instance, and they will seize it and wrap it in that shroud, and in that fragrance. A musk scent, more pleasant ever than found on the earth, will flow out of the soul, and the angels will ascend with it (to heaven).

They will not pass by, but that they (the other angels) will say, “Whose is this Tayyib (good) soul?” They (the angels who are ascending with the soul) will reply, “Such and such person, the son of such and such person,” calling him by the best names that he used to be called in the earthly life. They will reach the lower heaven and will ask that its door be opened for him, and it will be opened for them. The best residents of every heaven will then see him to the next heaven, until he is brought to the seventh heaven.

Allah, the Exalted and Ever High, will say, “List my servant’s record in `Illiyyun and send him back to the earth, for I have created [my servants] from it, and into it I shall return them, and from it I shall bring them out once again.”

No! Indeed, the record of the righteous is in illiyyun. [Sûrah Al-Muṭaffifîn, 83:18]

From the earth We created you, and into it We will return you, and from it We shall bring you back once again. [Sûrah Al-Tâ Hâ, 20:55]

The soul will be joined with its body, and two angels will come to him, sit him up and ask him, “Who is your Lord?” He will say, “Allah is my Lord.” They will ask him, “What is your religion?” He will say, “My religion is Islam.” They will say to him, “What do you say about this man (Prophet Muhammad) who was sent to you?” He will say, “He is the Messenger of Allah.” They will ask him, “And what proof do you have about it?”

He will say, “I read the Book of Allah (the Qur’an), and had faith and belief in him.”

Then, a caller (Allah) will herald from heaven, “My servant has said the truth. Therefore, furnish him from Paradise, and let him wear from (the clothes of) Paradise, and open a door for him to Paradise.” So, he is given from Paradise’s tranquility and good scent, and his grave will be expanded for him as far as his sight can reach.

Then, a man with a handsome face in handsome clothes and whose scent is pleasant, will come to him, saying, “Receive the glad tidings with that which pleases you. This is the Day which you were promised.” He (the deceased man) will ask him, “Who are you? For yours is the face that carries good news!” He (the handsome man) will reply, “I am your good works.” He (the deceased) will say, “O Lord! Hurry with the commencement of the Hour.”

But when the disbelieving person is reaching the end of his term in the world and the beginning of his term in the Hereafter, there will descend onto him from the heaven angels with bleak faces. They will bring with them Musuh (a piece of thick, hard cloth made from animal hide), and will sit as far from him as the sight reaches. Then the Angel of Death will come forward and sit next to his head, saying: “O impure, evil soul! Depart (your body) to the anger of Allah, and wrath from Him.” The soul will scatter through his body, and the Angel of Death will seize it as when the thorny branch is removed from wet wool. The Angel of Death will seize the soul, and when he does, they (the group of angels) will not let it stay in his hand for more than an instance, and they will wrap it in the Musuh. The most putrid smell a dead corpse can ever have on earth will emit from the soul, and the angels will ascend with it. Whenever they pass by a group of angels, they will ask, “Whose is this evil soul?” The angels will reply, “He is such and such a person, son of such and such a person,” calling him by the worst names he was known by in the world. When they reach the lowest heaven, they will request that the door be opened for him, and their request will be denied:

…The gates of Heaven will not be opened for them, nor will they enter Paradise until a camel can pass through the eye of a needle (which is impossible). And thus, do We recompense the criminals. [Sûrah Al-Arâf, 7:40]

Allah will declare:

“List his record in Sijjîn.” “Nay! Indeed, the record of the wicked is in sijjîn.” [Sûrah Al-Muṭaffifîn, 83:7]

The wicked soul will then be thrown headlong (from the heavens):

And he who [falsely] associates [divine partners] with Allah – it is as though he had plummeted down from the sky and was snatched apart by the birds, or the wind battered him down into a remote place. [Sûrah Al-Ḥajj, 22:31]

His soul will be returned to his body, and two angels will come to him, and sit him up, and ask him, “Who is your Lord?” He will say, “Uh-oh! I do not know.” They will ask him, “What is your religion?” He will say, “Uh-oh! I do not know.” They will ask him, “What do you say about this man (Prophet Muhammad), who was sent to you.” He will say, “Uh-oh! I do not know.”

A Caller (Allah) will herald from heaven, “My servant has rejected the truth, so furnish him with the Fire and open a door for him to the Fire.” He will find its heat and fierce hot wind. And his grave will be reduced in size, until his bones crush into each other. Then a man with a dreadful face, wearing dreadful clothes and with a disgusting smell emitting from him will come to him, saying, “Receive the tidings with that which will displease you! This is the day that you have been promised.” He will ask that man, “And who are you, for yours is the face that brings about evil?” He will say, “I am your evil works.” He (the deceased) will therefore cry, “O my Lord! Do not commence the Hour!” (Sunan Abu Dawud 4753)

You will surely see the Hellfire. Then you will surely see it with the eye of certainty. Then you will surely be asked that Day about the pleasures [you have enjoyed]! [Sûrah Al-Takâthur 102:6-8]

In another narration according to Allah’s MessengerSAW:

  • “Verily, when the servant is placed in his grave and his friends (or family) depart, as he hears the sound of their shoes, two angels will come to him. They will sit him up and ask him, what do you say about this man (Muhammad)? As for the believer, he will say, ‘I bear witness that he is Allah’s servant and Messenger.’ He will be told, ‘Look at your seat in the Fire, Allah has replaced it for you with a seat in Paradise.’ He will see both seats.”

Qatâdah added: “We were told that his grave will be enlarged up to seventy forearms in length and will be filled with greenery for him until the Day of Judgment…”  (Sahih Al–Bukhari, Book 23: Funeral (al-Janaa’iz) Hadith 2870a, Book 53, Hadith 85, Book 40, narrated Anas b. Malik, Hadith 6862 (volume 2), Hadith 422 (volume 2), Wister Hadith, Narrated by Anas bin Malik, collected by Imam ‘Abd bin Humayd)

To be continued in Part 5…

Mohammed Siraj Uddin

Mohammed S. Uddin graduated from medical school in 1968 and completed his training in internal medicine and gastroenterology in New York. He taught in medical school and practiced gastroenterology for nearly four decades. He is board certified in Internal Medicine and Gastroenterology. He is a fellow of the Americal College of Gastroenterology and the American College of Physicians.Full BIO

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