Clarifying Misconceptions and False Beliefs Regarding the Prophet’s death and his life in Barzakh
Death is no strange concept even for the Messengers. All the Messengers have
died with the exception of Eesa (alaihis-salaam). Allah said concerning our
Prophet Muhammad (sallallahu alaihi wa-sallam), ‘And We did not grant to any
human immortality before you (O Muhammad sallallahu alaihi wa-sallam) then if
you die, would they live for ever.’ [Soorah al-Ambiya (21): 34]
Allah's Messenger, Muhammad (sallallahu alaihi wa-sallam), passed away in the
house of Aa'isha (radhi allahu anha). Abu Bakr (radhi allahu anhu) uncovered the
blessed face of Allah's Messenger (sallallahu alaihi wa-sallam), tended down,
kissed him and cried. He then said, ‘May my father and mother be sacrificed for
your sake! Verily, Allah will not cause you to die twice. You have just
experienced the death that Allah had ordained.’ Then he went out and said, ‘Now,
he who worshiped Muhammad (sallallahu alaihi wa-sallam), Muhammad (sallallahu
alaihi wa-sallam) is dead now! But, he who worships Allah, He is Ever Living and
He never dies. As Allah says, ‘Muhammad (sallallahu alaihi wa-sallam) is no more
than a Messenger and Indeed, (many) Messengers have passed away before him. If
he dies or is killed, will you then turn back on your heels (as disbelievers)?
And he who turns back on his heels, not the least harm will he do to Allah, and
Allah will give reward to those who are grateful.’ [Soorah aali-Imran (3): 144]
Ibn Abbas (radhi allahu anhu) said, ‘By Allah, it sounded as if people had never
heard such a Qur'aanic verse till Abu Bakr (radhi allahu anhu) recited it as a
reminder. So, people started reciting it till there was no man who did not
recite it.’ Umar (radhi allahu anhu) said, ‘By Allah! As soon as I heard Abu
Bakr (radhi allahu anhu) say it, I fell down to the ground. I felt as if my legs
had been unable to carry me, so I collapsed when I heard him say it. Only then
did I realize that Muhammad (sallallahu alaihi wa-sallam) had really died.’
[Saheeh al-Bukharee (Eng. Trans.) vol.5, no.733]
Therefore, death overtakes everyone, even the Messengers. Allah says in the
Qur'aan, ‘Every soul shall taste death.’ [Soorah aali-Imran (3): 185]
The sahabah understood well as to what the death of the Messenger meant. They
knew that death was a definite end to the worldly life of the Messenger and
therefore they buried him. Else, burying someone alive is a major sin in Islam.
'And when the female (infant) is buried alive shall be questioned. For what sin
was she killed?' [Soorah Takwir (81): 9] The one who suggests other than the
correct belief speaks disrespectfully of the Prophet (sallallahu alaihi
wa-sallam) and keeps and evil opinion of he sahabah.
Despite the clarity of this issue, some still dispute and argue to the contrary.
They understand the following two ahadeeth in a manner that leads to conflict
between various ahadeeth, while in reality the teachings of the Messenger
compliment each other.
a) 'The Prophets are alive and pray in their graves.' [Silsilatul-Ahaadeethis-Saheehah
b) 'The Messenger of Allah (sallallahu alaihi wa-sallam) said, 'No one gives
greetings of salaam, except that Allah will restore my soul to me, so that I may
reply to him with the greeting of salaam.' [Sunan Abu Dawood (Eng. Trans.). vol.
2, no. 2036. This Hadeeth is hasan according to Shaikh al-Albanee (see as-Saheehah
Firstly, these ahadeeth mentions the actions of the Barzakh, which is different
from the worldly life. Allah says about the life of the martyrs in Barzakh, 'And
say not of those who have been killed in the Way of Allah, 'they are dead.' Nay,
they are living, but you are unaware of it.’ [Soorah al-Baqarah (2): 154]
The life of the world is something we witness and know of. The Quraan's
assertion that we are unaware of the life of the Barzakh is enough to establish
that the life in Barzakh is different from this worldly life.
Shaikh al-Albanee (rahimahullah) summarizes the issue in the following words,
‘…the afterlife between death and the resurrection (al-hayat al-barzakhi) is
part of the world of the Hidden and Unseen. None knows how it is except Allah,
the One free of all imperfections and the Most High. However, what is known and
established is that it is different from the worldly life, and not subject to
its laws and criteria. Therefore, in the worldly life, the person eats and
drinks, breathes and marries, moves and uses the toilets, falls ill and speaks.
However, no one can establish that these things are also common to people after
death, not even the Prophets (alaihimus-salaam), and at the head of them is our
Prophet (sallallahu alaihi wa-sallam). This is emphasized by the fact that the
companions differed about many matters after his (sallallahu alaihi wa-sallam)
death, and none of them ever though of going to him (sallallahu alaihi wa-sallam)
in his grave and asking his advice and asking about what was correct. Why not?
The matter is very clear, all of them knew that he (sallallahu alaihi wa-sallam)
had left behind this worldly life and its conditions and affairs. So, after his
death, Allah's Messenger (sallallahu alaihi wa-sallam) is indeed alive, living
the most perfect life that any person lives between death and Resurrection.
However, it is a life, which does not resemble the life of this life, and
perhaps that can be seen from his saying, 'No one gives greetings of salaam,
except that Allah will restore my soul to me, so that I may reply to him with
the greeting of salaam.' In any case, its reality is known only to Allah, the
One free of all imperfections and the Most High. Therefore, it is not
permissible to make analogy between the After-life before the Resurrection or
the Hereafter and this worldly life, just as it is not permissible to apply the
rulings of one to the other. Rather, each of them has its own particular
characteristics and its own rules. There is no similarity except in name and as
for the reality of that life, and then it is known only to Allah, the Blessed
and Most High.’ [End quote] [From the book, 'Tawassul: Anwa'uhu wa Ahkaamuhu’]
Therefore, the life, prayer, salaam and restoring of the soul mentioned in the
two ahadeeth does not indicate worldly life for Allah’s Messenger (sallallahu
alaihi wa-sallam), rather they are from the realm of the Barzakh.
For the sake of argument, if someone claims that the reply of the salaam from
the Barzakh is like the one in this world, it must be noted that this hadeeth
mentions a ‘reply to the salaam’ and nothing else. Therefore to take this
hadeeth as a proof for the possibility of communicating with the Messenger after
his death or seeking his advice/assistance, then such a conclusion is both
farfetched and false, and in opposition to the teachings of the Messenger and
the understanding of the sahabah.