Punishment in the Grave

By Mufti Ebrahim Desai
Posted: 6 Sha'ban 1423, 13 October 2002

Q.) Is punishment in the grave a reality?

Most books on life after death and punishment of the grave do not have any supporting authentic hadith clearly stating that there is punishment in the grave. Please provide the Qur'anic/Hadith references.

If there is punishment, what are the forms? How can one save oneself from this punishment? Does punishment in the grave absolve one from subsequent punishment in the hereafter? Are non-muslims subject to punishment in the grave?

A.) According to the Aqaid (beliefs) of the Ahlus Sunnah Wal Jamaah`, Adhaabul Qabr (punishment in the grave) is Haqq (true and established). (Sharhul Aqaid)

It (punishment of the grave) is proven from the Qur'an and Ahadith. Allah Ta'ala discusses the punishment given to Fir'awn. He says, 'The fire is given to them in the morning and evening and on the Day of Judgment.' The fire before the Day of Judgment refers to the punishment in the grave. (Ibid)

Rasulullah Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam said, 'When a person is buried and the people go away, two angels approach the deceased and ask three questions, a) Who is your lord? b) What is your religion? and c) Who is he (Rasulullah Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam)?. A believer will answer all three questions and he will be honored with the clothing of Jannah. The window of Jannah will be opened for him and he will enjoy the sight of Jannah. On the contrary, a disbeliever will express regret at not being able to answer the questions. Upon that, an angel who is blind and deaf is appointed to punish him. Blind so that the angel does not see the punishment and feel mercy and deaf so that the punishment is not heard. The hammer used to punish a disbeliever is so heavy that it can reduce a mountain to dust. The disbeliever screams with pain and every creation can hear him besides human and Jinns.' (Mishkat)

Rasulullah Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam said, 'The grave is a garden of paradise or a pit of hell.' (Ibid)

Rasulullah Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam said, 'It has been revealed to me that the trial in the grave is similar to the trial of Dajjaal.' (Tirmidhi)

Rasulullah Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam said, 'If you are made to listen to the punishment in the grave, you will stop burying your deceased.' (Tirmidhi)

Rasulullah Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam advised, 'Seek protection from the punishment of the grave.' (Ibid)

In one Hadith, two reasons have been cited for the punishment in the grave:
a) Not exercising precaution from the splashes of urine drops,
b) Gossiping.

It was the noble habit of Rasulullah Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam to make du'a in Salat for protection from the punishment of the grave. May Allah Ta'ala save us, our families and the entire Ummah from the trials of the Qabr. And Allah Ta'ala Knows Best.