Contents > Chapter 4: Life of the Barzakh > Clarifying Doubts


Clarifying Doubts

Doubt (1): Hearing Footsteps

“When (Allah’s) slave is put in his grave and his companions return and he hears their footsteps, two Angels come to him and make him sit…”[1] This Hadeeth is brought forth to prove hearing for the dead, but this Hadeeth only refers to a temporary condition at the time of burial and it only mentions the hearing of footsteps and nothing else.


Doubt (2): Kafirs in the well of Badr

Another argument put forth is the Hadeeth reported in Saheeh al-Bukharee when, “On the day of Badr, the Prophet (sallallahu alaihi wa-sallam) ordered that the corpses of twenty-four leaders of Quraysh should be thrown into one of the dirty dry wells of Badr…” He (sallallahu alaihi wa-sallam) halted at the edge of the well, and addressed the corpses of the Quraysh infidels by their names and their fathers’ names: “O so-and-so, son of so-and-so and O so-and-so, son of so-and-so! Would it have pleased you if you had obeyed Allah and His Messenger (sallallahu alaihi wa-sallam)? We have found true what our Lord promised us. Have you too found true what your Lord promised you?” Umar (radhi allahu anhu) said: “O Messenger of Allah! You are speaking to bodies that have no souls!” Allah’s Messenger (sallallahu alaihi wa-sallam) said: “By Him in Whose Hand is Muhammad’s ((sallallahu alaihi wa-sallam)) soul, you do not hear, what I say better than they do.”[2]


This Hadeeth refers to an exceptional case, when the Prophet (sallallahu alaihi wa-sallam) killed the Kuffar (disbelievers) in the battle of Badr and ordered for them to be thrown in the well, whereby to humiliate them. Qatada said while commenting on this Hadeeth, “Allah brought them to life (again) to let them hear him, to reprimand them and slight them and take revenge over them and caused them to feel remorseful and regretful.”[3]


Umar Ibn Khattab (radhi allahu anhu) believed that the dead do not hear, and therefore he questioned: “O Messenger of Allah (sallallahu alaihi wa-sallam)! You are speaking to bodies that have no souls!” Similarly, Aa’ishah (radhi allahu anha) too believed that the dead do not hear, and therefore when this incident was mentioned to her, she said: “But the Prophet (sallallahu alaihi wa-sallam) said: “Now they know very well that what I used to tell them was the truth.” Then she recited (the Qur’aanic Verse): “You cannot make the dead hear... (till the end of Verse.)”[4] [5]


This shows the firm belief of the Sahabah that the dead cannot hear. The Kuffar who were thrown in the well of Badr were temporarily given life as in the statement of Qatada. However, if it is still argued that this Hadeeth proves the listening of the dead in their graves; then who are those who are referred to, in this Hadeeth? Arrogant Kuffar!! - Those who fought against the Messenger of Allah (sallallahu alaihi wa-sallam) and were killed and thrown in the well to be humiliated. This argument is therefore false, for it would claim hearing for everyone, pious and wicked, which no one claims!

[1] Saheeh al-Bukharee (Eng. Trans.) vol.2, Hadeeth no. 456.

[2] Saheeh al-Bukharee (Eng. Trans.) vol.5, Hadeeth no. 314.

[3] Saheeh al-Bukharee (Eng. Trans.) vol: 5, Hadeeth no. 314.

[4] Soorah ar-Rum (30): 52.

[5] Saheeh al-Bukharee (Eng. trans.) vol. 5, no.317.