Can we know about Heaven and Hell through dead people?


Sh. Muhammad al-Hasan Walid al-Dedew al-Shanqītī | Translated by Shaykh Yahya Ederer

The Question1:

What is your opinion about those who claim to have met dead people stating that they know which of them will go to Heaven and Hell?

The Answer:

The Importance of Revelation

The reality of those who passed on to the first phase of the Hereafter, termed the Barzakh2 can only be known by a revelation. It could be that someone imagined that they have perceived them, or it is also possible that they heard someone being punished. As we know, some people may be punished (in their graves), but then they are blessed with the pleasures and delights of their deeds (in Paradise). So hearing a punishment of some sort isn’t decisive in knowing if that person will suffer in Hell for eternity.

Hearing Those Punished in The Hereafter?

We know that people can hear the punishment of those in al-Barzakh because it is established in the Sunna. When some of the companions (Allah be pleased with them) heard some of Banī Qurathah being punished in their grave and the prophet (Allah’s peace and blessings be upon him) confirmed their claim. So Allah revealed something from the world of the unseen to those companions, so that they could increase their fear in Allah and their reliance upon Him.

An Interesting Story

According to the Shaikh3 Abdullah ibn Umar (ra)was traveling one day and, as he passed by a grave, the occupant of that grave appeared to him and said, “Give me to drink O servant of God”. Then something came after him dragging him back with force saying to Abdullah, “Don’t give him anything to drink”. At this time ̕Abdullāh ibn ̕Umar was afflicted with a severe burning headache. When the Prophet (pbuh) heard of this, he forbade men to travel alone.

Punishment in the Grave and the Sunna

The Prophet mentioned (in different narrations) the specific punishments of some people in their graves. This is because (as a Prophet) he (pbuh) heard and saw things that we cannot. So it is established that he (pbuh) was given revelation regarding the punishments or delights of some of the dead. For example, the well known story of when the Prophet (pbuh) walked by two new graves and he mentioned that these two are being punished for a certain sin. “One of them did not keep himself clean and pure of urine and the other would walk around slandering people.”4 It is said that graves are in darkness but that Allah illuminates them with people’s prayers and supplications.

The True Ending of Person Is Known Exclusively Through Revelation

The Prophet (pbuh) informed us of many things regarding the punishment of those who are in their graves. All of that has come by revelation from Allah (swt). So it is possible that someone could hear someone’s punishment in their grave as it is mentioned in the texts, but that doesn’t mean that the sound is real or that if it a definitive sign that this person is of the people of Hellfire. This is because the punishment in the grave is not necessarily the punishment of someone who is going to Hell. It could be purification where one is punished for some sins, then they are blessed with the delights of the reward for their pure monotheism and righteous deeds; and then go straight to heaven on the Day of Judgment. This is the opinion of the great scholar Sayid ibn ̕Abdillāh ibn Al-Hājj Ibrahīm and many others before him.

And Allah knows best.


 

  1. Translated from here: http://www.dedew.net/index.php?A__=5&type=4&h=1&linkid=945
  2. The period we will spend in our grave between death and the Day of Resurrection
  3. Could either be the Sheikh’s grandfather or his late uncle (Allah be pleased with them both)
  4. A sound hadith related by al-Bukhari in his sahih (1/22) and Muslim (1/166)
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