in category Other Beliefs

What is meant by "punishment and reward of the grave" (azaab al-qabr wa na'eemuh)?

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Islamic researcher, graduated from Al-Azhar University, Islamic Studies in the English language. I also studied at Temple University in the US.
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In a Nutshell
Bliss and punishment of the grave is an Islamic concept whereby in the period between death and the Day of Judgment, the souls (and the body for a group of scholars) are rewarded or punished in the grave. So the grave is either a place for comfort and peaceful life or a place for a painful and distressful life.


When a person dies, he takes the next step on his journey to eternity. It is either the life of bliss or the life of hardship and punishment or a mixture of both.

The first night in the grave is the first and most important step in such life. If it is easy, the rest would be easier; if it is hard, the rest would be harder. (Jami at-Tirmidhi 2308) Everything depends on one's deeds. The grave is a garden of Paradise one watered in this world or a pit of Fire for which one gathered its wood in this world. (Jami at-Tirmidhi, Hadith 2648)

The how of life after death is unknowable, we only know that it exists through the revelation of its Creator (swt).

Questioning of the Grave

When a person is buried, he would temporarily be resurrected for interrogation. Two angels come and asked him about: what is his God, his religion and his messenger (saw).
Allah says concerning the interrogation of the grave:

يُثَبِّتُ اللّهُ الَّذِينَ آمَنُواْ بِالْقَوْلِ الثَّابِتِ فِي الْحَيَاةِ الدُّنْيَا وَفِي الآخِرَةِ وَيُضِلُّ اللّهُ الظَّالِمِينَ وَيَفْعَلُ اللّهُ مَا يَشَاءُ

"Allah keeps firm those who believe, with the firm word, in worldly life and in the Hereafter. And Allah sends astray the wrongdoers. And Allah does what He wills" (Qur'an 14:27)

The Prophet (saw) said the two angels would ask him:

يَا هَذَا مَنْ رَبُّكَ وَمَا دِينُكَ وَمَنْ نَبِيُّكَ

"O so and so! Who is your Lord, what is your religion, and who is your Prophet?" (Sunan Abi Dawud 4753)

Depending on the given answer, the answerer would live one of the following lives.

The Bliss of the Grave

The bliss of the grace (Na'eem al-qabar) is the leisure, comfort and happy life that the righteous Muslim lives after his death and before the Day of Judgment. It is the reward of good and righteous deeds he performed in his previous life.

The Prophet (saw) said:

إِنَّ الْعَبْدَ إِذَا وُضِعَ فِي قَبْرِهِ وَتَوَلَّى عَنْهُ أَصْحَابُهُ إِنَّهُ لَيَسْمَعُ قَرْعَ نِعَالِهِمْ‏.‏ قَالَ: يَأْتِيهِ مَلَكَانِ فَيُقْعِدَانِهِ فَيَقُولاَنِ لَهُ مَا كُنْتَ تَقُولُ فِي هَذَا الرَّجُلِ. قَالَ: فَأَمَّا الْمُؤْمِنُ فَيَقُولُ أَشْهَدُ أَنَّهُ عَبْدُ اللَّهِ وَرَسُولُهُ‏.‏ قَالَ: فَيُقَالُ لَهُ انْظُرْ إِلَى مَقْعَدِكَ مِنَ النَّارِ قَدْ أَبْدَلَكَ اللَّهُ بِهِ مَقْعَدًا مِنَ الْجَنَّةِ

"When the servant is placed in his grave, his companions retrace their steps, and he hears the noise of their footsteps, two angels come to him and make him sit and say to him: What you have to say about this person (the Prophet 'saw')? If he is a believer, he would say: I bear testimony to the fact that he is a servant of Allah and His Messenger. Then it would be said to him: Look to your seat in the Hellfire, for Allah has substituted (the seat of yours) with a seat in Paradise. Allah's Messenger (saw) said: He would be shown both the seats." (Sahih Muslim, Hadith 6862)

It is the bliss of seeing one's palace in Paradise, smelling its air and perfume and dressing from its clothes.

The Prophet (saw) said in regard to what happens after the right answer is given:

فَيُنَادِي مُنَادٍ مِنَ السَّمَاءِ‏:‏ أَنْ قَدْ صَدَقَ عَبْدِي فَأَفْرِشُوهُ مِنَ الْجَنَّةِ، وَافْتَحُوا لَهُ بَابًا إِلَى الْجَنَّةِ وَأَلْبِسُوهُ مِنَ الْجَنَّةِ‏.‏ قَالَ:‏ فَيَأْتِيهِ مِنْ رَوْحِهَا وَطِيبِهَا‏.‏ قَالَ:‏‏ وَيُفْتَحُ لَهُ فِيهَا مَدَّ بَصَرِهِ.

"A caller will call from Heaven: My servant has spoken the truth, so spread a bed for him from Paradise, clothe him from Paradise, and open a door for him into Paradise. So some of its air and perfume will come to him, and a space will be made for him as far as the eye can see." (Sunan Abi Dawud 4753)

Above all, the psychological inner peace one would feel when they see they have rightly accomplished their mission.

The Punishment Of The Grave

The punishment of the grave (azaab al-qabar) is the physically and psychologically painful, grievous, distressful and aching life that the unrighteous Muslim or disbeliever lives after his death until the Day of Judgment.

The Prophet (saw) said in regard to the person who gives the wrong answer in the interrogation:

فَيُنَادِي مُنَادٍ مِنَ السَّمَاءِ‏:‏ أَنْ كَذَبَ فَأَفْرِشُوهُ مِنَ النَّارِ وَأَلْبِسُوهُ مِنَ النَّارِ، وَافْتَحُوا لَهُ بَابًا إِلَى النَّارِ‏.‏ قَالَ: فَيَأْتِيهِ مِنْ حَرِّهَا وَسَمُومِهَا‏.‏ قَالَ:‏ وَيُضَيَّقُ عَلَيْهِ قَبْرُهُ حَتَّى تَخْتَلِفَ فِيهِ أَضْلاَعُهُ ... ثُمَّ يُقَيَّضُ لَهُ أَعْمَى أَبْكَمُ مَعَهُ مِرْزَبَّةٌ مِنْ حَدِيدٍ، لَوْ ضُرِبَ بِهَا جَبَلٌ لَصَارَ تُرَابًا

"A crier will call from Heaven: He has lied, so spread a bed for him from Hell, clothe him from Hell, and open for him a door into Hell. Then some of its heat and pestilential wind will come to him, and his grave will be compressed, so that his ribs will be crushed together. … One who is blind and dumb will then be placed in charge of him, having a sledge-hammer such that if a mountain were struck with it, it would become dust." (Sunan Abi Dawud 4753)

The Prophet said in a very long hadith concerning a night vision for people who are tortured in different ways. One (mostly an angel) explained to him the reason behind their painful life and said:

أَمَّا الرَّجُلُ الأَوَّلُ الَّذِي أَتَيْتَ عَلَيْهِ يُثْلَغُ رَأْسُهُ بِالْحَجَرِ، فَإِنَّهُ الرَّجُلُ يَأْخُذُ الْقُرْآنَ فَيَرْفُضُهُ وَيَنَامُ عَنِ الصَّلاَةِ الْمَكْتُوبَةِ، وَأَمَّا الرَّجُلُ الَّذِي أَتَيْتَ عَلَيْهِ يُشَرْشَرُ شِدْقُهُ إِلَى قَفَاهُ، وَمَنْخِرُهُ إِلَى قَفَاهُ، وَعَيْنُهُ إِلَى قَفَاهُ، فَإِنَّهُ الرَّجُلُ يَغْدُو مِنْ بَيْتِهِ فَيَكْذِبُ الْكَذْبَةَ تَبْلُغُ الآفَاقَ، وَأَمَّا الرِّجَالُ وَالنِّسَاءُ الْعُرَاةُ الَّذِينَ فِي مِثْلِ بِنَاءِ التَّنُّورِ فَإِنَّهُمُ الزُّنَاةُ وَالزَّوَانِي‏.‏ وَأَمَّا الرَّجُلُ الَّذِي أَتَيْتَ عَلَيْهِ يَسْبَحُ فِي النَّهَرِ وَيُلْقَمُ الْحَجَرَ، فَإِنَّهُ آكِلُ الرِّبَا‏‏.‏

"As for the first man you came upon whose head was being injured with the rock, he is the symbol of the one who studies the Qur'an and then neither recites it nor acts on its orders, and sleeps, neglecting the enjoined prayers. As for the man you came upon whose sides of mouth, nostrils and eyes were torn off from front to back, he is the symbol of the man who goes out of his house in the morning and tells so many lies that it spreads all over the world. And those naked men and women whom you saw in a construction resembling an oven, they are the adulterers and the adulteresses. And the man whom you saw swimming in the river and given a stone to swallow, is the eater of usury (Riba)." (Sahih al-Bukhari 7047)


The bliss or punishment in the grave is the happy or painful life the man lives after his death. This life is determined by the kinds of good or bad deeds a person did in his previous life. If he performed righteous and good deeds, he would be rewarded and live comfort and peaceful life. But if he committed sinful and bad deeds, he would be punished corresponding to what he committed.

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