in category Other Beliefs

What were the scholars' views on azaab al-qabar?

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In a Nutshell:
Jurists and theologians adhere to the view that the punishment of the grave is one of unanimously agreed upon beliefs. This belief is preached in hundreds of ahadith and a number of Quranic verses.

The prophetic tradition is binding in the shari'ah, wherever a story or ruling is mentioned in either the Qur'an or in the Sunna. Imam Zarkashi said:

نَصَّ الشَافِعِيُ فِي "الرِسَالَةِ" عَلى أَنّ السُنَةَ مُنَزَّلَةً كَالقُرْآَنِ مُحْتَجًّا بِقَوْلِهِ تَعَالَى: (وَاذْكُرْنَ مَا يُتْلَى فِي بُيُوتِكُنَّ مِنْ آيَاتِ اللَّهِ وَالْحِكْمَةِ

Imam Shafi'i (the founder of the shafi'i madhhab) said the Sunnah is a revelation exactly like the Qur'an. He argued this meaning is mentioned in the Qur'an (in ordering the wives of the Prophet): 'And remember what is recited in your houses of the verses of Allah and wisdom. Indeed, Allah is ever Subtle and Acquainted (with all things). (33:34)'." (al-Bahr al-Muheet, Vol. 3, pp. 236-237)

The verse mentions two kinds of revelations: 'the verses of Allah and al-Hikmah' each seen as a recitation (tilaawah). Whilst the former is the Qur'an, the latter is what the Prophet (saw) preached outside the Quranic text.

In the case of prophetic ahadith, there are many. Bayhaqi, in his book 'Ithbat 'Adhab al-Qabr' narrated over 200 sound ahadith mentioning punishment of the grave. The belief is mentioned in each book of hadith and sira. Thus the concept is Mutawatir (continuously recurrent in a vast number of ahadith).

Sheikh Kittani in his book 'Nadhim al-Mutanathir min al-Hadith al-Mutawatir' includes a vast number of ahadith narrated by 32 companions (ra). In a recent book entitled 'as-Sahih al-Musnad fi 'Adhab al-Qabr wa na'imuh' he included a large number of sound ahadith narrated by 40 companions (ra).

Scholars' Views

Scholars from across the four traditional schools accept the notion of punishment and reward of the grave. Abu Hanifah, the founder of Hanafi madhhab, said:

َوسُؤَالُ مُنْكَرٍ وَنَكِيرٍ حَقٌ كَائِنٌ فِي القَبْرِ، وإِعَادَةُ الرُوحِ إلَى الجَسَدِ فِي قَبْرِهِ حَقٌ وَضَغْطَةُ القَبْرِ وعَذَابُه حَقٌ كَائِنٌ لِلكُفَارِ كُلُهُمُ ولِبَعِضِ عُصَاةِ المُؤمِنِين.
"The interrogation of munkar wa nakeer (the two angels of the grave) is true in the grave. The return of the soul to the body in the grave is true. The pressure of the grave and its punishment are true. All of these matters happens to all the disbelievers and some of the disobedient Muslims." (Abu Hanifah, Sharh al-Fiqh al-Akbar, p. 291)

Imam Malik, the founder of Maliki madhhab, included ahadith in his Muwatta' concerning azaab al-qabar suggesting he recognized the concept (Kitab al-Jana'iz).

Shafi'i, the founder of the Shafi'i madhhab, said:

ٌوإنّ عَذَابَ القَبْرِ حَقٌ وَمَسْأَلةَ أَهْلِ القُبُورِ حَق
"Indeed, the punishment in the grave is true and the interrogation of the grave is true." (Al-Bayhaqi, al-I'tiqad wa al-Hidayah, p. 295)

Imam Ahmed, the founder of the Hanbali madhhab, said:

ٌوعَذَابِ القَبْرِ حَقٌ، يُسْأَلُ العَبْدُ عَنْ دِينِهِ وعَنْ رَبِهِ وَعَنْ الجَنَةِ وعَنْ النَّارِ، ومُنْكَرٍ ونَكِيرٍ حَق.
"The Punishment of the grave is true. The servant is asked about his religion, his God, Heavens and Hell. Munkar and nakeer are true." (Ibn Rajab, Tabaqat al-Hanabilah, Vol. 1, p. 59)

Ibn Rajab, a Hanbali jurist, said:

وقَدْ تَوَاتَرَت الأَحَادِيثِ عَنْ النَبِي صَلَى اللهُ عَلَيْهِ وسَلَمَ فِي عَذَابِ القَبْر
"the punishment of the grave is mentioned in mutawatir ahadith of the Prophet (saw)." (Nadhim al-Mutanathir, p. 124)

Sufyan ath-Tahawi said:

وقَدْ تَوَاتَرَت الأخبار عَنْ رَسُولِ اللَّهِ صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ في ثُبُوتِ عَذَابِ القَبْر
"There are mutawatir narrations from the Prophet (saw) that prove the punishment and bliss of the grave." (Ibn Abi al-Izz al-Hanafi, Sharh al-Aqida at-Tahawiyah, p, 450)

The Qur'an is transmitted in tawatur lafdhi (the exact same wording transmitted exactly in all the narrations going from group to group at all levels) and so we can trust its words as original and not having changed.

The tawatur of meaning (ma'nawi), such as the case of punishment of the grave, has the same religious and historical binding force and is not a later development.

Theologians' Views

Abu al-Hassan al-Ash'ari, the founder of the Ash'ari theological school, said:

وأَجْمَعُوا عَلَى أَنَّ عَذَابَ القَبْرِ حَقٌ وأَنّ النَّاسَ يُسْئَلُونَ فِي قُبُورِِهِم بَعد أنْ يُحْيُوا فِيهَا.
"They unanimously agree on the reality of punishment of the grave and on the questioning in their grave after coming back to life again in it (spiritually)." (Risalah ila Ah lath-Thaghr, pp. 88-89)

Ghazali, an outstanding philosopher and theologian, said:

ِأمَّا عَذَابُ القَبْرِ فَقَدْ دَلَّت عَلَيْهِ قَوَاطِعُ الشَرْعِ إذْ تَوَاتَرَ عَنْ النَبِي صَلَى اللهُ عَلَيْهِ وسَلَمَ وعَنْ الصَحَابَةِ رضي الله عنهم بالاسْتِعَاذَةِ مِنْهُ فِي الأَدْعِيَة
"The legal decisive (evidences) prove azaab al-qabar because it is mutawatir that the Prophet (saw) and his companions (ra) used to seek the protection of azaab al-qabar sin forms of prayers." (Ghazali, al-Iqtisad fi al-'I'tiqad, Vol. 1, p. 68)

Ibn Taymiyyah, a Hanbali jurist and theologian, said:

ِالعَذَابُ والنَعِيمُ عَلَى النَفْسِ والبَدَنِ جَمِيعًا بِاتِفَاقِ أَهْلِ السُنَةِ والجَمَاعَة
"Ahl-as-Sunah wa al-Jama'ah unanimously agree that punishment and blissing would be on both spirit (nafs) and body." (Majmu' al-Fatawa, Vol. 4, p. 282, Vol. 4, p. 262)


Muslim jurists and theologians unanimously agree that the belief in the punishment of the grave is a mutawatir belief. It has been narrated in hundreds of ahadith and a number of verses. It was also unanimously accepted by the companions and their followers.


Zarkashi, al-Bahr al-Muheet.
Bayhaqi, Ithbat 'Adhab al-Qabr
Kittani, 'Nadhim al-Mutanathir min al-Hadith al-Mutawati'as-Sahih al-Musnad fi 'Adhab al-Qabr wa na'imuh'
Abu Hanifah, Sharh al-Fiqh al-Akbar
Imam Malik, Muwatta
Al-Bayhaqi, al-I'tiqad wa al-Hidayah
Ibn Rajab, Tabaqat al-Hanabilah
Ibn Abi al-Izz al-Hanafi, Sharh al-Aqida at-Tahawiyah
Abu al-Hassan al-Ash'ari, Risalah ila Ah lath-Thaghr
Ibn Taymiyyah, Majmu' al-Fatawa
Ghazali, al-Iqtisad fi al-I'tiqad.

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