The issue of life after death, which is also called the "spiritual world or alam al-Barzakh" is one of the unknown matters to us. The only access to such knowledge comes from the revelation, whether Qur'an or Sunnah.
Martyrs are alive
Classical scholars unanimously agree the shaheed is alive after death, as Allah (swt) says in the Qur'an:
وَلَا تَحْسَبَنَّ الَّذِينَ قُتِلُوا فِي سَبِيلِ اللَّهِ أَمْوَاتًا ۚ بَلْ أَحْيَاءٌ عِندَ رَبِّهِمْ يُرْزَقُونَ - آل عمران 196
And never think of those who have been killed in the cause of Allah as dead. Rather, they are alive with their Lord, receiving provision (Qur'an 3: 169)
But such life, does not resemble our worldly life. This is described in a sahih hadith narrated by Muslim:
عَنْ مَسْرُوقٍ، قَالَ سَأَلْنَا عَبْدَ اللَّهِ عَنْ هَذِهِ الآيَةِ، وَلاَ تَحْسَبَنَّ الَّذِينَ قُتِلُوا فِي سَبِيلِ اللَّهِ أَمْوَاتًا بَلْ أَحْيَاءٌ عِنْدَ رَبِّهِمْ يُرْزَقُونَ} قَالَ أَمَا إِنَّا قَدْ سَأَلْنَا عَنْ ذَلِكَ فَقَالَ " أَرْوَاحُهُمْ فِي جَوْفِ طَيْرٍ خُضْرٍ لَهَا قَنَادِيلُ مُعَلَّقَةٌ بِالْعَرْشِ تَسْرَحُ مِنَ الْجَنَّةِ حَيْثُ شَاءَتْ ثُمَّ تَأْوِي إِلَى تِلْكَ الْقَنَادِيلِ فَاطَّلَعَ إِلَيْهِمْ رَبُّهُمُ اطِّلاَعَةً فَقَالَ هَلْ تَشْتَهُونَ شَيْئًا قَالُوا أَىَّ شَىْءٍ نَشْتَهِي وَنَحْنُ نَسْرَحُ مِنَ الْجَنَّةِ حَيْثُ شِئْنَا فَفَعَلَ ذَلِكَ بِهِمْ ثَلاَثَ مَرَّاتٍ فَلَمَّا رَأَوْا أَنَّهُمْ لَنْ يُتْرَكُوا مِنْ أَنْ يُسْأَلُوا قَالُوا يَا رَبِّ نُرِيدُ أَنْ تَرُدَّ أَرْوَاحَنَا فِي أَجْسَادِنَا حَتَّى نُقْتَلَ فِي سَبِيلِكَ مَرَّةً أُخْرَى . فَلَمَّا رَأَى أَنْ لَيْسَ لَهُمْ حَاجَةٌ تُرِكُوا "- مسلم 33/181
Masruq (ra) reported: We asked Abdullah about the Qur'anic verse: "Think not of those who are slain in Allah's way as dead. Nay, they are alive, finding their sustenance in the presence of their Lord." He said: "We asked the meaning of the verse (from the Prophet)" who said: "The souls, of the martyrs live in the bodies of green birds who have their nests in chandeliers hung from the throne of the Almighty. They eat the fruits of Paradise from wherever they like and then nestle in these chandeliers. Once their Lord cast a glance at them and said: Do ye want anything? They said: 'What more shall we desire? We eat the fruit of Paradise from wherever we like.' Their Lord asked them the same question thrice. When they saw that they will continue to be asked and not left (without answering the question). they said: 'O Lord, we wish you may return our souls to our bodies so that we may be slain in Thy way once again.' When He (Allah) saw they had no need, they were left (to their joy in heaven)". (Muslim 33:181)
There is no big difference between the dead regarding the nature of life, but the difference occurs regarding how each group live and the how of their reward or punishment.
So, what is attributed to the dead (as a whole) is automatically attributed to all of its parts including the shaheed.
The majority of classical scholars argue the dead/shaheed can hear and see us. the evidences support the notion of the dead's ability, in general, to hear those who are alive are the following:
عَنْ أَنَسِ بْنِ مَالِكٍ رَضِيَ اللَّهُ عَنْهُ ، أَنَّهُ حَدَّثَهُمْ أَنَّ رَسُولَ اللَّهِ صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ , قَالَ : " إِنَّ الْعَبْدَ إِذَا وُضِعَ فِي قَبْرِهِ وَتَوَلَّى عَنْهُ أَصْحَابُهُ وَإِنَّهُ 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 " . قَالَ نَبِيُّ اللَّهِ صلى الله عليه وسلم " فَيَرَاهُمَا جَمِيعًا " - مسلم 53/85، والنسائي 21/233
Anas ibn Malik (ra) narrated that Allah's Messenger (saw) said: 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)? 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. (Muslim 53:85; Nasa'i 21:233)
In a hadith narrated after the Battle of Badr the Prophet (saw) talked to the deceased among the disbelievers in their graves and he told Umar ibn al-Khattab (ra) they could hear him:
عَنْ أَنَسٍ قَالَ كُنَّا مَعَ عُمَرَ بَيْنَ مَكَّةَ وَالْمَدِينَةِ أَخَذَ يُحَدِّثُنَا عَنْ أَهْلِ بَدْرٍ فَقَالَ إِنَّ رَسُولَ اللَّهِ صلى الله عليه وسلم لَيُرِينَا مَصَارِعَهُمْ بِالأَمْسِ قَالَ هَذَا مَصْرَعُ فُلاَنٍ إِنْ شَاءَ اللَّهُ غَدًا قَالَ عُمَرُ وَالَّذِي بَعَثَهُ بِالْحَقِّ مَا أَخْطَئُوا تِيكَ فَجُعِلُوا فِي بِئْرٍ فَأَتَاهُمُ النَّبِيُّ صلى الله عليه وسلم فَنَادَى يَا فُلاَنُ بْنَ فُلاَنٍ يَا فُلاَنُ بْنَ فُلاَنٍ هَلْ وَجَدْتُمْ مَا وَعَدَ رَبُّكُمْ حَقًّا فَإِنِّي وَجَدْتُ مَا وَعَدَنِي اللَّهُ حَقًّا فَقَالَ عُمَرُ تُكَلِّمُ أَجْسَادًا لاَ أَرْوَاحَ فِيهَا فَقَالَ مَا أَنْتُمْ بِأَسْمَعَ لِمَا أَقُولُ مِنْهُمْ. - النسائي 21/258
Anas (ra) narrated: We were with Umar between Makkah and Al-Madinah when he started to tell us about the people of Badr. He said that the Messenger of Allah showed them the day before where they [the unbelievers] would fall. He said: This is the place where so-and-so will fall tomorrow if Allah wills. Umar said: "By the One Who sent him with the truth, they did not miss those places. They were placed in a well and the Prophet came to them and called out: O so-and-so son of so-and-so! O so-and-so son of so-and-so! Have you found what your Lord promised to be true? For I have found what Allah promised me to be true." Umar asked the Messenger of Allah: "Are you speaking to bodies in which there are no souls?" He said: "You do not hear what I say any better than they do." (Nasa'i 21:258)
عَنْ أَبِي هُرَيْرَةَ، رضي الله عنه أَنَّ رَسُولَ اللَّهِ صلى الله عليه وسلم خَرَجَ إِلَى الْمَقْبُرَةِ فَقَالَ " السَّلاَمُ عَلَيْكُمْ دَارَ قَوْمٍ مُؤْمِنِينَ وَإِنَّا إِنْ شَاءَ اللَّهُ بِكُمْ لاَحِقُونَ " - مسلم 2/52، وأبو داود 21/149
Abu Huraira (ra) narrated: The Messenger of Allah (saw) went out to the graveyard and said: Peace be upon you, the abode of the believing people. and If Allah so wills we shall join you. (Muslim 2:52; Abu Dawud 21:149)
Whereas these ahadith attribute the permissibility to address the dead people, therefore there must be a reality behind this i.e. we do not talk to people who cannot hear.
This view was supported by a group of scholars such as ibn Taymiyyah in his 'Majmu' al-Fataw', Ibn al-Qayyim in his book 'al-Ruh', Ibn Kathir in his tafseer of Sura al-Rum, ibn Abi al-Dunya in his book 'al-Quboor', and Suyuti in his book 'Sharh al-Sudur fi Ahwal al Muta wa Zirat al-Quboor'.
On the other hand, some Hanafi scholars such as ibn Abidin, ibn Nujim and ibn al-Humam, and some Malikis such as Qadi Iyad who considered these incidents as miracles peculiar to the Prophet (saw) and could not be a general rule quoting a narration reporting the view of A'isha (ra).
عَنِ ابْنِ عُمَرَ ـ رضى الله عنهما ـ قَالَ وَقَفَ النَّبِيُّ صلى الله عليه وسلم عَلَى قَلِيبِ بَدْرٍ فَقَالَ "هَلْ وَجَدْتُمْ مَا وَعَدَ رَبُّكُمْ حَقًّا ثُمَّ قَالَ إِنَّهُمُ الآنَ يَسْمَعُونَ مَا أَقُولُ" فَذُكِرَ لِعَائِشَةَ فَقَالَتْ إِنَّمَا قَالَ النَّبِيُّ صلى الله عليه وسلم " إِنَّهُمُ الآنَ لَيَعْلَمُونَ أَنَّ الَّذِي كُنْتُ أَقُولُ لَهُمْ هُوَ الْحَقُّ ". ثُمَّ قَرَأَتْ (إِنَّكَ لاَ تُسْمِعُ الْمَوْتَى) حَتَّى قَرَأَتِ الآيَةَ - البخاري 64/32
Ibn Umar narrated: The Prophet (saw) stood at the well of Badr (which contained the corpses of the pagans) and said, "Have you found true what your lord promised you?" Then he further said, "They now hear what I say." This was mentioned before A'isha and she said, "But the Prophet (saw) said, 'Now they know very well that what I used to tell them was the truth.' Then she recited (the Verse): "You cannot make the dead hear...till the end of Verse)." (Qur'an 30:52) (Bukhari 64:32)
But this narration is not decisive to support the latter opinion.
Yes, the shaheed (martyred) can hear and see those who are alive, but in a way only known by Allah (swt). This is the opinion of some scholars. It has been reported by the Prophet (saw) in many hadiths addressed the dead and greeted the dwellers of graves, in general.
Suyuti, Al-Hawi lil Fatawi
ibn Taymiyyah, Majmu' al-Fatawa
Ibn al-Qayyim, al-Ruh
Ibn Kathir, Tafsir al-Qur'an al-Azeem
Ibn Abi al-Dunya, Al-Quboor
Suyuti, Sharh al-Sudur fi Ahwal al Muta wa Zirat al-Quboor
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