Al-Barzakh is an intermediate stage of living that is entirely different from life in this world. Once the soul reaches Barzakh, it has no way of returning to this life. In Arabic, “Barzakh” means barrier Allah says:
The Journey of our soul starts with birth, passes through Death, and ends with resurrection in the next life.
What is barzakh in islam?
It is He Who has let free the two bodies of flowing water: One palatable and sweet, and the other salt and bitter; yet has He made a barrier between them, a partition that is forbidden to be passed. (Surah al-Furqan 53)
Therefore, it extends from death until Resurrection. It is an intermediate stage of living different from the life of this world and from the life of the Barzakh.
Until, when Death comes to one of them, he says, “My Lord, send me back so that I may work righteousness in the things I neglected.” – “By no means! It is but a word he says.”- Before them is a Partition till the Day they are raised up. (Surah al-Muminun 99-100)
The route to Barzakh revolves around Death, and that is strongly marked by events that precede and follow it. These events include sickness, pre-death and post-death situations, the intermediate life in the grave (al-Barzakh), and lapses of time we spend sleeping that count as “minor death.
Ghayb the hidden or Unseen in Islam
To properly understand the Barzakh, we must have an open mind to question ourselves and study what Ghayb (hidden) is in Islam. As human nature, our reasoning is based upon our experience of this physical world where we live.
Since Ghayb relates to a different world, our physical laws do not govern that; we should not attempt to subject Ghayb’s issues to such laws.
- What is barzakh in islam?
- Ghayb the hidden or Unseen in Islam
- The Pangs of Death in the Quran
- Al-Barzakh for people with unusual death
- The soul exits unwillingly
- Action of the Angel of Death
- Assistant Angels
- The soul leaves body by throat
- Trip to heaven: Believers and nonbelievers
- Soul's residence in Barzakh
- Trip of the heaven for nonbeliever's Soul
- The last test: When the Soul returns to the grave
- After the "Azab e Qabr" ends
- Dua for protection from the torment of the grave
The Pangs of Death in the Quran
The sleepiness of death comes, bringing the realness with it (for people) and saying and the angel of death says:
“This is what you were trying to evade.”
Al-Barzakh for people with unusual death
Who die an abnormal death and are not buried typically, such as those burnt by fire, killed and eaten by wild beasts, or drowned and eaten by fish.
Scary story of Grave Robber.
Among those who came before you, there was a man known as a grave robber. Despite his wrongdoing and lack of righteous deeds, Allah blessed him with wealth and children. His only virtue was his belief in Allah.
When the time of death approached, and he despaired of life, he questioned his children about the kind of father he had been. They praised him as the best of fathers.
Realizing the end was near, he made a unique request of his children. He told them that he had not accumulated any good deeds with Allah.
Therefore, upon his death, he instructed them to gather a significant amount of firewood, create a fire, and burn his body. Once his flesh turned to ashes and his bones became coal, they were to grind him into powder. And then they were to scatter half of his remains on land and the other half into the sea.
He hoped that by doing so, he might escape the severe punishment he anticipated from Allah, recognizing that Allah’s punishment for him would exceed that of any other person.
Upon his demise, his children dutifully carried out his unusual instructions. In response, Allah commanded the earth and the sea to return what they had taken. They complied, and miraculously, the man stood reconstituted in the palm of Allah’s hand.
Allah questioned him about his actions, to which he humbly responded that fear of Allah had driven him to make those strange instructions.
Despite his lack of good deeds, Allah, in His mercy, forgave him solely based on his sincere belief in Allah.
This serves as a reminder that Allah’s mercy encompasses all, and sincere repentance can lead to forgiveness, even for those who have fallen short in righteous deeds.
The soul exits unwillingly
(Image Source: “Wadi al-Salam” translates to “Valley of Peace,” the largest cemetery in the world located in Najaf, Iraq).
The soul really likes the body it lives in while we’re alive. So, when it’s time to leave the body after death, the soul finds it tough to say goodbye. This difficulty is seen in the struggles people go through at that moment. Abu Hurayrah (may Allah be pleased with him) talked about this.
Prophet (ﷺ) said: Allah says to the human soul, “Depart (from the body, at death).” It replies, “I will not depart except reluctantly.” He says, “Depart, then, even if you are reluctant.”
|His feeling about meeting Allah
|He loves it and longs for it.
|He hates and fears it.
|Allah’s view about him
|Allah loves to meet him.
|Allah hates to meet him.
|What he says as his soul exits
|He praises Allah.
|He requests to return to life.
|Manner of his soul’s departure
|It exits as effortlessly as sweating, or as water flowing from a waterskin’s spout.
|It becomes terrified and clings to the body, but then exits noisily from the side of his mouth.
Action of the Angel of Death
When someone is about to pass away, the Angel of Death, “Azrael,” sits near their head and does the job of taking their soul. The angel tells the soul to leave the body and informs it about where it’s going next, saying this repeatedly until the soul finally leaves.
Action of the Angel of Death
|For a Believer
|For a Nonbeliever
|He commands the soul
|“Depart, O good and peaceful soul that inhabited a good body.”
|“Depart, O malicious soul that inhabited a malicious body.”
|Tidings he gives to the soul
|“Depart to Allah’s forgiveness and pleasure; depart in a praiseworthy state; receive glad tidings of happiness, sweet fragrances, and a Lord who is not displeased with you.”
|“Depart to Allah’s wrath and anger; depart in a condemned state; and receive evil tidings of boiling fluids, dirty wound discharges, and other types of suffering.”
|How he handles the soul
|He takes it gently.
|He extracts it by force, causing the veins and nerves to burst.
The little helper angels show up just before the Angel of Death. They sit at the edge of the dying person’s vision, waiting for the Angel of Death. Once the Angel of Death takes the soul out of the body, these helper angels quickly grab it from him.
|For a Believer
|For a Nonbeliever
|They are angels of mercy.
|They are angels of punishment.
|Their faces are white and bright like the sun.
|They are strong, hulking, and of dark faces.
|What they carry
|White silk and embalmment from Jannah.
|Coarse fabrics from the Fire.
|Tidings they bring
|Glad tidings: “Exit to Allah’s granted happiness.”
|Alarming tidings: “Exit to Allah’s wrath.”
|Action upon receiving the soul
|They apply to it the shroud and embalmment from Jannah.
|They beat his face and back and wrap the soul in the fabric from the Fire.
The soul leaves body by throat
At Death, the soul exits from a person’s body through his throat.
No! When the soul has reached the collarbones. And it is said, “Who will cure [him]? And he realizes that the hour of parting comes, And the leg is wound about the leg. (Surah Al-Qiyamah 26-29)
When the soul leaves the body, it gives off scents that people can’t detect “Musk.” However, the angels can smell these scents, and their reactions can be positive or negative.
Trip to heaven: Believers and nonbelievers
In Islam, when someone passes away, his family members begin the process of “Tadfeen.” This involves “Ghusl” washing and covering the body in “Kafan” and praying Namaz-e-Janaza.
While this is happening on Earth, angels embark on an extraordinary journey with the departed soul, heading towards heaven.
If the person is a believer, their soul reaches the highest level of heaven, enters Jannah, and joins the company of other believers during the Barzakh period.
On the other hand, the soul of a nonbeliever only reaches the gate of the first heaven and is not allowed to enter. Instead, it is cast down to the seventh Earth, a bottomless abyss where nonbelievers’ souls are imprisoned.
There, it meets the company of other nonbelievers’ souls during the barzakh period. After this journey, the soul is returned to the body right after the burial.
This marks the beginning of the final trial that every deceased person faces immediately after being buried.
The most elite from each sky guide the believer’s soul to the next one until he reaches the seventh sky. After that, Allah says:
No! Indeed, the record of the righteous is in ‘illiyyun. And what can make you know what ‘illiyyun is? It is [their destination recorded in] a register inscribed, Which is witnessed by those brought near [to Allah]. (Surah Al-Mutaffifin 18-21)
Soul’s residence in Barzakh
Barzakh is unlike this physical world, where the Soul can be simultaneously in different places. For Instance, the Soul in the grave, in Jannah (for believers), or the depth of Earth (for nonbelievers).
Similarly, the Joining of the Soul with the body upon returning from heaven is dissimilar to their Joining in our world. In this world, their Joining means Life, and their separation implies Death.
It has been reported from the authentic chain of Alim-e-deen that a person is deemed deceased in the worldly sense yet alive in the spiritual sense of Barzakh.
This holds true even if the physical body has undergone complete decomposition in grave.
Trip of the heaven for nonbeliever’s Soul
Following the departure of the Soul from the body, angels carry the soul of a nonbeliever to the heavens, yet it is denied entry even into the first heaven.
Instead, it is cast down into Sijjin for a brief initiation before being returned to the body for the grave trial. Later on, it is ultimately taken back to Sijjin.
Sijjin serves as a gathering place for all nonbelievers’ souls during the Barzakh period.
This term signifies a severe and confining imprisonment, described by Qatadah as the lowest depth of the Earth where the souls of nonbelievers are confined.
The last test: When the Soul returns to the grave
As soon as the Tadfeen (Burial) is completed, the Soul reunites with the body in preparation for the “final trial.” The Two stern angels, Munkar and Nakir, begin questioning the departed individual.
The trial in the grave starts right after the Tadfeen ends (burial). Upon completing the burial of a Muslim, the Prophet (ﷺ) would stand over the grave and say: (Dua for deceased)
After the “Azab e Qabr” ends
After someone dies, the trial in the grave shows what they already knew at their death moment, told by the Angels of Death and their helpers.
For a good person, nice things happen right away:
- Their grave gets big.
- A door to Jannah (Paradise) shows up.
- Their grave is filled with happy things from Jannah, and their good deeds appear like a friendly person next to them.
But for a person who isn’t good, bad things happen right away:
- Their grave gets tight.
- A door to hell shows up.
- Their grave is filled with Fire and bad stuff from hell.
- Their bad deeds appear next to them like a yucky person.
- They feel a hurtful punishment.
Dua for protection from the torment of the grave
The Prophet (ﷺ) frequently sought Allah’s refuge from the trials and torment of the grave, and he imparted this practice to his companions.
“Rabbi a’udhu bika min ‘adhabin-nar wa ‘adhabil-qabr”
(My Lord, I seek Your protection from the punishment of the Fire and the punishment of the grave)