In salah prayers and in visiting graves, greetings are sent using words in first-person addressed directly to the dead person. For example, it is common to say “assalamu alaik / peace to you” on to a grave with full belief that these words are being ‘heard’ by the dead person concerned. Some even say the dead person answers back to the greeting with a similar greeting. The Qur’an says the following:
“You cannot make the dead hear, you cannot make the deaf listen to your call when they turn their backs and leave.” (Qur’an 27:80)
Therefore, there is no scope for the dead person to hear anything pertaining to the living world let alone answer back to matters concerning him. Once a person dies, he is totally isolated from the living world. He is in the process of transitioning to the Hereafter, awaiting Judgment Day.
The Qur’an states that the Day of Judgment will come when the trumpet is blown and the earth and all humans-beings are destroyed. For living people, this Day may be years away from now. However, to a person who has died in the past, perhaps millions of years ago, it is just like sleep – a timeless transition. For this dead person, it will be as if though he transitioned from death to the Day of Judgment in a blink of an eye (16:77). For a dying person, the Day of Judgment is encountered as soon as death occurs, although many generations may live in-between. As stated, this time period is due to Judgment Day occurring at the end of time when the trumpet is blown and Allah raises those in their graves (39:68), but it does not exist for the dead. During this time period for living humans, the dead do not have any chance to communicate with the living world, nor the living world to communicate with the dead.
The Qur’an renders this fact crystal clear in another verse:
“The living and the dead are not the same. Allah makes anyone He wills hear, you cannot make those in their graves hear (وَمَآ أَنتَ بِمُسْمِعٍۢ مَّن فِى ٱلْقُبُورِ).” (Qur’an 35:22)
There is no disputing the fact of dead peoples’ inability to hear the living as stated in the above verse. Trying to communicate to the dead is as good as a person trying to get a dead body to speak.
There are groups of people, who, ignoring these Quranic teachings, try hard to find anything in the Qur’an that can prove their preconceived motives. These motives arise from external contradictory sources or simply a desire to call on Allah using the dead as intermediaries or partners with Allah – (“And most of them only believe in Allah while associating partners with Him” – 12:106). These people use a technique which involve quoting a verse from the Qur’an which they think proves their point while keeping their audience in dark concerning the verses we cited. Thus, their listeners who likewise do not read the Qur’an directly for guidance, never know the true full picture and yield to their erroneous preaching.
The verse used by such groups is the following. Addressing the loss felt by believers who lost family and friends during a battle at the time of the prophet, Allah comforts the believers saying:
“Do not think of those who have been killed in Allah’s way as dead. They are alive with their Lord, well provided for, happy with what Allah has given them of His favor; rejoicing that for those they have left behind who have yet to join them there is no fear, nor will they grieve; [rejoicing] in Allah’s blessing and favour, and that Allah will not let the reward of the believers be lost. ” (Qur’an 3:169-171)
This verse is addressing the emotional tendency to see those who died during the battle, as lives wasted in vain. Allah is emphasising that although we see their dead bodies, they have not lost anything – but gained. Allah is speaking in their realm when He says they are indeed alive and living. Because as we stated, as soon as they met death in battle, they found the Hereafter, where they found eternal reward from Allah. In our time domain however, they are obviously dead, verified with the verse, “Every soul shall taste death” (21:35). Therefore, the living cannot communicate with them – they cannot hear us, nor the prophets or any believers of the past who are dead at this moment in time.
“And who is further astray than those who, instead of Allah, pray unto those who do not hear their prayer until the Day of Resurrection, and are unconscious of their prayer?” (Qur’an 46:5)
The believer looks forward to the day when Allah will unite him or her in Paradise with all true believers and prophets who existed in the history of the earth. Although he could not meet most of them in this world, he awaits a gracious day of great celebration for believers where they meet only the loyal servants of Allah who make it to Paradise. They will rejoice eternally with Allah’s great rewards of anything their hearts desire and more. Peace and joy for eternity.
“…Those are the people of the Garden and there they will remain. And We will remove any malice from their hearts. Rivers will flow under them and they will say, ‘Praise be to Allah who has guided us to this! We would not have been guided, had Allah not guided us! The Messengers of our Lord came with the truth.’ It will be proclaimed to them: ‘This is your Garden which you have inherited for what you did.” (Qur’an 7:43)
The detailed Quranic descriptions of death and afterlife, provides no room for commonly circulated elaborate tales on punishments of the grave. The Qur’an defers all punishments of the guilty to the Hereafter, in Hell, after the person is judged by Allah on the Day of Judgment and no punishment in the transitory period in the grave has been mentioned in the Qur’an.