Experience in the Barzakh
In the state of Barzakh, the soul experiences either the reward of comfort or the pain of punishment. In the case of the disbeliever, the Barzakh is the second place of punishment after the ‘trance of death’ and before the final punishment of Hell. The Qur’an explicitly addresses the stages of punishment in life and in the life of the Hereafter:
And verily, We will make them taste of the near torment (in this life), prior to the supreme torment (in the Hereafter), in order that they may (repent and) return (to God). [Sûrah Al-Sajdah, 32:21]
For a disbeliever, Barzakh is a place of suffering; the grave gives him a sense of tightness and discomfort, and he will be shown his future place in Hell-fire morning and evening:
The Fire —they are exposed to it morning and evening. And on the Day when the Hour appears [it will be said], “Make the people of Pharaoh enter the severest punishment…” [Sûrah Al-Ghafîr, 40:46]
On the other hand, the bliss of Barzakh for a Believer is a state of comfort, a sense of spaciousness and the greeneries of Paradise: he is shown his future place in Paradise every morning and evening. This experience begins after the completion of the interrogation of the grave.
Information regarding the torment of the grave was revealed to the Messenger of Allah in real life experience and in his dreams. RasulAllahSAW said:
“When one of you dies, he is shown his place (in Paradise or Hell) morning and evening. If he is one of the people of Paradise, then he is shown his place among the people of Paradise, and if he is one of the people of the Hell, then he is shown his place among the people of Hell. It will be said to him, ‘This is your place until Allah resurrects you to go to it on the Day of Resurrection.’” (Ahmad: Jami‘ Al-Tirmidhi 1072, narrated by Ibn ‘Umar)
And the ProphetSAW used to seek refuge in AllahSWT from the torment of the grave regularly after each prayer:
“O Allah! I seek refuge with You from the punishment in the grave, and from the punishment in the Hell-fire, and from the afflictions of life and death, and from the affliction of Al-Masîh, Al-Dajjal.” (Ṣaḥîḥ Al-Bukhari 1377)
The ProphetSAW once passed by two graves and said:
“They (the deceased persons in those graves) are being tortured but not for a thing great to avoid.” And then added, “Yes, (they are being punished for a big sin), for one of them used to go about with calumnies while the other never saved himself from being soiled with his urine.” (Ṣaḥîḥ Al-Bukhari 1378
The ProphetSAW said:
“I saw (a dream) last night that two men (angels) came to me, caught hold of my hands, and took me to the Sacred Land (Jerusalem). There, I saw a person sitting and another standing with an iron hook in his hand pushing it inside the mouth of the former till it reached the jaw-bone, and then tore off one side of his cheek, and then did the same with the other side; in the meantime, the first side of his cheek became normal again and then he repeated the same operation again. I said, ‘What is this?’
They told me to proceed [on my way] and we went on till we came to a man lying flat on his back, and another man standing at his head wielding a stone or a piece of rock, and crushing the head of the lying man, with that stone. Whenever he struck him, the stone rolled away. The man went to pick it up and by the time he returned to him, the crushed head had returned to its normal state and the man came back and struck him again (and so on and on). I said, ‘What is this?’
They told me to proceed; so we proceeded on and passed by a hole like an oven; with a narrow top and wide bottom, and the fire was kindling underneath that hole. Whenever the fire-flame rose, the people were lifted up to such an extent that they were about to get out of it, and whenever the fire got quieter, the people sank back down into it, and there were naked men and women in it. I said, ‘What is this?’
They told me to proceed. So, we proceeded on till we reached a river of blood and a man was in it, and another man was standing at its bank with stones in front of him, facing the man standing in the river. Whenever the man in the river wanted to come out, the other one threw a stone in his mouth and caused him to retreat to his original position; and again, whenever he wanted to come out the other would throw a stone in his mouth, and he would retreat to his original position. I asked, ‘What is this?’
They told me to proceed and we did so till we reached a richly-flourishing green garden having a huge tree and near the base of its trunk there was sitting an old man with some children. (I saw) another man near the tree with fire in front of him and he was kindling it up. Then they (i. e. my two companions) made me climb up the tree and made me enter an abode, —better than which I have never before seen. In it were some old men and young men, women and children. Then they took me out of this abode and made me climb up the tree and made me enter another abode that was better and superior (to the first) containing old and young people.
I said to them [my two companions], ‘You have made me journey all the night. Tell me all about all that I have seen.’
They said, ‘Very well’:
As for the one whose cheek you saw being torn away, he was a liar and when he would tell lies, the people would report those lies on his authority till they spread all over the world. So, he will be punished like that till the Day of Resurrection.
The one whose head you saw being crushed is the one whom Allah had given the knowledge of Quran (i. e. knowing it by heart) but he used to sleep at night (i. e. he did not recite it then) and did not used to act upon it [its content] by day; and so this punishment will go on till the Day of Resurrection.
And those you saw in the hole [like an oven] were adulterers [those men and women who commit illegal sexual intercourse].
And those you saw in the river of blood were those dealing in riba (usury).
And the old man who was sitting at the base of the tree was Abraham and the little children around him were the offspring of the people.
And the one who was kindling the fire for the ‘oven’ was Malik, the gatekeeper of the Hell-fire.
And the first abode in which you went [from the tree] was the abode of the common believers, and the second abode was of the martyrs. I am Gabriel and this is Michael. Raise your head.’ I raised my head and saw a thing like a cloud over me. They said, ‘That is your place.’ I said, ‘Let me enter my place.’ They said, ‘You still have some life which you have not yet completed, and when you complete (that remaining portion of your life) you will then enter your place.” (Ṣaḥîḥ Al-Bukhari 1386)
These are glimpses of life in Barzakh. This will be the state of life in Barzakh for all those passed away and those who will pass away. Here everyone will be waiting till the Qiyamah (Resurrection) begins.
The beginning of Qiyamah will be/is to be heralded by the blowing of the Trumpet (Sur) which will cause everyone alive to fall into a swoon. Only AllahSWT knows how long they will remain in that state. Then, when the Trumpet is blown for the second time, everyone (the recently deceased and the previously deceased) will come to life, will rush to a Caller, and find themselves on a plain lighted with Divine Light. [Sûrah Al-Zumar, 39:68-70].
Here, they will look around and will recognize some of their past acquaintances :
And on the Day when He shall gather them together, (it will be) as if they had not stayed (in the life of this world and the grave) except an hour of a day. They will recognize each other… [Sûrah Yunus, 10:45]
They will also have traces of memory of their past deeds, so that the facts in their Record of Deeds will be in conformity with the past memory and the testimony from the Prophets:
And the earth will shine with light of its Lord (Allah, when He will come to judge among men): and the Book will be placed (open); and the Prophets and the witnesses will be brought forward; and it will be judged between them with truth, and they will not be wronged. [Surah Al-Zumar, 39:69]
After the second blowing of the Trumpet, the Hour will be established (Surah Al-Zumar, 39:68), and the Righteous Judgment will begin. No one, not even the Messenger, has any knowledge of the Hour, except AllahSWT:
Verily Allah, with Him (Alone) is the knowledge of the Hour… [Sûrah Al-Luqman, 31:34]
AllahSWT, however has bestowed knowledge upon His MessengerSAW to inform people of the signs of the Hour. First are minor signs that eventually will lead to the Major signs.
To be continued in Part 7…