What is a Muslim going to encounter after death?

Details of the Question
What will hapen after the death of a Muslim in the grave?
The Answer

Dear Brother / Sister,

Just as we see, different things and listen to different voices while we are dreaming broken off from the world, our soul is introduced to a new life what we call the Intermediate Realm when we are dead. Human being, who sees the Archangel Azrael (the angel of death) at the moment of death, meets with the questioning angels in this new realm. The good deeds of a believer stay with him/her like a beloved friend.

The Intermediate Realm is a bridge between the life on earth and the one in the grave. This realm shows itself in several forms based on the human beings’ quality. While martyrs are put in the grave without knowing they themselves are dead, scholars continue their scholarly works even here. As for unbelievers, this realm is a land of torment where the first examples of hell torment are experienced.

Death is the departure of soul from body. It is a journey from the realm we live in to the realm of grave. Soul is taken to the intermediate realm by the Archangel Azrael. Azrael is the first angel we are going to see in this realm. He is a reliable trustee to whom we could deliver our souls, our most valuable treasure, with a peace of mind. At the moment of death, soul becomes free from the confinement of body. But it does not become naked completely. Because it is covered with an unearthly cloth.

Soul, which is dependent on body while on earth, becomes free to some extent while dead. While they were in need of eyes to see, ears to hear, brain to think, in this realm they see, hear, think, and know without needing these tools anymore. As in dreams… Intermediate realm means “passage.” Intermediate realm is a waiting place between the world and the Hereafter. Souls await the Doomsday and resurrection there. The first encounter with the interrogation angels called Munkar and Nakir, the first trial, the first punishment, the first award will come true there.

Intermediate realm is, as a hadith puts it, either a garden from the Paradise or a ditch from Hell. Here what receives either reward or punishment is soul, which has departed from body. It returns to its previous body in the field of the resurrection after the intermediate realm, gives account of what s/he did while s/he was in the world in the great court. The following is either eternal Paradise or eternal Hell. As in the world, also in those places both pleasure and pain are experienced with both body and soul.

The grave life will be followed by the resurrection. Resurrection will be in question for body since soul never dies. With resurrection, souls get their new bodies and are brought to the field of interrogation. Having remained there for a while, the next step is “balance.” Those who die on faith and have more good deeds than bad deeds on this balance will be sent to the eternal place of bliss. Those who die without faith will be sent to the land of torment. In addition, believers who have more bad deeds than good will be sent to Hell in order for them to get rid of their sins. Later on, they get to Paradise as well.

Alaaddin Başar (Prof.Dr.)

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