About the Questions that are Asked in the Grave

According to Ahlu Sunnah, Munkar and Nakir ask the person who has died about his Lord, religion and prophet.  A believer answers those questions but an unbeliever cannot. There are a lot of hadiths regarding the issue. Those two angels go to the grave of the dead, revive him and ask the questions. (Pazdawi, "Ehl-i Sünnet Akâidi" Trns., Şerafettin Gölcük, İstanbul 1980, 237).

From Abu Hurayra; Hazrat Prophet (pbuh) was reported to have said the following:

"When a dead body is buried, two jet-black angels with blue eyes come. One of them is called Munkar and the other Nakir. They ask the dead person, What do you say about this man (the Messenger of Allah)? He says what he used to say when he was alive; "He is the slave and messenger of Allah. I witness that there is no god but Allah and I witness that Muhammad (pbuh) is His slave and messenger. The angels say; "We already knew that you said it. Then his grave is expanded seventy times seventy ziras (1 zira = 75 cm) and illuminated. Then, he is told to lie down. He turns to them and asks; Shall I return and inform my family? They say, Sleep like the sleep of a groom that will nobody will wake except the person that he loves most. Thus, he sleeps in the place he is lying down until Almighty Allah revives him.  

If he is a munafiq (hypocrite), he will say, "I would hear what people say and would repeat it. I dont know. The angels will say, We already knew you would say that Then they say to the earth, Squeeze him. The earth squeezes him and his ribs become intertwined.  He is tortured in that place until Allah revives him." (Tirmizi, Janaiz, 70)

In almost all of the creed books, Munkar and Nakir, and the questions they ask the dead person in the grave are mentioned. In the Quran, the names of those two angels are not mentioned; there is no statement in the Quran expressing that the dead person will be questioned in the grave, either. However, Ahlu Sunnah scholars accept that some verses indicate it and some verses are completely related to the questioning in the grave.  The following is stated in the Aqaid of Omar Nasafi: "The questioning by Munkar and Nakir is definite in the Book (the Quran) and Sunnah."

It is stated that  the hereafter mentioned in the following verse is the grave and the firm word is the word of witness" (kalima shahadah): Allah will establish in strength those who believe, with the Word that stands firm, in this world and in the Hereafter; but Allah will leave to stray those who do wrong: Allah doeth what He willeth". (Ibrahim 14/27) Ibn Majah says the following in his Sunan:

This verse "
Allah will establish in strength those who believe, with the Word that stands firm " was sent down about the questioning in the grave. The dead person will be asked in the grave; "Who is your Lord?" He will answer: "My Lord is Allah; my Prophet is Muhammad (pbuh). Thus, the answer of the dead believer is the expression of the verse; "Allah will establish in strength those who believe, with the Word that stands firm " (Ibn Majah, Zuhd, 32; In addition, see Bukhari, Tafsir, Chapter, 14).

That hadith is narrated in all of the famous six hadith books. In some narrations, the number of the questions are increased to three as follows: "Who is your Lord, what is your religion, who is your prophet?"

It is stated in tafsir (interpretation) books that the following verse is also about the questioning in the grave and grave torture: "
In front of the Fire will they be brought, morning and evening: and (the Sentence will be) on the Day that Judgment will be established: "Cast ye the People of Pharaoh into the severest Penalty!"  (al-Mu'min, 40/46) (Ibn Kathir, "Tafsiru'l-Qur'ani'l-Azim", tafsir of 40/46).

There are a lot of hadiths about the questions of Munkar and Nakir in the grave. Although those ahad (reported by only one person) hadiths do not reach the state of tawatur (multiplicity of the sources of a certain report that leads to certitude in the listener that the report is indeed true) in terms of the words, the fact that there are a lot of hadiths regarding the issue raises the issue to the level of tawatur. (Haşiyetü'l-Kesteli alâ Şerhi'l-Akâid, İstanbul 1973, 133, 134).

In some of those hadiths, it is mentioned that the dead person will be questioned but no angel is mentioned:

"The dead person is put into the grave. If he is a good person, he is placed in the grave without anxiety or fear. Then, he is asked; "What was your religion?". He answers; "I was in the religion of Islam". Then, he is asked; "Who is that man (the Messenger of Allah (pbuh)?". He says; "He is Muhammad (pbuh), the Messenger of Allah. He brought us obvious verses from Allah; and we approved him. Then they ask him;Have you seen Allah? He says: "Nobody is worthy of seeing Allah." After those questions and answers, a window on the side of the fire is opened. When the dead person looks at it, he sees that the flames of the fire try to beat one another. Then, he is told; "Look at the fire that Allah protected you from. Then a window on the side of Paradise is opened. This time, he looks at the ornaments and bounties of Paradise. He is told; "That place is your position; then, he is told; "You were on a sincere belief, you died on that sound belief and inshaallah (God willing) you will be revived on that belief." (Ibn Majah, Zuhd, 32).

As it is seen, in the hadith above, no angel is mentioned; only the questioning in grave is mentioned. In another hadith, it is stated that there is an angel that will question the dead but the name of that angel is not mentioned:

"This umma (community) will be questioned in the grave. When the dead person is buried and his friends leave him, an angel holding a mace will come, will make him sit and ask; "What do you say about this man (the Messenger of Allah)? If the dead person is a believer, he will say, "I witness that there is no god but Allah and that Muhammad (pbuh) is His slave and Messenger. The angel will say; "You told the truth." (Ahmad Ibn Hanbal, Musnad, III, 3, 40).

In the Abu Hurayra hadith mentioned earlier, two questioning angels are mentioned and it is stated that one of them is called Munkar and the other Nakir.

According to Ahlu Sunnah, it is true that Munkar and Nakir will question the dead. The grave in the grave and the squeezing of the grave is true. It is for all of the unbelievers and some disobedient Muslims.  (Imam Azam, "al-Fiqh al-Akbar", trns. H. Basrî Çantay, Ankara 1985, p. 14).

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