FAQ in the category of Death and After Death

1 What are the benefits of visiting graves? Do the dead people see those who come to their graves?

Benefits of Visiting Graves

a) It reminds one of death and afterlife, and makes him draw a lesson from it for his afterlife. (Muslim, Janaiz, 108; Tirmidhi, Janaiz, 59; Ibn Majah, Janaiz 47-48; Ahmad b. Hanbal, Musnad, I, 145).

b) It directs one to asceticism and taqwa (God-Consciousness). It prevents over-ambitiousness for worldly life and committing harams. It leads one to commit good deeds. (Ibn Majah, Janaiz, 47).

c) Visiting graves of saintly people - especially that of our Prophet’s - refreshes one’s spirit and helps to evoke supreme feelings in them. It is mandub to travel to the graves of our Prophet and Allah’s saintly slaves in order to visit them. The Prophet states the following in a hadith:

“Whoever visits me after I die, it is as if he visited me when I was alive.” (Mansur Ali Nasif, at-Taj, al-Jamiu’l Usul, II, 190).

d) Visiting graves helps the strengthening of one’s relations with his past, religious culture and history.

Benefits of Visiting Graves for the Dead

Graves of people, especially parents, other relatives and friends are visited in order to pray for the peace of their spirits and for their salvation. The fact that thawabs gained from good deeds that are performed on behalf of the dead will reach them is stated in hadiths and determined by the consensus of Islamic scholars. When visiting the dead, one prays for the peace of their spirits, reads the Quran and thawabs gained from those good deeds are donated to them.

It is thawab to plant a tree at a grave. There are hadiths stating that a tree planted at a grave will be a reason to ease the dead person’s agony. It is makruh (abominable) to put a wreath on graves as Christians do.

This Quranic verse indicates the fact that prayers and supplication made for the sake of the dead people’s spirits will be beneficial for them:

“Our Lord! Forgive us, and our brethren who came before us into the Faith, and leave not, in our hearts, rancor (or sense of injury) against those who have believed.” (al-Hashr, 59:10).

There are many hadiths on the issue (Ahmad b. Hanbal, Musnad, II, 509; VI, 252; Ibn Majah, Adab).

Are the dead people aware of the people who visit them? 

After the Battle of Badr, the dead bodies of Qurayshis were put into a well. The Messenger of Allah addressed them as follows:

"O son of this and that! Did you find that what Allah and His messenger had promised you came out true? I found that what Allah had promised me came out true." Hz. Umar said,

"O Messenger of Allah! How do you address the dead bodies?" The Prophet said,

"You cannot hear what I say better than them. However, they cannot answer me." (Muslim, Jannah, 76, 77)

Once, the Prophet was passing by a graveyard; he ordered the people with him to salute the dead people by saying, "O dwellers of the land of believers! " (Muslim, Janaiz, 102; Abu Dawud, Janaiz, 79; Nasai, Taharah, 109; Ibn Majah, Janaiz, 36, Zuhd, 36; Muwatta', Taharah, 28)

Since the one who can understand it is greeted, it means the dead recognize those who visit them. Ibn Qayyim al-Jawvziyya, who is known as an investigative scholar, reports the joy felt by the dead when people visit them, especially on Friday and Saturday and the good deeds of their children. (Ibn Qayyim al-Jawvziyya, Kitabu'r-Ruh, 10)

A person can read the verses of the Quran that he can read easily at the grave. It is sunnah to read the Quran at the grave because the thawab (reward) of the Quran reaches the dead people there. A dead person is like the one that is ready there. It is hoped that he will receive Allah's mercy. After reading the Quran, one needs to pray for the dead so that it will be accepted. For, prayer (dua) is useful for the dead. The dua made after reading the Quran is more likely to be accepted. (Wahba Zuhayli, İslam Fıkhı Ansiklopedisi, III/91-92)

It is mustahab for a person who visits a grave to read the chapter of Yasin. For, according to what is reported from Anas , the Messenger of Allah said,

"If a person goes to a graveyard, reads the chapter of Yasin and gives its reward to the dead as a present, Allah will relieve their torture. He also receives as many rewards as the number of the dead in that graveyard."

Hz. Prophet (pbuh) also said,

"Read the chapter of Yasin to your dead people." (Ibn Majah,Sunan, Janaiz, 24; Abu Dawud, Sunan, Janaiz, 4)

Acting upon this hadith, some Hanafi scholars gave the following decree: "A person can give the reward of his deed as a present to somebody else; it does not matter what kind of deed it is (reading the Quran, prayer, fasting, sadaqah, hajj, etc." (İbrahim CANAN, Kütüb-i Sitte Muhtasarı, Akçağ, 15/239)

When a grave is visited, it is necessary to turn toward the face of the dead, greet and pray. It is necessary to avoid kissing the grave, wiping the grave with one's face and turning round (circumambulating) it. For, those deeds are bid'ah; they do not exist in the religion. (Ghazali,Ihya, 1/473; Ibn Qudama, al-Mughni, 2/422; Shawkani, Naylu'l-Awtar, IV/117-120; Sheykh Ali Mahfuz, al-Ibda, 192; Sayyid Sabiq, Fiqhu's-Sunna, 1/566; Ibn Qayyim al-Jawvziyya, Zadu'l-Maad, 1/146.)

IS IT PERMISSIBLE TO READ THE QURAN TO THE DEAD?

The Quran does not have one aspect only. Badiuzzaman said Nursi states the following:  

“It is both a book of wisdom and law, and a book of prayer and worship, and a book of command and summons, and a book of invocation and Divine knowledge - it is book for all spiritual needs and it is a sacred library offering books appropriate to the ways of all humans." (Sözler (Words), p.340)

That is, the Quran organizes our life. It shows our responsibility to Allah; it teaches us the purpose of our coming to the world, what we need to do and how to worship; it gives information about the wisdom behind everything and the nature of everything. To sum up, the Quran is a book of dhikr, thought, prayer (dua) and invitation (call).

The influence area of the Quran is not limited with the world only. The prosperity it gives spirits does not end in the world; it continues in the realm of the grave; it rejoices our spirits there; it becomes a luminous light in our graves.

The Prophet (pbuh) gives the following advice about what to read from the Quran for our deceased people: 

"Yasin is the heart of the Quran. If a person reads it and asks the happiness of the afterlife from Allah, Allah will forgive him. Read the chapter of Yasin to your dead people." (Musnad, V/26)

It has been discussed whether to read it to the dead or not. However, taking into consideration the narrations that confirm one another, Shawkani holds the view that it is permissible and useful. (Azimabad, Awnu'l-Ma'bud, III/160;Shawkani, Naylu'l-Awtar, IV/21; Ibn Abidin, Raddu'l-Mukhtar, 1/626; Sayyid Sabiq, Fiqhu's-Sunna, 1/502, Beirut, 1969.)

This hadith indicates that the chapter of Yasin can be read to an ill person who is in deathbed and to the spirits of the dead believers.

The following hadith narrated by Hz. Abu Bakr clarifies the issue:

"If a person visits the grave of his father and mother or either of them on Friday and reads the chapter of Yasin there, Allah will forgive the person in the grave." (Elmalılı, Hak Dini, Yasin Suresinin başı; Sünen-i İbni Mace Tercemesi ve Şerhi, Kahraman Yayınları: IV/273-274)

We should attract attention to the fact that this narration is regarded as weak.

When the Quran is read, Islamic scholars advise making a dua after it and giving it as a present to the spirits of the dead people. The Companions did so. In a narration of Bayhaqi, it is stated that Abdullah bin Umar advised reading some verses from the chapter of al-Baqara to the spirits of the dead people. (Bayhaqi, IV56)

Let us learn how the chapter of Fatiha or Yasin that is read only once reaches the spirits of all of the dead people through an excerpt from Badiuzzaman Said Nursi:

"The Wise Creator makes the element air a field and means of transmitting and increasing words like lightning; He makes the adhan of Muhammad recited from a minaret to be heard by everywhere and all people through the radio; similarly, He has arranged spiritual electricity and radios; He makes them work through natural wireless telephones in order to make the chapter of al-Fatiha read that is read once reach all of the dead people of the believers at the same time through his endless power and unlimited wisdom."

"When a lamp is lit, it becomes a separate lamp for each of the thousands of lamp facing it; similarly, when the chapter of Yasin is read once and it is given as a present to the spirits of millions of believers, one complete Yasin reaches each of them separately. (Şualar, p.576)

Besides, our relatives in the graveyard wait for our help all the time. They know that they will be relieved thanks to a dua, the chapter of al-Fatiha and al-Ikhlas sent by us. For, the grave has such hard conditions that, a tiny spiritual help will cool the spirit of the person in the grave. The Prophet states the following in a hadith:

"A dead person in the grave is like a drowning person who asks for help. He waits for the prayer to come from his brother or friend. When the prayer reaches him, the reward of this prayer becomes more valuable than the world and everything in it for him. The presents from the living people for the dead people are definitely their prayers and asking for forgiveness." (Mishqatu’l- Masabih, 1/723)

2 Does martyrdom eliminate major sins as kaffarah (atonement)?

Yes, the sins of martyrs are forgiven and they enter Paradise. For, sins or being a sinner does not prevent becoming a martyr.

Shahid (martyr) lexically means “to witness an incident, to testify by telling what one knows, to be present somewhere"; it is derived from the word shahadah (shuhud).

As a religious term, shahid (plural form suhada) means a Muslim who is killed in the way of Allah.

Explaining the connection between the lexical and terminological meaning of the word based on “what is seen, witnessed” (mashhud), some scholars say a person is called shahid because it is witnessed by Allah and angels that the person who sacrifices himself in the way of Allah attains the boons of Paradise at once;

Explaining the connection between the lexical and terminological meaning of the word based on “who sees, witnesses” (shahid), other scholars say a person is called shahid because he sees the boons promised by Allah ready and makes use of them or because he will be asked to witness for the previous ummahs together with the Prophet (pbuh) on the day of Judgment.

The word shahid is mentioned totally fifty-six times in the Quran: thirty-five times in singular form, once in dual form and twenty times in plural form. (M. F. Abdulbaqi, al-Mujam, “shhd” item)

Most of them are used in the sense of “witness”; in some verses, it is used as one of the beautiful names of Allah; in other verses, it is used in the sense of “a perfect man, a model person and leader, who lives in accordance with Allah’s will. (for instance, see al-Baqara 2/143; al-Hajj 22/78)

In three verses, the word suhada (plural of shahid) is used in the sense of the people who attain the rank of martyrdom by sacrificing their lives in the way of Allah (an-Nisa 4/69; az-Zumar 39/69; al-Hadid 57/19) but the singular form of the word is not used in this sense in any verses.

However, Biqai holds the view that the word shahid in verse 72 of the chapter of an-Nisa can be interpreted in this sense. (Nazm ad-Durar, V, 325)

The word shahid is frequently used in hadiths in the senses that we have explained. (Wensinck, al-Mujam, “shhd” item)

In many verses, attention is attracted to the importance of martyrdom and its value in the eye of Allah. Here are some examples:

- “And say not of those who are slain in the way of Allah: "They are dead." Nay, they are living, though ye perceive (it) not.”(al-Baqara 2/154);

- “Think not of those who are slain in Allah's way as dead. Nay they live finding their sustenance in the presence of their Lord.” (Aal-i Imran 3/169);

- “But those who are slain in the way of Allah he will never let their deeds be lost (…) And admit them to the Garden which He has announced for them (Muhammad 47/4, 6) This issue is emphasized in the verses like the ones above; it is stated in some verses that martyrs come after prophets and righteous people in the eye of Allah. (an-Nisa 4/ 69)

Attracting attention to some hadiths that describe the people who are drowned and who die of some illnesses as martyrs, Fakhruddin ar-Razi states that it is not appropriate to interpret the verse suhada in this verse by limiting them to those who sacrificed their lives in wars in order to help the religion of Allah and that the scholars who maintain justice in the community by making efforts to elevate the name of Allah (Aal-i Imran 3/18) should also be included in the scope of the word. (Mafatih al-Ghayb, V, 277)

Hz. Prophet’s explanations about martyrdom are usually included in the chapters of jihad in hadith collections under the heading of "fadl ash-shahid".

In those hadiths, it is stated that

- only those who sacrifice their lives in order to elevate the religion of Allah, not those who have worldly aims, are regarded as martyrs (Bukhari, “Jihad”, 15; Muslim, “Imara”, 149-152; Nasai, “Jihad”, 21; Ibn Majah, “Jihad”, 13),

- a person who becomes a martyr dies without suffering any pains, that all of his sins except violation of personal rights are forgiven as soon as the first drop of his blood falls to the ground, that a martyr will not suffer in the grave and that he will see his rank in Paradise (Tirmidhi, “Fadailul-Jihad”, 25, 26),

- a martyr could intercede for seventy people from his relatives (Tirmidhi, “Fadailul-Jihad”, 25)

- martyrs will be among the first ones to enter Paradise (Muslim, “Imara”, 143; Abu Dawud, “Jihad”, 27),

- and that only martyrs among those who die by attaining a high rank in the eye of Allah will want to return to the world and ant to elevate the religion of Allah until they are martyred again. (Bukhari, “Jihad”, 6, 21; Muslim, “Imara”, 109)

On the other hand, it is stated in some hadiths that there will be other people that will be regarded as martyrs along with those who die in the way of Allah. For instance it is stated that  

- those who die while defending their lives, wealth and chastity (Abu Dawud, “Sunnah”, 29; Tirmidhi, “Diyat”, 21)

- or those who die due to common infectious diseases like plague and cholera (Bukhari, “Jihad”, 30; Muslim, “Imara”, 164-165),

- those who wanted to die as martyrs but died in bed (Muslim, “Imara”, 157) will be given the thawabs of martyrs and that there are other deeds that are equal to the thawabs of martyrdom. (Bukhari, “Jihad”, 1; Muslim, “Imara”, 110, 125; Nasai, “Jihad”, 17; Ibn Majah, “Fitan”, 13)

3 Is it appropriate to pour water on the grave? How does our religion view this practice?

Water can be poured on the grave after the dead body is buried in order to make the soil stay firm.

It is narrated that the greenery on the grave helps the person in the grave and that the worshipping of the greenery is written in the book of deeds of the person in the grave. The reason why water is poured may be to make the grass and seeds sprout and turn green quickly and lengthen the life of the greenery.

When the water is poured, the soil covering the grave settles and is prevented from being moved away by the wind.

Besides, it prevents the soil from slumping and the dead body from being exposed and being harmed by wild animals.

4 Will the majority be in Hell? This is understood from the verses of the Quran and hadiths...

First of all, we should say that people are severely warnedin the verses of the Quran and hadiths. These warnings aim to make people avoid sins, increase their degree and attain high ranks in the eternal life. Otherwise, they do not aim to make people desolate and harm them. Therefore, we should understand it well, regard these warnings as a means of attaining perfection and avoid sins.

The name Hell frighten people a lot. In fact, it should do so. However, we do not know who will go to Hell and who will go to Paradise. Therefore, we need to be alert.

A Muslim should be in the state of hope and fear. In the Quran, the verses of encouragement are more than the verses of threat. Besides, the mercy of Allah Almighty is more than His wrath.

To be between hope and fear is a balance that is necessary for everybody. For, no matter how good Muslims we are, it is possible to die without belief and go to Hell. No matter how many sins a person commits, Allah Almighty might make him repent, die as a believer and send him to Paradise.

The following is narrated from Hz. Abu Bakr:

"If I hear a sound from the sky saying, 'Everybody will go to Paradise and only one person will go to Hell', I will fear that I might be that person. If it says, ''Everybody will go to Hell and only one person will go to Paradise', I will hope that I might be that person."

The belief of a Muslim needs to be between "fear and hope". Nobody, including the Prophet, can be sure that he will be saved from the torture of Allah. They hope to go to Paradise by taking refuge in His mercy from His wrath and in His pardoning from His torture. We need to maintain this balance. We should worship properly and hope that Allah Almighty will include us among the people of Paradise.

Since life in the hereafter has not started yet, we cannot know how many people will be in Hell and how many will be in Paradise. Besides, it is not appropriate to think of Hell as sheer evil. Hell is better than non-existence. Since it is not possible to understand the states of the hereafter fully with the standards of the world, man needs to do his duty and should not try to do anything regarding the issues that are beyond his scope. He should not doubt about the mercy of Allah toward His slaves and should not propose more mercy than Him.

5 How will life be in the realm of barzakh? Will people not feel bored waiting for such a long time?

The people who die will wait in the realm of barzakh. If the person who dies is a believer and a righteous person, the realm of barzakh will be a garden of Paradise for him and he will feel as if one day has passed even if he stays there for thousands of years.

However, the realm of barzakh will be a place of torture for unbelievers and sinners and their one moment can be as long as thousands of years. Life and time in the realm of barzakh are not like in this world. The boons and tortures there form based on the deeds of a person.

6 Will the people whose thawabs will overweigh their sins in the hereafter go to Paradise directly?

Inshaallah, the people whose thawabs are more than their sins will directly go to Paradise. For, all people except prophets may commit sins. If everybody who commits a sin goes to Paradise, all believers except prophets will go to Hell first and to Paradise after that.

Besides, the state of sins and thawabs will determine the rank of man in Paradise; therefore, a conscious believer will definitely keep away from sins for his eternal life.

7 What language will we speak in the hereafter? How will those who do not know Arabic speak in Paradise?

Spirit has no language. Electricity functions according to the thing it enters; for instance, it can be cold in a fridge, hot in an oven, light in a lamp and information in a computer. Besides, particles in the air transmit all world languages to us. They do not say, "I have never heard this language." The tongue notices whatever it tastes; the ear notices whatever it hears and the eye notices whatever it sees; something tasted, heard or seen for the first time does not prevent them from perceiving it.

Similarly, Allah will test a person in a language that he will understand. There is no barrier to understanding something heard for the first time. Since we see examples of it even in the world, it can be in the best degree in the hereafter.

However, it is stated that the language of Reckoning and Paradise will be Arabic. That the speech will be in Arabic will not prevent the spirit from understanding it.

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Will the language of Paradise be Arabic? Will Arabic be spoken in the hereafter? If so, is there a verse or hadith indicating this?

8 Is it a sin to cry loudly after a relative who died at home or next to his grave? Does this give pains to the dead person?

The custom of crying after a dead person has been common among ignorant people for a long time. For instance, when a notable died in ancient Egypt, many women and men put on signs of mourning on their bodies and wandered about the streets by shouting.1 In the crying ceremonies in the former Turks, some people wounded their faces and even cut their ears.2 In the Arabs of the Jahiliyya Era, there were some people who wrote in their will that people should shout, cry and mention his good deeds after his death. A foreign author who wrote about Turkey in 1655-1656 wrote that women gathered in the house of the person who died and lamented, cried and shouted for days.3 This kind of lamenting and crying has been widespread; therefore, we believe it will be useful to mention the decree of Islam regarding the issue.

Death is a great incident. It is normal for a person to feel sad and distressed due to the death of somebody. It is permissible for a Muslim to cry silently and to shed tears due to it. As a matter of fact, the Prophet cried by shedding tears when his son Ibrahim, 4 his daughter 5 and his daughter's son 6 died and when Sad' b. Ubada became ill (d. 15/636); when he was reminded that he had forbidden crying, he said what he did was not the crying style that was forbidden, that Allah would not punish anyone because of shedding tears but that he would punish because of shouting (he pointed to his tongue). He said,  

"The deceased is punished for the wailing of his relatives over him."7

For, shedding tears silently and becoming sad heartily is compassion and mercy rather than crying; Al­lah loves those who are compassionate and merciful.  

Once, the Prophet (pbuh) sat close to the grave in a funeral and cried silently, his tears dropping on the soil; 8 he wiped the tears of Fatima who was crying silently next to him at the death of his daughter Ruqiyya (d. 2/624) 9; he did not prohibit her from crying like that. Once Hz. Umar shouted at a woman crying at a funeral. The Prophet said to Hz. Umar, "Let her cry. The eye definitely sheds tears." 10 Thus, he allowed the woman to cry silently.

The fiqh decree deduced from the hadiths mentioned above is that it is permissible to cry for the dead and all mujtahids agree on this decree.11 According to Hanafis and Malikis, it is haram to cry loudly and by shouting. Shafi'is and Hanbalis regard it permissible to cry loudly after the dead without lamenting; but it is haram, not permissible, to shout and cry by using words like "O my brave man! O my lion! O my breadwinner!" and mentioning some good deeds of the dead like in the Era of Jahiliyya, to pull and tear one's hair, to hit one's head, face or knees and to tear one's clothes. 12

There is consensus among scholars that crying like that is haram. For, the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) said these deeds were customs of Jahiliyya 13 and prohibited them 14; he said that those who did this forbidden deed was not of Ahl as-Sunnah 15, that if they died without repenting, Allah would make them wear a garment of tar and flaming fire 16; thus, he attracted attention to the bigness of the sin of this deed and damned those who did so.17

As for the hadith about'the deceased being punished for the wailing of his relatives over him' reported by several Companions including Hz. Umar18, Hz. Aisha said it would be contrary to the verse

"…no bearer of burdens can bear the burden of another..."19

when she heard the hadith. She said the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) saw some people crying near the grave of a Jew and told them that the person they were crying for was being tortured in his grave 20, and that the wailing of his relatives would increase the torture of unbelievers only. 21

All mujtahids stated that the dead person would not be tortured due to the wailing of his relatives in a way that is forbidden but that he would be tortured if he himself wrote in his will and told his relatives before his death to cry for him by shouting - it is haram to write like this in the will - as the Arabs used to do in the past, or if he knew that they would cry by shouting but did not write or tell them not to do so, he would be tortured due to the wailing of his relatives. 22 Therefore, the wailing itself does not cause the dead person to be tortured; he is tortured due to his own sin. It was a custom to cry after the dead in the Arabs of Jahiliyya; the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) might have stated that it would torture the dead. 

When we look at the Companions, who are the stars of the ummah, we see that they prohibited those who cried loudly for them from crying loudly. As a matter of fact, when Hz. Umar was wounded and fainted, some people cried loudly for him. When he came round, he reminded them of the hadith of the Messenger of Allah and advised them not to do so.23 When Abu Musa'l-Ash'ari became very ill, his wife started to cry loudly. When he got better, he said to his wife, "Do you not know that I am away from everything that the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) was away from? The Messenger of Allah said he was away from those who shouted, who had their hair cut and who tore their clothes when a misfortune hit."24 Thus, he showed that the Messenger of Allah had prohibited it.

To sum up, it is better for those whose relatives or close friends died to show patience and not to cry. If they cannot do so, it is permissible for them to cry silently and to shed tears. However, it is haram and forbidden to cry by mentioning some good deeds of the dead and what they did when they were alive and to lament. It is necessary to avoid definitely crying like this.

Footnotes:

1) Mimarzâde M. Emnülah, ibid p. 26.
2) İnan, Abdulkâdir, Hurafeler ve Menşeleri, p. 12, Ank. 1962.

3) Jean de Thevenot. 1655-1656 da Türkiye, p. 140, İst. 1978.
4) Bukhari, Sahih.Janaiz, 42 Vol. II, p. 84.
5) Bukhari, Janaiz, 32, Vol. II, p. 80; Janaiz, 70 Vol. II.p. 93; A. b. Hanbal.Vol. III.p. 126.
6) Bukhari, Janaiz, 32, Vol. II. p. 80; Ibn Majah, Sunan, Janaiz, 53, Vol. I, p. 506.

7)Buhârî, Sahih, Janaiz 43 Vol.II, p. 85
8) Bukhari, Janaiz, 43, Vol.II, p. 85; Muslim, Sahih, Janaiz, 6, Vol. H, p. 636.
9) Ibn Majah, Sunan, Zuhd, 19, Vol. II. p. 1403.
10) Ahmad b.Hanbal, Musnad. Vol. I, p. 335.
11) Ibn Majah. Sunan, Janaiz, 53, Vol. I. p. 505.

12) al-Jaziri, ibid c I, p. 533.
13) al-Jaziri, ibid. Vol.
I, p. 533; Tahtawi. ibid p. 501.
14) see Muslim, Sahih. Janaiz, 10, Vol.II, p. 644; Ibn Majah.
Sunan, Janaiz, 51, Vol. I. p. 503-504; al-Azizi Ali b.Ahmad, as-Siraju'l-Munir, Vol. I. p. 177. Egypt, 1325.
15) bk. Ibn Majah, Sunan, Janaiz, 51, Vol. I, p. 503; Janaiz. 53, Vol. I, p. 507.
16) bk. Bukhari, Sahih, Janaiz, 34, Vol. II, p. 82; Janaiz,36,37,Vol.II,p.83; Ibn Majah, Sunan, Janaiz, 52, Vol. I, p. 504; Hasan al-Hasan al-Idwi, ibid p. 24, Egypt, 1316 h.
17) Muslim, Sahih.Janaiz, 10, Vol. II, p. 644; Ibn Majah, Sunan, Janaiz, 51, Vol. I, p. 503-504; an-Nahlawi, Halil b. Abdulqadir ash-Shaybani ad-Dureru'l-Mubaha... s 132, Damascus 1966.
18) Ibn Majah, Sunan. Janaiz, 52, I/505; Hasan al-Idwi, age p. 24, Egypt 1316 h.
19) al-An'am, 6/164.

20) bk. Bukhari, Sahih, Janaiz, 33, Vol. II, p. 81-82; Muslim, Sa­hih. Janaiz,9. Vol. II, p. 639; Tirmidhi, Sunan Janaiz, 23 Vol. II, p. 235; Ibn Majah Sunan. Janaiz, 54, Vol. I, p. 508; A b. Hanbal, Musnad, Vol. I, p.47-50; Muhammad b.Ismail, Subulus-Salam. Vol. I. p. 204.
21) Bukhari. Sahih. Janaiz, 32, Vol. II, p. 81; Muslim, Sahih, Janaiz, 9. Vol. II, p. 643; A. b. Hanbal.Musnad Vol. VI. p. 79, 281.
22) Muslim, Sahih, Janaiz, 9, Vol. II, p. 641.
23) al-Jaziri, ibid Vol. I, p. 534; Muslim, Sahih, Vol. II. p. 638, dn
24) Muslim.Sahih.Janaiz, 9 . Vol. II.p. 638-640.

9 Will everybody know in the hereafter the sins that only Allah knows and that are committed secretly?

Sins are interferences that limit the communication of a slave with his Lord. The health of the communication of a slave with his Lord is closely related to the elimination of these interferences from his life. 

Suppose that you are making a phone call with one of your relatives. When there is an interference, you do not understand each other; you stop the call and try to eliminate the interference first.

This incident, which we encounter several times in the physical realm, is of more significance in our relationships with our Lord in the spiritual realm. The interferences of the spiritual realm are sins, harams, the deeds Allah rendered haram, the deeds our religion forbids and the sins our conscience condemns.

The first one to question us about sins, harams andthe deeds Allah forbad is our conscience. The institution that questions us the most severely in the eye of Allah is our conscience. To be acquitted in the eye of our conscience is repentance itself. Unless we are acquitted, our conscience continues to pressurize and condemn us.   

It is the most important condition and is sufficient for a person to regret and repent his sins in his own conscience, that is, in his essence and inner world, so as to be regarded repentant. There is no need to mention and list the sins in the presence of an institution or a person; such an attitude does not comply with oneness. For, nobody but Allah has the authority to accept or reject repentance of sins or to punish sins.

Sins are personal and are between a slave and his Lord unless they involve others’ rights. If it involves others’ rights, it is something between the person whose right has been violated and the person who has violated; it is still secret for others.

That is, the sinsdo not have to be known by anybody except by 1. the sinner, 2. Allah, 3. the slave whose right has been violated. Secrecy is essential in sins. Allah’s name “Sattarul-uyub”wants to hide sins. Sins have to be kept secret so that the way to forgiveness will be open.

Stating that man has a nature that tends to commit mistakes and sins, 1 Badiuzzaman Said Nursi states that the Allah Almighty’ names Sattar and Ghaffar are like a shield to hide mistakes and sins, and that Allah Almighty covers, hides and forgives sins when a person takes refuge only in Him. 2

Just courts do not pursuit the crimes and sins that do not interest the public. If a sin or crime is committed about the rights of one or more persons, the courts will definitely act in order to judge the criminals and protect the innocent people. This is necessary for the realization of justice; and it is a different issue. It is a virtue in a sense for a person to confess his crime in the court; and it is like repentance.  

However, a person should hide his sins that do not interest others; he should avoid spreading his sins and should repent of them in the presence of his conscience. It is haram to boast of sins.

The Messenger of Allah (pbuh) states the following:

* “All of my ummah is forgiven except those who commit sins openly without feeling ashamed. If a person who commits a sin at night says in the morning, ‘I did such and such a thing last night’ though Allah hid his sin, he is one of those who commit sins openly without feeling ashamed. Although his Lord covers the sin he committed at night, he uncovers the veil Allah spreads.” 3

* “If a person hides the sin of another person in the world, Allah will hide his sin on the Day of Judgment.” 4

* “Do not search the hidden aspects of people. Do not try to find out people’s mistakes.” 5

* “When you commit a sin, repent immediately after it. Repent secretly of a sin that you commit secretly and repent openly of a sin that you commit openly.” 6

* “When a sin remains secret, it harms only the sinner. If it is not corrected when it is revealed, it will harm the community.”7

* “Ask Allah to cover your mistakes and to keep you safe from what you fear.” 8

* “Allah states the following: ‘I have such great generosity and pardoning that I will not reveal the sin of my slave, which I covered in the world, in the hereafter to disgrace him.’” 9

Footnotes:

1. Mektûbât, p. 47;
2. Lem’alar, p. 59; Mesnevî-i Nûriye, p. 113;
3. Riyadus-Salihin, 24; Jamius-Saghir, 3000;
4. Riyadus-Salihin, 240;
5. Jamius-Saghir, 1576;
6. ibid, 419;
7. ibid, 332;
8. ibid, 638;
9. Jamius-Saghir, 2893.

10 Does a person go directly to Paradise if his thawabs outweigh his sins when deeds are weighed in the Gathering Place?

When the sins and thawabs of a person are weighed and whenthawabs overweigh, his sins are forgiven and he goes to Paradise directly.

When Allah Almighty weighs the deeds, He will decide based on the superiority of the good deeds/thawabs over bad deeds/sins or vice versa. The reasons for bad deeds and sins are abundant and they are easy to commit; therefore, He will sometimes forgive a lot of bad deeds and sins of a person due to a good deed that He is pleased with...

A lot of hadiths were reported from the Prophet (pbuh) regarding the issue. One of them is as follows:

"On the way to Makkah, somebody felt very thirsty. He saw a water well and climbed down. He quenched his thirst and climbed up. When he came out, he saw a dog lolling its tongue from thirst and licking the ground. He thought, `This dog has become as thirsty as I was; it will die if it cannot find water.` He pitied the dog. He climbed down into the well again and filled his shoe with water. He held it in his mouth until he climbed out and gave the dog water to drink.

Due to this good deed of that person, Allah became pleased with him, praised him in the presence of His angels and put him to Paradise by forgiving all of his sins."

In some narrations, it is stated that the person giving water to the dog was a “prostitute”. When believers talk to and treat each other, they should act in accordance with the principle of justice in this great Mizan (Scales) of Allah. It should not be forgotten that if the good deeds of a person overweigh his bad deeds in quantity or quality, that person deserves love and respect.

11 Is there anyone who ever traveled back and forth between this world and the Hereafter?

In our daily life, we come to think of the questions with regard to the existence of the hereafter since we do not go into details of it. The question like this is the ravings of materialists who hide themselves behind the sophistry “I do not believe in the things that I do not see!..” They use this argument, whose epoch is long over.

Yes, there cannot be thought any other contradiction, which is more terrifying than one's mind and logic accepting an incident for the present time and denying it for the future. Actually, the life that we live in is sufficient evidence for the existence of the Hereafter. Can those who deny the existence of a second life deny the life they are in as well? They cannot!

Is it easier for a commander to gather an army under his control for the first time; or is it easier for him to gather the soldiers of an army by blowing a horn, who already know their duties and had met before and scattered for some rest? Which one? Of course, the second one. As this example suggests, considering that our Sustainer has given us a bounty, which we call life, by bringing us from the darkness of nothingness to a bright realm, how can it be impossible for Him to repeat the same thing once more when we are dead. Is it not easier than the first life when we compare the two?

Furthermore, do we need absolutely to see by our eyes and go there in order to give news from somewhere or something? Astronomy tells us about stars and galaxies. There are so many stars whose lights cannot reach us. So who went there and came back?

With regard to the point, Badiuzzaman Said Nursi says:

“In order to see with our worldly eyes the dwelling places of the World of the Hereafter within the veil of the Unseen and to demonstrate them, either the universe has to be shrunk to the size of two provinces, or our eyes have to be enlarged to the size of stars, so that we can see and specify their places. The dwelling-places of the hereafter are not visible to our worldly eyes.”

The human mind, which functions according to the criteria of this world, although it is unable to comprehend a realm properly whose qualities and criteria are different, deems the Hereafter possible since there are many proofs about it and it has been proven. The existence of something, which is possible by reason, is also confirmed through news. All prophets and Divine Books announced that the Hereafter exists and human beings will be resuscitated and called to account for what they had been doing in the world. In the Holy Quran, the life of the Hereafter is told most beautifully through some examples from worldly life and analogies. This is not because the Hereafter, and the destinations of Heaven and Hell resemble the world, but because it is impossible to understand this truth otherwise.

What is more, the Master Muhammad (PBUH) saw the Hereafter on the night of Ascension (Miraj) and informed us about it on his return. Now we ask deniers after having enumerated such sound proofs:

Where did you go and see in order to declare that something does not exist since you do not see? What is your proof? If you deny, you have to prove it. What issue will denying settle?

In spite of the explanations and proofs in volumes of books which dispelled the doubts, those who close their eyes could only turn daylight into the night while the truth is crystal clear...

12 Will the language of Paradise be Arabic? Will Arabic be spoken in the hereafter? If so, is there a verse or hadith indicating this?

The following hadith is reported from Ibn Abbas in Imam Munawi's book called Faydul-Qadir:

"Love Arabs due to three properties: I am Arab; the Quran was sent down in Arabic; the language of the people of Paradise is Arabic." (1)

Arabic is the most beautiful language of the world in terms of rhetoric, literature, fluency and richness. In addition, it has a different place among the other languages in terms of sound, harmony and sentence structure. Allah Almighty sent down the Quran, His word, in Arabic. The Prophet (pbuh) spoke this language, the language of his own nation. 

Some verses support the hadith above: 

"With it (the Quran) came down the Spirit of Faith and Truth―To thy heart and mind, that thou mayest admonish in the perspicuous Arabic tongue." (2)

"We sent not a messenger except (to teach) in the language of his (own) people, in order to make (things) clear to them." (3)

The verse above states that Hz. Muhammad (pbuh) conveyed the message of Allah to his nation, Arabs, in their own language. 

Yes, since the language of the Quran and the language of the Prophet Muhammad is Arabic, the language of Paradise will definitely be Arabic. Hz. Adam used to speak Arabic in Paradise before he was sent down to the world. Besides, this language is the language of some other prophets. For instance, Hz. Nuh, Hz. Hud, Hz. Ismail, Hz. Salih, Hz. Shuayb spoke Arabic, too.

Besides, Imam Qastalani reports the following hadith from Hz. Aisha: "The people of Paradise will speak the language of Muhammad (pbuh)." (4)

Although it is definite by the hadith above and the narration of Hz. Aisha that the language of Paradise is Arabic, Badiuzzaman Said Nursi writes the following statement while explaining, in his book called Mektubat, the wisdom behind a fatwa of Abu Hanifa's:  

"According to one narration, it refers only to translations into Persian, which is supposed to be a language of the people of Paradise." (5)

When the expressions above are considered together with the last statement, it will probably not wrong to reach the following conclusion: Essentially, the language of Paradise is Arabic but Persian can also be spoken. That is, Allah Almighty can create both languages as the languages of Paradise.

The phrase "love Arabs" in the hadith should not be understood as something absolute. For, there are non-Muslims and atheists among Arabs. Being a member of the Arab nation and speaking Arabic are not enough to love them. What is meant by the phrase in the hadith is Arabs who are Muslims, who practice the religion of Islam and who follow the Messenger of Allah. They are already our brothers in religion. We love them as our brothers in religion but they deserve to be loved more than the other nations since they speak the language of the Quran, the Messenger of Allah and Paradise and they were the first people to spread Islam and serve Islam. 

Footnotes:

1. Faydul-Qadir, 1:178 Hadith no: 225.
2. ash-Suara, 193-195.
3. Ibrahim, 4.
4. Mawahib al-Ladunniya , 1:276.
5. Mektubat, p. 406.

13 Will we be called to account in the hereafter due to the sins that are few?

People will be called to account even if their sins are fewer than their rewards. However, their accounting will be easy and they will not be tortured.

Prophets and some saints will go to Paradise without being questioned in the Gathering Place. The people who repent from their sins in this world will not be called to account for those sins in the hereafter. Even if they are, they will finally be forgiven.

The following is stated in a hadith:

"He who conceals the faults of a Muslim, Allah would conceal the faults in the world and in the Hereafter." (Muslim, Dhikr, 38; Abu Dawud, Adab, 68; Ibn Majah, Muqaddima, 17. See Bukhari, Mazalim, 3 related to the same issue.)

The following is stated in another hadith:

"He who sees something which should be kept hidden and conceals it will be like one who has brought to life a girl buried alive." (Abu Dawud, Adab, 38; Nasai, Sunan al-Kubra; No: 7281; Ahmad, Musnad, IV/147; Hakim, Mustadrak, IV/383; Ibn Hibban, Sahih, No: 517; Bayhaqi, Sunan al-Kubra, VIII/331)

Man can ascend to the highest level among beings due to his ability to do good and bad deeds but he can also descend to the lowest level. All of what man, who was created with this ability, does needs to be recorded. The retention of Allah Almighty necessitates His retention of deeds and acts. It is necessary for these deeds, which are recorded, to be weighed on the scales of justice and rewarded or punished accordingly.

The following is stated in the verse that points out this fact:

“The balance that day will be true (to a nicety): those whose scale (of good) will be heavy, will prosper. Those whose scale will be light, will find their souls in perdition, for that they wrongfully treated our signs.”1

The same fact is mentioned in the following verse, which indicates that divine justice will be manifest with all its magnificence in the weighing of the deeds:

“Allah is never unjust in the least degree.”2

Then, when Allah weighs people's deeds and when he announces the decree whether they are good or bad, He will do it based on the weight of the good and bad deeds. In the book Lem’alar, the issue of Allah’s weighing people's deeds with the big scales in the Gathering Place and decreeing whether they are good or bad is based on the verse above. 3

In all of our books on creed, it is clearly stated that the issue of the deeds being weighed in the hereafter is true. However, it is not possible to express its nature with the criteria in the world. Nevertheless, it is certain that Allah Almighty will settle the accounting of people in a very short time and will show the good and bad deeds.  

Muhammed Ali as-Sabuni states the following regarding the issue:

“It is not contrary to logic to weigh good and bad deeds. Since modern sciences can measure heat, cold, wind and rain, can Allah Almighty, who has endless power, be too weak to weigh people's deeds?”4

However, it is not possible to say something definite about how weighing deeds will take place. For, the states of Paradise and the hereafter cannot be expressed by using the criteria in this world. As a matter of fact, the following is stated in al-Bidaya:

“Mizan (the Scales) is something that determines the amounts of deeds; human mind is too weak to know its nature. It is not possible to liken it to the scales in the world. To surrender to the Quran and hadiths (nass) is the best way.”5

Then, Allah Almighty will definitely weigh deeds. He will weigh people's good and bad deeds with a Mizan, whose nature we do not know, and will manifest His justice. If a person's good deeds are more than his bad deeds, he will be saved. If it is the opposite, he will be tortured. However, Allah may forgive him with His mercy. If he is a believer, he will enter Paradise after he is punished. He will receive endless mercy of Allah.

However, we understand from some hadiths of the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) that the weighing of the deeds and being called to account will not be easy. It is narrated that the Prophet (pbuh) often prayed as follows:

“O Allah! Make my accounting easy!”

We also understand from hadiths that man needs Allah's mercy and forgiveness more on that day and that man will be in a difficult situation during reckoning but for the endless vastness of His mercy.6

To sum up, every deed in the book of deeds will be weighed finely on that day and the balance of everybody will be clear; then, accounts will be settled. A person will be among those who are saved if his good deeds outweigh his bad deeds. If his thawabs turn out to be fewer than his sins, he will be harmed.

The duty of a believer is to do deeds in such a way that his good deeds will be more than his bad deeds and his profits will be more than his losses; and he needs to be prepared for that Day of Reckoning very well. And he needs to pray to Allah by saying, “O Allah! Make my accounting easy!”

Footnotes:

1. al-A'raf, 7/8,9.
2. an-Nisa, 4/40.
3. Lem'alar, p. 81.
4. Safwatut-Tafasir , I/437.
5. al-Bidaye fi Usulid-Din, p. 92.
6. Musnad, VI/48.

(Mehmed Paksu, Meseleler ve Çözümleri -2)

14 How can it be justice for unbelievers to remain in Hell eternally? Why should torture in Hell be eternal? Why did Allah create Hell though His compassion is more than that of a mother?

It is mercy to give a person who deserves capital punishment a sentence of life imprisonment. In this respect, Hell, which means life imprisonment, is a mercy. Would a mother not accept to have the hand or arm of her child cut off in order to save his life? So, some things can be risked for a greater blessing. Besides, they are not children. Which mother will show mercy to an adult who wants to blemish his mother's honor?

Let us try to explain the issue with some questions and answers.

Question: The sin of unbelief of an unbeliever is limited; it persists a short time. It is not conformable with divine justiceand consistent with pre-eternal wisdom to give him an eternal punishment; divine mercy will not accept it.  

Answer: It is established that unbelief perpetrated in finite time is, in six respects, a crime of infinite proportions:

Firstly: The person who dies an unbeliever will remain as such even if he lives to all eternity, for he has corrupted the very substance of his spirit. And his corrupted heart has the propensity to commit infinite crimes. Therefore, his eternal penalty is not contrary to justice.

Secondly: Even if unbelief occurs in finite time, it is an infinite crime and gives the lie to infinity; it denies the whole universe, which testifies to divine unity.

Thirdly: Unbelief is an endless crime since it is ingratitude for infinite bounties.

Fourthly: Unbelief is a crime against, the divine essence and attributes, which are  infinite.

Fifthly: Human conscience is limited and finite in regard to its outer face, but by virtue of its reality the roots of its inner face spread and extend to eternity. Therefore, this conscience, which has infinite abilities, is dirtied by unbelief and dwindles away.

Sixthly: Although opposites stubbornly resist each other, they are similar in many instances. Thus, belief yields eternal flavors as fruits; and unbelief produces everlasting suffering and pain in the hereafter.

The conclusion deduced from these six aspects is that infinite punishment fits the infinite crime and is pure justice.

Another question regarding the issue: How can incarceration in Hell for an infinite duration in return for unbelief for a short duration be justice?

The Answer: Reckoning a year to be three hundred and sixty-five days, the law of justice requires for a one-minute murder, seven million eight hundred and eighty-four thousand minutes’ imprisonment. So, since one minute’s unbelief is like a thousand murders, according to the law of human justice, someone who lives a life of twenty years in unbelief and dies in that state deserves imprisonment for fifty-seven billion, two hundred and one thousand two hundred million years.

It is understood from this how conformable with divine justice is the verse “They will dwell therein forever.”

The reason for the connection between these two numbers, so far from one another, is this: Since murder and unbelief are destruction and aggression, they have an effect on others. A murder which takes one minute negates on average at least fifteen years of the victim’s life, so the murderer is imprisoned in their place. While since one minute of unbelief denies a thousand and one divine names and denigrates their inscriptions, violates the rights of the universe and denies its perfections, and gives the lie to innumerable evidences of divine unity and rejects their testimony, the unbeliever is cast down to the lowest of the low for more than a thousand years, and “dwells” in imprisonment. (Lem’alar, Yirmi Sekizinci Lem'a (Flashes, Twenty-Eighth Flash))

"Question: So, it is consistent with divine wisdom but how does compassion permit it?"

"The Answer: The unbelievers can be thought of only in terms of non-existence or existence in torment. If you think it over in your conscience you will understand that existence, even if in Hell, is a mercy and better than non-existence. For if you analyze it carefully you will see that non-existence is pure evil; indeed, non-existence is the source of all misfortunes and sins, whereas existence is pure good, even if in Hell. Therefore, the abode of the unbelievers is Hell and they will live there eternally.

"Although the unbelievers deserve it due to their own deeds, after paying the penalty for their actions, they will grow accustomed to it in a way and adapt to it. Their torture will be freed from the previous severity. There are signs in hadith that the unbelievers receive this divine mercy in return for their good deeds in this world." (İşaratü'l-İ’caz, p. 81)

It is understood from the questions and answers above that a person will remain in Hell infinitely due to the crime of unbelief he commits in this limited world life. It is impossible for a person to enter Paradise without belief. Under the light of the calculations above and taking into consideration the divine mercy, Badiuzzaman Said Nursi states based on hadiths that though the people who go to Hell will live there eternally, they will get used to fire. As for the explanation of this sentence, it can be done in three different ways. 

1. We can learn from the following sacred hadith: “Sabaqat rahmati ala ghadabi”, (My mercy prevails over My wrath).” That is, Allah’s mercy will relieve this person after a while and he will get used to fire. That is, Allah will treat him with His mercy more than His wrath. For, as it is expressed above, he will receive divine mercy in return for the good deeds he did in the world.

A note regarding the issue:

While interpreting the verse “therein shall they abide forever”, Muhyiddin Arabi says that unbelievers will stay in Hell eternally but they will not receive torture in the same level eternally and that they will get rid of their previous torture by entering a lifestyle peculiar to Hell in the course of time. The following sentences included in Risale-i Nur Collection confirm the discovery of this great saint more or less:

“Although the unbelievers deserve it due to their own deeds, after paying the penalty for their actions, they will grow accustomed to fire in a way and adapt to it. Their torture will be freed from the previous severity.” (İşaratü’l-İ’caz, p. 81)

It is understood from the expression “their torture will be freed from the previous severity” that the torture will continue eternally but it will be less severe than the previous ones. Muhyiddin Arabi holds the view that torture will be replaced by a mean, low life and the unbeliever will stay in Hell eternally in this state.  

The writer of Risale-i Nur Collection writes that there are "signs in hadith" about it at the end of his statement we quoted above. We do not have any knowledge about the text of the hadith mentioned there. However, there is a sacred hadith Muyyiddin Arabi often refers to while dealing with the issue; The hadith that Said Nursi also mentions is probably the same one:

“My mercy prevails over My wrath.”

2. The issue can be viewed from the viewpoint of divine justice. That is, this man - as it can be understood from the calculations above - will be punished and tortured because of the sins he committed. However, after these people, as Badiuzzaman Said Nursi puts it, are punished for their sins, Allah will make them accustomed to fire due to His justice.   

3. Everything in the universe shows one name of Allah and is its mirror. In that case, it is possible for some of the names of Allah be manifest for the people in Hell.  Allah’s name“Matin” (the Forceful One) may be manifest for them, making them fire resistant. Allah knows its nature. What we need to do is to believe and to take shelter in worshipping, asking for forgiveness and obedience in order to be saved from that horrible Hell.

15 Will the Quran be read in Paradise? What will Paradise be like?

Yes, the Quran can be read in Paradise. Whatever man wishes will take place in Paradise.

What will Paradise be like?

Paradise is the happiness corner of the realm of the hereafter... Paradise is an ocean of boons and grants, a country of pleasure and tranquility... Paradise is a land of consent, land of peace. It is the settlement of those who attain the mercy of our merciful Lord... Our Lord, who is free and away from all kinds of imperfection and incompleteness, orders us to avoid sins and to be purified from evil deeds as much as we can so that He will accept us to the land of peace, which is free of all evil deeds and people...

- There is no place for bad faith like unbelief, polytheism and heresy there…
- Bad characteristics like lying, backbiting and slandering cannot enter there...
- You cannot find any
incompleteness like illness, tiredness and sleeplessness there...
- There are no words like ah, ow, I wish and alas there...
- That land of peace is free and away from them...

This universe, whose ends we cannot see and whose size we cannot imagine, is our testing hall. Man can undergo a test in the candlelight, on dry wood and a bagel in his hand... Then, why is this universe so magnificent? What do so many kinds of vegetables and fruits mean?

The huge sun is our testing lamp... This state widens our horizons. It shows our imagination from a distance how wonderful the realm of the hereafter, whose nature we cannot know, is... If the testing hall is so big, nice and magnificent, how will the realm of happiness and reward be?.. If we receive so many boons in the test, God knows what kind of grants we will receive in Paradise...

"The world is the field of the hereafter,”

says the Messenger of Allah (pbuh). A field is not a place to have fun. A field necessitates hard work and getting tired. Time is used in the best way in a field...

With this hadith, the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) advises us to benefit from the field of this world in the best and most productive way. He gives us the glad tiding that the seeds that we sow here will flourish and yield fruits at a rate of a thousand for one, seventy thousand for one or more...The eating, drinking, speaking, listening and thinking of a believer are like seeds. If they are done within the boundaries of legitimacy, they will be fruits of Paradise...

A person who listens to a religious and scholarly talk sows a lot of things there. He gains eternity in return for the ephemeral minutes he spends there. He becomes a candidate for talks of Paradise in return for the words to which he listens there. He increases his power of understanding and meditation in Paradise in return for the understanding and meditation there. He is regarded to have prayed to meet luminous faces in Paradisein return for the believing faces he sees there...

A person who eats halal food is regarded to have sowed his eating for Paradise. A person who always tells and proclaims the truth is regarded to have sown words on behalf of Paradise. If we can make use of all of our capital in our realm of deeds, state and words, we will attain incredible rewards, prepare our Paradise here and send our sustenance from this world to Paradise...

Our Lord gives us the glad tiding of that land as follows:

“Allah hath promised to Believers men and women Gardens under which rivers flow, to dwell therein, and beautiful mansions in Gardens of everlasting stay, but the greatest bliss in the Good Pleasure of Allah: that is the Supreme Felicity.” (at-Tawba, 9/72)

Interpretations like rivers of clean water, milk and honey are made for the rivers of Paradise. There are also so many rivers that cannot be described. The small samples of those rivers are present in the world... A river of milk flows in the world every day... However, we cannot see this river as a whole; we only see the part that comes out of breasts... The rivers like the Nile, Tigris and Euphrates have flown for centuries without ending... Our Lord, who informs us about the rivers of Paradise and the nice residences in the Gardens of Eden and encourages us to prepare for them, turns our hearts toward His consent by the following great lesson in the end and teaches us to do all of our deeds sincerely: “The greatest bliss is in the Good Pleasure of Allah: that is the Supreme Felicity.”

The difference between a child who obeys his father in order to attain his consent and a child who obeys him in order to get something, say chocolate, from him is very big... The shares of the believers who have noticed this subtlety and who spend their lives with this consciousness in the eternal grace will be much more.

This divine news has another aspect that is valid for all people of Paradise: When the lucky guests of that land of bliss receive a boon, they feel a lofty pleasure by thinking, “This is a sign showing that my Lord is pleased with me.” Badiuzzaman Said Nursi expresses this meaning in a very nice way in his book called Mektubat:

"An apple an august monarch presents to you holds a pleasure superior to that of a hundred, indeed a thousand, apples, for it is he that has bestowed it on you and made you experience the pleasure of a royal favor...”

It means people will both benefit from material boons and enjoy spiritual pleasures that are much better than them... Not to regard this like that, and to regard Paradise as something spiritual only will be a wrong and incomplete understanding that is contrary all of the verses related to the hereafter.

The spirit only watches the mansion of Paradise and its houris... It finds it enough to look at the rivers of Paradise... It does not interest the spirit whether the rivers contain this or that. In that case, will the boons of Paradise, which are much more superior to worldly boons, not be lower than them contrarily?..

Is it not better to drink a glass of milk in this world than to watch a river of milk in Paradise?..

The spirit will not be satisfied with such an incomplete Paradise... Such an understanding will satisfy the apprehensions of only those who cannot realize that resurrection will take place bodily... The way to the land of Paradise, which is full of the originals of all of the flavors and pleasures, is through Sirat Bridge... Those who pass through Sirat safely reach the gates of Paradise. The seed of Sirat, like everything else in the hereafter, is in the world. Those who conduct all of their affairs in accordance with the orders of Allah and those who always tell the truth will pass through Sirat safely...

Hell lies under Sirat whether you fall from the right or the left. The seed of this reality is also present in the world. Both excessiveness and negligence destroy man… That is, extremism in both ends leads man to destruction... That is, man needs to drive away excessiveness with one hand and negligence with the other; he needs to act like that throughout his life in order to reach Paradise, the land of bliss.

Alaaddin Başar (Prof. Dr.)

16 How is the death of believers, do they suffer; How does their death differ from that of unbelievers?

Agony of death (sakr al-mawt) means an unconscious state of a person who is about to die. Materials which cause drowsiness in one’s mind are generally called “muskir” or “musakkir”. That word is also used to mean wrath, love, sorrow, inattentiveness or faint caused by a pain, and that state is called “sakr”, which is what we also mean here. That is to say; what is meant with “sakarat” which is the plural form of “sakr” is the agony and fainting when one is about to die.

Accordingly, “sakarat al-mawt” which is a Quranic term means “unconsciousness when one is about to die, which signals one’s death.”

As we all know, death is the soul’s leaving the body, and death causes agony. As a matter of fact, it is stated in a Quranic verse that sakarat al-mawt will find those who escape from death, sooner or later. (al-Qaf, 50/19).

As it is narrated from Hazrat Aisha, there was always a cup of water by the Prophet’s side during his last sickness. The Messenger of Allah (pbuh) used to dip his blessed hand into water and rub it onto his face and say:

“There is no god but Allah. There is agony of death, for sure.” Then he raised his hands and said “to Rafiqu’l-A’la” (the highest abode) until his soul was taken away and his hands fell down. (Bukhari, Riqaq, 42).

In another hadith narrated from Hazrat Aisha, after dipping his hand into water and wetting his face, the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) raised his hands and prayed as follows:

“My Allah! Help me in agony and unconsciousness of death.” (Ibn Majah, Janaiz, 64; Tirmidhi, Janaiz, 8).

Hazrat Aisha narrates:

“Having seen the agony the Prophet suffered while dying, I will not envy anyone’s easy death.” (Tirmidhi, Janaiz, 8).

In another narration, Hazrat Aisha said:

“The Messenger of Allah died on my chest. Having seen it with the Messenger of Allah, I will not consider the severity of death bad for anyone.” (Nasai, Janaiz, 6).

They are the realities of ghayb (unseen), which living people cannot know, that angels appear to anyone at the time of death and tell them their place in the hereafter, the agony of death and what happens in that state. A true believer has to believe in all information about the realities of ghayb given to them by Allah and His Messenger. Every Muslim must believe in all situations informed to them in certainty. Otherwise, they will risk their faith.

It is stated in verses and hadiths that people who are on the straight way while they are alive, that is, who believe and comply with prohibitions attentively will experience an easy death and the Angel of Death will treat them gently. And those who live a life contrary to it will experience a violent death and the Angel of Death will treat those people, who have spent their lives in infidelity, rebel and evil deeds, harshly. However, it is not an unchangeable rule. Sometimes while beloved slaves of Allah die in agony, those who spent their lives rebelling against Allah die easily.

As a matter of fact, the agony the Messenger of Allah suffered while dying was very severe. After Prophet Moses’ soul was taken away, Allah asked him how he found death; he said:

“I felt like a sparrow being fried in a pan; neither does it die so that it will rest, nor can it escape so that it can fly away.”

It signals that death can sometimes be harsh for the beloved slaves of Allah. And according to another narration, Moses said:

“like a sheep being skinned at the hands of a butcher.” (see: Hasan Idwi, Mashariq, Egypt, 1316, p.15).

Although the Prophet (pbuh) said that people who committed few sins would die easily and that there would be no fear or hardship for true believers who uttered the kalimah at-tawhid (La ilaha illalah) at the time of death (Mundhiri, at-Targhib wa’t-Tarhib, 2/416-417), what is the reason of the severe agony those people, whom the Quran informed that their lives after death will be at the highest level of bliss, suffered at the time of death?

Islamic scholars say that the reasons why people suffer at the time of death are different from each other. (see Hasan Idwi, ibid., 40). Accordingly, the reason for severe sakarat al-mawt is one of the four reasons below:

1. Allah makes those whose spiritual level He wants to increase more suffer at the time of death. This is the reason why the agonies of Prophets and saintly slaves of Allah suffer are so severe. As they endure the agony of death patiently, their level in the eyes of Allah increases. For this reason, none of the eminent people complained about the agony of death; and they always prayed Allah to increase their levels.

2. Allah makes the agony of death severe for people whose sins He wants to forgive, as ransom for their sins. A true believer will have a remuneration for all pains and agonies he suffers in life, even the pain caused by a thorn that pricked his foot, and as this remuneration will be the forgiveness of a sin in case he does not have any sins, he will be gaining thawab (Tirmidhi, Janaiz, 1); of course, the agony of death will not be in vain. Hazrat Umar, (v. 23/643) who comprehended that truth, said:

“If something from a believer’s sins he committed in life still remains – after repentance – Allah makes the agony of death severe for him. Eventually, his soul enters Heaven. And if an infidel did something good in life, Allah makes the agony of death easy for him, as remuneration for his good deeds, and sends him to Hell as he took the remuneration of his good deeds in life.”

If there are any unbelievers who die easily, we should not envy them; we should envy those who will have a peaceful life after death. As a matter of fact, remuneration for unbelievers is pain in this world, while remuneration for believers is paid both in this world and the other world. Allah the Glorious orders Muslims not to be surprised by the abundance unbelievers live in and envy it (at-Tawbah 9:55). We do not envy unbelievers who die easily; besides, it rarely happens. Generally, their agony starts with death. Angels make them suffer while taking away their souls. As it will be explained later in this article, it is just the beginning of their agony.

Umar b. Abdulaziz (v. 101/720), who comprehended that agony of death will be a ransom for a believer’s sins, says:

“I do not want that agony of death be eased for me; I do not desire it because, it is the last atonement which covers a believer’s sins and increases his level.” (Ibn Hajar, Fathu’l-Bari, 11/365).

In addition to a believer’s agony of death compensating for his sins, angels will give him the good news and treat him gently, allowing him into happiness of reaching Allah. And the believer will not feel the agony of death within the happiness of reaching Allah. It is like that in life too. When one has remuneration for something he achieved going through many difficulties, he forgets the difficulties he had right away as if he had never experienced them.

3. Some of those whose agony of death is severe are tested once more at the last moment of their life on earth, which is totally a place of testing, and they are put through the last trial. That is to say, the reason why they suffer at the time of death is testing and trying. Of course, they will get their remuneration eventually.

4. There are people whose agony of death is harsh because it is the beginning of their punishment; they are unbelievers and cruel, unfair people who have not had the honor of believing in life and always occupied themselves with evil deeds. The Quran depicts their state as follows:

“the angels stretch forth their hands, (saying),"Yield up your souls: this day shall ye receive your reward, - a penalty of shame, for that ye used to tell lies against God, and scornfully to reject of His signs!” (al-An’am 6:93).

The verse states that unbelievers and cruel, unfair people will suffer while dying. “Angels’ stretching forth their hands” as stated in the verse means their beating them, which was sent down for idolaters who attended the Battle of Badr, yet its decree is for all infidels as it can be seen clearly in the following verse:

“If thou couldst see, when the angels take the souls of the Unbelievers (at death), (How) they smite their faces and their backs, (saying): "Taste the penalty of the blazing Fire!” (al-Anfal 8:50).

The Quran interpreters (commentators) say that the beating stated in the verse means torment. The torment in the form of beating lasts until their souls leave their bodies. What is meant by “yield up your souls” is this: Angels tell them they will have punishment, torment, thirst, handcuffs and chains, Hell and boiling water and Allah’s wrath. Then their souls break into pieces and hesitate to leave their bodies. Then angels beat those unbelievers until their souls leave their bodies, saying “yield up your souls!” It means “let your souls out of your bodies”. And they say you will be punished with insulting torment today because you denied Allah and you were too arrogant to obey His verses and to comply with His Messengers in life. In this way, their suffering becomes more and more severe; just like water covers up a drowning person in it so too are they covered with fear and beating.

(see: Süleyman Toprak, Ölümden Sonraki Hayat)

17 How should we answer those who allege that Paradise and Hell are not eternal, and that after a while (God forbid), Allah will feel bored and destroy Paradise and Hell?

Feeling bored is not in question for Allah. People's ignorance of assuming Allah like themselves can cause wrong ideas like this. Allah does not resemble what He creates. No artist can be in the same type as his art. For example, a furniture craftsman is not in the same type as the furniture. There cannot be more ignorance than considering the craftsman being in the same type as an armchair. Similarly, considering that Allah has the same qualities as human beings, who are His art, and attributing boredom to Allah is an example of great ignorance.

An idea put forward by a thought that has no route is such a refutable idea that it seeks the solution to boredom in non-existence.

As for the eternity of Paradise and Hell:

First of all, we should say this: there is no controversy among scholars about the eternity of Paradise. However, there are some marginal thoughts about Hell.

Yes, Paradise and Hell are eternal. However, this eternity will only be possible when Allah creates them as eternal. Because of this, there is no contrariness to Allah's eternity.

We will try to sum up this issue in items in accordance with verses, hadiths andthe views of Ahl as-Sunnah scholars.

Relevant verses:

The word ('KHULD')

"Give glad tidings to those who believe and work righteousness, that their portion is Gardens, beneath which rivers flow... They abide therein (forever).” (al-Baqara, 2/25, see also al-Baqara, 2/82).

"Those who believe and work righteousness... they therein to dwell (for ever)." (al-Araf, 7/42)

“Those who seek gain in evil, and are girt round by their sins,- they are companions of the Fire: Therein shall they abide (for ever)." (al-Baqara, 2/81)

"Those who reject Our Signs and treat them with arrogance,- they are companions of the Fire, to dwell therein (for ever)." (al-Araf, 7/36)

The word 'khalidun' that is mentioned in the verses above given as examples and that we translated as 'permanent/eternal' is derived from the word 'KHULD'.

The lexical meaning of this word is 'to remain eternal, to stay forever'. The meaning of beingkhalid in Paradise is to live there forever without leaving. The land of khuld means everlasting and eternal realm. One of the names of Paradise is "Darul-khuld". It states that the people of it will stay there eternally. (see Lisanul-Arab. Tahdhibul-Lugha, Kitabul-Ayn, “KHLD” item.)

Since the Qur'an was sent down in Arabic, it is obligatory to use the word 'khuld' in the sense of eternity that Arabic people understand. Otherwise, it will mean attributing deception to Allah, for whom it is impossible to break His promise – God forbid.

The word ('ABAD')

"Those who believe in Allah and work righteousness,- He will remove from them their ills, and He will admit them to Gardens beneath which Rivers flow, to dwell therein for ever: that will be the Supreme Triumph." (at-Taghabun, 64/9)

"For any that disobey Allah and His Messenger,- for them is Hell: they shall dwell therein for ever." (al-Jinn, 72/23)

In these verses, which we quoted as examples, the word 'abad', which means for ever/eternally, is used along with the word ('khuld').

These verses show that both Paradise and Hell are realms which are eternal.

The following question can come to mind: “What kind of words should Allah have used in order to emphasize the eternity of the realm of hereafter?” Although he used these two words, which are the most specific and emphasized words in Arabic many times, what else can we expect to be satisfied regarding the issue?

Relevant Hadiths:

“O people! It is definite that the last return is to Allah. You will go either to Paradise or to Hell after that. It is a place of eternity and residence without migration.” It is stated in Majmauz-Zawaid that this hadith is sound. (see Majmauz-Zawaid, 5/56)

According to what Abu Hurayra narrated, the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) said,

"On the Day of Resurrection, people will be addressed as follows: ''O people of Paradise! Everlasting life without death!' And 'O people of the Fire! Everlasting life without death!'' (Bukhari, Riqaq, 51; Muslim, Paradise, 40; Tirmidhi, Paradise, 20).

In these hadiths, the issue is ensured without leaving room to hesitation by using the word 'eternity' together with the word 'immortality'.

The Necessity of Allah's Names

There are a lot of things to say about this issue. However, we will present some issuesin brief. For, a word to the wise is enough.

- As Allah is everlasting, so too are his names and attributes. The art of an honorable Sultan who is eternalmust be eternal too.

- It is emphasized in both verses and hadiths that Paradise is a grace of Allah and a necessity of His mercy. Given this mercy of His is eternally existent, He would want the beings that need mercy to be eternal too.

- With the testimony of the balances in the universe, Allah has infinite justice. As for Hell, it is a place of punishment in the sense of giving everybody their due. The punishments being proportional to crimes is a necessity of the understanding of justice. Only one unbelief and denial is an infringement of rights of all of the beings, atoms, molecules, cells and all things in the universe that can be said to be endless, denial of the manifestation of Allah's one thousand and one names, is an infinite crime like accusing His thousands of messengers of being liars. Infinite punishment for an infinite crime like this is a necessity of justice.

- Thousands of prophets, saints, martyrs, mujahids who worship their Lord day and night, who sacrifice their lives and wealth on the altar of Him would love to see their Lord all the time and enter into His presence. If the life of Paradise ends, these exceptional people will bound to vanish. It is clear that the divine infinite mercy and compassion will not allow this to happen.

- Would Allah offend those sincere slaves of Him, whom He granted thousands of boons and upon whom He bestowed numerous treatsin order to make them love Him, by eliminating them?

Would he make them enemies of himself by executing those who love Him with infinite sacrifices?

- Allah’s names of Beauty want the eternity of Paradise, and His names of Majesty want Hell to exist forever.

There are many more truths to be found in this route.

The views of the Ahl as-Sunnah scholars:

According to Ahl as-Sunnah creed, Paradise and Hell were created and they are existent now. And they will never disappear. (see Hafiz al-Asbahani at-Taymi, al-Hujja, 1/471; Muhammad b. Abdurrahman al-Khamis, Itiqadu ahlis-Sunnah, 1/160-161; Abdulaziz, Abdullah b. Baz, Bayanu Aqidati Ahlis-Sunnati wal-Jamaa, 1/25-ash-Shamila)

The following views are included in the book named “Kitabu Usulil-Iman fi dawil-Kitabi was-Sunnah”), which was written by a scholarly committee composed of Islamic scholars about this issue:  

Believing in Paradise and Hell becomes real only with believing in these points about them:

a. To believe with the certain creed that Paradise is the destination of the believers of taqwa, and Hell is the destination of those who are unbelievers and hypocrites. (see an-Nisa, 4/56-57 for this issue)

b. To believe that Paradise and Hell are existent now.

“For The Garden is prepared for the righteous.” (Aal-i Imran 3/133)

"The Fire which is prepared for those who reject Faith." (al-Baqara, 2/24)

The verses above show that they are existent now.

c. To believe that Paradise and Hell are eternal realms and they will never disappearand that the people will remain there eternally. (see an-Nisa, 4/13 and al-Jinn, 72/23 for examples fort he issue)

"For any that disobey Allah and His Messenger,- for them is Hell: they shall dwell therein for ever." (al-Jinn, 72/23)

Scholars say that what is meant by disobedience, (which is) emphasized and mentioned in the verse -considering being there eternally- in the verse is polytheism. For, all of the sins except polytheism will finally be forgiven. (see ibid, p. 328-330-ash-Shamila).

The view of Ibn Taymiyya about the issue

Muhammed b. Ismail as-San’aniwrote a book named "Ibtalu Adilleti Fanain-Nar" (Refutation of the evidences that Hell will end) and refuted Ibn Taymiyya's views through scholarlyevidences. We will try to present the evidences -which are like the summary of this book of 190 pages- that we think they will be sufficient:

Ibn Qayyim reported and includedthe following information, which his teacher Ibn Taymiyya stated about the issue that life in Hell, not Paradise, will end: 

''Allah will finally extinguish the fire and take the unbelievers who are in Hell to Paradise.'' He used the views attributed to Hz. Umar, Hz. Abdullah b. Masud, Hz. Abu Hurayra, Hz. Abdullah b. Abbas, Hz. Abu Said al-Khudri as evidence. It will be useful to analyze this issue in the form of a few items:

a. Ibn Taymiyya supports this view of his with the following reasoning: All Companions, Tabiun and scholars of Ahl as-Sunnah agreed on the decrees like the following as it is stated in the Qur'an-; ''The torments of unbelievers in Hell will not ever be lessened; they will not die there, and they will not go to Paradise until/unless a rope is threaded through the eye of a needle''. In that case, it is necessary to understand Hz. Umar's statament as ''Hell will disappear one day.'' For, there is an explicit statement of the Qur'an and hadiths that they will not get out of Hell as long as it exists. (see Muhammad b. Ismail as-Sanani, Ibtalu Adillati Fenain-Nar, 1/68-ash-Shamila)

Scholars criticized this viewof Ibn Taymiyya’s in several aspects:

First: Ibn Taymiyya repoted the narration that he attributed to Hz. Umar from Hasan al-Basri. However, as he himself stated, Hasan al-Basri did not hear this hadith personally from Hz. Umar. So, it means that this hadith is mursal and munqati (interrupted). That is, there is a disconnection in the chain of the narrators of this hadith. This shows that the narration is weak. Hadith scholars, especially Ibn Sirin, Hafiz Ibn Hajar, Daraqutni, stated that the hadiths Hasan al-Basri narrated as mursal could not be trusted. How can such hadith narrations whose chain of narrators is interrupted be accepted in issues related to belief while they are not accepted regarding religious issues? (see ibid)

Second: Hz. Umar did not use a statement like Hell ending finally. This is what he said: “Even if the People of the Fire stayed in the Fire like the amount of sand of ‘Alij (for a very long time), they would have, despite that, a day in which they would come out.” As it can be seen, it is indicated in this statement that the people of Hell will leave Hell one day, not that Hell will disappear. In fact, this claimwas not accepted by none of the Islamic scholars including Ibn Taymiyya.

Third:

Ibn Taymiyya claimed -without any proof-  that this statement, which is attributed to Hz. Umar, should be about the unbelievers, who are the people of Hell. However, even if it is sound, the possibility of this hadith being about the people of oneness who are believers whose sins were not forgiven and who entered Hell is a lot more stronger. There is no other possibility in our opinion. For, only in that case would it be a view which is appropriate for clear verses-hadiths and the consensusof Ahl as-Sunnah  scholars. (see ibid)

b. One of the companions to whom this view is attributed is Abdullah b. Masud. According to the narration, Ibn Masud said,

“There will be such a time that there will be nobody in Hell." (ibid, 1/75)

However, there is a hadith that indicates the opposite of those statements that he narrated as a marfu hadith:

"If it were told to the people in Hell, ‘You will stay in fire as many years as the number of the stones on earth, they would be very pleased to hear this." (ibid, 1/70)

The same statements were reported from Abu Hurayra too.

The narrations from these two companions were quoted from the reports when Baghawi interpreted verses 107-108 of the chapter of Hud.

However, Baghawi himself, who reported those narrations, stated the following views after mentioning those narrations:

"The meaning of this narration -if it is correct- according to Ahl as-Sunnah is as follows: Finally, none of the people of belief will stay in Hell. However, the unbelieverswill stay there eternally." (ibid, 1/75)

c. One of the people whom these narrations target is Abdullah b. Abbas.

Ibn Taymiyya said that Hell would end someday based on the following statement ofAbdullah b. Abbas included byAli b. Talha in his tafsir: ‘Nobody can determine Allah’s decrees on His creatures; no one can give a decree if they will go to Hell or Paradise’ However, it is impossible to understand no meaning like that whatsoever from this statement. (ibid, 1/79)

It is odd that an incredibly intelligent scholar like Ibn Taymiyya accepted it as evidence.

In fact, these narrations were mostly related with the following two verses:

"They will dwell therein so long as the heavens and the earth endure, except as thy Lord willeth: for thy Lord is the (sure) accomplisher of what He planneth. And those who are blessed shall be in the Garden: They will dwell therein so long as the heavens and the earth endure, except as thy Lord willeth: a gift without break." (Hud, 11/107-108)

However, according to what Bayhaqi narrates, the view of Abdullah b. Abbas regarding the issue is clear. He interpreted the phrase ‘’Except as thy Lord willeth’’ in verses 107-108 of the chapter of Hud as follows:

"Doubtlessly, your Lord had willed that the unbelievers will stay in Hell eternally; and the believers will stay in Paradise eternally." (see ibid)

Accordingly, those who are stated not to stay in Hell forever are those who die as believers but who go to Hell because their sins overweigh.

Note: It is necessary to tell a person who does not believe in Allah the existence of Allah first and mention Paradise and Hell after that. The source of the wrong ideas of these kinds of people is unbelief. How appropriate would it be to talk on Allah’s attributes without belief in Allah? It is necessary to prove existence of Allah first to this kind of people. Otherwise, these questions will not stop coming.

18 Is it permissible to wish death, to want to die and to pray for death?

The statement of the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) regarding the issue is as follows:

"None of you should wish for death because of a calamity befalling him; but if he has to wish for death, he should say: "O Lord! Keep me alive as long as life is better for me, and let me die if death is better for me.'" (Bukhari, Marda, 19)

1. The first addressees of the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) in the hadith are the Companions but all of the Muslims to live up to the Day of Judgment are also addressees. That is, the decree of prohibition is valid for all Muslims at all times.

2. Most of the scholars say the word “durr (calamity)” mentioned in the hadith is “worldly calamity”. Accordingly, if a religious calamity like “falling into mischief in religion” is in question, it is not a sin to wish for death.

This issue is seen more clearly in a narration from Ibn Hibban:

"None of you should wish for death because of a calamity befalling him in the world..." The reason is clearly stated as "in the world". Some Companions wished for death due to some thoughts that were not related to the world.

As a matter of fact, it is stated in Muwatta that Hz. Umar prayed as follows:

"O Lord! I got old; my strength weakened; my people spread everywhere. Take me near you before I fall into loss more and before I go over the limit."

It is also stated in Muwatta that the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) prayed as follows:

"O Lord! I ask you to enable me to do good deeds, to abandon bad deeds, to be loved by the poor. If I may cause a mischief among people, take me near you and enable me to leave the world without having any connection with mischief."

According to what is written in Ahmad Ibnu Hanbal and other resources, Abis al Ghifari prayed as follows:

"O Plague! Take my soul!" He was asked,

“How can you say this when you heard the Messenger of Allah say, ‘Let no one of you wish for death’?” He answered as follows:

“I heard the Messenger of Allah say,

Run to death before these six things happen: The leadership of fools; increase in the number of policemen; buying and selling political and judicial favors; breaking blood relations; and lighthearted worshippers who treat the Quran like music.’”

The scholars who deal with the issue show two verses from the Quran regarding wishing for death:

1. Hz. Yusuf's prayer:

"... Take thou my soul (at death) as one submitting to Thy Will (as a Muslim), and unite me with the righteous." (Yusuf, 12/101)

Hz. Yusuf prayed like this at a time when he had so many worldly boons.

2. Hz. Sulayman's prayer:

"Admit me by Thy Grace, to the ranks of Thy righteous Servants O Lord!" (an-Naml, 27/19)

A prayer of the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) included in Bukhari is as follows:

"O Allah! Forgive me, show me mercy and take me to Rafiq al-Ala (the Sublime Companion)."

It is stated that these prayers are peculiar to the time of death; that is, death is not sought urgently with these prayers. It is also stated that "we wish to end our life with a good ending and be together with righteous people in the hereafter." In addition, it is explained that "the reason why death is included in prayers is not for wishing for death but remembering the incident of death all the time."

Hz. Prophet (pbuh) states that life is better than death for believers:

"The life of a believer increases his good deeds.”

"None of you should wish for death. It is hoped that his good deeds will increase if he is a good person. If he commits bad deeds, it is hoped that he will abandon bad deeds and seek Allah's consent."

Although it is possible for good people to go worse, it is an exception; what is essential is, as the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) states, living is better. Then, death means the end of good deeds and thawabs. Then, one should not wish for death.  

- Why is wishing for death forbidden?

According to the Islamic belief, the time of death is based on predestination, not on praying and wishing. When a person’s time of death comes, his life is neither shortened nor lengthened, whether he wants it or not. (Yunus, 10/49, an-Nahl, 16/61). Then, wishing for death is a manner of believers with an aspect of ethics. From this point of view, it is possible to see two ethical drawbacks regarding wishing for death:

1) An objection to predestination (qadar) may be in question.

2) Its purpose may be escaping from the duty of life, which is a test with various states. This is failure, which destroys him spiritually. The Quran states that man was created so that he would be tested through loss in goods, lives and fruits wealth, and through misfortunes andfear(al-Baqara, 2/155; al-Mulk,  67/2) , and advises patience. The Messenger of Allah (pbuh) orders us "to plant the sapling we have even if we know that Doomsday will strike tomorrow."

On the other hand,it is not possible for the religion of Islam, which introduced such an understanding of life, to regard wishing for death due to material misfortunes as appropriate. If it were legitimate to wish for death in such cases, it would weaken the strength of endurance in the face of misfortunes of life.

In fact, even when some of the causes that allow wishing for death legitimate occur, one should not regard escaping from living as something essential. For, the real purpose of the narrations concerning the states that allow wishing for death legitimate is to declare the evil of these states and to make people understand them.  For example, "buying and selling political and judicial favors", one of the six things mentioned in the last hadith mentioned above, is the expression of lack of justice in such a community. Such a community means the disorder of social structure has reached the worst stages. Believers are kept away from such a bad deed that will make wishing for death legitimate. The other deeds that are listed are like that.   

If the real purpose of such hadiths were to make wishing for death legitimate due to the deeds mentioned in it, wishing for death would be legitimate at all times because such bad deeds always existed in communities.Something supporting this view is the following sentence existing in a different narration of the hadith we reported from Ahmad Ibn Hanbal:

"Hurry to do good deeds before six bad states occur..."

That is, good deeds are encouraged by reminding those mischiefs.

Death is bitter. To be alive enables a man to prepare for the hereafter better. Therefore, it is not appropriate to wish for death. Therefore, the Prophet said, "Do not wish for death."

A patient who is writhing around in agony, who is crippled and who has nobody to look after him can pray as follows:

"O Allah! If living is better for me, let me live; if death is better for me, take my soul." (Muslim, Dhikr, 10) 

To be in the agony of death, to have death throes and to agonize are difficult. A believer knows that they come from Allah and shows patience. If he shows patience in the face of these pains and agonies, this patience will be atonement for his sins. (Abu Dawud, Janaiz, 1, 3)

(see Prof. Dr. İbrahim CANAN, Kütüb-ü Site Muhtasarı Tercüme ve Şerhi, Akçağ Yayınları, V/9.)

19 Who are the people of A'raf (Purgatory) that will know the People of Paradise and Hell by their faces mentioned in verse 46 of the chapter of al-A'raf?

"Between them shall be a veil, and on the Heights will be men who would know everyone by his marks: they will call out to the companions of the Garden "peace on you" they will not have entered, but they will have an assurance (thereof.)" (al-A'raf, 7/46)

A’raf (Purgatory) is the opposite of arf. Anything that is high is called arf. According to the famous view, a’raf means high hills of rampart between Paradise and Hell. Hasan al-Basri said, "A’raf is derived from the same root as ma'rifah (knowledge) and means the people who know the people of Paradise and Hell by their faces."

To sum up, there are two views about a’raf:

Firstly, according to what is reported from Abu Huzayfa and some other people, they are the people who did not do enough good deeds and whose good deeds and bad deeds were equal when they were weighed; they are the people who recognize Allah as one; they will stay between Paradise and Hell for a while. Then, Allah Almighty will decide about them. Secondly, They are people of high ranks like prophets, martyrs, good people and scholars.

According to the first view, the phrase "lam yadkhuluha" (they will not have entered) describes the people of a’raf: That is, the people of Paradise entered Paradise but the people of a'raf did not. However, they hope to enter and envy them. They say, “Peace on you!” According to the second view, it is the state of the people of Paradise at that time. That is, they did not enter Paradise but they hope to enter Paradise; at that time, the people of a'raf give them the glad tiding that they will attain peace.

Before explaining a'raf, let us give the meanings of the verses in the chapter of al-A'raf about “a'raf” and “people of a'raf”. After the verses in which the situation of the people of Paradise and Hell and the conversation between them are mentioned, the following verses about “a'raf” are included:

“Between them shall be a veil, and on the Heights will be men who would know everyone by his marks: they will call out to the companions of the Garden 'peace on you' they will not have entered, but they will have an assurance (thereof.)."

"When their eyes shall be turned towards the companions of the Fire, they will say: 'Our Lord! Send us not to the company of the wrong- doers.'"

"The men on the Heights will call to certain men whom they will know from their marks, saying: 'Of what profit to you were your hoards and your arrogant ways?'"

"Behold! Are these not the men whom you swore that Allah with his Mercy would never bless? Enter ye the Garden: no fear shall be on you nor shall ye grieve.” 1

Yes “a'raf” is the plural form of “arf”. The mane of the horse and the comb of the cock are called “arf”. There are several explanations about a'raf in tafsir books. However, the view that the majority of the tafsir scholars agree on is that “A'raf means a veil, a high rampart and hills between Paradise and Hell." Ibn Abbas says,“They are the balconies on Sirat Bridge.” Hasan Basri's view is as follows:  

Hasan Basri says, “There are some people who know the people of Paradise and Hell by their faces in the hereafter.”The people around him say, “They are the people whose thawabs and sins are equal.” Hasan Basri hits his knees with his hands and says, “They are the people that Allah appointed to distinguish between the people of Paradise and Hell. By Allah, I do not know but some of them are here with us.” 2

The reason why the people in A'raf are called “a'raf” is that they know people based on their deeds. According to what is explained in tafsir books, when Allah Almighty weigh thawabs and sins in Mizan (Scales) and divide people into two as the people of Paradise and the people of Hell, He will make those whose thawabs and sins are equal wait for a while. These people, who will wait near Sirat Bridge, will know the people of Paradise and the people of Hell. When they see the people of Paradise, they will say, “peace on you”  and when they look at the left side, they will see the people of Hell and pray as follows by taking refuge in Allah: “Our Lord! Send us not to the company of the wrong- doers!” After the people of Paradise and the people of Hell go, Allah Almighty will forgive them with His mercy and send them to Paradise. 3

As a matter of fact, when the Prophet was asked who the people of A'raf were, he said,

“After Allah Almighty divides His slaves, He will say to the remaining ones, ‘Your thawabs have saved you from Hell but you have not deserved Paradise. I free you from Hell with My mercy. Go to Paradise, which you desire.’4

Besides, it is stated in some narrations that the people of a'raf are not human beings but a group of angels. All of those explanations are in compliance with the concept and meaning of the verse.

However, Ibrahim Hakkı writes in page 21 of his book Marifetname that insane people who are exempt from religious responsibilities and the children of the unbelievers are people of a'raf; he adds that they feel sad when they see the people of Paradise because they cannot attain the boons that they have, that they feel thankful when they see the people of Hell and that they will stay in this state forever. The explanation of Ibrahim Hakkı, who is great man, is an explanation of the issue from a different viewpoint. However, all of the explanations about “a'raf” and the people of a'raf are interpretations of the verse. Allah knows the real meaning of the verse best.

As for the issue of the children of the unbelievers and those who have never heard of any religions, as it is stated in the last verse of the chapter of an-Naba, when the unbelievers see that animals have been transformed into soil, they will wish to have been created as animals and they will lament. One of the meanings of the phrase “youths of perpetual freshness” mentioned in verse 17 of the chapter of al-Waqia is the children of unbelievers who have no thawabs or sins and that they will serve the people of Paradise.5

In that case, it is understood that the children of unbelievers will not be transformed into soil and that only animals will be transformed into soil. We can accept the explanation of Ibrahim Hakkı regarding the issue as an explanation peculiar to him.  

Footnotes:

1. al-A'raf, 7/46-49.
2. at-Tafsirul-Kabir, XIV/87.
3- Tabari Tafsir, VIII/136-139.
4. ibid.
5. Tafsirun-Nishaburi (included in the marginal notes of Tabari Tafsir), XXVII/105.

20 Is mourning permissible in Islam?

Death is one of the most painful things that happens to man; therefore, his relatives and friends become very sad. It is normal for their human nature to show this sorrow. 

Arabs of Jahiliyya before Islam mourned in an excessive way. The relatives of the dead person used to shout and cry as much as they could and tear their clothes; they would even hire professional criers. The wife of a dead man would not go out for a year, would not wear perfume and would not have a bath; she would be removed from this state after a year when they threw manure on her. The respect shown to the dead person by their relatives was evaluated based on the intensity of this mourning.

The custom of mourning, which was in extreme degrees in many distorted religions and nations, was transformed into a moderate state, and extremism in mourning was prohibited in Islam. Hz. Prophet (pbuh) stated the following regarding the issue:

"He who slaps his cheeks, tears his clothes and follows the ways and traditions of the Days of Ignorance is not one of us." (Bukhari, Janaiz, 36)

When the Prophet’s son, Ibrahim, and his grandson died; he cried and shed tears; when the Companions asked about this state, he said,

"It is mercy which Allah has lodged in the hearts of His slaves, and Allah is merciful only to those of His slaves who are merciful." (Bukhari, Janaiz, 33);

"The eyes are shedding tears and the heart is grieved, and we will not say except what pleases our Lord." (Bukhari, Janaiz, 44)

Thus, he stated that it was permissible to show one’s sorrow in a reasonable way.

According to Islam, the period of mourning is three days. However, a woman whose husband dies mourns for four months and ten days; she lives in her husband’s house during this period. She should not adorn herself, wear new and flashy clothes; she should not accept any proposals of marriage during this period.

21 Is it true that a person who utters kalima at-tawhid (La ilaha illallah) 70.000 times goes to Paradise directly even if he has no other deeds?

It is narrated that a person who says "La ilaha illah" will be given the glad tiding of Paradise. Therefore, people of tariqah and tasawwuf (sufism) try to say it throughout their lives.

However, no deed is a reason for Paradise. Paradise is of Allah's grace; it is based on His consent. It is important whether deeds are done sincerely or not. Worshipping is not done in order to go to Paradise.

The phrase "even if he has no other deeds" can be valid only for supererogatory (nafilah) deeds; fard and wajib deeds are not included in it.

22 Why are the sins that are left to the hereafter given very severe penalties?

The sins that are purified in the world are generally minor sins. The ones that are left to the hereafter are major sins.

Minor crimes are dealt with in small local courts and major crimes are dealt with in big courts.

However, we cannot say that those who are destroyed by misfortunes like earthquakes, floods and plagues in the world are purified with minor penalties.

Destruction of many nations took place in the world. We cannot call such penalties minor.

The following statements will shed light on the issue:

"Just as the penalties of those perpetrating small crimes are delivered locally and serious crimes are sent to the high courts, so too, according to the rules, the small errors of believers and close friends are punished swiftly and in part in this world, in order to quickly purify them.

But the crimes of the people of misguidance are so great that since their punishments exceed this brief worldly life, as required by justice they are referred to the Supreme Tribunal in the eternal realm, and mostly they do not receive any punishment here” (Nursi, Lem'alar, p. 48)

23 What are the evidences that make remaining in Hell forever certain?

It is stated that unbelievers will remain in Hell eternally. Eternally means forever. It is certain by verses thatunbelievers will remain in Hell eternally:

"So enter the gates of Hell, to dwell therein. Thus evil indeed is the abode of the arrogant." (an-Nahl, 16/29)

"But those whose balance is light, will be those who have lost their souls, in Hell will they abide." (al-Mu'minun, 23/103)

"(To them) will be said: ‘Enter ye the gates of Hell, to dwell therein: and evil is (this) Abode of the Arrogant!’" (az-Zumar, 39/72)

"Enter ye the gates of Hell, to dwell therein: and evil is (this) abode of the arrogant!" (al-Mu'min, 40/76)

"To those who reject Our signs and treat them with arrogance, no opening will there be of the gates of heaven, nor will they enter the garden, until the camel can pass through the eye of the needle: Such is Our reward for those in sin." (al-A'raf, 7/40)

EXPLANATION:

It is certain that for those who reject Our signs (verses), who try to reject our evidences and signs that show the good and the evil, the truth and the wrong, the results of the past and the necessities of the present and the future clearly, and who treat them with arrogance, who regard themselves superior and do not want to condescend to take them into consideration, no opening will there be of the gates of heaven; their spirits cannot ascend; they cannot penetrate into high places even if they jump up; they cannot attain the secrets of angels; they will fall down and their prayers will be rejected. Blessing and abundance will not come to them; they cannot enter Paradise until the camel can pass through the eye of the needle.

With another meaning: "Until the rope can pass through the eye of the needle." For, as it is known, along with “camel”, the word (al-jamal) also means rope and it is also pronounced as (jummal), (jumal), (juml) and (jumul). Some tafsir scholar prefer the meaning rope since rope resembles thread and is more related to the needle than the camel while the majority of tafsir scholars prefer the meaning camel. For, it is an idiom in both senses; it expresses the impossibility of something like the saying “when pigs fly”. From this viewpoint, the former meaning is more appropriate.  

For, ”the eye of the needle” is used as a symbol for smallness and “the camel” for bigness. When we want to exaggerate the smallness or thinness of something, we say, "like the eye of the needle". When we want to exaggerate the bigness of something we say, "like a camel". This is used a lot in Arabic. "The rope" can be used for a simile but it is not as common as the camel. It is definitely more appropriate to use the camel, which is a symbol of bigness, passing through the eye of a needle, which is a symbol of thinness, in order to express something that is impossible to happen.

Besides, a camel itself goes where it wants to enter. However, it is necessary for a person to put the rope into something. In addition to the bigness of the camel, it is a living and moving being; and when its neck, hunch, feet and body structure with crookedness are taken into consideration, the impossibility of its passing through the eye of the needle is much more impressive than the rope.  

To sum up, in both cases, the meaning is not the limitation of unbelievers entering into Paradise for a certain period but expressing its impossibility with a clear simile. Therefore, there is no need to discuss in vain whether it is possible for the camel to pass through the eye of a needle or not like some deniers do.   

(Elmalılı Muhammed YAZIR, Hak Dini Kur'an Dili)

24 Is Saddam Husayn a martyr? How should we view the execution of Saddam?

There are hadiths stating that a person who has belief in his heart and dies with belief will eventually go to Paradise even if he remains in Hell for a while. (Bukhari, Tawhid 19, 31, 36, 37; Muslim, Iman 322, 334; Muwatta, 1/212) The first condition of entering Paradise is belief. If a believer is a sinner, he will go to Paradise after being punished.

All kinds of troubles, diseases and misfortunes that hit man cause his sins to decrease. The punishment in the grave also decreases his sins. The degrees and amount of the sins change from person to person. Therefore, some people are punished in the grave and this punishment is enough for their sins; thus, they go to Paradise directly.

Reckoning on the Day of Judgment is the questioning of all responsible creatures by Allah. A big court of justice will be established in the Gathering Place; everybody will be called to account what they did in the world and they will be judged accordingly.

A person who dies as a believer will go to Paradise after he is punished no matter how sinful he is. The Prophet (pbuh) states the following in a hadith:

"Whoever has oppressed another person concerning his reputation or anything else, he should beg him to forgive him before the Day of Resurrection when there will be no money (to compensate for wrong deeds), but if he has good deeds, those good deeds will be taken from him according to his oppression which he has done, and if he has no good deeds, the sins of the oppressed person will be loaded on him." (Bukhari, Mazalim, 10)

Accordingly, those who oppress others in this world will give their thawabs to the people they oppressed in the hereafter; if they have no thawabs,the sins of the oppressed people will be loaded on them. If a person dies as an unbeliever, he will be loaded the sins of the people he oppressed and will remain in Hell forever.

25 Will there be a trace / sign on the forehead of a person who will remain in Hell for a while and will go to Paradise after that?

We do not know about a narration stating that there will bea trace on the forehead of a person who will come out of a Hell. Even if there is a narration like that, it can be about the last person to leave Hell. And it will aim to show that there is no believer left in Hell. That black mark on the face of that person will be temporary; Allah will remove that mark; He will not distress him. For, Paradise is a place of happiness. If he lives in Paradise with a mark on his forehead, it will distress him. Therefore, even if there is a mark on the face of the last person to leave Hell, it will not be permanent; it will be removed.  

Some narrations about the last person to leave Hell:

1. Abu Dharr -radiyallahu anh- narrates: The Prophet said,

“I know the last of the inhabitant of Paradise to enter it and the last of the inhabitant of Hell to come out of it. He is a man who will be brought on the Day of Resurrection and it will be said: ‘Present his minor sins to him, and withhold from him his serious sins.’ Then the minor sins will be placed before him, and it will be said:

On such and such a day you did so and so and on such and such a day you did so and so.’ He will say:

Yes.’ It will not be possible for him to deny. However, after that, he will be afraid lest serious sins will be presented before him. Meanwhile, he will be addressed as follows: ‘In place of every evil deed you will have a good deed.’ Thereupon, he will say: ‘My Lord! I have done things I do not see here.

According to what Abu Dharr narrates, the Prophet (pbuh) laughed till his front teeth were exposed. (Muslim, Iman, 314)

2. We see in the following narration that Abdullah bin Masud reports that the Prophet laughed:

The Messenger of Allah (pbuh) stated the following:I know the state of the last of the inhabitant of Hell to be taken out thereof. He will come out of it crawling. It will be said to him:

Go and enter Paradise! He will go there to enter Paradise. When he looks inside, he will see that the people of Paradise have already settled and that it is full. He will go back and say,

O my Lord! Everybody has settled; it is full. There is no place to go. He will be addressed as follows:

– Do you recall the time when you were there? He will say,

– Yes my Lord! Then, he will be addressed as follows:

– Then, Express any desire. He expresses his desires. Finally, he will be addressed as follows:

For you is what you have desired and ten times the world. Thereupon, he will say,

O Lord! Are You making fun of me though You are the King?

Abdullah bin Masud states that the Messenger of Allah laughed till his front teeth were visible. (Muslim, Iman, 308; Tirmidhi, Jahannam, 10)

3. The Prophet (pbuh) describes the last person to come out of Hell as follows:

This man will come out of Hell by sometimes crawling and sometimes walking; fire will lick his face. Then he will turn to Hell and say:

- Allah, who saved me from you, is high and lofty. I swear by Allah that He has given me a great boon that He has not given to anybody else. (Muslim, Iman 310)