According to some hadiths, people will be resurrected in the form of monkeys or pigs on the Day of Judgment due to their sins. Is it used in the real sense or metaphorically in hadiths?

The Answer

Dear Brother / Sister,

“The Day that the Trumpet shall be sounded, and ye shall come forth in crowds...” (an-Naba, 78/18)

According to the verse above, people will be resurrected in groups in the Gathering Place on the Day of Judgment. That day of resurrection is a day when everyone will be in a group according to their intentions, thoughts and deeds, and based on that arrangement, people will be sent to the place of reckoning in groups. As a matter of fact, the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) made the following statement in the light of the verse above:

“Everybody will be resurrected in the state as they died.” (Muslim, Jannah 83)

There are various narrations that people will be resurrected as ten classes in accordance with what they do in the world. For example, it is stated in a hadith reported from Muadh b. Jabal that people will be resurrected in different groups. Some of them will be resurrected in the form of monkeys, pigs, crawling face down, blind, etc. It is also stated in the hadith that those who are resurrected in the form of monkeys are nammam (talebearers), and those who are resurrected in the form of pigs are those who take bribes and eat haram. (For detailed information, see Tadhkiratul-Qurtubi, Hashr chapter)

Since they are mentioned in hadith narrations, we, as believers, believe that such things will take place on the Day of Judgment.

Similar things happened in the life of the world too. As it is stated in the Quran, some tribes were transformed into monkeys and pigs as a penalty and they died without living long. (al-Baqara, 2/65-66; see Razi Ibn Kathir, the interpretation of the relevant verses) Some scholars regard that incident as metaphorical and state that their transformation into animals is spiritual and that they are likened to those animals in terms of their spirits but the majority of scholars say that it is literal.

Therefore, there is no obstacle to the occurrence of such things on the Day of Judgment in terms of reason. As a matter of fact, there are narrations stating that the bodies of some people in Hell will be extremely enlarged.

We should also state that the expressions “in the image (form/shape) of a monkey, in the image (form/shape) of a pig” are used in the narrations. Acting upon them, we can say that those people were transformed into those animals or likened to them in terms of their images (forms/shapes). However, their spirits are still the same…

Another important thing to note is as follows: The shapes in the narrations stating that sinners will be resurrected - whether literally or metaphorically - according to their sins are related to those who commit sins and die without repenting. Those who repent or whose thawabs are more than their sins will not be resurrected like that.

Some of the narrations regarding the issue are as follows:

Muadh b. Jabal asked the Prophet (pbuh) the interpretation of the phrase coming forth in crowds mentioned in the verse “The Day that the Trumpet shall be sounded, and ye shall come forth in crowds” (an-Naba, 78/18) and narrated us the answer he received:

I said, “O Messenger of Allah! What do you say about Allah Almighty’s statement ‘The Day that the Trumpet shall be sounded, and ye shall come forth in crowds’?” The Prophet (pbuh) said,

“O Muadh! You have asked about an extremely great matter” Then, with tearful eyes, he stated the following:

“Ten groups from my ummah which Allah will separate from Muslim congregations and change their appearances will be resurrected in different groups. Some of them will come in the form of monkeys and some in the form of pigs. Some will be brought upside down, being dragged face down; some will be blind without knowing where to go. Some will be brought deaf and dumb, without being able to understand anything. Some will come chewing their tongues, which will be hanging over their chests, and blood and puss will be flowing from their mouths; everybody gathering there will be disgusted by them. The hands and feet of some will have been cut off. Some will be crucified on logs from Hell. Some will stink worse than carrion. Some will be dressed in clothes smeared in tar, sticking to their bodies.”

“- Those who will be resurrected in the form of monkeys will be the talebearers.
- Those who will be resurrected in the form of pigs will be those who eat haram and collect taxes unjustly.  
- Those who will be brought upside down are those who devour usury (interest).
- The blind ones are those who wrong people with the judgments they make.
- The deaf and dumb ones are those who like and rely on their deeds.
- Those who chew their tongues are religious scholars and storytellers whose actions contradict their words.
- Those whose hands and feet will have been cut off are those who harass their neighbors.
- Those who will be crucified on logs of fire will be those who tell on good people
- Those who stink worse than carrion are those who follow their unlawful carnal desires and do not pay the share of Allah and the poor from their wealth.

Those who will be dressed in clothes smeared in tar are the conceited, boastful and arrogant ones.” (see Suyuti, ad-Durrul-Mansur, 7/393; Qurtubi, al-Jami li ahkam, the interpretation of the verse in question)

Another narration is as follows:

“The Messenger of Allah (pbuh) said, “People will be gathered in three classes on the Day of Judgment:

* Class of walkers,
* Class of riders,
* Class of crawlers on their faces.”

The Prophet (pbuh) was asked: “O Messenger of Allah! How will they crawl on their faces?” He answered as follows:

“Indeed, the One Who made them walk upon their feet, is able to make them walk upon their faces. However, you should know that they will try to protect themselves from every bump and thorn with their faces” [Tirmidhi, Tafsir Banu Israil (al-Isra), 3141]

On the Day of Judgment, everybody will travel at different speeds, depending on the degree of their deeds and belief, in order to reach their eternal destination. The Prophet (pbuh) expressed them as three groups: Walkers, riders, and those who crawl on their faces. The first two classes are believers, and the third class consists of unbelievers. Believers are in two groups: Walkers and riders. Walkers will have difficulty in going there, but it will be much easier than that of the crawlers.

Some scholars explain the mentioning of walkers first by the fact that those who will walk on foot from the believers will form the majority. The most honorable class is the riders. Considering the difference of speed and comfort of the mounts even in the world, it is understood that there will be differences among them.

We can also remember the following verse about those who will crawl on their faces:

“... On the Day of Judgment, We shall gather, them together, prone on their faces, blind, dumb, and deaf: their abode will be Hell: every time it shows abatement, We shall increase from them the fierceness of the Fire.” (al-Isra 17//97).

Qadi Iyad states the following: The statement “they will try to protect themselves with their faces” expresses how humiliated and despised they will be. Allah will oblige them to protect themselves with their faces instead of their hands and feet against things that harm them. The reason why he makes them proceed to the goal with their faces instead of their feet is because they did not prostrate before the One who created them and shaped their faces while they were in the world.” (see İbrahim Canan, Kutub-i Sitte Tercüme ve Şerhi, Akçağ Yayınları, the explanation of the hadith numbered 5060)

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