Will you give information about the angels Munkar and Nakir? Does the duty of Munkar and Nakir, the questioning angels, end when a person dies?

Details of the Question

Will you give information about the angels Munkar and Nakir? Does the duty of Munkar and Nakir, the questioning angels, end when a person dies?

The Answer

Dear Brother / Sister,

Angels always mention and glorify Allah along with having some special duties. Therefore, the angels Munkar and Nakir always mention and glorify Allah too.

Angels do not have only one duty. Munkar and Nakir may have other duties than questioning the dead in the grave. Since angels are luminous beings, they can do more than one thing at the same time. 

For instance, our eyes see countless things. Suppose that one of the duties of our eyes is to watch the people coming in and going out through a door. We cannot say that the eyes do not do anything when they do not have this duty.

Thus, the angels of Munkar and Nakir question the dead people who go to the realm of the grave along with their many deeds of worshipping, glorifying and mentioning Allah, etc. Questioning is not their only duty. Therefore, they continue their service and worshipping before and after questioning.

MUNKAR-NAKIR

They are the two angels that question a person in his grave and punishes him when necessary. The reason why they are called Munkar and Nakir is the fact that they are in a strange shape that we do not know. As a matter of fact, when a person states that he does not know something in Arabic, he says "nakirtush-shay'a".

According to Ahl as-Sunnah, Munkar and Nakir ask a person who dies who his Lord is, what his religion is and who his prophet is. A believer answers these questions but an unbeliever cannot answer them. There are a lot of hadiths regarding the issue. Those two angels go to the grave of the dead person; Allah revives the dead person and the angels ask him questions. (Pazdawi, "Ehl-i Sünnet Akâidi" Translated by Şerafettin Gölcük, Istanbul 1980, 237).

It is reported from Abu Hurayra that the Prophet (pbuh) said,

"When the deceased is buried, two angels, black and blue-eyed, come to him. One of them is called Munkar, and the other Nakir. They say to the dead person, 'What do you say about this man (the Messenger of Allah)?' He says what he said about him before death, 'He is Allah's slave and His Messenger. I testify that none has the right to be worshipped but Allah and that Muhammad is His slave and His Messenger.' The angels will say, 'We knew that you said this.' Then, his grave is expanded to seventy by seventy cubits, and is illuminated for him. "If he is a hypocrite, he will say: 'I heard people saying something; so, I said the same; I do not know.' The angels will say, 'We knew that you said this.' Then, the earth is addressed as follows: 'Constrict him.' The earth constricts him, squeezing his ribs together. He continues being punished like that until Allah resurrects him from his resting place." (Tirmidhi, Janaiz, 70)

In almost all creed books, Munkar-Nakir and the questions they ask the dead are mentioned. Those two angels are not mentioned in the Quran; there is no clear statement showing that the dead will be questioned in the grave either. However, it is accepted by Ahl as-Sunnah scholars that some verses indicate this and that some of them are completely about the questioning in the grave. The following is stated in Umar Nasafi's book called "Aqaid": "The questions of Munkar and Nakir are certain by the Book and the Sunnah."

"Allah will establish in strength those who believe, with the word that stands firm, in this world and in the Hereafter; but Allah will leave, to stray, those who do wrong: Allah doeth what He willeth." (Ibrahim, 14/27)

What is meant by the hereafter in the verse above is the grave and what is meant by the word that stands firm is kalima ash-shahada. Ibn Majah states the following in his Sunan:

The verse "Allah will establish in strength those who believe, with the word that stands firm…" was sent down about the penalty in the grave. It will be said to the dead person: ‘Who is your Lord?’ He will say, ‘My Lord is Allah, and my Prophet is Muhammad.’ Thus, the statement of the believer in the grave is the statement in the verse ‘Allah will establish in strength those who believe, with the word that stands firm’." (Ibn Majah, Zuhd, 32; see also Bukhari, Tafsir, Surah, 14).

This hadith is narrated in all of Kutub as-Sitta resources. In some narrations, the number of the questions that the dead person is asked is three: "Who is your Lord? What is your religion? Who is your prophet?"

"In front of the Fire will they be brought, morning and evening: And (the sentence will be) on the Day that Judgment will be established: "Cast ye the People of Pharaoh into the severest Penalty!" (al-Mu'min, 40/46)

It is stated in tafsir books that the verse above is also related to the questioning and penalty in the grave. (Ibn Kathir, "Tafsirul-Qur'anil-Azim", the interpretation of 40/46)

There are many hadiths about the questions of Munkar and Nakir in the grave. Those ahad news have not reached the level of tawatur in terms of their words but the abundance of the hadiths regarding the issue elevates the issue to the degree of mutawatir manawi. (Hashiyatul-Kastali ala Sharhil-Aqaid, Istanbul 1973, 133, 134)

It is stated in some of those hadiths that the dead person will be questioned but no angels are mentioned.

"The dead person ends up in his grave. The righteous man is made to sit up in his grave with no fear or panic. Then it is said to him, ‘What religion did you follow?’ He says, ‘I was in Islam.’ It is said to him, ‘Who is this man (the Messenger of Allah)?’ He says, ‘Muhammad the Messenger of Allah (pbuh). He brought us clear signs from Allah and we believed in him.’ It is said to him, ‘Have you seen Allah?’ He says: ‘No one is able to see Allah.’ Then a window to Hell is opened for him, and he sees it, parts of it destroying others. Then it is said to him, ‘Look at what Allah has saved you from.’ Then a window to Paradise is opened to him, and he looks at its beauty and what is in it. It is said to him, ‘This is your place.’ And it is said to him: ‘You had certain faith and you died in that state, and you will be resurrected in that state if Allah wills.’" (Ibn Majah, Zuhd, 32)

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

"This ummah will be tested in their graves. When man is buried and his friends leave him, an angel with a mace will come, make him sit up and ask, "What do you say about the Messenger of Allah"? If that person is a believer, he will say, "I testify that none has the right to be worshipped but Allah and that Muhammad is His slave and His Messenger." The angel will say to him, "You have told the truth." (Ahmad Ibn Hanbal, Musnad, III, 3, 40).

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

According to Ahl as-Sunnah, it is true that Munkar and Nakir will question the dead in the grave. The grave constricting the dead and penalty in the grave are true. This is something for all unbelievers and some disobedient believers. (Abu Hanifa, "Fiqhul Akbar", translated by H. Basrî Çantay, Ankara 1985, p. 14)

After burying a dead person, the Prophet (pbuh) said, "Ask forgiveness from Allah for your brother because he is being questioned now." (Abu Dawud, Janaiz. 67; as-Sabuni, "al-Bidaya Fi Usulid-Din ", Published by. B. Topaloğlu, Damascus 1979 p. 97).

(Halid ERBOĞA)

Questions on Islam

Author:
Questions on Islam
Subject Categories:
Read 78 times
In order to make a comment, please login or register