Can the Dead Hear?

Can Dead Hear ?

Recently, I got exposed to a brother who quoted the below hadiths to support that the dead can hear us and further support it as evidences for grave worship. I had to do a short research on this topic in order to convey him the truth with proofs and also to make it clear to general Muslims who may get trapped by such claims due to misinterpretations of the hadiths. Alhamdulillah, with Allah’s help and then with the help and guidance from few learned brothers, I could refute his claims.

The hadith that brother quoted is an authentic hadith Saheeh al-Bukharee (Eng. Trans.) vol.2, Hadith no. 456 . ‘When (Allah’s) slave is put in his grave and his companions return and he hears their footsteps, two Angels come to him and make him sit…”

We also have the following verses from the Quran which clearly states the general principle that the dead cannot hear.

Soorah Faatir (35): 22, where Allah says: “The living (believer) and the dead (disbelievers) are not alike. Allah makes whoever He wishes hear, but you cannot make those in the graves, hear.” 

“You cannot make the dead hear.” Soorah Room (30): 52

Now, a lay man may assume that that the authentic hadith is contradicting the Quran. But never an authentic hadith will contradict the Quran. Then, how will one understand and reconcile both verses from Quran and the hadith. In order to do so, we need to understand them in the way how the companions of the prophet sallahu wa alayhi wa sallam (May Allah be pleased with them) understood it.

The above hadith no. 456 is brought forth to prove hearing for the dead, but this hadith only refers to a temporary condition at the time of burial and it only mentions the hearing of footsteps and not more than that. The issues like a dead hearing footsteps of a leaving person, the person being made to sit in his grave or being questioned is in the matters of unseen, so it is not allowed for anyone to make Qiyaas comparing the life of the seen and the life of the unseen.
Similarly there is hadith reported in Saheeh al-Bukharee when, “On the day of Badr, the Prophet (sallallahu alaihi wa-sallam) ordered that the corpses of twenty-four leaders of Quraysh should be thrown into one of the dirty dry wells of Badr…” He (sallallahu alaihi wa-sallam) halted at the edge of the well, and addressed the corpses of the Quraysh infidels by their names and their fathers’ names: “O so-and-so, son of so-and-so and O so-and-so, son of so-and-so! Would it have pleased you if you had obeyed Allah and His Messenger (sallallahu alaihi wa-sallam)? We have found true what our Lord promised us. Have you too found true what your Lord promised you?” Umar (radhi allahu anhu) said: “O Messenger of Allah! You are speaking to bodies that have no souls!” Allah’s Messenger (sallallahu alaihi wa-sallam) said: “By Him in Whose Hand is Muhammad’s ((sallallahu alaihi wa-sallam)) soul, you do not hear, what I say better than they do.” Saheeh al-Bukharee (Eng. Trans.) vol.5, Hadith no. 314 
This Hadith 314 refers to an exceptional case to the general ruling that the dead cant hear or that we cannot make them hear. It refers to the incident when the Prophet (sallallahu alaihi wa-sallam) killed the Kuffar (disbelievers) in the battle of Badr and ordered for them to be thrown in the well, whereby to humiliate them. This was a miracle given to the Prophet(sallallahu alaihi wa-sallam) as Allah brought them back to life momentarily so that they hear the words of the Prophet (sallallahu alaihi wa-sallam) and feel remorse. The hadith itself says ” Al-aan” meaning in arabic “and now they hear”…… clearly indicates that before this they were dead and had no power to hear until the Prophet of Allah (sallallahu alaihi wa-sallam) addressed those in the well of badr.

Qatada said while commenting on this Hadith, “Allah brought them to life (again) to let them hear him, to reprimand them and slight them and take revenge over them and caused them to feel remorseful and regretful.”

Umar Ibn Khattab (radhi allahu anhu) believed that the dead do not hear, and therefore he questioned: “O Messenger of Allah (sallallahu alaihi wa-sallam)! You are speaking to bodies that have no souls!” Similarly, Aa’ishah (radhi allahu anha) too believed that the dead do not hear, and therefore when this incident was mentioned to her, she said: “But the Prophet (sallallahu alaihi wa-sallam) said: “Now they know very well that what I used to tell them was the truth.” Then she recited (the Qur’aanic Verse): “You cannot make the dead hear… (till the end of Verse.30:52)” Saheeh al-Bukharee (Eng. trans.) vol. 5, no.317.

Moreover, we cannot find a single authentic hadith about Aishah May Allah be pleased with her, in whose house was prophet sallahu wa alayhi wa sallam buried that she talked to him after his death. If he could hear her, why wouldn’t she talk to him. This is sufficient to prove that in general dead persons cannot hear.The above all shows the firm belief of the Sahabah (May Allah be pleased with them) that in general the dead cannot hear.

Even if some one claims for the sake of argument that all dead can hear, we still should’nt make dua to the dead or call on them.  Seeking from dead or supplicating to dead is an act of shirk so forbidden in our Shariah.
وَأَنَّ ٱلۡمَسَـٰجِدَ لِلَّهِ فَلَا تَدۡعُواْ مَعَ ٱللَّهِ أَحَدً۬ا
Verily, the mosques are for Allah (Alone), so do not pray to anyone along with Allah. [Jinn:18]
وَمَنۡ أَضَلُّ مِمَّن يَدۡعُواْ مِن دُونِ ٱللَّهِ مَن لَّا يَسۡتَجِيبُ لَهُ ۥۤ إِلَىٰ يَوۡمِ ٱلۡقِيَـٰمَةِ وَهُمۡ عَن دُعَآٮِٕهِمۡ غَـٰفِلُونَ
“And who is further astray than those who, instead of Allah, pray unto such as hear not their prayer until the Day of Resurrection, and are unconscious of their prayer,” [46:5]
According to a report narrated by al-Tirmidhi, the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: “  Du’aa’ is worship”. (Also refer Abu Dawud, book no. 2, Hadith 1474)

A Muslim shouldn’t even call Prophet Muhammad Sallahu wa alayhi wa sallam, then what about others??we refute saying that whether prophet Muhammad sallallahu wa alayhi wa sallam is alive or dead, a muslim shouldn’t call on him as it’s a clear cut shirk.

Its clear from Quran where Allah commanded the prophet Muhammed sallahu wa alayhi wa sallam to say to his followers: “I have no power to bring good or avert harm even regarding myself, except as Allah wills. If I had knowledge of the unseen, I would surely have accumulated only good and no evil would have befallen me. But I am only a warner and a bringer of glad tidings for those who believe.” (Quran 7:188)

The Messenger (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) was neither able to provide himself whatever he wished nor to the people whatever they wished when he was alive, so how about after his death?

Our beloved prophet Muhammad Sallahu wa alayhi wa sallam has warned us about grave worship. He (sallahu wa alayhi wa sallam) said ” If a righteous man dies among those people, they build over his grave a place of worship and paint in it those types of pictures. They are the most evil of creation in Allah’s sight” (Agreed upon) (refer Bukhari (arabic-english), vol. 1, p 251, hadith no. 419 and vol 2, p.238, hadith no. 426 and Muslim (engl translation) vol.1, p 268, hadith no. 1076.)

Jundub Ibn Abdullah (May Allah be pleased with him) reported that five days before the Prophet’s death he heard him say, ” Those before you took the graves of their prophets as places of worship. Do not take graves as places of worship for verily I forbid you to do so.” Muslim (Eng. trans), vol 1, p 269, hadith no. 1083.

Prophet Muhammad sallahu wa alayhi wa sallam said ” May Allah curse a people who take their Prophets’ graves as masjids.” Bukhari (Arabic – English) Vol 1, p. 255, hadith no. 427 and vol 2, p 232, hadith no. 414

Allah , The Lord of entire creations revealed in the Quran  “And your Lord said: “Invoke Me [i.e. believe in My Oneness (Islamic Monotheism) and ask Me for anything] I will respond to your (invocation)” (Ghaafir 40:60)

Conclusion: Supplicate to Allah alone and whoever associates partners with Him in worship has indeed committed Shirk. “And when My slaves ask you (O Muhammad) concerning Me, then (answer them), I am indeed near (to them by My Knowledge). I respond to the invocations of the supplicant when he calls on Me (without any mediator or intercessor)” (al-Baqarah 2:186) 

Sources:  1) The JAMAAT TABLEEGH and the Deobandis A critical Analysis of their Beliefs, Books and Dawah by Sajid Kayum, 2) http://www.islam-qa., 3) Course text in Aqeedah – Shk Abdur Rahman Dimishqiah 4) The Fundamentals of Tawheed – Dr. Bilal Philips

Recommended to read:

1. The mysteries of the soul by Abu bilal mustafah kennedy ( May Allah have mercy on him).

2. The Life of Barzakh by sheikh Jibaly (May Allah preserve him).

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