The Punishment of the Interspace
Almighty Allah Says (what means):
"And if you could but see when the wrongdoers are in the overwhelming pangs of death while the angels extend their hands, [saying], 'Discharge your souls! Today you will be awarded the punishment of [extreme] humiliation…'" [Quran 6: 93]
The Grave is an unknown territory. Outwardly it is quiet, but inwardly it contains secrets and terrors which an ordinary man cannot perceive. They can only be perceived by someone who has been given a high degree of belief and inner sight.
Al-Hasan Al-Basri passed a graveyard and said, 'What a host of people are here! How silent they are! How many there are among them who are suffering!'
Many statements have come down to us showing us the reality of the punishment of the Grave, or what we might also call the punishment of the Interspace between the two worlds. The Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, said,
One of the early Muslims said:
"We passed by a certain watering-place on the way to Basra. We heard the braying of a donkey and asked the people there what the braying was. They replied that it was one of the men who used to be with them whose mother had asked him for something and he had told her to bray like a donkey. Since his death, this braying had been heard every night from his grave.'
'Amr Ibn Dinaar said: "The sister of one of the men of Madeenah died and he buried her. When he came back from the burial, he remembered that he had left something in the grave. He asked one of his companions to help him. His companion related that they had dug up the grave and found what they were looking for. Then the man said, "Let us dig further and find out what has happened to my sister." He lifted up one of the stones covering the burial cavity and found the grave filled with fire. He replaced it and filled in the grave again. Then he returned to his mother and asked, "What was my sister really like?" She replied, "Why do you ask about her when she is dead?" He said, "Tell me." She said, "She used to delay the prayer and she also used to go to our neighbours' doors, put her ear to them and then tell other people what they said!"'
There are also the Hadeeth (narration) of the Messenger about the Night Journey which contained descriptions of the many types of punishment he saw in the Interspace between the two worlds.
Part of that long Hadeeth is...
"Some people were cracking open their heads with a stone. Every time they did this, their heads were restored to what they were like in the first place. This went on and on without stopping. I said, "O Jibreel (Gabriel), who are they?" Jibreel replied, "They are people who turned away from the prayer."' [Al-Bukhari]
One of the dreams the Prophet saw (the dreams of the Prophets are true and a part of revelation which gets right to the heart of the matter) was related as follows. He said,
'Last night, I saw two men who came to me and took me by the hand and brought me to the Holy Land. I could see one man sitting and another man standing holding an iron hook which he stuck into the side of the sitting man's mouth so that it came out at the back of his neck. Then he did the same to the other side. After his mouth went back to normal, he did the same thing all over again. I asked what this was and they told me to go on.
We went on until we came to a man lying on his back. Another man was standing at his head with a stone or a rock with which he smashed it. When he hit the head, the stone rolled away and he went to recover it. He did not get back to the man until his head had mended and returned to normal, and then he smashed it again. I asked what this was and they told me to go on.
We came to a hole like a furnace which was narrow at the top and wide at the bottom. There was a fire burning under it and there were naked men and women in it. The flames leapt up to them from underneath. When the fire came near, they rose up until they almost came out. When it abated, they went back into it again. I asked what this was and they told me to go on.
We went on until we came to a river of blood with a man standing in it. On the bank of the river, there was a man with stones in front of him. The man in the river came forward and when he was about to get out, the man threw a stone at him and he went back to where he had been before. Every time he went to come out, the man threw a stone at him and he went back to where he had been before, I asked what this was and they told me to go on.
We went on until we came to a green garden with an enormous tree in it, under which there was an old man and some children. Near the tree there was a man kindling a fire in front of him. They took me up the tree and into a house more beautiful than any I had ever seen. There were old men and youths in it. Then they took me up and brought me into another house which was even more beautiful. I said to my companions, 'You have been with me for the whole night, so now tell me about what I have seen.'
They replied, 'Certainly! The man you saw whose mouth was being pierced was the originator of a lie, which spread from him to all parts of the earth. He will suffer like that until the Day of Rising. The one whose head was being smashed was a man who had learned the Quran but had spent his nights asleep and did not act according to it during the daytime. He will suffer like that until the Day of Rising. The people in the hole were fornicators. The man you saw in the river devoured usury. The old man at the foot of the tree was Ibraaheem (Abraham, may Allah exalt his mention) and the children around him were mankind's children. The one kindling the fire was Maalik, the Guardian of the Fire. The first house was that of the ordinary believers and this house is the house of the martyrs. I am Jibreel and this is Mikaa'eel.'
He lifted his head and I did likewise. I saw a castle like a cloud and they told me that it was my dwelling. I asked them to let me enter my dwelling. They replied that my life was not yet completed, but that when my life had come to an end, I would enter my dwelling."' [Al-Bukhari]
The Prophet said regarding seeking refuge from the punishment of the Interspace or the Grave,
"When any of you finishes the final tashahhud (second sitting in prayer), he should seek refuge with Allah from four things: from the punishment of the Fire, the punishment of the Grave, the trials of the living and the dead, and the trials of the Dajjaal (Anti-Christ)." [Ibn Maajah]
All of this shows that the punishment of the Grave is true beyond any doubt. Allah, the Most Exalted, Says about the two punishments - the punishment of the Interspace and the punishment of the Day of Rising (what means):
'... The Fire; they are exposed to it morning and evening. And the Day the Hour appears [it will be said], ‘Make the people of Pharaoh enter the severest punishment.'" [Quran 40: 46]
And (what means):
"And whoever turns away from My remembrance — indeed, he will have a depressed [i.e. difficult] life and We will gather [i.e. raise] him on the Day of Resurrection blind.” [Quran 40: 124]
To be continued...