Is it only the soul of the deceased that experiences the punishment of the grave, or are both his body and soul subject to this punishment?
All perfect praise be to Allaah, the Lord of the worlds. I testify that there is none worthy of worship except Allaah, and that Muhammad, sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, is His Slave and Messenger.
According to the consensus of the followers of the Sunnah (Prophetic tradition), both the body and soul of the deceased will experience the punishment or bliss of the grave. This is also the view of Shaykh Al-Islam Ibn Taymiyyah who quoted their consensus. After its separation from the body, the soul is subject to a state of bliss or punishment. At times, when the soul rejoins the body, both of them experience torture or bliss. Ibn Taymiyyah mentioned that there is unanimous consensus among As-Salaf (the righteous predecessors) and Ahl As-Sunnah Wal-Jamaa'ah (followers of the Sunnah) regarding the punishment and bliss in the Barzakh (intervening stage between death and resurrection). Only a few of the innovators in religion have denied this. He also mentioned that some scholars are of the view that only the body is subject to the punishment or bliss of the grave while others view that only the soul experiences this.
There is also a lot of similar evidence proving that the punishment of the grave is a reality. We have already published some on our website. The following is some of the evidence verifying that both the body and the soul experience the punishment and bliss of the grave together:
1- It was reported on the authority of Anas that the Prophet, sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, mentioned that when the slave of Allaah The Almighty is placed in his grave and his companions leave, he hears the sound of their footsteps; then two angels come to him, make him sit and ask him what he says about Muhammad, sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam. The believer would testify that Muhammad is the Slave of Allaah The Almighty and His Messenger. They would ask him to look at his seat in Hell, and then tell him that Allaah The Almighty had replaced it with a seat in Paradise, and he would see both of them. His grave would be expanded to seventy cubits and filled with pleasure until the Day of Resurrection. On the other hand, when the disbeliever or the hypocrite would be asked about Muhammad, sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, he would answer that he does not know anything. The angels would answer by supplicating Allaah The Almighty against him.
Subsequently, he would be beaten between his ears with iron hammers. Thereupon, he would release a cry that every being would hear except humans and Jinn. Then, his grave would be squeezed until his ribs are intertwined. [Al-Bukhari, Muslim, Ahmad, Abu Daawood and An-Nasaa’i]
The words of the Prophet, sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, that the deceased hears the sound of footsteps, is made to sit up, is beaten between his ears, lets out a cry and his ribs are crushed are all manifest evidence that both the soul and the body experience the punishment or bliss of the grave.
2- It was reported on the authority of Abu Hurayrah that the Prophet, sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, said that when the deceased is buried, two bluish black angels come to him; one is called Al-Munkar and the other An-Nakeer. They would ask him about Muhammad, sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam. The believer would answer that Muhammad is the Slave of Allaah The Almighty and His Messenger and testify that that there is none worthy of worship except Allaah The Almighty, and that Muhammad, sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, is His Slave and Messenger. Thereupon, his grave would be made spacious, seventy cubits by seventy, and lit up for him, and he would sleep like the groom who is not woken by anyone except the most beloved to him of his kin until Allaah The Almighty resurrects him from this place. On the other hand, the hypocrite would answer that he does not know the answer to the questions he will be asked, therefore, his grave would be commanded to squeeze him until his ribs are crushed together. He would suffer therein permanent torment until Allaah The Almighty resurrects him from that place. [At-Tirmithi]
The words of the Prophet, sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, that his ribs would be crushed together are clear evidence that both the soul and the body experience the punishment or bliss of the grave.
3- It was reported on the authority of ‘Aa’ishah that the Prophet, sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, said that while the righteous person would be fearless in his grave, the evil person would be terrified. [Ahmad]
4- Here are portions of another Hadeeth (narration) that was reported on the authority of Al-Baraa’ ibn ‘Aazib : The Prophet, sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, said that when the believer is about to depart from this world and death approaches him, there come down to him from heaven angels with white faces who take his soul and ascend with it to heaven. Then Allaah The Almighty would order them to record his book in a place at the highest level of Paradise. Then, his soul would be returned to the earth and would rejoin his body. At that moment, two angels would come and make him sit up. Other parts of the Hadeeth tell us that his grave is made wide, as far as he can see. On the other hand, when the angels take the soul of the disbeliever and ascend to heaven, it would not be opened for them. Then, Allaah The Almighty would order them to record his book in a narrow place in the lowest earth. Thereupon, his soul would be cast down and returned to his body and two angels would come and sit him up. From other parts of the Hadeeth we know that the grave of the disbeliever would be commanded to squeeze until his ribs are crushed together. [Ahmad, Abu Daawood, Ibn Khuzaymah, Al-Haakim and others]
This is also clear evidence that both the soul and the body experience the punishment or bliss of the grave. For the complete text of the Hadeeth, you can search the Hadeeth Encyclopedia on this website.
Evidence that the soul endures a state of bliss or punishment alone, is in the part of the Hadeeth that mentions that the angels take the soul and ascend to heaven and the gates of heaven are opened before the soul of the believer only. It was also narrated on the authority of Ka‘b ibn Maalik that the Prophet, sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, said that the soul of the believer is in the form of a bird clinging to the trees of Paradise until Allaah The Almighty joins it once more with his body on the Day of Resurrection. [Ahmad, An-Nasaa’i and Ibn Maajah]
According to the aforementioned texts, we conclude that both the soul and the body experience the punishment or bliss of the grave while the soul alone enjoys the bliss of Paradise.
It should be emphasized that the torture of the grave refers to that of Barzakh. Therefore, every deceased person that deserves to be punished, will indeed experience this except for those whom Allaah The Almighty forgives. This takes place regardless of whether or not he is buried. Even if a person were eaten by carnivorous animals or burned to ashes and thrown into the air or drowned in the sea, both his soul and body will experience the punishment in the same way as the person who is buried. This is the view of Ibn Al-Qayyim, which was transmitted on his authority by As-Saffaareeni both.
Allaah Knows best.
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