Can a dead person hear?
Fatwa No: 85320

Question

Can a dead person hear? Please explain to me light of evidence mention Qur'an and Hadith.{Verily you cannot make the dead hear and you cannot make the deaf hear the call when they turn their backs and retreat} [27:80]. {The living and the dead are not alike. Allah makes whoever he wishes hear, but you cannot make those in the graves hear} [35:22].The prophet addressed the dead people in the battle of Badr saying: "O so and so, son of so and so; and you, so and so, son of so and so! Would it not have been easier to have obeyed Allah and His Messenger? We have found that which our Lord promised us to be true. Did you find what your Lord promised you to be true?" .

Answer

All perfect praise be to Allah, The Lord of the Worlds. I testify that there is none worthy of worship except Allah, and that Muhammad  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allaah exalt his mention ) is His slave and Messenger.

The scholars disagree concerning the issue of whether or not the dead hear the talk of the living people. Some believe that they hear them, while others believe the opposite; i.e., that the dead people do not hear the living ones.

Those who believe that the dead people hear the living ones have the following pieces of evidence.

1) First what was narrated in Al-Bukhaari and Muslim about the dead that the Prophet  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allaah exalt his mention ) said: “When a dead servant is put into his grave (buried) and his fellows (relatives and those who took part in his burial) leave him, he hears the sound of their footsteps.

2) The Hadeeth where the Prophet  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allaah exalt his mention ) addressed the dead of disbelievers in the battle of Badr three days after their death: “When he halted at the edge of the well, he addressed the corpses of the Quraysh disbelievers 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? We have found true what our Lord promised us. Have you too found true what your Lord promised you?” 'Umar  may  Allaah  be  pleased  with  him said, “O Messenger of Allah, are you calling out to people who have turned into rotten corpses?” The Prophet  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allaah exalt his mention ) replied to him: “By Him in Whose Hand Muhammad's soul is, you do not hear what I say any better than they do.” [i.e. they also hear]

Ibn Taymiyah  may  Allaah  have  mercy  upon  him was asked whether the dead person hears his visitor. He replied: “Yes, generally”, and he mentioned the above evidence.

3) The Hadeeth reported by Al-Bukhari and Muslim that “The Prophet  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allaah exalt his mention ) told Muslims to greet the dwellers of graves and he said: 'Say: peace be upon you all, O inhabitants of the graves, among the believers and the Muslims. Verily we will, Allah willing, be united with you.'

The scholars say: “This address is to them, and we do not talk to people who cannot hear.

On the other hand, some of those who believe that the dead people hear are of the opinion that they hear everything. But some of them believe that they only hear generally what the living person says and they might not hear all the time. They might hear in a given situation and not hear in other situations. This hearing is only a perception, so the dead person is not punished or rewarded for it. Again, it is not the hearing mentioned in the verse: {Indeed, you will not make the dead hear, nor will you make the deaf hear the call when they have turned their backs retreating.} [Quran 27: 80]

As for what is meant by this verse, it is ‘you cannot make them accept your orders and abide by them.' This is the view of Ibn Taymiyyah  may  Allaah  have  mercy  upon  him.

‘Aa’ishah  may  Allaah  be  pleased  with  her denied that the dead people could hear the living ones. Her evidence are the following two verses: Allah Says (what means):

• {Indeed, you will not make the dead hear, nor will you make the deaf hear…} [Quran 27: 80]

• {… but you cannot make hear those in the graves.} [Quran 35: 22]

Some Hanafi scholars chose the opinion of ‘Aa’ishah  may  Allaah  be  pleased  with  her and they considered that the fact that the Messenger of Allah talked to the dead disbelievers in Badr was a miracle and that it was peculiar to him. As for the second Hadeeth, “He hears the sound of their footsteps.”; they said that he could only hear right after he was put in his grave as he hears the questioning of Angels.

Many scholars discussed this issue including: Ibn Taymiyyah and Ibn Katheer, who backed the opinion of those who say that the dead people could hear while interpreting Surah Ar-Room, and Ibn Rajab, …etc.

Al-Awsi, on the other hand, backed the opinion of those who believe that the dead people do not hear.

To conclude, we believe strongly that the dead people could generally hear the speech of the living people, but the hearing might not be permanent.

In fact, he might hear in some situations and not hear in others.

For more benefit that the dead can hear, please refer to Fataawa 14762 and 14369.

Allah knows best.

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