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Barzakh

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Barzakh (Arabic:بَرزَخ) is a world between this world and hereafter; it is also called the imaginal world or the world of grave. Brazakh exists for both believers and non-believers, though it is like the Heaven for the former, and like the Hell for non-believers.

Meaning

'Barzakh' in Arabic literally means an interval or a barrier between two things,[1] and terminologically it means an interval between the end of this-worldly life (death) and the beginning of hereafter. The world is called 'Barzakh' because it is an interval between this world and the hereafter.[citation needed] The world is also called the world of grave and the imaginal world.[2]

In the Qur'an

The word 'Barzakh' has been mentioned three times in the Qur'an (Furqan: 53, al-Rahman: 20, Mu'minun: 100), but only in Mu'minun: 100 it has been used in the meaning in question:

According to this verse of the Qur'an, the request of some people at the time of their death to return to the world in order to do the good acts that they have not done is not in place, and they face a barrier or an interval—a Barzakh—until the Dooms' Day. The phrase "until the day they will be resurrected" indicates that Barzakh is an interval between this world and the hereafter, that anyone experiences after their death and before Dooms' Day.

Proof in the Qur'an

In addition to verse 100 of sura Mu'minun that explicitly shows the existence of Barzakh, some verses prove Barzakh without mentioning the word 'Barzakh'. These verses concern the life of martyrs after their deaths:

  • And reckon not those who are killed in Allah's way as dead; nay, they are alive (and) are provided sustenance from their lord. (Qur'an 3:169)
  • And do not speak of those who are slain in Allah's way as dead; nay, (they are) alive, but you do not perceive. (Qur'an 2:154)

Moreover, according to Qur'anic verses, Barzakh is not restricted to martyrs—a sinner like Pharaoh and his friends also experience Barzakh:

  • 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! (Qur'an 23:46)[3]

The verse obviously points to a penalty for Pharaoh and his people before the penalties of the Dooms' Day, and that is the penalty in Barzakh.

In Hadiths

Definition

In some hadiths, the word 'Barzakh' is used to mean an interval between this world and the hereafter. For instance, according a hadith from Imam al-Sadiq (a), all (true) Shiites will go to the Heaven in the hereafter, and, the hadith goes on, 'I swear to God that I fear about you in Barzakh'. A person asked him about Barzakh, and Imam answered: '[it is] the grave, from one's death to the Dooms' Day'.[4] This latter statement implies that the world of grave is the world of Barzakh —indeed, grave in this hadith does not mean a certain hole in the earth; it is a metaphor for Barzakh.[5]

Barzakh's Heaven and Hell

Some hadiths state that the world of Barzakh has its own heaven and hell in which people are rewarded or punished for their deeds. The Prophet (s) says: "the grave is either a garden of heaven or a hole of hell".[6]

Question of the Grave

A number of hadiths show that once people enter the world of Barzakh, they are questioned about their beliefs and deeds. This questioning is known as "the question of the grave".

Barzakhi Body

Human soul attaches to an imaginal or Barzakhi body. An imaginal body is one that is not of a material kind, and yet enjoys some characteristics of material objects, such as shape and size. In these respects, the imaginal body is like a person's natural body. In order to have a clear picture of an imaginal or Barzakhi body, one might reflect on the forms or images that one observes while dreaming. Such forms are undoubtedly non-material; they do not occupy any space and they do not have any mass, and yet they have a shape and a size and they have forms like those of material objects.

See also

Notes

  1. Rāghib al-Iṣfahānī, al-Mufradāt, under the word "برزخ".
  2. See: Qayṣarī, Sharḥ fuṣūṣ al-ḥikam, p. 97-102.
  3. Ṭabāṭabāʾī, al-Mīzān, vol. 14, p. 315.
  4. Kulaynī, al-Kāfī, vol. 3, p. 242.
  5. Subḥānī, Janb al-daḥīyāt, vol. 4, p. 238.
  6. Daylamī, Irshād al-qulūb, vol. 1, p. 75.

References

  • Daylamī, Ḥasan b. Abī l-Ḥasan al-. Irshād al-qulūb. Qom: al-Sharīf al-Raḍī, 1412 AH.
  • Kulaynī, Muḥammad b. Yaʿqūb al-. Al-Kāfī. Tehran: Dār al-Kutub al-Islāmīyya, 1365 Sh.
  • Qayṣarī, Dāwūd b. Maḥmūd al-. Sharḥ fuṣūṣ al-ḥikam. Tehran: Intishārāt-i ʿIlmī Farhangī, 1375 Sh.
  • Rāghib al-Iṣfahānī, Ḥusayn b. Muḥammad al-. Al-Mufradāt fī gharīb al-Qurʾān. Edited by Ṣafwān ʿAdnān Dāwūdī. Damascus: Dār al-ʿIlm al-Dār al-Shāmīyya, 1412 AH.
  • Ṭabāṭabāʾī, Sayyid Muḥammad Ḥusayn. Al-Mīzān fī tafsīr al-Qurʾān. Qom: Jāmiʿat al-Mudarrisīn, 1374 Sh.