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Barzakh

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Barzakh
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Barzakh (Arabic:بَرزَخ) is a world between this world and afterlife; 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 afterlife. The world is called 'Barzakh' because it is an interval between this world and the afterlife.[citation needed] The world is also called the world of grave and the imaginal world.[2]

In Qur'an

The word 'Barzakh' has been mentioned three times in Quran (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 Quran, 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 afterlife, that anyone experiences after their death and before Dooms' Day.

Proof in Quran

In addition to verse 100 of 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:

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

[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 afterlife. For instance, according a hadith from Imam al-Sadiq (a), all (true) Shiites will go to the Heaven in the afterlife, 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.

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.