Life in Barzakh

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From Death to Resurection
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Life in Barzakh refers to the life of souls in Barzakh which is required for an account of some religious facts such as dead ones' hearing and tawassul. For the proof of life in Barzakh, appeals are made to certain Qur'anic verses referring to the life of some groups of dead people, such as martyrs as well as some hadiths.


"Life in Barzakh" refers to the life of the dead in the inter-world or the Barzakh. According to some Qur'anic verses and hadiths, the souls of the dead enjoy life in the Barzakh and can make certain communications with people in this world. They hear the voices of people in this world and can respond to them.

Barzakh Body

The human body in the Barzakh is referred to as the Barzakh body or "Mithali body" (analogical body) to which the soul is attached after death. The Barzakh body is said not to be material, although it has certain material properties and features, such as shape and size.[1]

In Qur'an

There are about 10 Qur'anic verses to which it is appealed to prove the life in Barzakh, such as verses referring to the postmortem life of certain groups of the dead, such as martyrs[2]. There are also Qur'anic verses referring to conversations between the angels and the dead,[3] a Heaven and a Hell in Barzakh,[4] as well as verses referring to the life of the prophets in Barzakh.[5]

The Shi'as appeal to the verse Qur'an 9:105[6] to show that the Prophet (s) and certain believers (that is, the Imams (a)) are aware of people in this world. Thus, they appeal to this verse to show the life in Barzakh.

In Hadith

There are hadiths referring to the life of the prophets in Barzakh. Al-Bayhaqi has collected some such hadiths in his book, Hayat al-anbiya' ba'd wafatihim (the life of the prophets after their death). According to a hadith, the Prophet Muhammad (s) met the Prophet Moses (a) in the night of Mi'raj in his grave while he was saying prayers.[7]

Some Sunni scholars have explicitly maintained the life of the prophets in Barzakh.[8] Al-Alusi takes the life of the prophets in Barzakh to be superior to that of the martyrs, saying that the life of prophets in Barzakh can be proved by reliable hadiths.[9]

The Shi'as have also appealed to certain hadiths, some of which are collected in the section, "a section on the issue that the Imams (a) are witnesses of God, the Exalted, on His creatures," of the book, al-kafi, showing that the Imams (a) are aware of people in this world with the permission of God. They take these hadiths to show life in Barzakh.

Wahhabi View

Some Salafids, such as Ibn Taymiyya[10] and Ibn Qayyim,[11] have accepted the life in Barzakh. But some Wahhabis have a specific view of the life in Barzakh according to which the souls of the dead cannot communicate with people in this world and hear their voices.[12]

But, proponents of the life in Barzakh believe that the denial of the life in Barzakh is not compatible with Qur'anic verses referring to the postmortem life, such as the ones according to which the prophets and friends of God enjoy life in the World of Barzakh, just as the Qur'an has explicitly referred to the postmortem life of the martyrs.[13] Also, according to Islam, death does not amount to one's annihilation; rather it is a transfer from one world to another,[14] and it is possible for people in this world to communicate with the souls in the world of Barzakh.

Moreover, they argue that if the life in Barzakh, and in particular, the life of the prophets in Barzakh, is not accepted, then certain Qur'anic addresses, such as salutations on the prophets[15], God's command to the Prophet Muhammad (s) to talk with previous prophets[16], and the Qur'an's order to the believers to send regards to the Prophet (s)[17], will not make sense. They take as evidence for their claim the speeches of Salih (a)[18] and Shu'ayb (a)[19] addressing their punished and perished peoples, the Prophet's (s) speech to the killed polytheists after the Battle of Badr, and the speech of Imam 'Ali (a) to people who were killed in the Battle of Jamal.


  1. Makārim Shīrāzī, Yikṣad wa hashtād pursish wa pāsukh, p. 361-362.
  2. Do not suppose those who were slain in the way of Allah to be dead; rather they are living and provided for near their Lord (Qur'an 3, 169)
  3. Qurʾān, 36:26-27; 16:32; 3:97.
  4. Qurʾān, 2:154; 71:25; 40:46-47.
  5. Qurʾān, 43:4; 37:79, 109, 120, 130, 181; 33:56.
  6. And say, 'Go on working: Allah will see your conduct, and His Apostle and the faithful [as well], and you will be returned to the Knower of the sensible and the Unseen, and He will inform you concerning what you used to do. (Qur'an 9:105)
  7. Muslim b. Ḥajāj, Ṣaḥīḥ Muslim, vol. 7, p. 102.
  8. Ḥalabī, al-Sīra al-Ḥalabīyya, vol. 2, p. 247.
  9. Ālūsī, al-Āyāt al-bayyināt, vol. 1, p. 109.
  10. Ibn Taymīyya, Majmūʿat al-fatāwā, vol. 24, p. 326-331.
  11. Ibn Qayyim, al-Rūḥ fī l-kalām, p. 5-17.
  12. Saʿdī, Taysīr al-karīm, p. 686.
  13. Qurʾān, 3:169-171.
  14. Qurʾān, 32:10-11; 39:42.
  15. 'Peace to Noah, throughout the nations!' (Qur'an 37:79); 'Peace be to Abraham!' (Qur'an 37:109)
  16. Ask those of Our apostles We have sent before you: Did We set up any gods besides the All-beneficent to be worshiped? (Qur'an 43:45)
  17. Indeed Allah and His angels bless the Prophet; O you who have faith! Invoke blessings on him and invoke Peace upon him in a worthy manner. (Qur'an 33:56)
  18. So he abandoned them [to their fate], and said, 'O my people! Certainly I communicated to you the message of my Lord, and I was your well-wisher, but you did not like well-wishers.' (Qur'an 7:79)
  19. So he abandoned them [to their fate] and said, 'O my people! Certainly I communicated to you the messages of my Lord, and I was your well-wisher. So how should I grieve for a faithless lot?' (Qur'an 7:91)


  • Makārim Shīrāzī, Nāṣir. Yikṣad wa hashtād pursish wa pāsukh. Tehran: Dār al-Kutub al-Islāmīyya, 1379 Sh.
  • Muslim b. Ḥajāj. Ṣaḥīḥ Muslim. Beirut: Dār al-Fikr, [n.d].
  • Ḥalabī, Abū l-Faraj al-Shāfiʿī. Al-Sīra al-Ḥalabīyya. Beirut: Dār al-Kutub al-ʿIlmīyya, 1427 AH.
  • Ālūsī, Muʿmān b. Maḥmūd al-. Al-Āyāt al-bayyināt. Edited by Muḥammad Nāṣir al-Dīn al-Bānī. Riyadh: Maktabat al-Maʿārif li-l-Nashr wa l-tawḍīʿ, 1425 AH.
  • Ibn Taymīyya, Aḥmad b. ʿAbd al-Ḥalīm. Majmūʿat al-fatāwā. Riyadh: Maktabat al-ʿAbīkān, 1419 AH.
  • Saʿdī, ʿAbd al-Raḥmān b. Nāṣir al-. Taysīr al-karīm al-raḥmān fī tafsīr kalām al-manān. Edited by ʿAbd al-Raḥmān b. Muʿallā. Beriut: Muʿassisat al-Risāla, 1420 AH.
  • Ibn Qayyim al-Jawzīyya, Muḥammad b. Abī Bakr. Al-Rūḥ fī l-kalām ʿalā arwāḥ al-amwāt. Beirut: Dār al-Kutub al-ʿIlmīyya, [n.d].