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Munkar and Nakir

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From Death to Resurection
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Munkar and Nakīr (Arabic: منكَر و نَكير) or Mubashshir and Bashīr (Arabic:مًبشر وبَشير) are the names of two angels who enter upon a dead one's grave at his/her burial night who look into beliefs and actions of the deceased. If the person died as an unbeliever, then the angels would appear with an ugly face, "Munkar" and "Nakir". If he or she died a believer, then they would greet him/her with a beautiful face, in which case they are called "Mubashshir" and "Bashir".

Names of the Two Angels

When the corpse is buried, two angels who are commissioned by God to examine the dead person's beliefs enter his or her grave. In some hadiths, they are called "the two guardians of the grave". One of the two angels stands at the right side of the dead and the other at his or her left side, and they start interrogating the dead person by asking questions about his or her beliefs. If the person is an unbeliever or a sinner, then the two angels appear to him or her with a frightening face, and when the true character of the dead is revealed, he or she will face a torture by the frightening angels, called Munkar and Nakir, and the grave will be filled with fire. But if the departed is a believer and pious, then the angels will appear to him or her with a beautiful face, and after the interrogation, they give him or her the good news of going to the Heaven and expand the grave with divine bounties. The angels are, in this case, called "Mubashshir" and "Bashir".[1]

The Face of Munkar and Nakir

The appearance of Munkar and Nakir is described in hadiths as follows: they have a voice like a thunderstorm, and eyes like a dazzling light from which fire comes out. They have long and terrifying teeth that reach the ground, their shouts horrifies the dead person to the extreme and makes him or her mute.

The way they treat the dead one depends on his or her beliefs, and their appearances change when they face different people.

The person's ability to answer their questions depends on the true spirit that he or she had in this world. Sinful believers might have difficulty answering some questions and come to be tortured.

Factors that Make It Easier for the Dead to Answer the Questions

Expressions such as the "predicament of Munkar and Nakir" or the "horror of Munkar and Nakir", that are found in hadiths, imply the anxiety or fear that a dead person feels when seeing the two angels. It is recommended to recite Qur'an 67 on behalf of the departed in order to relieve their fears and anxieties. There are some supplications in which God is asked to help one to go through this difficult stage.

The family and relatives of the dead person are recommended not to leave him or her alone after their burial. They had better stay with the dead by reciting the Qur'an and supplications, and help him or her answer the questions of Munkar and Nakir.

Another factor that helps the dead, in addition to the right beliefs and good actions, is to visit Ahl al-Bayt (a), especially Imam al-Husayn (a). This is in fact an appeal to their intercession.

See Also


  • The material for writing this article has been mainly taken from نکیر و منکر in Farsi WikiShia.
  1. Ṭūsī, Miṣbāḥ al-mutuhajjid, vol. 2, p. 803.