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Sama' al-Mawta (dead ones' hearing)

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Samāʿ al-Mawtā (Arabic: سماعُ الْمَوْتَىٰ, the dead ones' hearing) or Samāʿ al-Amwāt is the power of the dead in hearing the voice of living people and communicating with them in the world of Barzakh. This is among issues This is among issues Wahhabis came into conflict with Muslims. Moreover, accepting some ideological issues such as making entreaty to dead ones depend on it. In hadiths, there is a mention of the life of dead ones in Barzakh and also their power to communicate with living people including hearing their voices. These hadiths have been narrated in Sunni sources and some prominent figures of Salafism such as Ibn Taymiyya and Ibn Qayyim have referred to them and thus accepted "Sama' Mawta".


Literally, "sama' al-mawta" means "the dead ones' hearing" or delivering a message to dead ones. It means that dead people have the power to hear the voices of living people and communicate with them in the world of Barzakh. If the life in the world of Barzakh is denied, the possibility of communicating with dead ones will also be nullified.


Qur'anic Evidences

The conversation of Prophet Salih (a)[1] and Prophet Shu'ayb (a)[2] with their perished people, and the Qur'an's order to the Prophet (s) to speak with previous prophets (a)[3] are among Qur'anic evidence. Ibn Hajar and Qadi Taqi al-Din al-Sabki are among Sunni scholars who have referred to verse 169 of Sura 3[4] to prove the life of dead people in the world of Barzakh and sama' al-mawta.[5]


In some hadiths, the communication with dead ones, especially their power to hear the voices of living people are mentioned; some such hadiths mentioned in Sunni sources are as follows:

  • A dead person hears the footstep of those who follow his body in the funeral[6] and answers people.[7]
  • After the Prophet (s) passed away, he (s) would answer his people's greetings.[8]
  • After the Battle of Badr, the noble Prophet (s) spoke with disbelievers who were killed and were dumped into a well. 'Umar objected to the Prophet (s) saying that, "they are dead and do not hear you!", The noble Prophet (s) answered, "you do not hear me better than them; the only thing is that they can't answer."[9]
  • The Prophet's (s) advised to visit graves in these hadiths and said that, "dead people hear you and answer your greetings".[10] Also, he (s) himself addressed dead people in the al-Baqi' and said, "Peace be with you in the abode of the believers. You received what you were promised for tomorrow, and you are delayed (here between death and Judgment Day); and we will God-willing join you."[11] [12]

In addition to the mentioned hadiths, there are other evidences for sama' al-mawta in Shi'a sources such as the conversation of Imam 'Ali (a) with those who were killed in the Battle of Jamal.[13]

The religious order for dictation (talqin) of the beliefs of the dead person to repeat them upon burial suggests that they must hear, otherwise, it would be useless.

Wahhabis' Views

Some Wahhabis refer to the verses of Qur'an such as Qur'an 35 verse 22: "and you cannot make those who are in the graves hear you"[14] and Qur'an 27 verse 80 and Qur'an 30 verse 52, "You cannot make the dead hear",[15] reject sama' al-mawta[16] and believe that with death, the communication between dead ones and living people will be broken and there would be no possibility that dead ones hear the voice of the living.[17] However, some Salafis such as Ibn Taymiyya[18] and Ibn Qayyim[19] have accepted sama' al-mawta.

Those who reject sama' mawta, mention a narration from 'Ayisha about the Prophet's (s) speaking with the dead ones of the Battle of Badr that he (s) said, "they know now what I say" instead of "they hear what I say". However, most Sunni thinkers have not accepted this report.[20]


Advocates of sama' al-mawta believe that the dead in the Qur'anic verses like Qur'an 27:80, Qur'an 30:52, and Qur'an 35:22, refers to disbelievers. They refer to the verse 81 of Quran 27, "Nor can you lead the blind out of their error. You can make only those hear you who believe in Our signs and have submitted" [21] and consider likening disbelievers to blind ones suggesting that the dead ones in Sura 27:80 refer to disbelievers. Also, they interpret sama' (making someone hear) as "accepting" and say that disbelievers can hear the voice of the Prophet (s) and he (s) can deliver his voice to them, but they do not accept his words.[22] Also, they refer to a part of the verse Qur'an 27:81 saying that "who believe in Our signs" which has exempted believers and interpret sama' as "accepting" and mawta as "disbelievers".

See Also


  1. 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.’ (Qurʾān 7:78-79)
  2. 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?’ (Quran 7:91-93)
  3. Ask those of Our apostles We have sent before you: Did We set up any gods besides the All-beneficent to be worshipped? (Qurʾān 43:45)
  4. 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 (Quran 3:169)
  5. Ibn Ḥajar al-ʿAsqalānī, Fatḥ al-bārī, vol. 6, p. 487; Sabkī, Shafāʾ al-siqām, p. 318-365.
  6. Bukhārī, Ṣaḥīḥ al-Bukhārī, vol. 2, p. 92.
  7. Shinqīṭī, Aḍwāʾ al-bayān, vol. 6, p. 136; Ibn Kathīr, Tafsīr al-Qurʾān, vol. 3, p. 447.
  8. Ṭabarānī, al-Muʿjam al-kabīr, vol. 10, p. 219.
  9. Bukhārī, Ṣaḥīḥ al-Bukhārī, vol. 5, p. 97.
  10. Ibn ʿAbd al-Barr, al-Istidhkār, vol. 1, p. 185.
  11. Muslim, Ṣaḥīḥ Muslim, vol. 2, p. 64.
  12. السلام علیکم دار قوم مؤمنین و أتاکم ما توعدون غداً مؤجلون و إنا إن شاء الله بکُم لاحِقون
  13. Mufīd, al-Jamal, p. 392.
  14. وَمَا أَنتَ بِمُسْمِعٍ مَّن فِي الْقُبُورِ (Quran 35:22)
  15. فَإِنَّكَ لَا تُسْمِعُ الْمَوْتَىٰ (Quran 30:52)
  16. Ālūsī, Rūḥ al-maʿānī, vol. 11, p. 55.
  17. Dawīsh, Fatāwā l-janna, vol. 9, p. 82.
  18. Ibn Taymīyya, Majmūʿat al-fatāwā, vol. 24, p. 364.
  19. Ibn Qayyim, al-Rawḥ fī l-kilām, p. 5-17.
  20. Shinqīṭī, Aḍwāʾ al-bayān, vol. 6, p. 136.
  21. وَمَا أَنتَ بِهَادِي الْعُمْيِ عَن ضَلَالَتِهِمْ إِن تُسْمِعُ إِلَّا مَن يُؤْمِنُ بِآيَاتِنَا فَهُم مُّسْلِمُونَ (Quran 27:81)
  22. Ibn Taymīyya, Majmūʿat al-fatāwā, vol. 24, p. 364.


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