Is Prophet Muhammad s.a.w. alive and can he hear?

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Is Prophet Muhammad s.a.w. alive and can he hear?

Postby » 11 May 2012, 00:08

A response to Dr. Salih Munajjid
“Is Muhammad s.a.w. alive and can he hear?”
by Ibn Anwar

A couple of days ago I stumbled on a fatwa on ”Is the Prophet s.a.w. alive?” posted on . The Fatwa was issued by Sheikh Salih Munajjid, one of the most prominent pseudo-salafi personalities today. This brief article is a response to the fatwa.

Salih Munajjid begins :
“The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) is alive in his grave in the sense of the life of al-barzakh, so he enjoys the blessings that Allah has prepared for him as a reward for his great good actions that he did in this world. But the life in the grave is not like the life of this world, or the life in the Hereafter. Rather, it is the life of al-barzakh which comes in between his life in this world and his life in the Hereafter. Hence we know that he died as other Prophets and other people before him died. Allah says: “And We granted not to any human being immortality before you (O Muhammad); then if you die, would they live forever?” (al-Anbiya’: 34) “Verily, you (O Muhammad) will die, and verily, they (too) will die…” (az-Zumar: 30)”

Comment :

Alhamdulillah. I commend Sheikh Salih Munajjid for declaring the the Prophet s.a.w. is alive in his grave in the realm of barzakh when so many of his people go around saying the Prophet s.a.w. is dead and not alive. In regards to his death, no Muslim denies that he died a natural death which is a covenant unto all living creatures and no Muslim equates the Prophet’s special life in the barzakh with the earthly life.

Salih Munajjid continues :
“The life of al-barzakh is a special life, the nature of which is known to Allah. It is not like the life of this world in which the soul remains with the body. The Prophets and the martyrs are alive in al-barzakh as the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said: “The Prophets are alive and they pray in their graves.” (Narrated by al-Mundhiri and al-Bayhaqi who classed it as authentic) Allah says: “And say not of those who are killed in the way of Allah, ‘They are dead.’ Nay, they are living, but you perceive (it) not.” (al-Baqarah: 154) “


Alhamdulillah. Once again, I appreciate the declaration and qualification provided from the Qur’an and Sunnah that the Prophet s.a.w. is alive.

Salih Munajjid continues :
“The basic principle concerning the dead is that they do not hear the words of the living sons of Adam, because Allah says: “…but you cannot make hear those who are in graves.” (Fatir: 22) “


Now, this is when he gets a bit sticky. The issue of whether the dead can hear or not will be elaborated shortly. The verse which Salih Munajjid quoted is that which is very much loved by the pseudo-salafis and is often brought up whenever the issue of whether the dead can or cannot hear is discussed. Is the verse actually saying that the dead can’t hear?

Al-Hafidh Imam Ibn Kathir explains in his tafsir of 35:22 :

“but you cannot make hear those who are in graves.” means, `just as the dead cannot benefit from guidance and the call to truth after they have died as disbelievers and ended up in the graves, so too you cannot help these idolators who are decreed to be doomed, and you cannot guide them.”

Clearly, from the explanation of the tafsir the verse isn’t saying the dead cannot hear but rather they cannot receive guidance and if they died as kafir they will be judged as such and no one not even the Prophet s.a.w. can provide guidance for them. It is common knowledge that when a person dies, he can neither receive guidance anymore from the living or repent from the wrongs he committed in life.

The famous Tafsir Al-Jalalayn states :

“nor are the living equal to the dead, the believers and the disbelievers [respectively] (the addition of the particle lā, ‘nor’, in all three instances is for emphasis). Indeed God makes to hear whomever He wishes, to be guided, so that such [a person] then responds to Him by embracing faith. But you cannot make those who are in the graves to hear, namely, the disbelievers – whom He has likened to the dead – [to hear] and so respond.”

This tafsir also shows that the verse is actually speaking about hearing, listening and receiving guidance in regards to the dead and furthermore the verse is actually speaking of the dead disbelievers!

Al-Hafidh Imam Al-Suyuti explains the verse in Al-Hawi lil Fatawa, vol. 2, pg. 169-175 :

“It is an Allegorical statement (an-Nafi Ja’a ala m’ana al -Majaz). The Real meaning of this is that: “They cannot listen to Guidance (Ma’naha Sama’ Huda) i.e. they are dead and cannot be guided anymore.”

Evidently, the verse is no proof for saying the dead can’t hear.

Salih Munajjid continues:
“Allah confirmed that those whom the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) was calling to Islam could not hear, by likening them to the dead. There is nothing in the Qur’an or in the authentic Sunnah to indicate that the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) can hear every du`a’ or call from human beings. However, it is proven that the only thing that reaches the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) is the blessings and salams of those who send blessings and salams upon him. This was narrated by Abu Dawud, 2041, with a hasan (good) <>isnad (chain of transmitters) from Abu Hurayrah (may Allah be pleased with him) who said that the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said: “There is no one who sends salaams upon me but Allah will restore to me my soul so that I may return his salams.”


The verse quoted as evidence has already been explained i.e. it isn’t speaking about the deafness of the ahl qubur. Salih Munajjid here claims that nowhere in the Qur’an or Sunnah is there evidence of the Prophet s.a.w. being able to hear or see anything besides the salams sent by Muslims. This position is somewhat problematic in light of the following narrations :

It is reported from Ibn mas’ud r.a. that the Prophet s.a.w. said : ” My life is a great good for you, you will relate about me and it will be related to you, and my death is a great good for you, your actions will be presented to me, and if I see goodness I will praise Allah, and if I see evil I will ask forgiveness of Him for you.”

This hadith has been narrated from Ibn Mas’ud by Al-Bazzar in his Musnad(1:397) with a chain declared sound by Imam Al-Suyuti in Manahil Al-Safa (pg.31, #8), Ibn Hajar Al-Haytami in Majma’ Al-Zawa’id (9:24 #91), Al-Iraqi in Tarh al-Tathrib (3:297), Al-Munawi in Fayd Al-Qadir (3:401), Al-Khafaji and Al-Qari in Sharh Al-Shifa’ (1:102) and others.

It is narrated by Ibn Al-Mubarak who said : One of the Ansar narrated to us from al-Minhal ibn ‘Amr that the latter hears Sa’id ibn Al-Musayyib say :”Not one day passes except the Prophet’s s.a.w. community is shown to him morning and evening. He knows them by their marks and their actions, thereby giving witness concerning them. Allah said,”But how (will it be with them) when we bring of every people a witness, and we bring you (O Muhammad) as witness against these?”(4:41)

Narrated by Ibn Al-Mubarak in al-Zuhd(pg. 42), Ibn kathir in his Tafsir 1:500, al-Qurtubi in is al-Tadhkira (1:335), Ibn Hajar Al-Asqalani in Fath Al-Bari (9:99) and Al-Mubarakfuri in Tuhfa al-Ahwadhi (8:300)

Just as an additional information, the hadith quoted by Salih Munajjid which he declared hasan is actually sahih. The hadith is thus :

It is narrated by Abu Dawud with a sound chain as stated by Al-Subki that Abu Hurairah r.a. reported that the Prophet s.a.w. said : No one greets me except that Allah has returned my soul to me so that I may greet him back.”

The hadith has also been declared sahih by Al-Hafidh Imam Al-Nawawi in Riyadh Al-Saliheen and Al-Adhkar. It has also been narrated with sahih chains by Imam Ahmad in his Musnad and by Imam Al-Bayhaqi in Al-Sunan Al-Kubra (5:245 # 1040).

From the narrations mentioned, it is evident that salams are not the only things witnessed by the Prophet s.a.w.

Salih Munajjid concludes :
“This does not mean that he hears the words of the one who sends salams. Rather, it is possible that he comes to know of those salams when the angels convey that to him. If we assume that he hears the words of the one who sends salams, this is an exception from the general rule, as in the case of the dead hearing the footsteps of those who carry his bier, and as in the case of the slain kuffar (non-Muslims) in the well at Badr who heard the call of the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) when he said to them: “Have you found your Lord’s promise to be true? For we have found our Lord’s promise to be true.” (See Fatawa al-Lajnah al-Da’imah, 1/313, 318, 321)”


The prophet s.a.w. does not hear the salams sent by the Muslims himself directly but is rather informed of it by the angels? This is true to a degree since we have such hadiths which mention :

Reported by ‘Ammar ibn Yassir r.a. that the Prophet s.a.w. said: “Verily, Allah has put an angel in charge of my grave and given him the names of all creatures. No one invokes blessings upon me until the Day of Resurrection except he informs me of his name and the of his father thus: So and so son of so and so has just invoked blessings upon you.”

However, we also have narrations which show that the Prophet s.a.w. does receive the salam of the Muslims directly:

Abu Huraira r.a. reported that the Prophet s.a.w. said : “By the one in Whose hand is Abu al-Qasim’s soul, ‘Isa ibn Maryam shall descend as a just and wise ruler. He shall destroy the cross, slay the swine, eradicate discord and grudges, and money shall be offered to him but he will not accept it. Then he shall stand at my grave side and say: “O Muhammad!” and I will answer him.”

This hadith is narrated by Abu Ya’la in his Musnad (11:462) with a sahih chain as declared by Ibn Hajar Al-Haytami in Majma’ Zawa’id (8:211)

Abu Darda r.a. reported that the Prophet s.a.w. said : “Invoke blessings on me abundantly on Friday. Verily it is an attended day and the angels attend. Whoever invokes blessings on me, his voice reaches me regardless of the distance. We asked, “Even after your demise?” The Prophet s.a.w. replied, “(Yes), even after my demise because Allah made unlawful for the earth to eat up the bodies of the Prophets.”

We also have a very interesting narration which goes:

Ibrahim Ibn Shayban said: “One year I went on a pilgrimage then I came to Madinah and approached the grave of the prophet s.a.w. and said Salam to him. I heard, coming from inside the room, the reply:”Wa’alaikum al-salam.”

Narrated from Muhammad ibn Hibban by Abu Nu’aim in Al-Targhib (#102), Ibn Al-Najjar in Akhbar al-Madinah (pg. 146), Ibn Jawzi al-Qayyim in Muthir al-Gharam (pg. 486-498), Al-Fayruzabadi in Al-Silat wal Bushr (pg. 54) and by Ibn Taimiyya in Iatida’ al-Sirat al-Mustaqim (pg. 373 to 374)

What is more Salih Munajjid actually contradicted himself in his fatwa. In the beginning if you remember he said and I quote,”The basic principle concerning the dead is that they do not hear the words of the living sons of Adam”. At the end of his fatwa he said,”as in the case of the slain kuffar (non-Muslims) in the well at Badr who heard the call of the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) when he said to them: “Have you found your Lord’s promise to be true? For we have found our Lord’s promise to be true.” . Is the Prophet s.a.w. not the son of Adam? Of course he is and here we have an instance of him, the Prophet s.a.w. being the son of Adam speaking to the slain kuffar in the well of Badr and being heard by them as such. Clearly, Mr. Salih Munajjid contradicted himself.

The following are the ahadith of the Prophet Muhammad s.a.w. speaking with the dead:

“The Prophet(alayhi salaat wa salaam) ordered that the bodies of the idolaters slain on the day of Badr be thrown into a well whose interior was encased with stones, then he approached the well and began addressing the unbelievers by their names and fathers’ names, saying: “O So-and-so son of So-and-so, and So-and-so son of So-and-so: it would have been easier if you had obeyed Allah and His Messenger. We have found what our Lord promised to be true; have you found what your Lord promised to be true?” To which `Umar said: “O Messenger of Allah, why speak to lifeless bodies?” And he replied: “By Him in whose hand is the soul of Muhammad, you do not hear my words better than they do.”

(Sahih Bukhari Volume 5, Book 59, Number 314)

”Ya Abu Jahl Ibn Hisham! Ya Umayya Ibn Khalaf! Ya `Utba ibn Rabi`a! Have you not found out that what your Lord promised you is true? for I have found that what he has promised me is true.” `Umar said to him: “O Messenger of Allah, how do you address bodies devoid of spirit?” The Prophet replied: “By Him Who holds my life in His Hands! You do not hear what I am saying to them better than they do.”

(Sahih Muslim, Book 040, Number 6869)

“The Messenger of Allah spoke to the People (buried) in the Well saying: “Have you found out that what your Lord had promised you is true?” then someone exclaimed: “Are you calling out to the dead!” The Prophet replied: “You do not hear better than they do, except they do not respond.”

(Sahih Bukhari, Volume 2, Book 23, Number 452)

After such an overwhelming amount of evidence is given, should the question do the dead hear come up again? But it’s all right…considering the pseudo-salafis love the Sunnah so much I shall provide some more.

It is reported :

Anas bin Malik reported that the Prophet s.a.w. said, “When (Allah’s) slave is put in his grave and his companions return and he even hears their footsteps, two angels come to him and make him sit and ask……. .

(Sahih Bukhari, Volume 2 Book 23, Number 456 2. and Sahih Muslim, Book 040, Number 6862)

This hadith brings forth the question if an ordinary Muslim can hear the footsteps of the living in his grave, how much more can the best of creation hear?

It is reported:

Abu Umama said: “When I die, do with me as the Prophet (alayhi salaat wa salaam) ordered us, saying, ‘When one of your brothers dies and you have smoothed over the earth upon his grave, let one of you stand at the head of the grave and say, “O So and so Son of So and so” for he will hear, though he cannot reply.”

(Related by Imam Al-Tabarani in al-Mu’jam Al-Saghir and Ibn Hajar Al-Asqalani in Talkhis al-habir fi takhrij ahadith al-Rafi’i al-kabir)

It is reported :

Abu Huraira r.a. reported that the Prophet s.a.w. came to the graveyard and said : “Ya Ahlil Qabur” “Peace be upon you! O the abode of the believing people and we, if God so wills, are about to join you. I love to see my brothers. They (the hearers) said: Aren’t we your brothers-Messenger of Allah? He said: You are my companions, and our brothers are those who have, so far, not come into the world.”

(Sahih Muslim, Book 002, Number 0482, Sahih Muslim, Book 002, Number 0482, and Sahih Muslim, Book 002, Number 0483, and Sahih Muslim, Book 004, Number 2126)

Last but not least, specially for our pseudo-salafi brethren:

Ibn taimiyya was asked if the dead are aware of the living who visit them. Ibn taimiyya replied : “There is no doubt that they are aware of the living that visit them.” And Ibn Taymiyyah quoted the following Hadith in his support: “The proof of dead awareness comes from two Sahih Books of Bukhari and Muslim in which Rasool Allah(alayhi salaat wa salaam) said that when people have buried a dead person and leave for home, the dead can hear the thumps of sandaled feet of those who leave.”

(Majma al-Fatawa by Ibn Taymiyyah, vol. 24, page 362 )

The final verdict is thus : The Prophet s.a.w. is aware and able to hear from wherever he is as Allah wills.

Allah knows best

Peace and blessings of Allah be upon His final messenger Muhammad s.a.w. Peace and blessings be upon the ahl bait and the companions. Peace and blessings be upon the awliya. Peace and blessings be upon the scholars of haq.

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