Questioning in the Grave by Munkir & Nakeer.
One of the principal factors of Shi’aism, belief in which is obligatory (wajib), is the questioning in the grave by Munkir & Nakeer. Allamah Majlisi relates in ‘Biharul Anwar’ and ‘Haqqul Yaqeen’ that it is a proven fact from reliable traditions that the questioning and the sqeezing in the grave is for the physical body, as also for the spirit. In the grave one is questined regarding one’s beliefs (Aqaid) and deeds (A’maal). The questions are put to every believer as well as a non-believer. Only infants, the mentally retarded, and the people of lesser intellect are exempted from it. The periof ‘Barzakh’ offers them neither reward nor retribution.
One is questioned about the Prayers (Namaz), Fasting (Siyam), the Pilgrimage (Haj), Zakat, Khums, love of Ahlulbait (A.S.), and also about how he spent his entire life and wealth. Imam Ali Zainul Abedeen (A.S.) says that after the questioning about the beliefs of Islam, a person is questioned about how he spent his life, and also about the way he earned his wealth and spent it.
There are many whose tongues would cease to answer the questions put forth to them, and whould not be able to answer, or would reply wrongly. It also happens that in reply to the question “Who is your Lord?”, the person will reply to the Angels that they (ie the Angels) are his lord.
The person who is well acquainted in his lifetime with the beliefs and principals (of Islam) will be able to answer without trouble. And if he does so, his grave will be broadened to the length his sight reaches.
The period of ‘Barzakh’ passes away easily with Allah’s blessings, and the Angels proclaim to him, : “Sleep thou like a newly wedded bride”. (Usoole Kafi)
If the dead man is a non-believer or a hypocrite, and cannot answer the questions put forth to him, one of the doors of hell is opened in his grave, and the entire grave is filled with the raging-fire. As Allah says in the Qu’ran: “And if he be of those who have belied, gone astray, He shall have an entertainment of a boiling water, And the boiling in the hell-fire” (Surah-al-Waqe’ah: 92-94). Imam Ja’far-as-Sadiq (A.S.) says that, “A person who denies the following, is not one of our Shi’ahs: (1) Ascension (Me’raj of the Holy Prophet), (2) Questioning in the grave, and (3) Our Intercession (Shafa’at).
It is related that two Angels having a fearful countenance enter the grave for the questioning, their voices are like thunder, and their eyes like lightening. They put forth the following questions:
(1) Who is your Lord?
(2) Who is your Prophet?
(3) What is your Religion?
(4) Who is your Imam?
The dead man feels uneasy in answering these questions because of the fearful environment and needs help at that moment, hence Talqeen is recited at the following two places so that he is reminded of his beliefs (Aqaid).
(1) When the body is laid in the grave. It is better to place one’s right hand on the right shoulder of the dead body, and the left hand on the left shoulder, and shake slightly when the name of the dead man is recited in the ‘Talqeen’.
(2) When the grave is closed. It is recommended (sunnat) that a near relative of the dead man should sit near the head of the grave after people leave, and should recite the ‘Talqeen’ in a loud voice. It is better to place one’s palms on the grave and take one’s face near the grave while reciting. There is no problem of another person other than the relatives is deputed for it. It is related that when the ‘Talqeen’ is recited, andthe Angels (Munkir & Nakeer) hear it, Munkir teels Nakeer, “Come let us leave, for the Talqeen is a proof of his beliefs, and there remains no ground for further questioning”.
A person may ask the question as to what is the benefit of reciting the ‘Talqeen’, when the spirit has already left the body. The answer to this question is that (as related in traditions), the spirit (Rooh) of the dead man remains present at that moment, and hears and observes more clearly than us. It also understands all languages whether Arabic, Persian, or any othe.r Because limitation is the outcome of this materialistic world.
In ‘Man La Yahzaruhul Faqeeh’ it is narrated, that when Abu Zarr Ghaffari’s son Zarr died, Abu Zarr buried him. Then he sat near the head of the grave and put his hand on it and said, “Oh Zarr! May Allah bless you. Verily you were more virtuous than me, and accomplished all responsibilities due to a son. And now when you have been seperated from me, I bear witness that I am pleased with you. By Allah! I do not grieve on account of your death, and do not wish anything from anyone except Allah. If I would not fear the after effects of death, I would surely have accepted death instead of you. But I wish to remain alive for some more time so as to ask forgiveness for my sins, and prepare myself for the last journey. Surely I have performed such acts on your behalf wich may be useful for you in your journey, and have not confined myself to just weeping and wailing for you, and hence this has kept me away from drooping myself in your seperation. By Allah! I do not grieve on account of your death, nor because of your seperation, but I lament thinking about what might have befallen you after your death, and wonder in what state you are. I wish I knew what you said and what was said unto you. O my Lord! I excuse all my rights due upon him, and I request You to forgive all your rights due upon him, for You are more liable than me to forgive and pardon”.
Imam Ja’far-as-Sadiq (A.S.) says, that when a believer is laid to rest in his grave, Prayers (Namaz, which he offered) remains on his right sid,e Zakat on his left side, and acts of goodness & kindness (towards others) gives shelter on his head, and patience (shown at the time of distress) remains near him. When ‘Munkir & Nakeer’ come to question him, patience requests Namaz, Zakat, and goodness to surround him from all sides and give him refuge, and says that whenever troubles and calamities befell this man, I was always there with him (ie he bore it patiently).
Allamah Majlisi in his ‘Mahasin’ quotes Imam Mohammad-al-Baqir (A.S.) and Imam Ja’far-as-Sadiq (A.S.) as saying that when a believer (mo’min) dies, six faces enter his grave along with him. Out of these, one is more illuminated, chaste and more scented than others. One stands on the right side, the second on the left, third in front, the fourth near the head, fifth near the legs, and the one more illuminated shelters on the head. From whichever side the wrath of Allah comes, the face on that side defends the dead body. The one who is more illuminated asks these other faces: “May Allah bless you all, who are you”? The one on the right side says “I am the Prayers (Namaz) which he recited in his life time”. The one on the left side says “I am the Zakat which he gave while alive”. The one standing in the front says “I am his fasts”. The one near the head says “I am the Haj & Umrah which he performed in his life”. While the one standing near the legs says “I am the kindness (Ehsan) which he performed with his brother believer”. Then all these faces turn towards the more illuminated one and ask him as to who he is. It replies “I am the Love of Ahlulbait”.
Shaikh Sadooq in the chapter on the importance of fasting in the month of Sha’ban says that whoever fasts for nine days in this month, ‘Munkir & Nakeer’ will deal with him gently and courteously during questioning. Many benefits have been narrated by Imam Mohammad-al-Baqir (A.S.) for a person who remains awake on the night of 23rd of the month of Ramazan and offers one hundred units (Rak’at) Namaz. One of these benefits is that Allah removes fear from his heart during the questioning by ‘Munkir & Nakeer’ , and a light shines forth from his grave, which illuminates the whole world. The Holy Prophet (S.A.W.S.) says, that applying dye has four benefits, one of them is that ‘Munkir & Nakeer’ shy away from him in the grave. And as stated earlier that a person who is buried in Najaf, is exempted from the questioning in the grave.
Allamah Majlisi quotes in his ‘Tohfatuz Zaereen’ from ‘Irshadul Quloob’ and ‘Farhatul Uzza’ that a virtuous man from Kufa relates that, “Once on a rainy night I was seated in the Masjid of Kufa when some people entered the Mosque from the door near the shrine of Muslim bin Aqeel carrying a bier with them. They kept the bier on a mound. One of the persons accompanying the funeral felt asleep. He dreamt that two persons came near the bier, and one said to the other that “I will settle his account fast before he is taken to Najaf, because then I will not be able to go near him”. The person got up from his dream and narrated it to others who understood the whole situation (that the two men were Munkir & Nakeer who had cto question the dead man), and lifted the bier and proceeded towards Najaf to save the dead man from chastisement and the questioning”.
Allamah Behbahani says that once I saw Imam Husain (A.S.) in a dream and asked him, “O my Master ! Will the one buried near your grave also be questioned”? Imam Husain (A.S.) replied, “Which one of the Angels have got the nerve to question him who is buried near my grave”.
It is written in ‘Jillul Mateen’ that Meer Mu’inuddin Ashraf who was one of the virtuous attendants of the shrine of Imam Ali-ar-Reza (A.S.) says that, “Once I dreamo that I was in the shrine of Imam Reza (A.S.) and was coming out to perform ablution (wuzu). When I came near the mound of Ameer Ali Sher, I saw a group of people entering the shrine. An eminent personality was leading them, and they all carried spades in their hands. As soon as they entered the shrine, the eminent personality pointed towards a particular grave and said, “Dig out the wretched fellow from his grave”. Hearing his command they started digging the grave. I asked one of those men as to who that man was. He replied that He was the Commander of the faithful Ali (A.S.). Suddenly I saw that Imam Ali-ar-Reza (A.S.) came out of His shrine and greeted Imam Ali (A.S.). Hazrat Ali (A.S.) answered His greeting. Imam Reza (A.S.) said, “O my Respected Grandfather! I request you, and have faith, that you will forgive this person on my behalf who lies buried here under the shelter of my shrine”. Amirul Mo’meneen (A.S.) answered, “O my dear son! Do you know that he was a mischief-creator, an adulteror, and a drunkard”? Imam (A.S.) replied, “I do know, but when his last moment neared he willed to be buried under the shelter of my shrine, so I request you to forgive him on my behalf.” Hazrat Ali (A.S.) forgave him and left. I awoke from my sleep in awe and woke up the other attendants and related to them my dream. We all went to the place which I had seen in my dream, and found a newly constructed grave, whose mud was scattered. After inquiry we learnt that a turkish man who had died was buried there the day before”.
Haji Ali Baghdadi had the honour of meeting Imam Mahdi (A.T.F.S.) and ask him some questions. One of the questions put forward by him was that “Is it true that a person who goes for the pilgrimage (Ziarat) to the shrine of Imam Husain (A.S.) on friday night receives salvation”? Imam (A.S.) replied, “Yes, by Allah”. Haji Ali Baghdadi says that I saw tears in the eyes of Imam (A.S.). Then I asked him another question, “In the year 1269 A.H. when we went for the pilgrimage (Ziarat) to the shrine of Imam Ali-ar-Reza (A.S.), we met a nomadic Arab who was a native of Najaf. We invited him for a meal and asked him his views regarding the reward of the love of Imam Reza (A.S.). He replied, “Paradise”, and said, “Since the past fifteen days I have been from the wealth of Imam Reza (A.S.), do Munkir & Nakeer’ have the nerve to come near me. The food which I consumed from the table of Imam Reza (A.S.) has turned into flesh and blood”. I asked Imam Mahdi (A.T.F.S.) whether his claim was true. Imam (A.S.) replied, “Yes it is true. Imam Reza (A.S.) himself will come and save him from the questioning in the grave. For verily by Allah! My Grandfather is a Zamin (surety) Imam”.
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Iltemaas E Dua
Syed Mohamad Masoom Abidi