The fact that the Prophets (a.s) are alive after their departure from this transient world is proved both by Quranic verses and reliable traditions. This is the opinion of renowned scholars from both sects. Several historical incidents also prove this fact. In this article we advance evidence to prove that the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.) is indeed alive and intercedes for Muslims and not dead and helpless as some Muslims claim.

That the Prophets (a.s.) are alive is established from:

  1. The Holy Quran
  2. Traditions of the Infallible Guides (a.s.)
  3. Historical incidents
  4. Opinion of majority of scholars from both sects

 

  1. The Holy Quran

    Both Sunni and Shia scholars have mentioned several verses in their exegeses (tafaaseer) that prove that the Prophets (a.s), martyrs (shohodaa)and the righteous servants of Allah (saaliheen) are alive even after their departure from this material world.

    1. Martyrs

      In Surah Aale Imran Allah describes the condition of martyrs:

      ‘And reckon not those who are killed in Allah’s way as dead; nay, they are alive (and) are provided sustenance from their Lord. Rejoicing in what Allah has given them out of His grace and they rejoice for the sake of those who, (being left) behind them, have not yet joined them, that they shall have no fear, nor shall they grieve. They rejoice on account of favor from Allah and (His) grace, and that Allah will not waste the reward of the believers.’ (Surah Aale Imran (3): Verses 169-171)

      The apparent meaning of the verse is sufficient evidence as it suggests that martyrs are alive and to interpret the verse in other than the apparent meaning without evidence from another verse is deviation and to reject it is Kufr (apostasy).

      Nonetheless to complete the argument we have listed the tafaaseer of Sunni scholars which prove beyond any doubt that the martyrs are alive even after their martyrdom/death. This list is by no means exhaustive.

      1. Tafseer-o-Muqaatil b. Sulaimaan (vol. 1 pg 314) by Muqaatil b. Sulaimaan Balkhi– Verse about martyrs of Ohod who are sustained through fruits of heavens and other foods of their choice.
      2. Anwaar al-Tanzeel wa Asraar al-Ta’veel (vol 2, pg 48) by Abdullah b. Umar Baydhaawi– Verse refers to the martyrs of Ohod and they have been given ever-lasting life because of their martyrdom and will be sustained from the bounties of Paradise (after death and before being raised i.e. Barzakh).
      3. Asbaab al-Nuzool by Ali b. Ahmed Waahidi under the verse narrates on authority of Ibn Abbas who relates from Prophet (s.a.w.a.) that it refers to martyrs of Ohod who are alive near Allah enjoying fruits of Paradise. In another tradition, the Prophet (s.a.w.a.) consoles Jaabir whose father was martyred and had left behind dependents and debts that he (Jaabir’s father) is alive near Allah and Allah converses with him directly and not from behind a veil and grants him his wishes.
      4. Al-Bahr al-Madeed fi Tafseer al-Quran al-Majeed (vol. 1 pg 435) by Ahmed b. Muhammad Ibn Ajeebah– Verse regarding martyrs who are sustained by Allah’s bounties.
      5. Bahr al-Uloom (vol. 1 pg 264) by Nasr b. Muhammad b. Ahmed Samarqandi– Verse was revealed when people were saying so and so has died (in battle) to emphasize that they were indeed alive near Allah and were being sustained with the bounties of Paradise.
      6. Bayaan al-Maani (vol. 5 pg 425) by Mulla Howaish Aale Ghaazi Abdul Qaadir– Refers to those who are martyred in Allah’s way, who are not like those who die a normal death. Rather, those who are martyred will be remembered for their martyrdom and will not be forgotten. They are sustained after death by Allah. We do not see or understand how they are sustained because they are in Barzakh.
      7. Tafseer al-Jalaalain (vol. 1 pg 75) by Jalaaluddin Mahalli and Jalaaluddin Suyuti– Refers to the martyrs who are sustained by their Lord with the bounties of Paradise.
      8. Al-Tafseer al-Hadis (vol. 7 pg 267) Daroozeh Muhammad Izzah– Refers to the martyrs and there are many traditions about martyrs in various battles like Badr, Ohod, Ber-e-Maunah being alive and sustained by Allah with the bounties of Paradise. However, there are differences between scholars whether they are alive only spiritually or also physically.
      9. Tafseer al-Quran al-Azeem by Ibn Kasir, the student of Ibn Taymiyyah (vol. 2 pg 144) –Ibn Kasir narrates on the authority of Saheeh Muslim (Hadis 121), Musnad-e-Ahmed b. Hanbal (vol. 3 pg 126, vol. 3 pg 361, vol. 1 pg 261, 265, 266, vol. 3 pg 455), Tafseer al-Tabari (vol. 3 pg 513) that these verses are about the martyrs of Badr, Ohod, Ber-e-Maunah, they are alive near Allah and are sustained with the bounties of Allah and are repeatedly asked for the fulfillment of their desires.
      10. Tafseer al-Quran al-Azeem (vol. 3 pg 812 Hadis 4,489 to 4,501) by Ibn Abi Haatim– Author narrates several traditions to the effect that the verse was revealed specifically about the martyrs of Ohod where 24 Muhaajireen were martyred like Hamzah b. Abdul Muttalib (a.s.), Musab b. Umair, Shams b. Usman and 46 Ansaar were martyred and that the martyrs enjoy an elevated position near Allah and are sustained with the bounties of Allah.
      11. Tafseer al-Quran le al-Quran (vol. 2 pg 640) by Khateeb Abdul Karim– Author explains that those killed in the way of Allah will not have their bodies destroyed as they have believed in Allah and the Day of Judgment. They will not taste non-existence; in fact every believer (not just the martyr) qualifies for eternal life. Destruction of body and annihilation is for the one who does not believe in Allah and the last stage. Death is but a journey from this world to the next world. Condition after death depends on whether he has believed in Allah.
      12. Tafseeral-Muraaghi (vol. 4 pg 132) by Ahmed b. Mustafa al-Muraaghi– Refers to the martyrs and they are alive in a world different from this one. What they will be in that world is better than what they were in this one. They have a life in the unseen and we do not know more about it than what has been revealed in the Quran. The fact that they are sustained points to the fact that they are alive which is achieved from the life of this world.
      13. Al-Tafseer al-Mazhari (vol. 2 pg 170) by Muhammad Sanaa Allah Mazhari– Author narrates on the authority of Muslim, Ahmad, Abu Dawood, Haakem, Al-Baghwi that Ibne Abbas relates on the authority of the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.) that the martyrs of Ohod are alive and sustained by their Lord with the bounties of Paradise.
      14. Tafseer al-Muneer (vol. 4 pg 164) by Wahbah b. Mustafa Zohaili– The verse refers to the martyrs of Ohod. The verse rejects the saying of the hypocrites that those killed in the way of Allah are dead. Rather, they are alive in another world and sustained by their Lord like other creatures are sustained by Him. They (martyrs) eat and drink and this underscores their being alive as it describes their condition unambiguously. They are in a life of Ghaib we do not understand its reality and we only believe as it has been revealed in the verse.
      15. Al-Tafseer al-Waazih (vol. 1 pg 309) by Muhammad Mahmood Hijaazi– The martyrs are alive, they are not dead.
      16. Al-Tafseer al-Waseet (vol. 2 pg 335) by Sayyid Muhammad Tantaawi– The verse is to warn the hypocrites (where were taunting Muslims that their martyrs were dead and helpless) and to urge the Muslims for Jehad. It underscores the Islamic belief that the martyrs are alive and not destroyed (faani).
      17. Tafseer al-Waseet (vol. 1 pg 261) by Wahbah b. Mustafa Zohaili– Narrates from Imam Ahmed that Ibn Abbas relates from the Prophet (s.a.w.a.) that the martyrs are sustained by Allah with the fruits of Paradise. And in another tradition from the Prophet (s.a.w.a.) – the martyrs are sustained morning and evening.
      18. Tafseer Rooh al-Bayaan (vol. 2 pg 125) Ismail Haqqi – Martyrs are alive and sustained by their Lord.
      19. Tafseer Sooraabaadi (vol. 1 pg 359) by Abu Bakr Ateeq b. Muhammad Sooraabaadi– Martyrs are alive and sustained by their Lord with fruits of Paradise.
      20. Tafseer Gharaaeb al-Quran (vol. 2 pg 306) Nizaam al-Deen Hasan b. Muhammad Nishapoori–Martyrs are alive and sustained by their Lord with fruits of Paradise.

        One group of Muslims believes the verse refers to Ber-e-Maunah.

        One group of Muslims believes that life is metaphorical.

        In one incident – Abdul Malik b. Marwan asked al-Zuhri, the scholar and faqeeh about his opinion on the life of the dead – Al-Zuhri narrated – When Muawiyah wanted to weep over the dead, he ordered the announcer to announce – one who has a martyr let him take the corpse from here. Jaabir relates – We set out towards the corpses and removed them. We found the bodies to be pure and when the shovel hit the finger of one of the corpses, blood began flowing.

      21. Jaame’ al-Bayaan fi Tafseer al-Quran (vol. 4 pg 113) Abu Jafar Muhammad b. Jurair Tabari – The martyrs are not dead; they are alive near Allah and sustained by Him with the fruits of Paradise.
      22. Jaame’ al-Ahkaam al-Quran (vol 4 pg 271) by Muhammad b. Ahmed Qurtubbi – The martyrs have a great position. The Prophet (s.a.w.a.) is a witness (Shaheed) to their martyrdom. Martyrs are buried without Ghusl while they are soaked in their own blood – they will be raised in Qiyaamah smelling of musk. By consensus scholars believe that the martyrs do not die in the battlefield, they are alive and eat and drink.
      23. Jawaaher al-Hisaan fi Tafseer al-Quran (vol 2 pg 138) by Sa’labi Abdul Rahman b. Muhammad – Martyrs are alive and sustained by their Lord with fruits of Paradise.
      24. Haqaaeq al-Tafseer (vol. 1 pg 86) Muhammad b. Husain Salmi – The martyr is alive.
      25. Al-Durrul al-Manthoor by Jalaaludin al-Suyuti (vol. 2 pg 94) – Author has brought over 20 traditions under the verse. The martyrs are alive in Paradise and sustained by their Lord with various fruits and drinks. Their most ardent desire is to unite with their bodies of the earth so that they can fight alongside the Prophet (s.a.w.a.) again and attain martyrdom and inform their brothers on earth of the great status of the martyr.

        In one tradition, Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.) consoles Jaabir whose father was martyred that he was in Paradise and Allah was conversing with him directly (without a curtain).

      26. Rooh al-Maani (vol. 2 pg 333) by Sayyid Muhammad Aaloosi– Martyrs are alive and sustained by their Lord with fruits of Paradise. Their most ardent desire is to unite with their bodies of the earth so that they can fight alongside the Prophet (s.a.w.a.) again and attain martyrdom and inform their brothers on earth of the great status of the martyr.

        Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.) consoles Jaabir whose father was martyred that he was in Paradise and Allah was conversing with him directly (without a curtain).

      27. Zaad al-Maseer fi Ilmi al-Tafseer (vol. 1 pg 347) by Abul Faraj Abdul Rahman b. Ali Ibn Jawzi– There are three categories of traditions regarding the verse. One category is that the verse was revealed for the martyrs of Badr, second category – it was revealed for martyrs of Ohod, third category – it was revealed for martyrs of Ber-e-Maunah.
      28. Al-Fawaatih al-Ilaahiyyah (vol. 1 pg 134) by Nematullah b. Mahmood – They are granted everlastingness (baqaa) instead of annihilation (fana). They are not like the dead who have neither sensation nor movement; rather, they are alive.
      29. Fi Zelaal al-Quran (vol. 1 pg 517) Sayyid Ibne Qutb b. Ibrahim – The martyrs are alive and sustained by their Lord.
      30. Kitaab al-Tasheel al-Uloom al-Tanzeel (vol. 1 pg 171) by Muhammad b. Ahmed – The martyrs are alive and sustained by their Lord as opposed to other believers who do not enjoy this status.
      31. Al-Kashf wa al-Bayaan fi Tafseer al-Quran (vol. 3 pg 200) by Sa’labi Nishapoori Abu Ishaaq Ahmed b. Ibrahim– Some say it refers to martyrs of Badr, some say it refers to martyrs of Ohod. The martyrs are alive and sustained by Allah with fruits of Paradise.
      32. Mahaasin al-Taaweel (vol. 2 pg 456) by Muhammad Jamaaluddin Qaasimi– Narrates on the authority of Ibne Abbas, Imam Ahmed that the martyrs are alive and sustained by their Lord with fruits of Paradise.
      33. Muraah al-Labeed (vol. 1 pg 166) by Muhammad b. Umar Nawawi – Narrates on the authority of Ibne Abbas, Jaabir that the martyrs are alive and sustained by their Lord with fruits of Paradise.
      34. Maalim al-Tanzeel (vol. 1 pg 533) by Husain b. Masood Baghwi– Narrates on the authority of Ibne Abbas, Abdullah b. Masood the martyrs are alive and sustained by their Lord with fruits of Paradise.
      35. Mafaatih al-Ghaib (vol. 9 pg 425) Abu Abdullah Muhammad b. Umar Fakhrudeen Raazi– The martyr is alive after his martyrdom, is sustained by his Lord in the best manner and enjoys a great status.
      36. Tafseer Ibn Arabi (vol. 1 pg 130) by Abu Abdullah Muhyiddeen Muhammad Ibn Arabi – The martyrs are alive and sustained by the Lord with the bounties of Paradise.
    2. Those who Emigrated in Allah’s Way

      Not just martyrs, all Muslims who migrate in Allah’s Way are sustained by their Lord as evidenced by the verse:

      ‘And (as for) those who migrate in Allah’s way and are then slain or die, Allah will most certainly grant them a goodly sustenance, and most surely Allah is the best Giver of sustenance.’ (Surah Hajj (22): Verse 58)

      This verse combined with the aforementioned verse of Surah Ale Imran (3): Verse 169 underscores that those who emigrated in Allah’s way and died naturally enjoy the same position as martyrs. Despite a natural death, such people have been likened to martyrs in terms of rewards. Like martyrs, such people are alive near Allah and are sustained.

      While there are many tafaaseer that underscore this point, we will suffice by mentioning just a few.

      1. In Tafseer al-Quran al-Azeem (vol. 5 pg 392) Ibn Katheer records – Abdul Rahman b. Jahdam al-Khawlani was with Fadhdhaalah b. Ubayd when they accompanied two funerals at (an island of ) sea one of whom had been struck by a catapult (in battle) and the otherhad passed away. Fadhdhaalah sat by the grave of the man who had passed away and someone said to him – Are you neglecting the martyr and not sitting by his grave? Fadhdhaalah said – I would not mind which of these two graves Allah would resurrect me from for Allah says: ‘And (as for) those who migrate in Allah’s way and are then slain or die, Allah will most certainly grant them a goodly sustenance, and most surely Allah is the best Giver of sustenance.’ (Surah Hajj (22): Verse 58)

        Then Fadhdhaalah said: What should I seek, O servant, if I were to enter an entrance to His pleasure, and be provided good provisions. By Allah, I would not mind which of these two graves Allah would resurrect me from.

      2. In al-Durrul al-Manthoor (vol. 4 pg 369) Jalaaluddin al-Suyuti has likewise recorded the tradition of Fadhdhaalah equating the emigrant who dies naturally with the martyr.

        We can conclude the following from the verses of Surah Ale Imran and Surah Hajj and their tafaaseer:

        1. That the martyrs are dead was the opinion of the hypocrites of the time and they taunted the Prophet (s.a.w.a.) and Muslims by claiming that the martyrs are dead and lifeless. The Muslims of today who claim that the dead including martyrs and Prophets (a.s.) are lifeless and helpless need to assess how much their opinion resembles the hypocrites of the Prophet’s (s.a.w.a.) time.
        2. The martyrs are alive after their death in the world of Barzakh although there are different views regarding their life and condition of their bodies. Not just martyrs even emigrants in Allah’s way enjoy this status.
        3. The position of the martyrs is so elevated that Allah repeatedly asks them if He can satisfy them in any manner. If these martyrs ask Allah for something He grants them. Such a person is far from lifeless and helpless; he is surrounded by Allah’s Mercy and is sustained by His Bounties and can ask favors from Allah regarding those who are alive on the earth. The emigrants in Allah’s Way enjoy the same status.