Some Muslims have a peculiar view of the dead. They maintain that once a person is dead he is as lifeless as the earth under which he is buried. Therefore, respecting the dead and seeking mediation (tawassul) through it is akin to idol worship and amounts to shirk.
They advance the following verse as proof:
“Surely you do not make the dead to hear, and you do not make the deaf to hear the call when they go back retreating.” (Surah Naml (27): Verse 80 and Surah Rum (30): Verse 52).
The verse advanced by these Muslims is not about the dead person whose soul has exited his body. This verse refers to those who are very much alive, but do not heed the call of Islam. This is clear from the words in the verse – “and you do not make the deaf to hear the call”.
This verse is similar to such verses:
“And certainly We have created for hell many of the jinn and the men; they have hearts with which they do not understand, and they have eyes with which they do not see, and they have ears with which they do not hear; they are as cattle, nay, they are in worse errors; these are the heedless ones.” (Surah Aaraaf (7): Verse 179)
“Allah has set a seal upon their hearts and upon their hearing and there is a covering over their eyes, and there is a great punishment for them.” (Surah Baqarah (7): Verse 7)
“And We will turn their hearts and their sights, even as they did not believe in it the first time, and We will leave them in their inordinacy, blindly wandering on.” (Surah Anaam (6): 110)
These and other verses clearly establish the fundamental belief of death – which means rejecting Islam and faith despite availing of the faculties of eyes, ears and hearts (intellect). For this reason they are referred to as dead and this is a higher meaning than the death understood by the severing of the body from the soul.
What is the concept of life in Islam?
Now that we have understood the concept of death let us take a look at the concept of life.
Life is associated with faith and this is a higher form of life then the link between the body and the soul.
Allah declares in the Holy Quran:
“O you who believe! Answer (the call of) Allah and His Messenger when he calls you to that which gives you life…” (Surah Anfaal (8): Verse 24)
Quran considers the apostates and hypocrites as dead even while they are alive. Once they heed the call of Allah and His Prophet (s.a.w.a.), they will be enlivened.
Allah declares regarding the 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.” (Surah Ale Imran (2): 169)
Here we see the so-called dead and lifeless-as-stones martyr being considered as superior to the living ones – living in Allah’s sanctuary with guaranteed sustenance. Most who are alive today cannot claim such a bounty for themselves. Does this verse not show that the ‘dead’ martyr is superior to the Muslim who is alive?
Hence we reject the verses advanced by these Muslims about the dead. They have erred in their interpretation of the dead and the alive. They have ignored the spirit of the Quran and the reliable Sunnah regarding the interpretation of life and death. Hence their conclusions regarding tawassul from the dead are also baseless and flawed.