Praise be to Allah.
Do dead people hear us?
What is mentioned in the question, that the dead do not hear anything which the living say is true and is correct. Allah says (interpretation of the meanings):
“but you cannot make hear those who are in graves. ” [Fatir 35:22]
“So verily, you (O Muhammad) cannot make the dead to hear.” [Ar-Rum 30:52]
Is there torment and punishment in the grave?
The belief of Ahl As-Sunnah wal-Jama`ah is that there is torment and punishment in the grave and life in Al-barzakh (the interval between death and the Day of Resurrection), and there is blessing and pleasure, according to the status of the deceased.
The evidence for that is the verse (interpretation of the meaning):
“The Fire, they are exposed to it, morning and afternoon. And on the Day when the Hour will be established (it will be said to the angels): ‘Cause Pharaoh’s people to enter the severest torment!’”[Ghafir 40:46]
Allah states here that the people of Pharaoh are exposed to torment morning and afternoon even though they are dead. From this verse, the scholars affirmed that the torment of the grave is real.
Ibn Katheer (may Allah have mercy on him) said:
“This verse is the main basis of the belief of Ahl As-Sunnah in the torment of Al-barzakh , as Allah says (interpretation of the meaning):
“The Fire, they are exposed to it, morning and afternoon” [Ghaafir 40:46].” (Tafseer Ibn Katheer, 4/82)
According to the Hadith of `Aishah (may Allah be pleased with her), the wife of the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him), the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) used to supplicate in his prayer, “Allahumma inni a`udhu bika min `adhab il-qabr, wa a`udhu bika min fitnat il-masih id-dajjal, wa a`udhu bika min fitnat il-mahya wa fitnat il-mamat, Allahumma ini a`udhu bika min Al-ma’tham wal-maghram (O Allah, I seek refuge in You from the torment of the grave, I seek refuge in You from the tribulation of the Dajjal, I seek refuge in You from the trials of life and death, O Allah, I seek refuge in You from sin and loss).” (Narrated by Al-Bukhari, 798; Muslim, 589)
The relevant point in this Hadith is that the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) used to seek refuge with Allah from the torment of the grave. This is one of the proofs that confirm the torment of the grave. No one disputed the torment of the grave apart from the Mu`tazilah and some other groups who are not worth paying attention to.
Interpreting Prophet Muhammad's Address to the Deceased Polytheists at the Battle of Badr
With regard to the Hadith which describes the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) addressing the dead bodies of the polytheists on the day of the battle of Badr, this was a unique case where Allah brought them back to life so that His Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) might rebuke them and humiliate them.
- It was narrated that Ibn ‘Umar (may Allah be pleased with him) said: “The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) stood over the well of Badr [into which the bodies of the polytheists had been thrown] and said, ‘Have you found the promise of your Lord to be true?’ Then he said, ‘They can hear what I am saying now.’” (Narrated by Al-Bukhaari, 3980; Muslim, 932)
- It was narrated that Abu Talhah (may Allah be pleased with him) said: “ ‘Umar said, ‘O Messenger of Allah, why are you speaking to bodies that have no souls?’ The Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said: ‘By the One in Whose hand is the soul of Muhammad, you do not hear what I am saying any better than they do.’” Qutadah (may Allah have mercy on him) said: Allah brought them back to life so that they could hear what he was saying, so that they might be rebuked and feel regret and shame. (Narrated by Al-Bukhaari, 3976; Muslim, 2875. See Fath Al-Baari, 7/304)
The relevant point here is that Allah caused the people in the well to hear the words of His Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him), so that they might be humiliated. Nonetheless, it is not correct to deduce from this Hadith that the dead can hear everything, because this applied only to the people in the well. Some scholars made an exception and said that the dead can hear the greeting of Salam, but this is a view for which clear sound evidence is lacking.
Does the torment of the grave befall both the soul and the body?
According to the most correct scholarly view, the torment of the grave befalls both the soul and the body .
Shaykh Al-Islam Ibn Taymiyah (may Allah have mercy on him) said:
“The view of the earliest generations of this Ummah and its Imams is that the torment or blessing (of the grave) happens to the soul of the deceased and his body. After it departs from the body, the soul continues to be blessed or punished, and it is also connected to the body from time to time, so that the blessing or torment befalls the body as well as the soul. Therefore, we must believe in that which Allah has told us.” (Al-Ikhtiyarat Al-Fiqhiyyah, p. 94)
Ibn Al-Qayyim (may Allah have mercy on him) said:
“Shaykh Al-Islam (Ibn Taymiyah) was asked about this matter, and we will quote his reply in full:
“Indeed, the torment and blessing happen to both the soul and the body, according to the consensus of the Ahl As-Sunnah wal-Jama’ah. The soul is blessed or tormented separately from the body, and it is blessed or tormented in connection with the body. The body is connected to it, so in this case the blessing or torment happens to them both, and it may happen to the soul separately from the body.
The view of the Salaf and Imams of this Ummah is that when a person dies, he will be in a state of blessing or torment, and that happens to his soul and his body. After the soul has departed from the body, it remains in a state of blessing or torment, and that is sometimes connected to the body and the blessing or torment happens to them both. Then when the Day of Resurrection comes, the souls will be returned to their bodies and they will rise from their graves to meet the Lord of the Worlds. The physical resurrection is a matter upon which the Muslims, Jews and Christians are agreed.” (Al-Ruh, p. 51, 52)
The scholars likened that to dreams when one is asleep, for a person may dream that he is going and traveling, and he may feel happiness or grief and sorrow while he is sleeping, and that is when he is in his place and in this world. So it is more apt that things should be different in the life of Al-barzakh which is completely different from the life of this world and the life of the Hereafter.
Al-Nawawi (may Allah have mercy on him) said:
“If it is said, we see the deceased and how he is in his grave, so how can he be questioned, made to sit up and beaten with iron rods, when no mark is left on him? The answer is that this is not impossible, and indeed there is a similar case in our regular lives, that of the sleeper who feels joy or pain of which we feel nothing. A person who is awake may also feel joy or pain because of something he hears or thinks about, and those who are sitting with him feel nothing of that. Similarly, Jibril used to come to the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) and tell him of the Revelation, and the people present were unaware of it. All of that is clear and evident.” (Sharh Muslim, 17/201)
Shaykh Al-Islam Ibn Taymiyah (may Allah have mercy on him) said:
“When a person sleeps, he may feel joy or pain, and that happens to his soul and his body. He may dream that someone is beating him and wake up with pain in his body, or he may dream that he is being fed some good food, then wake up with the taste of food in his mouth. This is something that really happens. If the body and soul of a sleeping person can experience joy and pain that are not felt by the person next to him, and a sleeper may even cry out because of the intensity of pain or fear of what is happening to him, and those who are awake can hear him, and he may speak, reciting Quran or dhikr, or talking to someone, and those who are awake can hear that, even though he is asleep with his eyes closed, and he does not hear them if they speak to him – then how can we deny that the one who is buried in his grave also feels things, when the Messenger (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) has told us that he “hears the sound of their footsteps” and “You do not hear what I say any better than they do”?
The heart is akin to the grave, hence the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said, when he missed ‘Asr on the day of Al-Khandaq: “May Allah fill their hearts and graves with fire.” Moreover, Allah differentiated between them (graves and hearts) in the verse (interpretation of the meaning):
“Knows he not that when the contents of the graves are poured forth (all mankind is resurrected)?
And that which is in the hearts (of men) shall be made known?” [Al-‘Aadiyat 100:9-10]
This is just to explain that this could happen.
We cannot say that the blessing or torment that the dead experience is like that which a sleeper experiences when he dreams, rather that blessing or torment is more complete and more far-reaching; it is a real blessing and a real torment. Yet, this example is given to show that this is possible. If someone were to say that the dead person does not move in his grave, and the soil does not change, and so on, this matter may be explained in more detail, but that would take too long to explain here. And Allah knows best. May Allah bless our Prophet Muhammad and his family and companions.” (Majmu’ Al-Fatawa, 4/275, 276)
For more details, please see this category: Torment and Blessing in the Grave
And Allah knows best