Can the dead hear us?

Mu' meneen Brothers and Sisters,

As Salaam Aleikum wa Rahmatullahi wa Barakatuh.  (May Allah's Peace, Mercy and Blessings be upon all of you)


One of our brothers/sisters has asked this question:

Salaam Alaikum Burhan Bhai,


It is known that the dead can’t hear or do anything. I live in Saudi Arabia therefore am fortunate enough to visit Makkah as well as Madinah rather frequently.


When we visit Prophet’s (PBHU) grave we send Salaams to the Prophet, Abu Bakr (RA) and Omar (RA). There are certain Prayers/Supplications/ Statements, which we recite. There are booklets from which these prayers can be read and these booklets are published with Saudi Government’s permission. As far as Shirk is concerned, in my opinion, Saudi Government leaves no stone unturned to prevent it. Then how come this is allowed? Or is my understanding of futility of addressing the dead is wrong? Or it is not Shirk to address the dead?  I am quoting one of the prayers below (one that is recited at Prophet’s (PBHU) grave) :


Peace be unto the Messenger of Allah, Peace be unto him. O Prophet! Peace ! (please note  by saying “O” Prophet, we are actually addressing him) Peace be unto Thee and Allah’s mercy and blessing . Peace and Prayers be unto Thee, Allah’s Messenger, our Master, Peace and prayers be unto Thee Allah’s Prophet, Peace and prayers be unto Thee. Thou art the best of  Allah’s creation. Peace and prayers be unto Thee, whom Allah has sent as a mercy to all mankind. Peace and prayers be unto Thee, Thou art raised in degree above all messengers, (does this not contradict the Ayat that states that we do not differentiate amongst the Prophets) and Thou art the seal of the Prophets, Imam of the righteous, and the leader of the cavalry, peace be unto Thee, and unto Thee whom Allah describeth: <<And Thou art of noble nature>>, << compassionate, and merciful unto the believers>>. Peace be unto Thee and all other prophets and messengers, and Thy chaste wives, mothers of the believers, Peace be unto Thee, Thy close companions, and I bear witness that there is God but Allah, alone. There is no associate to Him. I bear witness that Sayyedna Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah and His slave. I bear witness that Thou the messenger of Allah has fulfilled Thy message, and the mission entrusted to Thee, advised Thy nation and preached with wisdom and good counsel, and worshipped Thy Lord till doubt has been dissipated. Allah bestowed his prayers unto Thee, the best prayers ever. O Allah! Bestow Thy rewards unto Thy prophet, the best rewards ever given to any of Thy messengers and Prophets. O Allah! Thy Prophet is all virtue and this mean to Thee. Bestow unto him a towering place Thou hast promised him. O Allah ! Assauge Muhammad and the followers of Muhammad as thou assuage Ibrahim and followers of Ibrahim, surely Thou art praised and Glorious. O Lord! We believe in what Thy hast revealed unto Muhammad, and followed Thy Messenger, enroll us among those who witness to the truth, and praise be to Allah, Lord of Mankind. (Note : There might be mistakes in translation, I am presenting it as it is.)


And if a pilgrim is asked by someone to remember him to the prophet, he says the following :


O Messenger of Allah! Peace be unto Thee from ………..( he mentions the name of the



Burhan Bhai I would request you to read every word of this prayer and tell me to what extent it is appropriate.


Burhan Bhai, my understanding is : if you have to send Peace to the Prophet (PBHU), you recite Durood in which you request Allah (SWT) to convey our Salaam to Prophet, which I think is perfectly alright since Allah Huma Sale Ala……. , in itself shows you are requesting the Almighty.


Further, going through biographies of the Prophet (PBHU) by different authors, I came across instances of Prophet addressing the dead, example : (1) After battle of Badr, prophet went to the bodies of the dead Mushrikin and said “Would it not have been much better if you had obeyed Allah and His Messenger? Behold, we have found that our Lord’s promise do come true; did you (also) find that the promises of your Lord came true?”. Upon this Omar (RA) asked “ O Messenger of Allah! Why you speak to bodies that have no souls in them?” to which the Prophet (PBHU) replied “ By Him in whose hand is Muhammad’s (PBHU) soul ! You do not hear better what I am saying than they do”. My question here is it again implies that the dead can hear which is against Quran. (2) One day , at midnight he (Prophet, PBHU) went to Al Baqee, and implored Allah to forgive the martyrs of Islam. He said “ Peace be upon you tomb-dwellers! May that morning dawns upon you be more relieving than that which dawn upon the  living. Afflictions are approaching them like cloudy lumps of a dark night – the last of which follows the first. The last one is bearing more evil than the first” he comforted them saying “ We will follow you”.


Both these references are taken from AR RAHEEQ AL MAKHTUM, Biography of the Noble Prophet (PBHU) by Safi – ur – Rahman Al  Mubarakpuri of Islamic University, Al-Madinah  Al – Munawwara.


Whatever I have written revolves around one issue i.e. the dead listening to invocations / statements /  prayers / supplications of the living,  or the living addressing the dead, which in my opinion is against the teachings of the Quran. Could you please explain this as it is causing lot of confusion.


JazakAllah Khair.


(There may be some grammatical and spelling errors in the above statement. The forum does not change anything from questions, comments and statements received from our readers for circulation in confidentiality.)




Can the dead hear us?

In the name of Allah, We praise Him, seek His help and ask for His  forgiveness. Whoever Allah guides none can misguide, and whoever He allows to fall astray, none can guide them aright. We bear witness that there is no one (no idol,  no person,  no grave, no prophet,  no imam,  no dai,  nobody!) worthy of worship but Allah Alone, and we bear witness that Muhammad(saws) is His slave-servant and the seal of His Messengers.


Ibn Jarir reported from Abu Hurairah that the Messenger of Allah (saws) said: "Your deeds are shown to your dead relatives.  So if these are good, they are pleased, and if these are bad, they despise them."


Ahmad and Tirmidhi reported on the authority of Anas that the Prophet (saws) said: "Your deeds are shown to your dead relatives and kinsfolk.  So if these are good they are pleased, and if these are bad they say:  'O Allah! Let them not die until You have guided them to the right path as You guided us before'."


Indeed,  it is not within the power of the dead to hear us,  but if Allah Wills,   He shows our deeds and makes the dead hear our words.    Same is the case and principle when we recite the durood or salutation of the noble Messenger of Allah (saws);  he (saws),  within himself does not have the power to hear or respond to our salutations,   but Allah Subhanah,  if He Wills,   makes him hear our salutation so that he (saws) may respond to our greetings.


Abu Hurairah reported that the Prophet (saws) said, "When any Muslim sends greetings to me, Allah returns my soul to me so that I may respond to his greetings." (Reported by Abu Dawud)


Abu Hurairah reported that the Prophet (saws), "Do not turn my grave into a site of festivities, but send greetings to me for your greetings are raised to me wherever you might be." (Reported by Abu Daw'ud)


In other authentic narrations of the Prophet (saws),  he (saws) taught the believers to address the dead in the graves by reciting thus:


Buraidah reported: "The Prophet (saws) taught us that when we visited graves we should say, 'Peace be upon you, O believing men and women, O dwellers of this place. Certainly, Allah willing, we will join you. You have preceded us and we are to follow you. We supplicate to Allah to grant us and you security'.'' (Reported by Muslim, Ahmad, and others)


Ibn 'Abbas reported: "Once the Prophet (saws) passed by graves in Madinah.  He turned his face toward them saying: 'Peace be upon you, O dwellers of these graves.  May Allah forgive us and you. You have preceded us, and we are following your trail'." (Tirmidhi)


In light of the above authentic narrations of the Messenger of Allah (saws),  it is absolutely permissible to send salutations and pray to Allah Subhanah to forgive our loved dead ones and the deceased believers.


The forbiddance is when one goes to a grave of a human being,  no matter who he is,  and starts invoking him for some favors,  or starts festivities at the grave of the deceased with the intention of seeking the good will and pleasure of the deceased,  or asking him to take his message to Allah Subhanah and get it answered,  or invoking the dead in the grave as if they have the power within themselves to hear them and respond to their pleadings accordingly!    Such practices formulate the heinous and unforgivable sin of ‘shirk’ and are absolutely forbidden in Islam.


But there is absolutely no harm when one sends salutations to the Prophet of Allah (saws),  or gives greetings to the dead when one visits a graveyard,  or prays to Allah Subhanah to forgive the dead believers. 


Whatever written of Truth and benefit is only due to Allah’s Assistance and Guidance, and whatever of error is of me.  Allah Alone Knows Best and He is the Only Source of Strength.


Your Brother in Islam,






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