The World Federation One Stop Fiqh

Ask an Alim

What happens to the souls of the Muslims after death?


Asalam o alaikum,
My question is that what happens to the souls of the Muslims after death? I heard from some sources that they remain in a place because heavens and earth until the day of judgment, and some sources claim our souls will remain in our graves until the day of judgment, hence I’m confused which among these is the truth.
I’m also confused that If the soul remains in the grave, while the body has decaded, then what’s the purpose of it being under the land? Can you please tell me what’s right? I’ll appreciate if you reply soon.
Jazak Allah.


Wa Alaykumussalam

I appreciate your question.

Both assumptions/opinions you have mentioned above are the same, that is, all Muslims believe that man is in between this world and Akhirah(Hereafter), after death. This distance is sometimes interpreted as Barzakh(Purgatory) or world(عالم) of grave. These both states refer to one single state, which is the middle part in between this world and the Hereafter. In that situation, the person sees the reality of his actions.

Read about Barzak:

Barzakh (Purgatory) – The Stage Between this World and the Hereafter

Intermediate Period (Barzakh)


Barzakh, an Intermediate State between This World and the Hereafter

Rational arguments, the Quranic verses and prophetic traditions clearly indicate that man is not perished with death. In fact, man’s spirit which is an independent entity constitutes his identity. The Quran ascribes accidents and flaws to the body only not to the spirit. The interesting thing is that in the Holy Qur’an “dying” is mentioned fourteen times with the word tawaffa which means “entrusting”. That is to say after death one will not be perished but that Allah will take His thing back without increase or decrease and Who will entrust it to His appointed workers. [1] There are also other proofs in this regard in the Quran and traditions of which one is the Holy Prophet’s address to the people of the graves. [2]

As for the question about the situation of the spirit after death, it is also a question whose answer should be found from the Quranic verses as well as traditions. In this regard the Holy Quran says: “And behind them is a barrier [partition] until the day [of resurrection] when they are raised.” [3] The Intermediate World refers to the realm of grave; it is a realm in which man lives a special kind of life until the Day of Resurrection. This fact is affirmed by many verses of the Holy Quran as well as traditions which have been narrated through both Shia and Sunni sources. [4]

The literal meaning of Barzakh is obstruction or barrier intervening between two things. However in Islamic eschatology, Barzakh is the intermediate state between this world and the Hereafter. It is very different from the material world. The existents in the intermediate realm are not material, yet they have some features which are characteristic of matter [5] such as forms, time and place. Thus, they can perceive different conditions like hardship, tranquility, happiness and sadness etc.

It is very important to note that when it is said that the intermediate world is devoid of matter, we should not think that the pleasures of the intermediate realm is imaginary and unreal or visionary because it has some of the material concomitants, though it is not material by itself. [6]

In order to understand this point more clearly, it would be beneficial to note that man is a composite of two bodies: 1. The ideal (mithali) or light body; 2. The weighty body. The weighty body is the very body which we have now and which needs food, clothing, care etc. The light body (corpus) is the body we have in the realm of sleep with which we travel sometimes for hundreds of kilometers in an instant. It is for the same reason that it is also called “the light body”. That is because if we were supposed to tread a long distance in the state of wakefulness, it would take us many hours and require us to use a lot of energy. We will live with this light body in the intermediate world until the Day of Judgment when the scattered particles of human body would be gathered together and resurrected in the form of a weighty body. [7]

Although the ideal body is not weighty, it can perceive various conditions in the same way as it feels things with their external appearance in the state of sleep. In the intermediate world, our body possesses the same characteristics as it does in the state of sleep in this world. According to some traditions, man lives in the intermediate world with the form and skeleton like those of the worldly form and worldly skeleton. [8]

Finally, it is important to note two points in this regard:

  1. The intermediate world is much bigger and wider than this world because the idealworld is more extensive and bigger than the material world; the former does not have limitations and constraints of the latter.
  2. According to many traditions, the earth has been appointed as a place for punishment or rewards of the intermediate world and for meeting of the spirits with their families. For example, it has been reported in some traditions that the Paradise of Barzakh is Wadi al-Salam and its fire is the Barahut Valley whereas the Beit al-Moqaddas Rock is the place of the congregation of the spirits. Definitely, these traditions imply that the material relation of the spirits with the world is not severed completely.  These possible incidents indicate the fact that the spirits are into some communications with the world because of the excellence of the place or time or situation. [9]

[1] “Say: The angel of death who is given charge of you shall cause you to die, then to your Lord you shall be brought back.” [As-Sajdah, 11]

[2] – Behar al-Anwar, vol.6, pg. 169.

[3] – Al-Mumenoon, 100

[4] – Tabatabai, Muhammad Hussein, Tafsir al-Mizan, translation, Muhammad Baqir Musavi Hamedani, vol.15, pg. 97, Islamic Publications Office.

[5] – Tabatabai, Muhammad Hussein, Mankind from the Beginning until the End, translated and annotated by Sadiq Larijani, pg. 77- 78, Al-Zahra Publications.

[6] – Qasimi, Ali Mhammad, Bazakh, A Quranic and Narrative Research, pg. 16, Imam Khomeini Educational and Research Institute Publications Center, 1st edition.

[7] – Qira’ati, Mohsen, Roots of Religion, pg.584.

[8] – Allamah Majlisi, Behar al-Anwar, vol.6, pg. 244 – 345, Dar al-Kutub al-Islamiyah, Tehran, 1362 (1983).

[9] – The Life after Death, pg.48


To read in detail regarding Barzakh and Characteristics of the Intermediate Life, please visit:

May Allah(swt) grant you success


Syed Haider