Among those things in which one must have faith and which form the essentials of the Shia faith is Sawaal… meaning the deed person will have to face questioning by Munkar and Nakeer (angels) in the grave. It is agreed that man must believe that there will be questioning in the grave. We need not go in details like whether this material worldly body will confront the said questioning or another Misaali (similar) one or it will be this dusty grave or any another pit or whether the questions will be addressed to the soul and/or whether the material physical body will also be affected by it or not etc. It is not obligatory for us to know all these details also because there is no source of knowing it except hadiths and there is no specific description in hadiths and Akbar.
Of course, Allamah Majlisi has, in Beharul Anwaar Vol. 3 and also in Haqqul Yaqeen, mentioned that reliable hadiths show that the question in the grave and the squeezing in the grave will be experienced by this worldly body in which the deceased had lived in the world. It is understood tat the departed soul will be made to return to either the entire body or in some part of it (that is upto the chest or the waist as is mentioned in hadiths) so that the deceased may be able to understand the questions and to give replies.
Questioning About Beliefs And Deeds
We should also know about the things involved in questioning in the grave. It will be about beliefs and actions or deeds. It will be asked: Who is your God? Who is your Prophet? Which religion were you following? These questions will be asked to every one, the believer as well as the kafir. Of course lunatics or mentally retarded persons and minor children will be exempted from it. If the dead had faith in true beliefs it will state his or her beliefs and will testify to the Oneness of the Lord of the worlds and the Messengership of the Holy Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w.s.) and to the Imamat of the Holy Imams (a.s.). Otherwise the dead will remain dumb and will not be able to speak. Frightened by the said two interrogating angels some will say: You are my Gods. Sometimes they will say: People say Muhammad is the messenger of God and Quran is the Book of God. They will not give clear and correct replies. In short, if the deceased is able to give true replies a gate is being opened near his or her head and his or her grave is widened as far as one can see. Thus the door of Barzakh (which will continue till Resurrection) is the door of comfort and spaciousness (Fa Amaa… S, Waqiah, V: 88-93). Then the body will be told: Have a sweet and restful sleep (Nam… Usoole Kaafi).
If the deceased is unable to give correct answers, a door of the Hell of Barzakh will be opened for him or her and a breath from the breaths of Hell will fill up his or her grave. (All these sentences have been taken from narrations. Original text has not been mentioned for the sake of brevity).
Why This Questioning In Graves?
God already knows that this person is faithful or faithless, righteous or sinful. Then what is the use (benefit) of the above mention questioning? Questioning in the grave is, in fact, for the faithful, the beginning of the manifestation of Divine bounties. How much happy and pleased will be the faithful; when he will see the beautiful and pleasing face of the angel and will smell the fragrance of the gardens of paradise accompanying the said angels. That is why such angels are called (have been named “Mubasshir and Basheer” (announcers of good tidings).
Moreover, the said questioning will be a cause of happiness for a faithful person. You must have seen pupils who had carefully and painstakingly studied their lessons in the school. They feel happy at the thought of being examined or questioned so that they may be able to show their talents and merits. Likewise a faithful servant of God also entertains a wish that he should be questioned about his Lord so that he may to give satisfactory testimony to the Oneness of the only one God and the Messengership of His Beloved Messenger Muhammad (s.a.w.s.).
Unbelievers Will See The Divine Punishment And The Beginning Of their Pains
Whereas the questioning in grave will make a believer happy, as it will herald an era of eternal happiness for him, the same questioning will for the faithless turn out to be the start of misfortune and torture. The very arrival of angels will terrorize the deniers. It is mentioned in narrations that the frightening angels will threaten the kafirs in a terribly harsh tone. Flames will be leaping out from their eyes. Their hair will be very long, dragging on the ground. These are the angels who will approach the denier and this is why they are named 'Munkar and Nakeer' (the abhorring ones).
The Disbeliever Will Fail To Reply All Questions
A man had passed his entire life without any though of God and who never cared to know his Lord Creator. It can be well imagined what he will face. He will be asked about his God. But he had worshipped (was mad after) only money and wealth. He was devoted only to name and fame. He longed for only leadership. He had nothing to do with the Lord of the worlds. So he will tremble and shiver in such a way that he will not be able to reply any question. Some of such fellows will reply rightly about God but they will fail to reply regarding the Holy Prophet. Some will be unable to reply rightly about all the true belief. Some who will reply rightly about beliefs will fail in the questioning about their deeds and actions.
There Will Be Questioning About Deeds Too
It is mentioned in 'Beharul Anwaar' vol. 3 that a man was questioned about his beliefs in the grave. He gave correct replies. Then only one question was put to him: Do you remember that on such day you had seen that a person was being oppressed but you did not go to help him. You saw that his honor was being trampled upon and his wealth was being grabbed. You were in a position to help him but you did not do so. That fellow kept mum and did not give any reply. (Do remember that it is one of the obligatory duties of every faithful Momin to help the oppressed persons). As he failed in fulfilling his responsibility in this respect, the angels told him: A punishment of a hundred lashes has been ordered for you. Then they inflicted the first lash which filled his grave with fire. Yes, this is the punishment of giving up an obligatory duty or deed.
The aim is that you should not say that all your deeds are good and that there is not risk or danger. Suppose your beliefs are true and you leave the world with the same beliefs in your heart. But then what about your deeds? Can you say that you have made no fault?
The Masoom (a.s.) complains: 'Abkee….' (I am weeping remembering the questioning by Munkar and Nakeer in the grave). Then who are we?
Deeds Are The Companions In Grave
It is agreed that, in the grave, everyone's companions will be his deed as has been specifically stated in the Quran and hadith. Sadooq (a.r.) has in Khisaal and Amaali and Ma Aaniyul Akhbar, narrated from Qais bin Aasim that once he went to the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) along with a group of people from the tribe of Tameem. He submitted: O Messenger of God! Give us some admonition by which we may be benefitted, because, most of the time, we remain roaming in forests and deserts (and have few chances of visiting your honour). The Holy Prophet gave them a number of admonitions. One of them is: O Qais! It is necessary for you to have a companion to be buried in the grave. That companion will be alive whereas you will be dead. So if that companion (you will necessarily have) is a nice and kind person, he will keep you in a respectable condition. If he is a bad fellow he will leave you there in your grave in total solitude without any help or assistance. (Also remember that) that companion will be necessarily with you in the grand gathering (Hashir) on the Day of Qiyamat (Resurrection or the Day of Judgement). You will also be asked only about him. So it is very essential for you to select a good companion. If he is a good person he will make you happy. But if he is a corrupt fellow he will terribly frighten you and that companion is your aamal (deeds).
Qais instantly turned this admonition into a poem of advice, in Arabic language: Takhaiyar… Yaf Al (Select a companion from your deeds because, in the grave, the only companion of a man will be his Aamal or deed). Wa Laa…Yaqbal (It is essential for you to reserve a companion for life after death, for the Day when man will be called and he will attend at once in the Grand Gathering). Fa in…Tashgal (So if you are busy in any deed then beware and never engage yourself in any deed which is disliked by God). Fa Lan…Ya'mal (Be it before death or after death, man will have nothing with him except his deeds). Alaa…Yarhal (Beware! Man is only a guest among his family members in this world. He stays with them only for a few days and then marches off).