Life after death: What happens in Barzakh?

Islam Contributor

 “Everyone shall taste death. Then unto Us you shall be returned” (Al Quran 29:57)

Death is a certainty, the only certain reality whose time is not known to anyone except Allah azza wa jall. As Muslims, we should always prepare for death and live each day like it’s our last.  The time spent in the grave is longer than the time spent in this present life. So, what happens after death? Death simply means the end of life, when something ceases to exist any more. It is the severing of the bond between the body and the soul. The change of the situation whereby the soul is separated from the body and moves from one realm to another. Death is a permanent complete separation as opposed to sleep which is a temporary incomplete separation of the soul from the body.

Beginning of judgement after death

When the appointed time comes for an individual to leave this world, the angel of death comes to take the soul out of the body. Allah says :

“Then why do you not (intervene) when the soul of a dying person reaches the throat? And you at the moment are looking on, But We are nearer to him than you, but you see not” (Al Quran 56:83-85)

The soul is like the electricity of the body . Once the soul leaves the body , the body becomes lifeless, indicating the death of the individual. The body is prepared for funeral by the relatives and friends of such an individual, whilst the soul transcends into a realm totally outside of this world. This signifies the beginning of an individual’s judgement with Allah. It is the very first step into the entry of the life of the hereafter. Many of us might be at aloof as to what happens after the soul is taken from the body . Some tend to even believe the myth that our souls roam around and even come back to earth. But that isn’t the case. Every soul, after death, goes into the interspace or a suspended state known as the “barzakh”.

What is Barzakh?

The barzakh refers to the period from death until resurrection. Allah says :

“…So that I may do good in that which I have left behind!” No! It is but a word that he speaks; and behind them is a Barzakh until the Day when they will be resurrected” (Al Quran 23:100 )

It is a barrier between this present life and the life of the hereafter. It is the first of the stages of the next world. Just as this dunya is termed as the world of the living , the barzakh can be termed as the world of the dead, with a barrier – we don’t know what’s going on there, except what the prophet had informed us about , nor do they know what is going on here. This is evident when the believing souls ask the soul which has just arrived how they left the world and the situation of those still in the living world .

What happens in the Barzakh?

  •  Good souls will be in a blissful state and they pray for the judgement to begin already so they can get their full dose of enjoyment .
  •  Punishment and torment begins for the bad souls such that they pray for the day of judgment to never arrive. .
  •  Souls will be in different levels : the prophets, the martyrs, the believing souls – each with their own level.
  •  Souls will visit each other in the grave . The prophet advised us to dress our dead beautifully and perfume them as familiar souls visit each other in the grave.
  •  The records of good souls will be in the illiyin while the record of the bad souls will be in the sijjin .

Our good deeds are going to be our constant companion in this realm which will save us from regret. In order to attain this blissful state and avoid the torment, we should perform righteous deeds and hasten to repentance always as Allah says :

“Race with one another in hastening towards forgiveness from your Lord (Allah) and Paradise the width whereof is as the width of heaven and the earth, prepared for those who believe in Allah and His Messengers. That is the Grace of Allah which He bestows on whom He is pleased with. And Allah is the Owner of Great Bounty” (Al Quran 57:21)

The intelligent man is the one who builds his hereafter in this dunya.


(Written by freelance journalist Zainab Sulaimon)

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