This is a book great in benefit including all the problems which contain doctrinal statements with reference to the spirits of the dead and the living, with the proofs of the Qur`an and Sunna, and the traditions and statements of the best learned men.
Book of the Spirit: Kitab al-Ruh
By Ibn Qayyim al-Jawziyya
The following are abridged excerpts from the highly regarded classical work Kitab al-Ruh.
In the Name of God, the Compassionate, the Merciful
Praise belongs to God, Who is described by attributes of perfection and is characterized by epithets of majesty. He passes judgments of death on all His spirit-possessing creatures, thereby putting on a common level those who dwell on His earth and in His heaven—king and slave, rich and poor, exalted and weak, disobedient and obedient.
It is the first recompense of the Hereafter among His creatures. He grasps the spirit of one man after he has built up the world and embellished the building, making it his home, although the living has no abode. And He grasps the spirit of another man who has striven hard in improving his chances for the Hereafter making the world a sea, adopting good deeds therein as ships.
What a difference there is in the going forth of the two spirits from these two bodies. One has enjoyment and happiness, the other, disappointment, wretchedness and trouble. The first has all he wants to eat in the Gardens, and repairs to the lamps attached to the throne, in delight and bliss; while the other is held, and punished in the fire of hell.
I bear witness that there is no god but God alone. Having no associate, He is the God Who shows affection to His creatures with His favors and His gifts. And I bear witness that Muhammad (saw) is His creature and His Messenger, good of spirit and body; chief of the offspring of Adam and most excellent of those who stood up and bowed down and prostrated themselves in worship; who had sent down to him in God’s Mighty Book—and who is more truthful than God in speaking—”They ask you about the spirit. Say, ‘The spirit is of the command (amr) of my Lord, and you have been brought but little knowledge.’” (17:87)
Upon his family and his Companions (r.a.), the best of the centuries, who were directed aright and who did not change at all, a blessing continuing with the continuance of heaven and earth, until God shall inherit the earth and those upon it, for the Reckoning and the Manifestation, and great peace.
Do the Dead Know About Visits to Their Grave and Greetings From the Living?
Ibn Abd al-Barr said, “It is established on the Prophet’s authority (saw) that he said, ‘No Muslim passes by the grave of his brother whom he used to know in the world, and greets him, without God returning his spirit to him, that he may return the greeting to him.’” This is a proof text that the dead knows his brother, and returns his greeting.
In the two Sahihs from Muhammad it is related, “He gave commandment concerning the slain of Badr,and they were cast into a well. Then he came until he stood by them and called them by their names, ‘O So and So, Son of So and So, have you found to be true what your Lord promised you? For I have found to be true what my Lord promised me.’ Umar asked him, ‘O Messenger of God, why do you address people who have dried up?’ He said, ‘By Him who sent me with the truth, you do not hear better what I say than they do, although they are not able to reply.’”
It has been established on the Prophet’s (saw) authority that the dead man hears the bearing of the sandals of those who say farewell to him, when they leave him.
And the Prophet (saw) prescribed a law for his people, whenever they should greet the people of the graves, that they should greet them with a greeting such as they would give one with whom they were talking face to face. So one says, “Peace be upon you, of the house of believers.” This is an address to one who hears and has the power of reason. If that were not so, this address would have the status of address to the non-existent and the inanimate.
The religious scholars are agreed upon this, and traditions from different lines have come down from them to the effect that the dead one knows about the living one’s visiting him, and enjoys his presence.
Abu Bakr said in the “Book of the Graves (Kitab al-qubur),” in the chapter on “The Dead’s Knowledge of the Visiting of the Living,” “Muhammad ibn Awn relates with its chain of narrators from A’ishah (r), who said: ‘The Messenger of God (saw) said, ‘Not a man visits his brother’s grave and sits down at it, without his enjoying him and returning the greeting to him, until he gets up (to go away).’”
Muhammad ibn Qadamah al-Jawhari relates with its chain of narrators on the authority of Abu Hurayrah(r) who said, ‘Whenever a man passes by the grave of his brother whom he knows, and greets him, the dead one returns the greeting to him and knows him. And when he passes by the grave of one whom he does not know, and greets him, the dead one returns the greeting to him.’”
Muhammad ibn al-Husayn (r) told us, “Yahya ibn Bistam al-Asghar told me, Masma told me, A man of the family of Asim al-Jahdari told me, who said: ‘I saw Asim al-Jahdari in my sleep, two years after his death. I said, ‘Is it really you who have come?’ He said, ‘Yes.’ I said, ‘Where are you?’ He said, ‘I, by God, am in one of the Gardens. Some of my companions and myself assemble every Friday eve and dawn with Bakr ibn Abd Allah al-Muzani, and we receive news of you.’” He said, “I said, ‘Your bodies or your spirits?’ He said, ‘Away with you! The bodies are decomposed and only the spirits meet.’ I said, ‘And do you know about our visiting you?’ He said, ‘Certainly. We know about it on Friday eve and all day Friday, and Saturday till sunrise.’ I said, ‘Why that (day) and not every day?’ He replied, ‘On account of the merit and the prestige of Friday.’”
Khalid Ibn Khaddash told us, “Jafar Ibn Salman told us on the authority of Abu’l-Taiyah, who said: ‘It was Mutarrif who used to go forth in the early morning, and when it was Friday he started in the middle of the night!” Abu ’l Taiyah continues, ‘We have heard that it used to grow light for him in his perplexity. He arrived at night so that when he reached the graves of the people while he was on his horse he would see the people of the graves, each occupant of a grave sitting on his grave. And they would say, ‘This is Mutarrif coming on Friday.’ I said, ‘Do you people recognize Friday among yourselves?’ They said, ‘Yes, and we know what the birds say on that day.’ I said, ‘What do they say?’ They said, ‘They say, ‘Peace, peace.’”
Muhammad Ibn al-Husain (r) related with its chain from Al-Fadl Ibn Muwaffaq Ibn Khal Sufyan Ibn Uyainah who said, “When my father died I grieved for him with a great grief, and I used to go to his grave every day. Then I abbreviated that program as God willed. Then I came to him one day, and while I was sitting at the grave my eyes overcame me so that I slept. I saw as if the grave of my father had opened, and as if he were sitting in his grave wrapped in his shrouds; upon him was the pallor of the dead.” He continued, “It seemed as if I wept when I saw him. He said, ‘My little son, what has delayed you from visiting me?’ I said, “And truly you know of my coming!’ He said, ‘You used to come to me and I would rejoice in you and be pleased with you, and those who were around me would rejoice in your prayer.’ He continued, “After that I used to come to him often.”
It is related from Uthman Ibn Sawdah al-Tafawi, that his mother was a highly religious woman for which she was called Rahibah (nun). He said, “When she was about to die she raised her head to heaven and said, ‘O my Supply and my Treasure, the One on whom is my dependence in my life and after my death, do not forsake me at death, and do not distress me in my grave.’” He said, “She died, and I used to go to her every Friday. I prayed for her and I asked forgiveness for her and for the people of the graves. One day I saw her in my sleep and I said to her. ‘O my mother, how fares it with you?’ She said, ‘O my son, death involves a mighty sorrow; but I, by the grace of God, am in a blessed barzakh where we walk on aromatic plants, and where we recline on brocade and embroidered cloth to the Day of Resurrection.’ I said to her, ‘Have you any need?’ She said, ‘Yes.’ I said, ‘What is it?’ She said, ‘Do not cease what you have been doing in the way of visiting us and praying for us; for I rejoice in your coming on Friday when you have come from your family. It is said to me, “O Rahibah, this is your son. He has come.” So I was glad, and those of the dead who are around me rejoice in that.’”
On the Life of Ibn al-Qayyim Al-Jawziyya, 1292-1350 C.E.
Ibn al-Qayyim al-Jawziyya was born in Damascus, Syria in 691 A.H., and studied under his father who was the local attendant (qayyim) of al-Jawziyya school. He studied Islamic jurisprudence, theology, and the science of prophetic traditions at the hands of renowned masters and scholars of his epoch, and studied the works and teachings of sufi masters of his time. He became the closest student and disciple of Imam Ibn Taimiyyah (1262-1329 C.E.), and later on became his successor.
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