Kitab al-Ruh

Kitab al-Ruh

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).’”

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