Can a dead person hear?
Fatwa No: 85320

Question

Can a dead person hear? Please explain to me light of evidence mention Qur'an and Hadith.{Verily you cannot make the dead hear and you cannot make the deaf hear the call when they turn their backs and retreat} [27:80]. {The living and the dead are not alike. Allah makes whoever he wishes hear, but you cannot make those in the graves hear} [35:22].The prophet addressed the dead people in the battle of Badr saying: "O so and so, son of so and so; and you, so and so, son of so and so! Would it not have been easier to have obeyed Allah and His Messenger? We have found that which our Lord promised us to be true. Did you find what your Lord promised you to be true?" .

Answer

Praise be to Allah, the Lord of the Worlds; and may His blessings and peace be upon our Prophet Muhammad and upon all his Family and Companions.

The scholars disagree concerning whether the dead hear the talk of living people. Some believe that they hear them. Others believe the opposite, i.e. that dead people do not hear living ones.
Those who believe that dead people hear living ones have the following pieces of evidence.
1) First what was narrated in al-Bukhari and Muslim about the dead that the Prophet (Sallallahu Alaihi wa Sallam) said: "When (Allah's) slave is put in his grave and his companions return and he even hears their footsteps, two angels come to him and make him sit and ask …" .
2) The Hadith where the Prophet (Sallallahu Alaihi wa Sallam) addressed the dead of disbelievers in the battle of Badr three days after their death: "When he halted at the edge of the well, he addressed the corpses of the Quraish infidels by their names and their fathers' names, "O so-and-so, son of so-and-so and O so-and-so, son of so-and-so! Would it have pleased you if you had obeyed Allah and His Apostle? We have found true what our Lord promised us. Have you too found true what your Lord promised you? " 'Umar said, "O Allah's Apostle! You are speaking to bodies that have no souls!" Allah's Apostle said, "By Him in Whose Hand Muhammad's soul is, you do not hear, what I say better than they do" .
Ibn Taymiyah was asked whether the dead person hears his visitor. He replied: "Yes, globally" and he mentioned the above evidence.
3) The Hadith reported by al-Bukhari and Muslim that "The Prophet (Sallallahu Alaihi wa Sallam) told Muslims to greet the dwellers of graves and he said: 'Say: peace be upon you all, O inhabitants of the graves, among the believers and the Muslims. Verily we will, Allah willing, be united with you'" .
The scholars say: 'This address is to them, and we do not talk to people who can not hear' .
On the other hand, some of those who believe that dead people hear are of the opinion that they hear everything. But some of them believe that they hear only globally what the living person says and they might not hear all the time. They might hear in a given situation and not hear in other situations. This hearing is only a perception so; the dead person is not punished or rewarded for it. Again, it is not the hearing mentioned in the verse: {Verily, you cannot make the dead to hear (i.e. benefit them and similarly the disbelievers), …} [27: 80].
As what is meant in this verse is 'you cannot make them accept your orders and abide by them' . This is the view of Ibn Taymiyah .
Ayisha (Radiya Allahu Anha) denied that dead people could hear living ones. Her evidence are the verses: Allah Says (interpretation of meaning): {Verily, you cannot make the dead to hear (i.e. benefit them and similarly the disbelievers), …} [27: 80]. Allah also Says (interpretation of meaning): {… but you cannot make hear those who are in graves.} [35: 22].
Some Hanafi scholars chose the opinion of Ayisha and they considered that the fact the Messenger of Allah talked to the dead disbelievers in Badr was a miracle and that it was peculiar to him. As for the second Hadith, "He hears the sound of their shoes" . They said that he could only hear right after he was put in his grave as he hears questioning of Angels.
Many scholars talked about this issue including: Ibn Taymiyah and al-Hafiz Ibn Katheer who backed the opinion of those who say that dead people could hear while interpreting Surah Al Rum and al-Hafiz Ibn Rajab , …etc.
al-Awsi on the other hand backed the opinion of those who believe that dead people do not hear to conclude, we believe strongly that dead people could hear globally the speech of living people but the hearing might not be permanent.
In fact, he might hear in some situations and not hear in others.
Allah knows best.

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