Can the deceased hear the speech of the living?

Can the deceased hear the speech of the living?

There is a difference of opinion among scholars regarding whether the deceased can hear the living. Some of them said that they hear the speech of the living, and some of them denied that. Here are the evidences from both camps.

Scholars who say the deceased can hear the living

1. There are two Sahih hadith that the Prophet (peace be upon him) said about the deceased – “He hears the sound of their shoes when they leave.”

2.  The Prophet (peace be upon him) spoke to the pagan enemies who were killed at the Battle of Badr after three days.

Anas bin Malik reported that Allah’s Messenger (ﷺ) let the dead bodies of the unbelievers who fought in Badr (lie unburied) for three days. He then came to them and sat by their side and called them and said:

O Abu Jahl bin Hisham, O Umayya b. Khalaf, O Utba b. Rab’ila, O Shaiba b. Rabi’a, have you not found what your Lord had promised with you to be correct? As for me, I have found the promises of my Lord to be (perfectly) correct. Umar listened to the words of Allah’s Apostle (ﷺ) and said: Allah’s Messenger, how do they listen and respond to you? They are dead and their bodies have decayed. Thereupon he (the Holy Prophet) said: By Him in Whose Hand is my life, what I am saying to them, even you cannot hear more distinctly than they, but they lack the power to reply. Then he commanded that they should be buried in the well of Badr. (Bukhari and Muslim)

Ibn Taymiyah and Ibn Rajab and Ibn Katheer and many others supported the opinion that the dead can hear the living.

Scholars who say deceased cannot hear the living

The scholars who say the deceased cannot hear the living quote these two ayahs as evidence:

وَمَا يَسْتَوِي الْأَحْيَاءُ وَلَا الْأَمْوَاتُ ۚ إِنَّ اللَّهَ يُسْمِعُ مَن يَشَاءُ ۖ وَمَا أَنتَ بِمُسْمِعٍ مَّن فِي الْقُبُورِ

Nor are equal the living and the dead. God causes whomever He wills to hear, but you cannot make those in the graves hear. (35:22)

إِنَّكَ لَا تُسْمِعُ الْمَوْتَىٰ وَلَا تُسْمِعُ الصُّمَّ الدُّعَاءَ إِذَا وَلَّوْا مُدْبِرِينَ

You cannot make the dead hear, nor can you make the deaf hear the call if they turn their backs and flee. (27:80)

Shaykh Haytham Tamim

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Shaykh Haytham Tamim is the founder and main teacher of the Utrujj Foundation. He has provided a leading vision for Islamic learning in the UK, which has influenced the way Islamic knowledge is disseminated. He has orchestrated the design and delivery of over 200 unique courses since Utrujj started in 2001. His extensive expertise spans over 30 years across the main Islamic jurisprudence schools of thought. He has studied with some of the foremost scholars in their expertise; he holds some of the highest Ijazahs (certificates) in Quran, Hadith (the Prophetic traditions) and Fiqh (Islamic rulings). His own gift for teaching was evident when he gave his first sermon to a large audience at the age of 17 and went on to serve as a senior lecturer of Islamic transactions and comparative jurisprudence at the Islamic University of Beirut (Shariah College). He has continued to teach; travelling around the UK, Europe and wider afield, and won the 2015 BISCA award (British Imams & Scholars Contributions & Achievements Awards) for Outstanding Contribution to Education and Teaching.