‘Unjust’ Punishment in the Grave?
Islamic Punishments
Question asked by .
Answered by Dr. Shehzad Saleem

I have come across the following Hadīth in a book:

Once the Prophet, passed by two graves. The Prophet said: ‘These two persons are being tortured not for a major sin.’ Indeed, one of them never saved himself from being soiled with his urine while the other used to go about with calumnies. The Prophet then asked for a green leaf of a date-palm tree, broke it into two pieces and put one on each grave. On being asked why he had done so, he replied: ‘I hope that their torture might be lessened, till these get dried.’1

Can you explain this Hadīth?


The following questions arise on this Hadīth:

The first question is about the two people whose graves are mentioned. The incident could have occurred in Makkah since there was no graveyard in Makkah for the Muslims. In other words, this graveyard should be in Madīnah. Now if it was in Madīnah, the Prophet (sws) could not have been unaware of the death of two Muslims since he always kept himself informed about what happened to all his companions. All Muslims knew one another in Madīnah. In the eleven year stay at this place, it is very unlikely that the Prophet (sws) would have been unaware of the death of two of his companions. This means that these two individuals were from among the non-believers. It is unlikely that the Prophet (sws) would have prayed for the forgiveness of the non-believers in Madīnah, since he had been divinely informed that these people had deliberately denied the truth.

Who then were these people for whom the Prophet (sws) prayed?

The second question which arises is the act of the Prophet (sws) of placing a green leaf as a means to lessen their torture. This is something which is totally inexplicable. What it means is that once the leaves have dried out the punishment would restart!

The third question concerns the sins mentioned in this Hadīth. Obviously, they are of two different categories. While the first is not a major sin, the second definitely is. How can the punishment of the two be the same. Punishing a person who soils his clothes with urine seems unjustified unless, of course, there are other details to this matter.

So, in my opinion, until and unless these questions are answered, this Hadīth can in no way be accepted.




1. Muslim, Kitābu’l-Tahārah, No. 439

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