Addressing the Dead
Hadith & Sunnah
Question asked by .
Answered by Dr. Shehzad Saleem

While reading a book, I came across the following hadīth:

After he had buried the dead of Quraysh, Muhammad (sws) turned to their grave and said: O inhabitants of [this grave], we have found what our Lord promised us to be true, so have you found what your Lord promised you to be true.

We cannot make the dead hear then how come the above was said?


On all such occasions, a supplication (du‘ā) is not made to make someone hear it. It is an expression of a particular situation which has arisen, in this case being an expression of satisfaction and fulfilment of a promise. This is a common style we employ. A person imagines his addressees in his mind and has a dialogue with him.1 For example a person who may be hurt by his friends says the following words in his mind to this friend who may be hundreds of miles away: ‘Rashid you have really hurt me; I feel disgraced. I pray that Allah guide you to be a bit more compassionate so that you hear your friend’s version before passing a verdict against him.’ Now all this conversation is happening in the person’s mind. He is, of course, not talking to his friend and has no intention to do so either. It is just a portrayal of what has happened to him.

Consequently, the words of the Prophet (sws) recorded in this hadīth are just a portrayal of a certain fact – nothing else.





1. In linguistic parlance, this style is termed as ‘Apostrophe’ in which a dead or absent person is addressed in the mind as in the following utterance of Wordsworth:

‘Milton thou shoudst be living at this hour…’

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