“The Language in the Grave…Syriac?”

“The Language Spoken While in the Grave”


  • The language spoken by inhabitants of the grave as discussed by Muslim scholars give rise to three views:

[1] Syriac (as it is considered by some scholars to be the primordial language spoken by Prophet Adam [as]);

[2] Arabic (because of textual implications);

[3] Local languages, i.e. a language understood by the inhabitant of the grave.

al-Suyuti transmits the first position from his esteemed teacher in Shafi`i fiqh Siraj al-Din al-Bulqini without any textual evidence:[1]

ومن غـريـب ما تـرى العيـنـان / أن سـؤال القـبـر بالسـريـاني

أفتى بهذا شيخنا البلقيني ولم أره لغيره بعيني

And among the marvels seen by the eyes / it is being questioned in the Grave in Syriac

Thus stated our teacher al-Bulqini / the likes of whom I have never seen


وقع في فتاوى شيخ الإسلام علم الدين البلقيني إن الميت يجيب السؤال بالسريان

Imam Ibn Hajar al-Asqalani comments in al-Imta` bi’l-Arba`in al-Mutabayyinat al-Sama` and suggests the latter two views as the strongest possibilities:

“As for the interrogation by the two angels (al-malakayn), the apparent meaning of the authentic hadith indicates that it will be in Arabic because [the narration] states that both will ask him: “What do you know about this man?” etc. to the end of the narration. However, it may also be understood as meaning that each person will be addressed in his own language…”[2]

وأما سؤال الملكين فظاهر الحديث الصحيح أنه بالعربي؛ لأن فيه أنهما يقولان له: ( ما علمك بهذا الرجل ) إلى آخر الحديث، ويحتمل مع ذلك أن يكون خطاب كل أحد بلسانه

And Allah knows best.


[1] al-Suyuti, Sharh al-Sudur cited in Ibn `Ashur’s al-Tahrir wa ’l-Tanwir, vol.14, p.185.

[2] Ibn Hajar, al-Imta`, p.122.


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