Human souls vary with regards to where they stay in Barzakh life.
After a study made about the verses of the Qur’an and the Prophet’s sayings, it has been made known that these differences are as follows:
One: Souls of the Prophet
Souls of the Prophets are in the best and the highest of all the positions, in the Highest Companion.
A’ishah, mother of the faithful (May Allah be pleased with her) heard the Messenger of Allah (Peace and Blessings of Allah be upon him) saying in the last moments of his life: “O Allah! I ask You to be the Highest Companion!”
Recorded by Al-Bukhari
Two: Souls of Martyrs
These are alive and are being provided for by their Lord.
وَلَا تَحْسَبَنَّ الَّذِينَ قُتِلُوا فِي سَبِيلِ اللَّهِ أَمْوَاتًا ۚ بَلْ أَحْيَاءٌ عِنْدَ رَبِّهِمْ يُرْزَقُونَ
“Think not of those who are killed in the Way of Allah as dead. Nay, they are alive, with their Lord, and they have provision.”
Aal ‘Imran 3:169
Masruq asked ‘Abdullah bin Mas’ood (May Allah be pleased with him) about the meaning of the above verse and ‘Abdullah responded.
“We asked the meaning of the verse from the Messenger of Allah (Peace and Blessings of Allah be upon him) who said, “(The souls, of the martyrs live in the bodies of green birds who have their nests in chandeliers hung from the throne of the Almighty.
They eat the fruits of Paradise from wherever they like and then nestle in these chandeliers. Once their Lord cast a glance at them and said;
‘Do you want anything?’
They said, ‘What more shall we desire? We eat the fruit of Paradise from wherever we like.’
Their Lord asked them the same question thrice.
When they saw that they will continue to be asked and not left (without answering the question) they said, ‘O Lord, we wish that You may return our souls to our bodies so that we may be slain in Your way once again.’
When He (Allah) saw that they had no need, they were left (to their joy in heaven).”
(Recorded by Al-Bukhari and Muslim)
This does not apply to all the martyrs, for there are some martyrs whose souls would be held back from entering Paradise due to unsettled debts.
This is according to the Hadith collected by Ahmad, on the authority of ‘Abdullah bin Jahsh (May Allah be pleased with him) that a man came to the Prophet (Peace and Blessings of Allah be upon him) and said;
“O Messenger of Allah (Peace and Blessings of Allah be upon him) What will happen to me if I am killed in the way of Allah?”
The Prophet (Peace and Blessings of Allah be upon him) answered:
“(You will enter) Paradise.” When the man turned away to go, the Prophet said;
“Except a debt. (Angel) Jibril (Gabriel) just told me that secretly.”
Three: Souls of Righteous Believers
They will transform to birds that will hang on the trees of Paradise.
Abdur-Rahmaan bin Ka’b bin Maalik narrated that the Messenger of Allah (Peace and Blessings of Allah be upon him) said;
“The soul of a Muslim shall be in form of a bird hanging on the trees of Paradise. It shall remain there until Allah will return it to his body on the Day of Resurrection.”
In the glorious Qur’an, Allah mentions that the tranquil souls of the believers shall reside in Paradise.
◊ يَا أَيَّتُهَا النَّفْسُ الْمُطْمَئِنَّةُ
◊ ارْجِعِي إِلَىٰ رَبِّكِ رَاضِيَةً مَرْضِيَّةً
◊ فَادْخُلِي فِي عِبَادِي
◊ وَادْخُلِي جَنَّتِي
“(It will be said to the pious -believers of Islamic Monotheism):
“O (you) the one in (complete) rest and satisfaction!
“Come back to your Lord well-pleased (yourself) and well-pleasing (unto Him)!
“Enter you then among My (honored) slaves, “And enter you My Paradise!”
The difference between the souls of the believers and the souls of the martyrs is that the souls of the martyrs shall live in the bodies of green birds who have their nests in chandeliers hung from the throne of the Almighty.
As for the souls of the believers, they shall be in the form of birds hanging on the fruits of Paradise and not moving around therein.
The fact that the souls of the believers shall be in the form of birds hanging on the trees of Paradise does not contradict another Hadith narrated by Abu Hurayrah (May Allah be pleased with him).
It is mentioned here that:
“(The Angels will take the souls of a believing slave of Allah and ascend with it to the heaven. (The Angels who were in the heaven will then say;
‘How beautiful is this aroma that came to you from the earth!’
They will be happier than one of you whose beloved one, who was absent, has just returned.
The angel will ask him,
‘What about so-and-so? What about so-and-so?’
The other angels will say: ‘Just leave him alone for he had been suffering the hardship of the world.’ But he will say, (concerning the person he is being asked about): ‘He had died. Has he not come to you?’
The angels will say: ‘No, he has been taken to his original refuge, which is an abyss.”’
(Recorded by Sunan An-Nasaa’i)
Four: Souls of sinners
There are Hadiths about the punishments that the sinners are going to receive after death.
- One Hadith mentions that a notorious liar shall be punished with an iron hood that will be inserted through his jawbone until it reaches the back of his head.
- Another Hadith mentions that the one who slept through the time of obligatory prayer until it lapses shall have his head smashed with a stone.
- Another one mentioned that the adulterers and adulteresses shall be punished in an oven-like hole whose top is narrow and bottom is wide, and that a fire will be kindled from its bottom; and another one mentions that the one who takes usury shall be made to swim in a sea of blood and there will be someone on the seashore who will feed him with stones.
Some Hadiths are also narrated about punishment of the grave for those who do not properly clean their private parts after urinating. And the one who goes about backbiting and the one who steals parts of the war booty before it is distributed. All these Hadiths are authentic.
Five: Souls of disbelievers
In the Hadith that An-Nasa’i collected on the authority of Abu Hurayrah (May Allah be pleased with him) after the Prophet (Peace and Blessings of Allah be upon him) had described the situation of the believer and the settlement of his soul in Paradise.
He mentioned the situation of the disbeliever and the hardship he suffers at death when his soul is being removed.
Part of the Hadith reads:
“His soul departs from his body in a most disgusting stench. When the angels bring the soul to the gateway of the earth, (other angels) will say: ‘How repulsive this stench is!’ They then join it to the souls of the disbelievers.”
Allah says about the disbelievers;