Munkar and Nakir
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These angels are described as having solid black eyes, having a shoulder span measured in miles, and carrying hammers "so large, that if all of mankind tried at once to move them a single inch, they would fail". When they speak, tongues of fire come from their mouths. If one answers their questions incorrectly, one is beaten every day, other than Friday, until Allah gives permission for the beating to stop.
Questioning in the grave
Muslims believe that after a person dies, his soul passes through a stage called barzakh, where it exists in the grave (even if the person's body was destroyed, the soul will still rest in the earth near their place of death). The questioning will begin when the funeral and burial is over. Nakir and Munkar prop the deceased soul upright in the grave and ask three questions: "Who is your God? What is your religion? What is your faith about this person (Muhammad)?". A righteous believer will respond correctly, saying that their Lord is God, that Muhammad is their prophet and that their religion is Islam. If the deceased answers correctly, the time spent awaiting the resurrection is pleasant and may enter heaven. Those who do not answer as described above are chastised until the day of judgment in hell.
Muslims believe that a person will correctly answer the questions not by remembering the answers before death (compare with the Egyptian Book of the Dead) but by their iman and deeds such as salat and shahadah (the Islamic profession of faith).
- Britannica Concise Encyclopedia, Entry: Munkar and Nakir
- "Life after death" at www.al-islam.edu.pk
- Christian Lange Paradise and Hell in Islamic Traditions Cambridge University Press 2015 ISBN 978-0-521-50637-3 Seite 123
- The Encyclopedia of Death and Dying, Entry: Islam