Barzakh (Arabic: برزخ, from Persian barzakh, "barrier, partition"[1] is an Arabic word meaning "obstacle", "hindrance", "separation",[2] or "barrier"[3]) designates a place between hell and heaven, where the soul resides after death, and experiences its own heaven or hell, until the resurrection on Qiyamah (Judgement Day).[4]

In Islamic eschatology, although largely up to interpretation, al-Barzakh is generally viewed as the barrier between the physical and spiritual worlds. Barzakh may, according to Ghazali, also be the place for those, who go neither to hell or to heaven, resembling the Christian concept of limbo.[5]

Barzakh light in Doorway
Barzakh: The "isthmus" between this world and the next


The Arabic word barzakh is derived from the Persian barzakh, "barrier, partition", which is in its turn traced back to the combination bar+zax(v) ("high existence"), similar to the Persian word for hell, dūzakh < dūžax(v) ("evil existence").[6]

Quran and hadith

Mentioned only three times in the Quran, and just once specifically as the barrier between the corporeal and ethereal, Barzakh is portrayed as a place in which, after death, the spirit is separated from the body – freed to contemplate the wrongdoing of its former life. Despite the gain of recognizance, it cannot utilize action.[7] The other two occurrences refer to Barzakh as an impenetrable barrier between fresh and salt water.[8][9] While fresh and salt water may intermingle, an ocean remains distinct from a river.

In hadith, Ibn al-Qayyim cites that, albeit not mentioned in the Quran, souls in Al-Barzakh would be grouped with others matching in purity or impurity.[10]

Significance of body and soul separation

In Islam, the soul and the body are independent of each other. This is significant in Barzakh, because only a person's soul goes to Barzakh and not their physical body.[11] Since one's soul is divorced from their body in Barzakh, the belief is that no progress or improvements to one's past life can be made.[11] If a person experienced a life of sin and worldly pleasures, one cannot try to perform good deeds in order to reach Jannah. Whatever one does in his or her lifetime is final and cannot be changed or altered in Barzakh.

Barzakh and Christian purgatory

The idea of purgatory is that it is a place where people go after death that holds punishment and purification for those who are not fit to enter Paradise just yet. People who are in this place do not have enough sins to warrant their entrance into Hell, but they do not have enough good deeds to go to Paradise. This is a temporary place, similar to barzakh.[12] Because they have this in common, some believe that they are the same idea or concept.[13] Barzakh is actually closer to the idea of limbo, a place that is between life and the true afterlife.[13] In this place, people await their final judgment, much like in barzakh. The Quranic idea of aʿrāf (“the heights”) is closer to that of Christian purgatory. Aʿrāf is also thought of as a place where souls go whose good and bad deeds are too evenly matched to go directly to Paradise or the Fire.[12]


Mainstream discourse

Some Muslim scholars stress the importance of Barzakh, while others simply ignore it.

  • Modern Muslim thinkers de-emphasize Barzakh, and focus instead on a person's individual life and the Day of Judgment. In this view, the state of Barzakh is simply looked past and skipped once a person dies.[14]
  • Muslim scholars who do believe in Barzakh still have varying interpretations of this intermediate state based on different traditions. Some traditions suggest that a person's deeds in their life will affect their experience in Barzakh. In these traditions, there are two states of Barzakh. In the state known as "Azaabul-Qabr," a person will be punished for his or her deeds in their past life.[15] In the other state known as "Tan'eemu Ahlit-Taa'ah Fil Qabr," a person will receive the blessings and bounties of Allah because of his or her faith and good deeds.[15] Other traditions suggest that people in Barzakh are given temporary bodies. In this view, a person is either given a bright body or a dark body. These bodies are believed to be prepared from either the light or darkness of their deeds.[11] If a person is given a bright body then this indicates that a person will go to heaven, while a dark body represents hell.[11] In these traditions, Muslim scholars believe that once a person is given their body in Barzakh, they will already know their fate for the Day of Judgment. It is worth noting that in these traditions where Muslim scholars believe in Barzakh, they are basically saying that a person will be familiar with his or her fate prior to the Day of Judgment. This is based on what a person experiences in this intermediate state.
  • Al-Ghazālī states, "After the First Blast, all created beings shall abide for forty (it is unknown if it is a year or month or etc.) in the Intermediate Realm [barzakh]. Then shall God quicken Seraphiel, and command him to deliver the Second Blast, as He has said (Exalted is He!): Then shall it be blown again, and lo! they stand, beholding : they shall be on their feet, watching the Resurrection."[16]
  • Al-Zamakhshari explains Barzakh to mean hā'il, "an obstacle." His adaptation of the meaning of the word coincides with mentions of Barzakh in Quran literature: 25:53.
  • Abdullah Yusuf Ali referred to a Barzakh state as a "quiescent state." The soul lies in a resting state until Yawm al-Qiyāmah.


In Sufism the Barzakh or Alam-e-Araf is not only where the human soul resides after death but it is also a place that the soul can visit during sleep and meditation. Ibn 'Arabi, defines Barzakh as the intermediate realm or "isthmus". It is between the World of Corporeal Bodies and the World of Spirits, and is a means of contact between the two worlds. Without it, there would be no contact between the two and both would cease to exist. It is described as simple and luminous, like the World of Spirits, but also able to take on many different forms just like the World of Corporeal Bodies can. In broader terms Barzakh, “is anything that separates two things”. It has been described as the dream world in which the dreamer is in both life and death.[17]

Barzakh can also refer to a person. Chronologically between Jesus and Mohammad is the contested Prophet Khalid. Ibn 'Arabi considers this man to be a “Barzakh” or the Perfect Human Being. Chittick explains that the Perfect Human acts as the Barzakh or "isthmus" between God and the world.[18] Ibn 'Arabi's story of Prophet Khalid is a story of Perfect Human being.

Khalid's story is of a Prophet whose message never emerged because before he died, he told his sons to open his tomb forty days after his death to receive the message of Barzakh. The sons, however, feared they would be looked down upon for opening their dead father's tomb, therefore they decided not to exhume their father. Thus, his message was never shared. An Ottoman Scholar explained that for Khalid to give the knowledge of Barzakh he would have to travel through the different worlds and then return, but because he was not exhumed, his message was never heard. Ibn 'Arabi explains that because this mission ended in failure, it does not conflict with The Prophet Mohammed’s statement: “ am nearest of men to Jesus son of Mary, for there is no prophet between him and me."[17]


The idea of Barzakh in Shia is significant though in a perspective and manner different from Sufism. The Prophet and Shia Imams, particularly the 6th Imam - Imam Jafar As-Sadiq, have explained through various hadiths the treatment, condition, processes, and other intricate details regarding the passage of Barzakh.[19] In Shia theology, there are 7 checkpoints in Barzakh.[20] The first being kindness/trust/wilayah. Second is salaat. Third is zakaat/khums. Fourth is fasting. Fifth is hajj. Sixth is cleanliness. Seventh is rights. It is believed that the terms and conditions to understand Barzakh are limited in scope and full comprehension because it is Shia's belief that it is incomprehensible, to a certain degree, until one actually reaches the realm beyond our physical world. A common analogy used is that of a baby in the womb. Just as the baby cannot possibly begin to understand the vast outside world until they experience it for themselves, we cannot hope to understand what Barzakh entails until we transition there ourselves. Though despite this obstacle, the Shia Imams, as cited through various sayings, have explained Barzakh to a significant degree as compared to other sects within[21] Islam.

Contemporary interpretations and uses

The term has also found its way into more contemporary, non-religious sectors of life. At least three bands have adopted the name Barzakh, including an Indonesian Jakarta black metal band, a Tunisian Oriental metal band and Naqash Ali Shawkat band. Additionally, Barzakh was used as the title of a 2011 documentary following citizens of a war-torn Chechan community searching for a lost friend who they believe may have transitioned from our physical world to the realm of Barzakh.[22]

See also


  1. ^ Richard G. Hovannisian, Georges Sabagh, eds. (1998). The Persian Presence in the Islamic World. Cambridge University Press. p. 49.CS1 maint: Uses editors parameter (link)
  2. ^ The Encyclopedia of Islam. 1960. pp. 1071–1072.
  3. ^ Ali, Abdullah Yusuf. The Qu'ran. Elmhurst, NY. Sur 23: 99-100: Tahrike Tarsile Qu'ran, Inc.
  4. ^ Sayyid Moustafa Al-Qazwini Discovering Islam Lulu Press 2014 ISBN 978-1-312-63111-3
  5. ^ BRILL Islam and Rationality: The Impact of al-Ghazālī. Papers Collected on His 900th Anniversary, Band 1 ISBN 978-9-004-29095-2 page 100
  6. ^ Richard G. Hovannisian, Georges Sabagh, eds. (1998). The Persian Presence in the Islamic World. Cambridge University Press. p. 49.CS1 maint: Uses editors parameter (link)
  7. ^ Ali, Abdullah Yusuf. The Qur'an. Elmhurst, NY. Sur 23: 99-100: Tahrike Tarsile Qur'an, Inc.
  8. ^ Ali, Abdullah Yusuf. The Qur'an. Elmhurst, NY. Sur 25: 53: Tahrike Tarsile Qur'an, Inc.
  9. ^ Ali, Abdullah Yusuf. The Qur'an. Elmhurst, NY. Sur 55: 19-20: Tahrike Tarsile Qur'an, Inc.
  10. ^ al-Qayyim, Ibn. "Section 63. Burial". Fiqh-us Sunnah.
  11. ^ a b c d Khan, Sir Muhammad (December 2011). "The Philosophy of the Teachings of Islam- Part12". The Review of Religions.
  12. ^ a b Smith, Jane I. "Afterlife: An Overview". Encyclopedia of Religion. GaleGroup Online. Retrieved 5 December 2012.
  13. ^ a b Qader, Nasrin (Fall 2002). "Fictional Testimonies or Testimonial Fictions: Moussa Ould Ebnou's Barzakh". Research in African Literatures. 33 (3): 14–31. doi:10.1353/ral.2002.0088. Retrieved 28 November 2012.
  14. ^ "Barzakh, al-". The Oxford Dictionary of Islam. Missing or empty |url= (help)
  15. ^ a b Islam, Maulana. "Al Barzakh - The Realm After Death in Islam". Retrieved June 24, 2008.
  16. ^ Ghazali, Al- (1989). The Remembrance of Death and the Afterlife. The Islamic Text Society. p. 176.
  17. ^ a b Ibn Al-Arabi, Muhyiddin (2006). Angela Jaffray (ed.). The Universal Tree and The Four Birds. Anqa Publishing. pp. 29n, 50n, 59, 64–8, 73, 75–8, 82, 102.
  18. ^ Chittick, William C. (1979). "The Perfect Man as the Prototype of the Self in the Sufism of Jāmi". Studia Islamica. Maisonneuve & Larose (49): 135–157.
  19. ^ Ayatullah Shaheed Sayyid Abdul Husain Dastghaib. "Barzakh is the Veil of this World". Retrieved 7 December 2012.
  20. ^ Shirazie, Ayatullah Sayyid Abdul Husayn Dastghaib. "The Hereafter". Ansariyan Publications. Retrieved 26 January 2015.
  21. ^ Qummi, Sheikh Abbas. "MANAZELUL AKHERAH" (PDF). Madinatul Ilm Islamic Centre. Retrieved 26 January 2015.
  22. ^ "Barzakh". Retrieved 7 December 2012.

Further reading


ʾĀkhirah (Arabic: الآخرة‎) is an Islamic term referring to the afterlife. It is repeatedly referenced in chapters of the Quran concerning the Last Judgment, an important part of Islamic eschatology. Traditionally, it is considered to be one of the six main beliefs of Muslims, the others including: Tawhid (unitarianism), belief in the angels, belief in the Revealed Books (Scrolls of Abraham, Tawrat, Zabur, Injil and Quran), belief in the prophets and messengers, and belief in predestination.

According to the Islamic beliefs, God will play the role of the qadi, weighing the deeds of each individual. He will decide whether that person's ʾākhirah lies in Jahannam (Hell) or Jannah (Heaven) on the basis of the weight of either good or bad deeds in comparison with one another. The judgment doesn't depend upon the amount of deeds as much as it does on the will behind the deed, deeds are judged on the basis of the will behind it.

Jannah and Jahannam both have various levels. The placement of a person may depend upon the extent of his or her good deeds. It is also said that God may forgive a sin against Himself but not against another human. No religion except Islam shall be accepted. The Bible, Gospels, Psalms and some other previous religious texts are said to be from God in Islam, but they are believed to have been edited to a great extent over time by people according to their own will. God has promised to keep the Quran safe from any such changes.According to Islam, death is not the end of the life, but it is a transferral from this world to everlasting world. With the withdrawal of the spirit from the body, the soul's life in the Barzakh begins until the Day of Resurrection. According to the deeds of the believer and disbeliever, their Barzakh differs.

Araf (Islam)

A'raf (Arabic: الأعراف‎) is the Muslim separator realm or borderland between heaven and hell, inhabited by the people who are evenly balanced in their sins and virtues. This place may be described as a kind of beneficent purgatory with privation but without suffering. The word is literally translated as "The Heights" in English. The realm is described as a high curtain between hell and paradise. Ibn Kathir described A'raf as a wall that contains a gate. In this high wall lived people who witness the terror of hell and the beauty of paradise. They yearn to enter paradise, but their sins and virtues are evenly balanced. Yet with the mercy of God, they will be among the last people to enter the paradise. The Catholic scholar of Islam Louis Massignon believed, the christian concept of limbo was inspired by the Muslim interpretation of A'raf.

Astral plane

The astral plane, also called the astral world, is a plane of existence postulated by classical (particularly neo-Platonic), medieval, oriental, and esoteric philosophies and mystery religions. It is the world of the celestial spheres, crossed by the soul in its astral body on the way to being born and after death, and is generally believed to be populated by angels, spirits or other immaterial beings. In the late 19th and early 20th century the term was popularised by Theosophy and neo-Rosicrucianism.

Another view holds that the astral plane or world, rather than being some kind of boundary area crossed by the soul, is the entirety of spirit existence or spirit worlds to which those who die on Earth go, and where they live out their non-physical lives. It is understood that all consciousness resides in the astral plane. Some writers conflate this realm with heaven or paradise or union with God itself, and others do not. P. Yogananda wrote in Autobiography of a Yogi, "The astral universe . . . is hundreds of times larger than the material universe . . .[with] many astral planets, teeming with astral beings." (p.416) When Alice Bailey writes of seeing "Masters . . . upon the inner spiritual planes [who]. . . work with Christ and the planetary hierarchy," she refers to a vision she had of the unseen astral realm that these and countless other beings inhabit. Christ being in that realm, it is hard to construe it as a non-heaven.The Barzakh, olam mithal or intermediate world in Islam is a related concept. In Judaism, it is known as the "World of Yetzirah", according to Lurianic Kabbalah.


Azrael (; Biblical Hebrew: עֲזַרְאֵל‎‎ ʿázarʾēl) is an angel in the Abrahamic religions. He is often identified with the Angel of Destruction and Renewal of the Hebrew Bible.The Hebrew name translates to "Angel of God", "Help from God", or "One Whom God Helps". Azrael is the spelling of the Chambers Dictionary.

In Islamic tradition, Azrael is identified with the Quranic Malak al-Mawt (ملك الموت) "angel of death" which corresponds with Hebrew term malach ha-maweth in Rabbinic Literature. The Arabic language adapts the name as ʿAzrāʾīl (عزرائيل). He is responsible for transporting the souls of the deceased after death.

Barzakh (album)

Barzakh is an album by Tunisian oud player Anouar Brahem recorded in 1990 and released on the ECM label.

Barzakh Editions

Barzakh Editions (French: Éditions Barzakh; Arabic: دار البرزخ للنشر‎) is an independent publishing house in Algeria. It publishes work of a new generation of Algerian writers. Barzakh within islam is the period between someone's death and his resurrection at the Last Judgment and the stay in the akhirah afterwards.

Barzakh was founded by Selma Hellal and Sofiane Hadjadj in the year of 2000, during the last years of the Algerian Civil War. In these years the conflicts in the country were greatly isolated form the world outside. According to the jury of the Prince Claus Awards in 2010, the foundation of this publishing house was elemental for opening the door again between Algeria and the rest of the world.Initially it had been the purpose to publish work of writers of Algerian soil only. Hellal and Hadjadj noticed though, that the civil war had caused that a great number of writers had fled abroad. For this reason the focus changed to publish work of authors that lived in exile as well as giving a chance to authors who otherwise probably wouldn't have had a chance.An important mainspring for the founders was the passion for books and the trust that freedom of thought and of expression are essential for development.Up to 2010 the house had published more than 110 books, varying mainly between novels and poetry. Furthermore, books have been published in areas like philosophy, photography, drama, politics, art, and more.As from the start the house has been dependent from mainly European sponsors, because the circumstances and the nature of the publications caused that the publisher wasn't viable on itself. For instance the French embassy in Algiers had mercy on the cost for establishing copyrights for the books. Furthermore, the Swiss government and a number of funds offered financial support to the publisher.In 2010 Barzakh Editions was honored with the Principal Prince Claus Award from the Netherlands. The jury praised it among other things for giving concrete form to Algeria’s voices, for opening up a much needed space for critical reflection on Algerian realities, for building a bridge connecting different languages and cultures, and for creatively breaking through the threatening cultural isolation of the country."


Devachan (compound word; Sanskrit 'deva', gods, and the Tibetan word 'chan' Wylie: 'can', possessing, having, subject to) is the "dwelling of the gods" according to the original teachings of Theosophy as formulated by H.P. Blavatsky.


In Norse mythology, Gimlé (alternately Gimli as in Icelandic) is a place where the worthy survivors of Ragnarök are foretold to live. It is mentioned in the Prose Edda and the Eddic poem "Völuspá" and described as the most beautiful place in Asgard, more beautiful than the sun.

Intermediate state

In some forms of Christian eschatology, the intermediate state or interim state is a person's "intermediate" existence between one's death and the universal resurrection. In addition, there are beliefs in a particular judgment right after death and a general judgment or last judgment after the resurrection.

Christians looked for an imminent end of the world and many of them had little interest in an interim state between death and resurrection. The Eastern Church admits of such an intermediate state, but refrained from defining it, so as not to blur the distinction between the alternative definitive fates of Heaven and Hell. The Western Church goes differently by defining the intermediate state, with evidence from as far back as the Passion of Saint Perpetua, Saint Felicitas, and their Companions (203) of the belief that sins can be purged by suffering in an afterlife, and that purgation can be expedited by the intercession of the living. Eastern Christians also believed that the dead can be assisted by prayer.East and West, those in the intermediate state have traditionally been the beneficiaries of prayers, such as requiem masses. In the East, the saved are said to rest in light while the wicked are confined in darkness. In the East, prayers are said to benefit those in Hades, even pagans. In the West, Augustine described prayer as useful for those in communion with the church, and implied that every soul's ultimate fate is determined at death. In the West, such prayer came to be restricted to souls in Purgatory, which idea has "ancient roots" and is demonstrated in early Church writings. The Roman Catholic Church offers indulgences for those in purgatory, which evolved out of the earlier practice of canonical remissions. While some Protestants, such as Anglicans and Lutherans, affirmed prayer for the dead, other Nonconformist Protestants largely ceased praying for the dead.

In general, Protestants denied the Catholic purgatory. Luther taught mortality of the soul, comparing the sleep of a tired man after a day's work whose soul "sleeps not but is awake" ("non sic dormit, sed vigilat") and can "experience visions and the discourses of the angels and of God", with the sleep of the dead which experience nothing but still "live to God" ("coram Deo vivit"). Calvin depicted the righteous dead as resting in bliss.

Islamic view of death

Death in Islam is the termination of worldly life and the beginning of afterlife. Death is seen as the separation of soul from body, and its transfer from this world to the afterlife.Islamic tradition discusses elaborately, almost in graphic detail, as to what happens before, during, and after the death, although what exactly happens is not clear and different school of thoughts may end up with different conclusions. However, a continuity between all these ideas derived from the basic sources from the Quran and Islamic narratives. One canonical idea is, that the angel of death (Arabic: Malak al-Maut) appears to the dying to take out their souls. The sinners' souls are extracted in the most painful way while the righteous are treated easily.

Another common idea, although appearing relatively late in Islamic traditions, adds that, after the burial, two angels – Munkar and Nakir – come to question the dead in order to test their faith. The righteous believers answer correctly and live in peace and comfort while the sinners and disbelievers fail and punishments ensue. The time period or stage between death and the end of the world is called the life of barzakh. Suicide, euthanasia, and unjust murder as means of death are all prohibited in Islam, and are considered major sins. Life is God's gift, it's not given by man.Believing in an afterlife is one of the six articles of faith in Islam. Yet, the abode of the deceased is up to debate. They may either be in heaven/hell, in an intermediary state or "sleep" until a great resurrection.

List of television programmes broadcast by PTV

This is a list of television programmes which are either currently being broadcast or have previously been broadcast by Pakistan's national television service, the Pakistan Television Corporation (PTV).

Moussa Ould Ebnou

Moussa Ould Ebnou (born 1956) is one of Mauritania’s greatest novelists. He has published two novels in French: L’amour impossible (1990) and Le Barzakh (1994), which were later published in Arabic as: الحب المستحيل ("al-Hubb al-Mustahil") (1999), and مدينة الرياح (Madinat al-Riyah) (1996). Ebnou has also published two other works in Arabic: حج الفجار (Hujj al-Fijar) (2003), and الامثال والحكم الشعبية الموريتانية al-Imthal w'al-Hakm ash-Sha'biya al-Muritaniya .Moussa Ould Ebnou was born in Boutilimit.

Munkar and Nakir

Munkar and Nakir (Arabic: منكر ونكير‎) (English translation: "The Denied and The Denier") in Islamic eschatology, are angels who test the faith of the dead in their graves.


Neorxnawang (also Neorxenawang and Neorxnawong) is an Old English noun used to translate the Christian concept of 'paradise' in Anglo-Saxon literature. Scholars propose that the noun originally derives from Germanic mythology, referring to a "heavenly meadow" or place without toil or worries.

Prix des cinq continents de la francophonie

The Prix des cinq continents de la francophonie (literally "Prize of the five continents of the francophonie") is a literary prize created in 2001 by the Organisation internationale de la francophonie.

The Meursault Investigation

The Meursault Investigation (French: Meursault, contre-enquête) is the first novel by Algerian writer and journalist Kamel Daoud. It is a retelling of Albert Camus's 1942 novel, The Stranger. First published in Algeria by Barzakh Editions in October 2013, it was reissued in France by Actes Sud (May 2014). Its publication in France was followed by nominations for many prizes and awards.

The Summerland

The Summerland is the name given by Theosophists, Wiccans and some earth-based contemporary pagan religions to their conceptualization of an afterlife.


Uçmag (also spelled: Uçmag, Uçmak, Ocmah, Uçmah) (pronounced: Utchmaq) is heaven in Turk- and Altaic mythology. It is the opposite of Tamag. The souls of the righteous people dwell in heaven after death.


Youdu (Chinese: 幽都; pinyin: yōudū) in Chinese mythology is the capital of Hell, or Diyu. Among the various other geographic features believed of Diyu, the capital city has been thought to be named Youdu. It is generally conceived as being similar to a typical Chinese capital city, such as Chang'an, but surrounded with and pervaded with darkness.

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