The word 'Sijjeen' is a derivative of the Arabic word Sijn which means a prison or a narrow and dark place. Some Mufassireen (Scholars) of Islam have stated that Sijjeen is a dark well in Hell fire which flows underneath the Seven Earths. Other scholars have suggested that Sijn refers to the book in which Allah (SWT) records all the Evil deeds of the Shaytan and of the disbelievers, both among the Jinn and human beings, and depending on their deeds, they will be sent to that 'narrow place' as Allah (SWT) says; "And when they are flung into a narrow place thereof, chained together, they pray for destruction there" (Q; 13). Sijjeen is, therefore, the narrow and the smallest place where the disbelievers will dwell.
So, what happens to the believers and disbelievers after death? When a human being dies, his/her soul leaves the body. However, the soul does join with the body on occasions and depending on whether the soul is in bless or in punishment after death, the body will experience joy or suffering accordingly.
On the Day of the Resurrection, each soul will return to its respective body and people will be raised from their graves to meet Allah (SWT). The period between death and the day of resurrection is called AL-BARZAKH. Souls differ in their levels of joy or suffering during the Barzakh life. Those at the highest level, but not necessarily at equal level as observed by the Prophet (S.A.S.) during Shabi-maraj, are the souls of the Prophets (P.B.U.T). The souls of some martyrs are captured in green birds who fly freely in Paradise. Souls of martyrs who are under debt are not permitted to enter Paradise as stated in a Hadith. When a man asked the Prophet (S.A.S), "What will be my end if I am killed for the sake of Allah (SWT)?" The Prophet (S.A.S) replied: "Paradise" when the man started to walk away, the Prophet (S.A.S) said: " Except the debt, Jibril told me about it before." This is further confirmed by another Hadith. When one man died as a martyr, some people said, "Lucky indeed this man, he is in Paradise." The Prophet (SAS) said, "By the one on whose hence is my soul, the sheet which he took unfaithfully, is burning fire on him in his grave." This man had taken a sheet made of wool during a battle and did not return it. The souls of such martyrs under debt are kept in the graves. Yet, other martyrs' souls will remain at the door of Paradise as reported by Ibn Abbas. "The martyrs are by a river at the door of Paradise in a green dome wherein their provision is provided to them from Paradise in the morning and in the evening." It should be noted, however, that Ja'far Ibn Abu Talib is a special case who has been presented with two wings as a replacement for the two hands he lost in battle which allow him to fly in Paradise wherever he wishes. Souls of adulterers will be kept in ovens while the soul of those who eat RIBA will be swimming in rivers of blood, being hit by stones.
Some souls remain on Earth and cannot ascend to the upper heaven as they are low and earthly souls. A low and earthly soul is the one who did not gain knowledge of its Lord, His love, His remembrance, and did not come near to Him. While, a soul that used to know its Lord, loved Him, drew near to Him, and remembered Him, is a higher heavenly soul and after death will stay with other higher souls. Earthly souls will, therefore, not meet heavenly souls just as heavenly souls cannot join earthly souls. In other words, souls exist at different levels and during Barzakh and on the Day of Resurrection, stay with other souls at the same level.
After death, souls experience health, illness, joy, sadness, and pain more than what they feel before leaving the body. Some scholars argue that since the soul is an 'order' from Allah (SWT), it may not be punished or rewarded, and that Allah (SWT) will punish or reward the Nafs alone since the Nafs is that part of the human being which is free to do good or evil as it wishes. In reply to these arguments, I would pose the question, is it then for the Nafs of a person that we pray after that person is dead? Do we recite the Quran and offer the reward for that recitation to the Nafs of the deceased? The answer is, of course, No. We pray for, and ask Allah (SWT) to transfer rewards to the soul of the deceased. This suggests that the responsibility for our actions lies with the soul and nothing else otherwise why should we ask Allah (SWT) for forgiveness for the souls of the dead?
A soul passes through four stages where each subsequent stage is longer than the one preceding it.
Stage 1. The womb of the mother which is very tight, very narrow, enclosed with three darknesses.
Stage 2. The worldly life where one acquires good deeds or bad deeds.
Stage 3. AL-BARZAKH which is greater than the worldly life. The magnitude of difference between the BARZAKH life and the worldly life is at par to the difference between the worldly life compared to the womb life.
Stage 4. The life of the Hereafter, either in Paradise or in Hell, which will exist forever (and Allah (SWT) knows best).
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