Imam Abu Mansour Abd al-Qahir Ibn Tahir al-Baghdadi said: “The theologians in our time who verify certain religious issues have said that our Prophet is alive in his grave. He is given the glad tidings of the pious deeds of the people of his community, grieves at their sins and receives their prayers for him. The bodies of the Prophets in their graves are not subject to decay since Allah prohibited the earth to consume them. Our Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him and his family) has told us that he saw Prophet Musa (Moses) praying in his grave. The Prophet also mentioned that he saw Prophet Musa (عليه السلام) in the fourth heaven, as well as Adam (عليه السلام) and Ibrahim (عليه السلام) during his journey of Ascension. Through these narrations, we conclude that our Prophet (صلى الله عليه وسلم) remains alive in his grave and as a prophet.”
Imam Ibn Battal, in his commentary on Sahih al-Bukhari (vol.3, p361-362, Maktabit al-Rushd ed.) commented, “At-Tabari said: The correct opinion on this issue is that both of the Prophet’s traditions are authentic based on their narration by trustworthy chains of transmitters. Thus, it is obligatory to believe in the two traditions and acknowledge that Allah enables whoever He wishes from among His dead servants to hear whatever He wishes from among the speech of the living; He enables whoever He wishes from among His dead servants to understand what He wishes and He bestows His blessings upon whoever He loves from among them. Allah also tortures the disbelievers in their graves as well as those who deserve punishment in whatever manner He wishes. This has been transmitted through authentic traditions reported from the Prophet (pbuh).
The words of Allah in Surah Fatir, verse 22 “Indeed, Allah causes to hear whom He wills, but you cannot make hear those in the graves” do not disproof the authentic Prophetic traditions such as that in which the Prophet (pbuh) told his Companions about the dead who he ordered to be buried in the bit of Qulaib after the battle of Badr. Addressing his Companions, he said, “You do not hear what I say more distinctly than they [the dead] do”. Likewise, the Qur`anic verse cannot be used to refute the established words of the Prophet who said that the dead can hear “the shuffling of feet as they [visitors of graves] walk away”.
It is possible to interpret the words of Allah in Surah Fatir, verse 22 “Indeed, Allah causes to hear whom He wills, but you cannot make hear those in the graves” and His words in Surah An-Naml, verse 80, “Indeed, you will not make the dead hear” differently from the interpretation maintained by those who claim that the dead cannot hear the living. Based on this, the verses mean that Allah informs his Prophet that he cannot make the dead hear through his own power and ability; rather it is Him, the Creator of hearing, Who enables them to hear. This is similar to His words in Sura an-Naml, verse 81, “And you cannot guide the blind away from their error” This means that success and guidance are in the hands of none other but Allah. Allah makes it clear that His Prophet is unable to make the dead hear except through His will; he cannot guide people to truth except by the will of Allah. The Prophet (صلى الله عليه وسلم) is only a Warner that Allah sent to convey His message.”
Imam Burhan al-Deen al-Halabi, the author of Al-Sirah Al-Halabiy Insan al-‘Uyun fi Sirat al-Nabi al-Ma`mun, authored a treatise entitled Ta’rif Ahl al-Islam wa al-Iman Bi Anna al-Nabi Salla Allahu Alaihi wa Sallam La Yakhlu Minhu Zaman wa la Makan. He concluded his treatise saying: “To conclude, The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) is present, in body and soul, after his death though we do not discern it.”
Imam al-Qurtubi said in Al-Tazkira: “Death does not mean absolute nonexistence but is a transmission from one state to another. This is substantiated by the fact that martyrs are alive and happy, receiving sustenance [from their Lord] which are the characteristics of living people. If this is the case with martyrs, then prophets deserve this with greater reason. It was authentically reported that Allah prohibited the earth to consume the bodies of Prophets in their graves; our Prophet met all the Prophets on the night of the Night Journey and Ascension [Isra’ walMi’raj] in Al-Aqsa mosque as well as in the Heavens; he said that he saw Prophet Musa praying in his grave and that he [the Prophet in his grave] responds to anyone who sends him peace and the like. It is then evidently clear that Prophets remain alive after death. We cannot see or discern their presence just as we cannot see the angels who are invisible to humans except for those upon whom Allah bestows His favor. The Prophet (صلى الله عليه وسلم) is indeed alive in his grave, body and soul. He moves freely on earth and in the celestial world in the same form and shape he was in before his death—he did not change. He is invisible to [humans] just as the angles are invisible though they are physically alive. If Allah wants to honor any of his servants by making him see Prophet [Mohammed], He makes the Prophet (صلى الله عليه وسلم) visible to him in his same appearance.”