FAQ9: We say “assalamu alaika ya ayyuha nabiyyu” in every prayer, this mean that the Prophet (saww) listens to us. Also we have in history that the Prophet (saww) addressed the dead people after the battle of badr, and Imam Ali (as) addressed the dead people after battle of Nahrawan and Prophet Shuayb (as) address dead people of his nation (7:93). Doesn’t all this prove that dead can hear us?
Again on the surface these arguments sound convincing, but when looked at critically, what the questioner has concluded is not the only possible conclusion.
1) As for saying “Assalamu alaika ya ayyuha nabiyyu”, in Arabic it is fine, since Salaam is a prayer addressed to Allah no matter whom you send it on. That is to say a Salaam is actually a Dua addressed to Allah, no matter whom you direct it towards.
When I say Salaam alaykum to you, I am not the one sending peace on you. How can I give you peace when I don’t own peace and have no control over it? Thus, even when I address a Salaam to you, it doesn’t have anything to do with whether you can hear me or not, since it is only a prayer to Allah to send Salaam on you. In prayer we also say “assalamu alaina, wa ‘ala ‘ibadillahi al saliheen” (peace be upon us and on the saliheen servants of Allah), so do we conclude from this that all the people in the masjid can hear us or all the “saliheen” servants of Allah (swt) on earth can hear our salam? If not, then why do we expect that from the Prophet (saww) when we send salam on him?
2) As for the Prophet (saww) addressing people after badr, that is not mentioned in our books, rather it is mostly narrated from Bukhari, even then since it is not “mutawatir” is not enough to build our Aqeeda on, since it is not “qat’y us sudoor” which is one of the conditions for acceptance of proof.
For the sake of argument even if we accept that such a thing happened, then it could be argued that it was figurative, it could also be argued that since the Prophets addressed them immediately after their death their souls may have been lingering around, because some Riwaayaat indicate that the soul hovers over the body until the body is buried, also the Prophet (saw) addressed them from a small distance, not thousands of miles away (as we do while supplicating to Imams), and the same argument can be made for the incident of Imam Ali (as) after Nahrawan and what is mentioned about Prophet Saleh (as) and Shuayb (as). So these incidents are not “qat’y ud dalala” which is also a condition for acceptance of proof.
3) Another strong argument to show that addressing someone does not imply that they hear you is that, for all we know, there is nothing to indicate that they were actually speaking to them. Perhaps they were only making a statement, and expressing their grief. After all, in Arabic literature and culture, it is very common to address even inanimate objects such as the sun, moon, earth, stars, etc. It doesn’t necessarily mean that the sun, moon, etc. can hear us.
This is also proven from the Quran since when all the people went and Prophet Ibrahim (as) was alone with the idols, in Surah Saffat (37:90-92), he (as) addressed the idols, 37:91 “Then he turned to their gods and said, “Do you not eat?”” 37:92 “What iswith you that you do not speak?”, so can we conclude from this that the Idols can hear us? Ofcourse not, rather this is figurative.
4) Atleast in 3 places in the Quran, Allah (swt) says “You cannot make the dead/those in grave hear” 27: 80; 30: 52; and 35: 22.