Munkar and Nakir
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 graveEdit
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).
History and OriginsEdit
Munkar and Nakir look like Zoroastrian divinities. Because like Mithra, Sraosha and Rashnu some Zoroastrian divinities have a role in the judgment of souls and Rashnu is described as a figure who holds a scales like some angels of the grave. Therefore, E.G. Brown suggested that there is a continuity between Rashnu and Munkar and Nakir. On the other hand, there is a mythic character of Mandaean religion, like Rashnu who is known as Abathur Muzania. He has same position in the world of the deads and he also holds a scales. Muzania means scales (mizan) in Aramaic. According to a recent research, Munkar and Nakir are originally astrological figures and they are a transformation of Mesopotamian astral god Nergal. Aksoy shows in his new research that the Mesopotamian god Nergal has almost same characteristics with Munkar and Nakir. He begins with Nakru which is an epithet of Nergal and means 'enemy'. The Assyrian nakru with the names of Munkar and Nakir comes from the same root, from proto-Semitic NKR. Some scholars has mentioned this epithet as nakuru. It is almost same with the Nakir. Moreover, Nergal is a lord of the Underworld and the grave (Assyrian qabru: grave). He has an extremely dreadfull voice like Munkar and Nakir, so that it can be cause to the panic among the men and also gods. He holds a shining mace and his breath can burn his enemies. Because he is related to the fire and the most scholars suggest that he was originally a sun god. Furthermore, he is identified with celestial twins (Gemini) in the Babylonian astral mythology and therefore he is directly referenced to the Munkar and Nakir by this identification. There is no reference to Munkar and Nakir in the Quran. Their names are firstly mentioned by Tirmidhi in the hadith tradition. It is known that Iraq is one of the countries which is visited by Tirmidhi. Therefore, it seems that the names of Munkar and Nakir are introduced to Islamic beliefs by early period of the Islamization in Mesopotamia (or Iraq). Because the Mesopotamian people's believed still to Shamash, Nergal and some other Babylonian gods when Arabs came to Mesopotamia to Islamisation. Thus, Nergal the god of the Underworld who is symbolized the planet Mars, is prototype of Munkar and Nakir. Astrologically, Munkar and Nakir show more clues in his Martian characteristics to connect themselves to Nergal.
- 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
- E.G. Brown, A year amongst the Persians; impressions as to the life, character, and thought of the people of Persia, received during twelve month's residence in that country in the years 1887-8, London, 1893, p. 378 https://archive.org/details/yearamongstpersi00browuoft
- E.S. Drower, The Mandaeans of the Iraq and Iran, Oxford 1937 https://archive.org/details/TheMandaeansOfIraqAndIran
- for more information, see Gürdal Aksoy, On the Astrological Background and the Cultural Origins of An Islamic Belie: The Strange Adventures of Munkar and Nakir from the Mesopotamian god Nergal to the Zoroastrian Divinities, https://www.academia.edu/35372440/On_the_Astrological_Background_and_the_Cultural_Origins_of_An_Islamic_Belief_The_Strange_Adventures_of_Munkar_and_Nakir_from_the_Mesopotamian_god_Nergal_to_the_Zoroastrian_Divinities_Mezopotamyal%C4%B1_Tanr%C4%B1_Nergal_den_Zerd%C3%BC%C5%9Fti_Kutsiyetlere_M%C3%BCnker_ile_Nekir_in_Garip_Maceralar%C4%B1_
- for nakuru see C.J. Snijders, Beginselen der Astrologie, Amsterdam, 1949, p. 153 https://archive.org/details/beginselenderast00snij
- for more information, see Aksoy, On the Astrological Background and the Cultural Origins of An Islamic Belie: The Strange Adventures of Munkar and Nakir from the Mesopotamian god Nergal to the Zoroastrian Divinities
- Ulrike Al-Khamis, "The Iconography of Early Islamic Lusterware from Mesopotamia: New Considerations", Muqarnas, Vol. 7, 1990, pp.109-118, https://www.academia.edu/1383806/The_Iconography_of_Early_Islamic_Lusterware_from_Mesopotamia_New_Considerations
- for more detailles, see Aksoy, On the Astrological Background and the Cultural Origins of An Islamic Belie: The Strange Adventures of Munkar and Nakir from the Mesopotamian god Nergal to the Zoroastrian Divinities