Is it correct that the Prophet (sws) answers those who send blessings on him in the grave? I have been told that the Prophet (sws) himself has said that whenever someone invokes Allah's blessings for him, Allah returns the soul to his body until he replies to his salutation. Is the Hadīth authentic?
The text of the Hadīth follows:
Abū Hurayrah narrated that the Prophet (sws) said: Whenever someone sends blessings upon me the Almighty return me my soul so that I respond to it. ( Abū Dā'ūd, No: 2041)
First of all, it should be remembered that it is a Gharīb report. The author of Mu'jam Al-Awsat has also recorded this tradition and observed:
None has narrated this Hadīth from Yazīd but Abū Sakhar and none narrates from Abū Sakhar but Haywah, and 'Abdullāh Ibn Yazīd is the only person who has narrated this tradition. (Mu'jam Al-Awsat, No: 3092)
The narrator, Abū Sakhar, has been declared weak by some authorities of the science of Hadīth:
Ishāq Ibn Mansūr has reported that Yahyā Ibn Mu'īn said: 'Abū Sakhar Hamīd Ibn Zayād is Da'īf'. And Ahmad Ibn Sa'ad Ibn Abī Maryam also reported that Yahyā Ibn Mu'īn said that Abū Sakhar Hamid Bin Zayyād Al-Kharrāt is Dhaīf-ul-Hadīth. Nisā'ī also declared the same. (Yusuf Mizzī, Tihdhīb Al-Kamāl, 4th ed., vol. 7, (Beirut: Al Mu'assasah Al-Risālah, 1994), p. 368)
Regarding Hamīd Ibn Sakhar, I heard Ibn al-Hammad say that Hamīd Ibn Sakhar, the one from whom Hātim Ibn Ismā'īl narrates is D'īf. (Yusuf Mizzī, Tihdhīb Al-Kamāl, 4th ed., vol. 7, (Beirut: Al Mu'assasah Al-Risālah, 1994), p. 370)
The text of the Hadīth also contradicts some basic Qur'ānic concepts. According to this Hadīth the Prophet (sws) though dead, is given life to respond and this process goes on. Whereas the Qur'ān tells us that after we die, we will only be resurrected on the Day of Judgment.
Due to these reasons the scholars have tried to interpret the words of the Hadīth to fit it in the Qur'ānic stance on the issue and other reliable narratives. Some hold that returning of the soul is metaphorical for the returning of his power to speak etc. After mentioning all the possible interpretations and comments, the author of 'Aawnu'l-Ma'būd has concluded the discussion with the following words:
To sum up, this narrative is not without ambiguity. [Muhammad Shams Al-Haqq Al-'Azīm, 'Awn Al-Ma'būd, 3rd ed., vol. 6, (Beirut: Dār Al-Fikr, 1979), p. 29]
We understand that until and unless an acceptable interpretation of the text is offered and the reliability of the chain of narrator is established we should not consider this Hadīth as an authentic saying of the Prophet (sws).