BARZAKH برزخ. (1
A thing that intervenes between any two things; a bar, an obstruction or a thing that makes a separation between two things. In which sense it is used in the Qur’an in two places. Surah xxv. 55, “He hath put an interspace between them (i.e. the two seas), and a barrier which it is forbidden them to pass.” Surah lv. 20, “Yet between them (the two seas) is a barrier
(2) The interva1 between the present life and that which is to come. See Qur’an, Surah xxiii. 99, “And say, My Lord, I seek refuge with Thee from the inciting of the devils, and I seek refuge with Thee from their
presence. Until when death comes to any one of them, he says, My Lord! send me back (to life), if haply I may do right in that which I have left. Not so! A mere word that he speaks! But behind them there is barzakh (a bar), until the day when they shall be raised. And when the trumpet shall be blown, there shall be no relation between them on that day, nor shall they beg of each other then.” Upon this verse the commentator Baizawi says: “Barzakh is an intervening state (ha’il a barrier) between death and the Day of Judgment, and whoever dies enters it.” The commentator Husain remarks “Barzakh is a partition (mani’) between the living and the Day of Judgment, namely, the grave in which they will remain until the resurrection.” The commentators al-Ja1alain speak of it as a hajiz, or intervening state between death and judgment. ‘Abdu’r-Razzaq in his Dictionary of Technical Terms of the Sufis (Sprenger’s Edition), gives a similar definition.
The word is employed by Muslim writers in at least two senses, some using it for the place of the dead, the grave, end other is for the state of departed souls between death and judgment.
The condition of believers in the grave is held to be one of undisturbed rest, hut that of unbelievers one of torment: for Muhammad is related to have said, “There are appointed for the grave of the urbeliever ninety-nine serpents to bite him until the Day of Resurrection.” (Mishkat, i. C.5, p.12.) The word seems generally to be used in the sense of Hades, for every person who dies is said to enter al-Barzakh.
Based on Hughes, Dictionary of Islam