بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم
I was listening to a series entitled Qasas Al-Anbiya (Stories of the Prophets) by Shaikh Uthman Al-Khamees, and he mentioned that there were five instances mentioned in the Quran where the dead were brought back to life. Interestingly enough, ALL of them have been mentioned in Surah Al-Baqarah (which talks a lot about life, death and resurrection).
Here are the five cases:
1) The people of Banu Israil who were killed by a thunderbolt and were then brought back to life.
وَإِذْ قُلْتُمْ يَا مُوسَىٰ لَن نُّؤْمِنَ لَكَ حَتَّىٰ نَرَى اللَّـهَ جَهْرَةً فَأَخَذَتْكُمُ الصَّاعِقَةُ وَأَنتُمْ تَنظُرُونَ
ثُمَّ بَعَثْنَاكُم مِّن بَعْدِ مَوْتِكُمْ لَعَلَّكُمْ تَشْكُرُونَ
“And (remember) when you said: “O Musa! We shall never believe in you till we see Allah plainly.” But you were seized with a thunderbolt (lightning) while you were looking. Then We raised you up after your death, so that you might be grateful.” [Surah Al-Baqarah (2) : 55-56]
2) A man from Banu Israil who was murdered.
The people asked Musa (alaihissalam) who the killer was. Allah then ordered them to sacrifice a cow (the surah is named after this story).
[Shaikh Uthman Al-Khamees points out why it was a COW that they were asked to sacrifice, not another animal. It was because they had worshipped a calf (a baby cow) previously. So they were asked to sacrifice a cow so that any feelings of love or honoue that they might have had for the calf were completely removed.]
When they eventually got around to sacrificing a cow (after asking too many questions), they were asked to strike the dead man with a piece of it. He came back to life, mentioned who killed him and then he was caused to die once more.
وَإِذْ قَتَلْتُمْ نَفْسًا فَادَّارَأْتُمْ فِيهَا ۖ وَاللَّـهُ مُخْرِجٌ مَّا كُنتُمْ تَكْتُمُونَ
فَقُلْنَا اضْرِبُوهُ بِبَعْضِهَا ۚ كَذَٰلِكَ يُحْيِي اللَّـهُ الْمَوْتَىٰ وَيُرِيكُمْ آيَاتِهِ لَعَلَّكُمْ تَعْقِلُونَ
“And (remember) when you killed a man and fell into dispute among yourselves as to the crime. But Allah brought forth that which you were hiding. So We said: “Strike him (the dead man) with a piece of it (the cow).” Thus Allah brings the dead to life and shows you His Ayaat (proofs, evidences, verses, lessons, signs, revelations, etc.) so that you may understand.” [Surah Al-Baqarah (2) : 72-73]
3) Those went forth from their homes and were caused to die.
[Please refer to Tafsir Ibn Kathir for who these people were.]
أَلَمْ تَرَ إِلَى الَّذِينَ خَرَجُوا مِن دِيَارِهِمْ وَهُمْ أُلُوفٌ حَذَرَ الْمَوْتِ فَقَالَ لَهُمُ اللَّـهُ مُوتُوا ثُمَّ أَحْيَاهُمْ ۚ إِنَّ اللَّـهَ لَذُو فَضْلٍ عَلَى النَّاسِ وَلَـٰكِنَّ أَكْثَرَ النَّاسِ لَا يَشْكُرُونَ
“Did you (O Muhammad ) not think of those who went forth from their homes in thousands, fearing death? Allah said to them, “Die”. And then He restored them to life. Truly, Allah is full of Bounty to mankind, but most men thank not.” [Surah Al-Baqarah (2) : 243]
4) The one who was caused to die for a hundred years.
Some scholars point out that this was the Prophet Uzair (alaihissalam).
أَوْ كَالَّذِي مَرَّ عَلَىٰ قَرْيَةٍ وَهِيَ خَاوِيَةٌ عَلَىٰ عُرُوشِهَا قَالَ أَنَّىٰ يُحْيِي هَـٰذِهِ اللَّـهُ بَعْدَ مَوْتِهَا ۖ فَأَمَاتَهُ اللَّـهُ مِائَةَ عَامٍ ثُمَّ بَعَثَهُ ۖ قَالَ كَمْ لَبِثْتَ ۖ قَالَ لَبِثْتُ يَوْمًا أَوْ بَعْضَ يَوْمٍ ۖ قَالَ بَل لَّبِثْتَ مِائَةَ عَامٍ فَانظُرْ إِلَىٰ طَعَامِكَ وَشَرَابِكَ لَمْ يَتَسَنَّهْ ۖ وَانظُرْ إِلَىٰ حِمَارِكَ وَلِنَجْعَلَكَ آيَةً لِّلنَّاسِ ۖ وَانظُرْ إِلَى الْعِظَامِ كَيْفَ نُنشِزُهَا ثُمَّ نَكْسُوهَا لَحْمًا ۚ فَلَمَّا تَبَيَّنَ لَهُ قَالَ أَعْلَمُ أَنَّ اللَّـهَ عَلَىٰ كُلِّ شَيْءٍ قَدِيرٌ
“Or like the one who passed by a town and it had tumbled over its roofs. He said: “Oh! How will Allah ever bring it to life after its death?” So Allah caused him to die for a hundred years, then raised him up (again). He said: “How long did you remain (dead)?” He (the man) said: “(Perhaps) I remained (dead) a day or part of a day”. He said: “Nay, you have remained (dead) for a hundred years, look at your food and your drink, they show no change; and look at your donkey! And thus We have made of you a sign for the people. Look at the bones, how We bring them together and clothe them with flesh”. When this was clearly shown to him, he said, “I know (now) that Allah is Able to do all things.”” [Surah Al-Baqarah (2) : 259]
5) The four birds.
[I said “cases”, I never said “humans” or “people”.]
وَإِذْ قَالَ إِبْرَاهِيمُ رَبِّ أَرِنِي كَيْفَ تُحْيِي الْمَوْتَىٰ ۖ قَالَ أَوَلَمْ تُؤْمِن ۖ قَالَ بَلَىٰ وَلَـٰكِن لِّيَطْمَئِنَّ قَلْبِي ۖ قَالَ فَخُذْ أَرْبَعَةً مِّنَ الطَّيْرِ فَصُرْهُنَّ إِلَيْكَ ثُمَّ اجْعَلْ عَلَىٰ كُلِّ جَبَلٍ مِّنْهُنَّ جُزْءًا ثُمَّ ادْعُهُنَّ يَأْتِينَكَ سَعْيًا ۚ وَاعْلَمْ أَنَّ اللَّـهَ عَزِيزٌ حَكِيمٌ
“And (remember) when Ibrahim said, “My Lord! Show me how You give life to the dead.” He (Allah) said: “Do you not believe?” He [Ibrahim] said: “Yes (I believe), but to be stronger in Faith.” He said: “Take four birds, then cause them to incline towards you (then slaughter them, cut them into pieces), and then put a portion of them on every hill, and call them, they will come to you in haste. And know that Allah is All-Mighty, All-Wise.”” [Surah Al-Baqarah (2) : 260]
Interestingly enough, the last two ayaat (verses) that I mentioned are back to back ayaat (i.e. they come one after another). And right before them is the following ayah (verse):
أَلَمْ تَرَ إِلَى الَّذِي حَاجَّ إِبْرَاهِيمَ فِي رَبِّهِ أَنْ آتَاهُ اللَّـهُ الْمُلْكَ إِذْ قَالَ إِبْرَاهِيمُ رَبِّيَ الَّذِي يُحْيِي وَيُمِيتُ قَالَ أَنَا أُحْيِي وَأُمِيتُ ۖ قَالَ إِبْرَاهِيمُ فَإِنَّ اللَّـهَ يَأْتِي بِالشَّمْسِ مِنَ الْمَشْرِقِ فَأْتِ بِهَا مِنَ الْمَغْرِبِ فَبُهِتَ الَّذِي كَفَرَ ۗ وَاللَّـهُ لَا يَهْدِي الْقَوْمَ الظَّالِمِينَ
“Have you not looked at him who disputed with Ibrahim about his Lord (Allah), because Allah had given him the kingdom? When Ibrahim said (to him): “My Lord (Allah) is He Who gives life and causes death.” He said, “I give life and cause death.” Ibrahim said, “Verily! Allah causes the sun to rise from the east; then cause it you to rise from the west.” So the disbeliever was utterly defeated. And Allah guides not the people, who are dhaalimoon (wrong-doers, etc.).” [Surah Al-Baqarah (2) : 258]
Amazingly enough, this ayah also talks about life and death. This should be enough to disprove those (disbelievers) who say that the Quran has “no structure” and “no theme”!
The King (Namrood) who claimed that he could bring the dead back to life basically cheated. He brought in two prisoners, killed one and let the other go (and called it giving life).
Shaikh Uthman Al-Khamees pointed out something with regards to the above ayah. He said that nobody should think that Ibrahim (alaihissalam) changed the topic from life and death and moved on to the rising of the sun. He didn’t change the topic. He was trying to say “Oh, so you can bring the dead back to life? Then do something easier than this which is to cause the sun to rise from the West.” And so the King was defeated.
These are the above cases that the Shaikh mentioned. Are they the only cases where the dead were bought back to life? As far as I know these are the only specific ones mentioned in the Quran. However, we know that Isa (alaihissalam) raised the dead with the permission of Allah so there seem to have been other cases as well.
وَرَسُولًا إِلَىٰ بَنِي إِسْرَائِيلَ أَنِّي قَدْ جِئْتُكُم بِآيَةٍ مِّن رَّبِّكُمْ ۖ أَنِّي أَخْلُقُ لَكُم مِّنَ الطِّينِ كَهَيْئَةِ الطَّيْرِ فَأَنفُخُ فِيهِ فَيَكُونُ طَيْرًا بِإِذْنِ اللَّـهِ ۖ وَأُبْرِئُ الْأَكْمَهَ وَالْأَبْرَصَ وَأُحْيِي الْمَوْتَىٰ بِإِذْنِ اللَّـهِ ۖ وَأُنَبِّئُكُم بِمَا تَأْكُلُونَ وَمَا تَدَّخِرُونَ فِي بُيُوتِكُمْ ۚ إِنَّ فِي ذَٰلِكَ لَآيَةً لَّكُمْ إِن كُنتُم مُّؤْمِنِينَ
“And will make him [Isa] a Messenger to the Children of Israel (saying): “I have come to you with a sign from your Lord, that I design for you out of clay, as it were, the figure of a bird, and breathe into it, and it becomes a bird by Allah’s Leave; and I heal him who was born blind, and the leper, and I bring the dead to life by Allah’s Leave. And I inform you of what you eat, and what you store in your houses. Surely, therein is a sign for you, if you believe.” [Surah Aal-Imran (3) : 49]
إِذْ قَالَ اللَّـهُ يَا عِيسَى ابْنَ مَرْيَمَ اذْكُرْ نِعْمَتِي عَلَيْكَ وَعَلَىٰ وَالِدَتِكَ إِذْ أَيَّدتُّكَ بِرُوحِ الْقُدُسِ تُكَلِّمُ النَّاسَ فِي الْمَهْدِ وَكَهْلًا ۖ وَإِذْ عَلَّمْتُكَ الْكِتَابَ وَالْحِكْمَةَ وَالتَّوْرَاةَ وَالْإِنجِيلَ ۖ وَإِذْ تَخْلُقُ مِنَ الطِّينِ كَهَيْئَةِ الطَّيْرِ بِإِذْنِي فَتَنفُخُ فِيهَا فَتَكُونُ طَيْرًا بِإِذْنِي ۖ وَتُبْرِئُ الْأَكْمَهَ وَالْأَبْرَصَ بِإِذْنِي ۖ وَإِذْ تُخْرِجُ الْمَوْتَىٰ بِإِذْنِي ۖ وَإِذْ كَفَفْتُ بَنِي إِسْرَائِيلَ عَنكَ إِذْ جِئْتَهُم بِالْبَيِّنَاتِ فَقَالَ الَّذِينَ كَفَرُوا مِنْهُمْ إِنْ هَـٰذَا إِلَّا سِحْرٌ مُّبِينٌ
“(Remember) when Allah will say (on the Day of Resurrection). “O Isa, son of Maryam! Remember My Favour to you and to your mother when I supported you with Ruh al Qudus [Jibreel] so that you spoke to the people in the cradle and in maturity; and when I taught you writing, al-hikmah (the power of understanding), the Taurah and the Injeel; and when you made out of the clay, as it were, the figure of a bird, by My Permission, and you breathed into it, and it became a bird by My Permission, and you healed those born blind, and the lepers by My Permission, and when you brought forth the dead by My Permission; and when I restrained the Children of Israel from you (when they resolved to kill you) since you came unto them with clear proofs, and the disbelievers among them said: ‘This is nothing but evident magic.'”” [Surah Al-Maaidah (5) : 110]
Of course, the reason that these cases have been mentioned in the Quran is obvious. The One who brought them back to life in this world can and will bring them back to life in the next world. And He can and will bring all of us back to life on the Last Day, so we need to understand that He can do all things, and we need to worship Him before death comes to us.