Funerals

Al-Istirjaa


When the news of death in the family reaches the relatives and friends, the first thing that they should say is the following Qur’anic verse (2:156): “Inna lil-laahi wa innaa ilayhi raaji’oon [Truly! To Allâh we belong and truly, to Him we shall return.]”.  This du’aa is known in arabic as al-Istirjaa.

In the case of the husband or wife, they should add “Allaahumma ajirnee fee museebatee wakh-luf lee khayran minhaa (or minhu if it is the wife saying it) [O Allah grant me refuge in my affliction and replace her(him) with someone better]

 


Crying For Mercy at time of Death is Halal

The Prophet May Allah's peace and blessings be upon him shed tears, but did not cry out in a loud voice….

Hadith – Bukhari
We went with Allah’s Apostle May Allah's peace and blessings be upon him to the blacksmith Abu Saif, and he was the husband of the wet-nurse of Ibrahim (the son of the Prophet). Allah’s Apostle took Ibrahim and kissed him and smelled him and later we entered Abu Saif’s house and at that time Ibrahim was in his last breaths, and the eyes of Allah’s Apostle May Allah's peace and blessings be upon him started shedding tears. ‘Abdur Rahman bin ‘Auf said, “O Allah’s Apostle, even you are weeping!” He said, “O Ibn ‘Auf, this is mercy.” Then he wept more and said, “The eyes are shedding tears and the heart is grieved, and we will not say except what pleases our Lord, O Ibrahim! Indeed we are grieved by your separation.”

 


Words at The Time of Dying

 

Both Aboo Sa’eed al-Khudree and Aboo Hurayrah quoted the Prophet (SAW) as saying “Prompt your dying ones (to say): laa ilaaha il-lal-laah 1 and whoever’s last words before dying are: laa ilaaha il-lal-laah, will enter Paradise one day,even if he is afflicted before that by punishment.”2

1Sahih Muslim,Vol.2,#1996
2This addition is only found in Saheeh ibn Hibbaan, authenticated in Irwaa al-Ghaleel,vol . 3,pg.150

This statement does not simply mean that we should mention shahadah, but the dying person should be instructed to say the shahadah, as is evident from the Prophet’s statement, whoever’s last words are: “laa ilaahha il-lal-laah.”

Muslims are also encouraged to be present when non-muslims are dying in order to present Islaam to them,in the hope that they will accept Islaam prior to their deaths. For the acceptance of Islaam at this point to be of any benefit, it must be based on knowledge, it must be expressed sincerely and with certainty, and it must take place before the actual throes of death begin.

 

Hadith – Muslim, vol.1, p.20, #41, Narrated Abu Hurayrah

Allah’s Messenger May Allah's peace and blessings be upon him said, “I testify that there is no god worthy of worship but Allah and that I am the Messenger of Allah. Any servant who meets Allah with those two {testimonies}, having no doubt in them, will enter Paradise.”

 

Hadith – Muslim, vol.1, p.18, #36, Narrated ‘Abdullah ibn ‘Umar

The Prophet May Allah's peace and blessings be upon him said,”Allah, Most Great and Glorious, will accept his servants repentance until the throes of death begin.” [Collected by at-Tirmithee and ibn Maajah and authenticated in Saheeh Sunan Ibn Maajah,vol.2,p.418,#3430. See Riyadh-us-Saleheen,vol.1,p.12,#18 for an english translation of this hadeeth]

 


Good Words

People present may pray aloud for the one who is dying letting the person hear words of concern and sympathy.Negative words should be avoided this will only increase the difficulties the sick and dying are facing.Good words and positive thoughts will make the process of dying easier and recovery from illness more bearable…

Umm Salamah related that the Prophet(SAW) said, “If you are in the presence of a sick or dying person,you should say good things,for verily the angels say”Aameen” to whatever you say.” When Umm Salamah asked the Prophet (SAW) what should she say, he replied: “Say: Allaahumma-ghfir lee wa lahu wa a’qibnee minhu’uqbaa hasanah [O Allah forgive him and me, and grant me a good substitute after him.]”

[Sahih Muslim, vol.2, p.436, #2002Sunan Abu Dawud, vol.2.p.887#3109Sunan Ibn-i-Majah, vol.2, pp.366-7, #1447 and Mishkat Al-Masabih, vol.1, p337Sahih Muslim, vol.2, p.436, #2002]

 


Surah Yaaseen

The practice of specifically reading the 36th chapter of the Qur’aan, Soorah Yaaseen, in the presence of the dying has no basis in the authentic Sunnah. Neither the Prophet May Allah's peace and blessings be upon him nor his companions did it, or recommended that it be done. However, it does fall under the general heading of “good things”which could be said in the presence of the one who is dying, but it carries with it no special value…

There is an inauthentic hadeeth narrated by Ma’qil and collected in Sunan Abu Dawud, vol.2, p.889#3115, Sunan Ibn-i-Majah,vol.2,p.367#1448. See Also Mishkat Al-Masabih,vol.1,p.338. It is declared inauthentic in Da’eef Sunan Abee Daawood,p316#683. This inauthentic hadeeth incorrectly specifies that Surah Yaaseen should be read for the dying; to believe that doing so has special value is considered bid’ah, a sinful innovation in the religion.

 


Facing the Qiblah

Turning the body of one who is dying so that he or she faces the qiblah [Makkah] has no foundation in the practice of the Prophet(SAW) and his companions. The body should be turned to face Makkah when it is placed in the grave, according to the Prophets instructions. However at the time of dying there were no instructions. Turning the body became a custom after the time of the Prophets companions, but was objected to by the scholars of that time…i.e.Sa’eed ibn al-Musayyib ibn Hazn (634-713CE), from the Madeenite tribe of Makhzoom, was one of the seven leading legal scholars of Madinah. He was known as the most knowledegeable scholar about ‘Umar ibn al-Khattaab’s legal principles and his rulings. He lived on what he earned from the sale of olive oil and he never accepted grants.(Al-A’laam,vol.3p.155) Collected by Ibn Abee Shaybah in al-Musannaf and authenticated in Ahkaamul-Janaa’iz,p.11, nt.15.

 


Acceptance of Fate

The dying individual is obliged to accept his lot gracefully so that it becomes a source of reward and blessing for him on the Day of Judgement. The Prophet (SAW) taught that patiently bearing the trials of this life is an act of righteousness which expiates sins.

Abdullah stated that he visited Allah’s Messenger (SAW) while he was suffering from a high fever and said to him ,”O Messenger Of Allah,you have a high fever.”He replied ,”yes,I have a fever equal to that of two of your men experience.” I asked, “Is it because you will have double the reward?”He replied,”Yes , it is so.Any Muslim who is afflicted with the harm of a thorn prick or more will have,as a result of it ,some of his sins expiated the way a tree sheds it’s leaves.”

Sahih Al Bukhari,vol.7,p374,#551 and Sahih Muslim,vol.4,p1364,# 6235…

 


Between Fear and Hope

 

The dying person should be in a psychological state between fear and hope.The person should fear Allah’s punishment for his or her sins and,at the same time, hope for Allah’s mercy and forgiveness…

“Do not lose hope of Allah’s mercy, for verily Allah (can) forgive all sin.”

The only exception to that rule is the sin of shirk, as it negates the very purpose of creation…

The Noble Qur’an – az-Zumar39:53

Say: “O ‘Ibâdî (My slaves) who have transgressed against themselves (by committing evil deeds and sins)! Despair not of the Mercy of Allâh, verily Allâh forgives all sins. Truly, He is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful.

The Noble Qur’an – 4:48, see also 4:116

Verily, Allâh forgives not that partners should be set up with him in worship, but He forgives except that (anything else) to whom He pleases, and whoever sets up partners with Allâh in worship, he has indeed invented a tremendous sin.

 


The Death Wish

No matter how severe the pain of the sickness may become, one is not allowed to hope or wish for death.The death wish reflects a belief that Allah has burdened one beyond his or her capacity and indicates a lack of patience.The longer people live,the more opportunity they have to do good and improve their lot…

Hadith – Bukhari,vol.7,p390,#575, Muslim,vol.4,p1411,#6480 & 6485

Anas quoted the Prophet(SAW) as saying, “None of you should wish for death because of some harm which has afflicted him.But if one must do it, let him say: Allaahumma ahyinee maa kaanatil-hayaatu khayran lee [O Allah keep me alive as long as living is best for me] wa tawaffanee ithaa kaanatil-wafaatu khayran lee[and take my life if death is better for me].”

 


Debts

Dying individuals may have in their possession certain items belonging to others. If that is the case,they should return them as soon as they are able to do so, in order to avoid having to pay them back from their good deeds on the Day of Judgement.

The Prophet(SAW) was reported to have said, “There are two types of debt: whoever dies intending to repay it, I will be responsible for it,and whoever dies with no intention to repay it, will have it taken from his good deeds.There will not be any deenaars or dirhams on that Day. [Collected by at-Tabaranee and authenticated in Ahkaamul janaa’iz,p.5]

 


Waseeyah (Will)

Before dying, everyone leaving behind wealth and property should write or dictate a will in which they may give away up to one-third of their wealth to those who would not inherit from them based on Islamic inheritance laws.

This recommendation was instituted by Allah to protect the rights of non-inheriting relatives and friends. Consequently the Prophet (SAW) encouraged muslims to record and keep it with them,as soon as the need arises.

Abdullaah ibn’Umar related that the Messenger of Allah (SAW) said, “It is not right for a muslim who has something to bequeath to pass two nights without having it in writing in his possession… Reported by ibn’Umar and recorded in all of the six major books of hadeeth…

Sahih Al-Bhukari ,vol.4, p1#1
Sahih Muslim,vol.3, p863#3987
Sunan Abu Dawud,vol.2, p.805#2856

According to Islaamic law, wealth obtained by waseeyah is not considered inheritance, but a gift. Under this law muslims may leave a portion of their wealth to non-muslim relatives and a muslim may also receive a portion in a will from a non-muslim relative, because it is considered a gift. Otherwise “A muslim must not inherit from a disbeliever, nor should a disbeliever inherit from a muslim.” [Sahih Al-Bukhari ,vol.8, p.498, #756/Sahih Muslim,vol.3,p.852,# 3928]

According to the system of Islaamic inheritance laws (faraa’id), non-muslims are not classified as heirs to muslims. Likewise, muslims have no right to take portions of their dead non-muslim relatives wealth allotted by non-Islaamic systems of inheritance. (That is, if the deceased non-muslim relative does not write a will ‘ waseeyah’ and the non-muslim state divides up his/her wealth according to it’s manmade laws, the muslim relative is prohibited by Islaamic law to accept any share allotted to him/her by this process.)

 


After Death

Obligatory actions on those present:

Once the person expires (passes away), the relatives and those present are obliged to perform particular services for him or her.
1. Closing the eyes and du’aa (supplication)

The eyes of the dead person should be closed and some prayers should be made for him, based on the following hadeeth of Umm Salamah (r.a.);

Hadith – Sahih Muslim,vol.2pp.436-7 #2003

Umm Salamah said, “Allah’s Messenger (sallallahu aleihi wa sallam) came in and found Aboo Salamah’s eyes staring. He closed them and said, verily when the soul is snatched, the eyes follow it.” Some people from his family began to scream, so he said, “Only pray for good for yourselves, for verily the angels say ‘Aameen [So-be-it]’ to whatever you say,”

He then prayed, saying:

Allaahummagh-fir li Abee Salamah warfa’ darajatahoo filmahdeeyeen,
[O Allaah, forgive Aboo Salamah and raise his level among the rightly guided,]

wakhlufhu fee ‘aqibihee filghaabireen.
[and let his remaining offspring be like him.]

waghfir lanaa walahoo yaa Rabbal-Aalameen
[Forgive us and forgive him,O Lord of all the worlds]

wafsah lahoo fee qabrihee wa nawwir lahoo feeh.
[and expand his grave and illuminate it for him.]

2. Covering the body

A sheet of cloth large enough to cover the whole body of the deceased should be drawn over the whole body.

3. Hastening the burial

It is not permissable for muslims to delay the burial in order for the maximum number of relatives to see the deceased, as is common practice among other communities. Once death is evident, the body should be prepared and taken out of the house for prayer and burial as soon as possible. In this way,contact with the dead body is minimized, which keeps the grief and hurt of seeing the dead down to a minimum. Abu Hurayrah related that the Prophet  May Allah's peace and blessings be upon him said “Hasten the funeral rites” [Collected in all six major books of hadeeth. See: Sahih Al-Bukhari vol.2,p.225, #401Sahih Muslim,vol.2,p448,#2059Sunan Abu Dawud,vol.2,pp897-8,#.3153;Sunan Ibn-i-Majah, vol.2, p.383, #1477Mishkat Al-Masabih,vol.1, p338]

4. Locating the burial

The dead should be buried in the same area where they died. Transporting the body to another area or another country is not permissable if it will unnecessarily delay the burial or cause financial or other hardship.

5. Paying off debts of deceased

All outstanding debts of the dead person should be repaid from the wealth that he or she left behind, even if it consumes all of the inheritance. If the dead person is without wealth or the inheritance was not sufficient to cover all of his or her debts, the Islamic state will be responsible to repay the remainder, if the dead person had made serious efforts to pay it.

 


Permissable Actions by Those Present

 

1. Uncovering the face and kissing it

Those present at the individual’s death or those who come to see the dead person for the last time are allowed to uncover theface and kiss it.Kissing the face of the dead is considered a part of the Sunnah of the Prophet(SAW) and his companions. [Sunan Abu Dawud vol.2,p.898,# 3157, Sunan Ibn-i-Majah vol.2,p.371 #1456]

 

2. Crying

Those present and the relatives of the deceased are allowed to cry for a maximum period of three (3) days.

Abdullah ibn Ja’far narrated that the Prophet (SAW) delayed coming to visit Ja’far’s family ‘for three days after his death’,then he came to them and said, “Do not cry for my brother after today.”[Dawud,vol.3,p.1165,#4180]

3. Patience

Relatives of the deceased are obliged to be patient, practice self restraint, and gracefully accept Allah’s decree,because Allah has already promised mankind that He would test them.

The Noble Qur’an 2:155

“Verily I will test you with fear and hunger, and loss of wealth, life, and the fruit (of your labor), so give glad tidings to the patient ones.”

 

Among the glad tidings for those who are patient when loved ones are lost is that a home is prepared for them in Paradise, Aboo Moosaa al-Ash’aree quoted Allah’s Messenger May Allah's peace and blessings be upon him as saying:

Saheeh Sunan at-Tirmithee,vol.1,pp.298-9, #814
“If a child of [Allah’s] slave dies, Allah will say to His angels: You took My slaves child, they will reply: Yes, He will then say: You took the love of his life, and they will reply: Yes, He will then ask: What did My slave say? and they will reply: He praised you and said, surely, we belong to Allah and to Him we will return.’ Allah will then say: Build a house in Paradise for My slave and call it the House of Praise.”

However true patience for which Allah, swt, promises reward is that which is practised when calamity first strikes. The real test of patience is at the time of the calamity; being patient after the initial shock and reaction have worn off is not considered real patience.

 

 


Al-Hidaad (Mourning)

Women are required to avoid all forms of beautification as a sign of mourning for their husbands, children or relatives. This does not contradict the recommendations for patience, as long as the mourning does not exceed three days for her child or relative and four months and ten days for her husband.
Hadith – Al-Bukhari, vol.7, pp.193-4,# 254 and Sahih Muslim, vol.2, p.778, #3552
Umm ‘Ateeyah said, “We were forbidden to mourn for more than three days for a dead person, except for a husband, in which case a woman should mourn for four months and ten days [during this period] we were not allowed to wear khol on our eyes, nor perfume ourselves, nor wear colored clothes, except ‘asab cloth. It was permissable for us at the time of bathing at the end of menses to use a small amount of incense.”

 


Forbidden Actions by Those Present

1. Wailing

The Prophet May Allah's peace and blessings be upon him strictly forbade wailing, screaming and hiring of mourners. Furthermore, he identified such practices as acts of kufr (disbelief), because they indicate displeasure with what Allah has decreed. Eemaan (faith) includes the belief that Allah is the source of all good and that all of His actions are wise. Proper eemaan would never allow those who possess it to commit such acts of ignorance.

  • Abu Hurayrah narrated that the Prophet May Allah's peace and blessings be upon him said,”There are two practices found among people, both of which indicate disbelief: ridiculing the ancestry (of others) and wailing over the dead.”  [Muslim, vol.1, p.44, #128]
  • “Verily the dead are punished in thir graves by the wailing of their family over them.” [Bukhari, vol.2, p.213, #379; Muslim, vol.2, p.439, #2015]
  • The Prophet May Allah's peace and blessings be upon him said, “The deceased who is wailed over is tortured for that wailing.”[Bukhari 2.378, Narrated Al Mughira, r.a.]
  • The Prophet  said, “He who slaps the cheeks, tears the clothes and follows the tradition of the Days of Ignorance is not from us.” [Bukhari 2.385, Narrated Abdullah, r.a.]

The dead will suffer due to the wailing of relatives in two cases: (a)When the deceased requested wailing prior to his death. (b) If the deceased knew that it was the custom of his people and he did not request that they not do so over him.

2. Striking Cheeks and Tearing of Clothes

At the time of the Prophet May Allah's peace and blessings be upon him, the practice in Arabia for women in mourning was to slap or scratch their cheeks and to rip their clothes. These acts were strictly forbidden, as well as similar practices which involved self-punishment and the destruction of material wealth. These practices all heighten the pain and sorrow that accompany death,while Islam seeks to minimize it.

Ibn Mas’ood reported that the Prophet May Allah's peace and blessings be upon him said, “Whoever slaps his face,tears his clothes,or invites(others)to an un-islamic slogan is not of us.” [Collected by Al-Bukhari,Muslim, Ibn Maajah and al-Bayhaqee; Bukhari, vol.2, p.216, #385; Sahih Muslim,vol.1,p.59,#184]

3. Shaving the Head or Dishevelling the Hair

In Islam women are required to shun various forms of beautification in order to avoid attracting other men during their period of mourning,since contracting marriage during this time is forbidden. However,shaving the head and dishevelling the hair is prohibited,as these acts go beyond normal bounds and are associated with pre-islamic concepts. [Bukhari,vol.2,p.215,#383; Muslim,vol.1,p.59,nos.186-7]

4. Announcing someone’s death

It is forbidden to make a big affair about announcing anyone’s death, such as proclaiming it from the minarets of the mosques, announcing it in the market streets,etc.

If someone died, Huthayfah ibn al-Yamaan used to say, “Do not proclaim his death to anyone,for fear that it may be a death announcement and I heard Allah’s Messenger May Allah's peace and blessings be upon him forbid death announcement with my own two ears.” [at-Tirmithee and Sunan Ibn-i-Majah, vol.2,p.382,#1476,and authenticated in Saheeh Sunan Ibn Maajah, vol.1, p.248, #1203]

However,a calmly expressed general announcement is allowed,based on the Prophet’s May Allah's peace and blessings be upon himpractice.

5. Gathering to give condolences

The custom of organizing gatherings in the home, at the grave or in the masjid to give condolences to the family of the deceased is against the Sunnah of the companions of the Prophet May Allah's peace and blessings be upon him.

Imaam ash-Shaafi’ee said, “I dislike gatherings, even if there is no wailing or crying. For it only renews the [family’s feelings of] sorrow and puts burdens on their food supplies.” [Al-Umm,vol.1,p.248, quoted in Ahkaamu;-Janaa’iz,p.167 Al-Majmoo’, vol.5, p.306, quoted in Ahkaamul-Janaa’iz, p.167]

6. Preparing food by the family of the deceased

The obligation placed on the family of the dead person to prepare food for gatherings is incorrect, based on the previously mentioned statement of the Prophets (SAW) companion, al-Bajalee. Furthermore, it contradicts theProphet’s (SAW) explicit instructions to relatives, friends and neighbors is to send food to the bereaved family. [Bukhari, vol.7, p.401, #593; Muslim,vol.4,p.1202,#5491. Collected by at-Tirmithee,Aboo Daawood and ibn Maajah(Sunan Ibn Majah, vol.2, p.455, #1610) and authenticated in Saheeh Sunan Ibn Maajah,vol.1,p.268,#1306]

 


Recommended Actions by Those Present

Preparing food for the family of the deceased

It was the practice of the Prophet May Allah's peace and blessings be upon him to have his family prepare food for the relatives of the dead.

People later elaborated on this practice until it became an exaggerated ritual with much pomp and show. Later scholars considered its distorted form an innovation and abandoned it. [Sunan Ibn-i-Majah,vol.2,p.455,#1610]

 


Testifying Good of the Dead

 

It is recommended that righteous muslims who knew the deceased well and were among his or her neighbors should testify to others about the good qualities of the deceased.

Anas quote the Prophet(SAW) as saying, “For any muslim who dies and four of his close neighbors testify that they have known him to be good, Allah-the Blessed, the Highest-will say, ‘I have accepted your testimony and forgiven him for what you do not know about.’ [Collected by Ahmad and authenticated in Ahkaamul-Janaa’iz, pp.45-6]

 


Preparing the Body

 

There should be no delay in preparing the body, i.e.washing ,shrouding, and burial of the deceased, supported by the Prophets May Allah's peace and blessings be upon him instruction, “Hasten the funeral rites.” [Collected in all six(6) books of Hadith.See Sahih Al-Bukhari,vol.2,p.255,#401]

 

1.  Injunctions concerning washing

  1. Fard Kifaayah (Collective Obligation) – Washing the body prior to shrouding and the burial is obligatory, according to numerous recorded instructions given by the Prophet(SAW). [Sahih Al-Bukhari, vol.2, p.194, #344]
  2. Males Wash Males – As a general rule, males should take the responsibility of washing males,and females should wash females. The only exception to the rule is in the case mahrams, such as of husband and wife, or small children.
  3. The Most Knowledgeable – Those who take responsibility of washing the dead should be the most knowledgeable of the procedures, preferably from among the deceased’s immediate family members or relatives. Those with taqwa (fear of Allah, piety) should be chosen in order to ensure proper treatment of the dead.
  4. Ghusl (Islamic Bath) – Those who wash the dead are not required to be in a state of purity. Consequently menustrating women may perform the washing procedure. However, it is recommended that those who wash the dead take an islamic bath(Ghusl) afterwards, based on the following hadith;
    • Aboo Hurayah reported that the Prophet (SAW)said,”Whoever washes the dead should take a ghusl,and whoever carries the corpse should make wudoo. [Sunan Abu Dawud,vol.2,p.898,#3155.]

2.  Method of washing

  1. The body should be laid out, stripped of its garments and its joints loosened, if possible. A cloth should be placed over the private parts, between the navel and the knees so that the washers do not look at the pubic area of the dead person.The stomach should be pressed to expel any remaining impurities.
  2. A rag or cloth should be used to wash the body and the washing should begin with the places on the right side of the body washed during wudoo.
  3. After completeing the wudoo,the woman’s hair should be undone if it was braided and the hair thoroughly washed.Then the rest of the body should be washed ,turning the body on it’s side so as to complete the right side before washing the left.
  4. The body should be washed a minimum of three times and the water should have some cleaning agent in it, like soap or disinfectant. The final washing should have some perfume in it, such as camphor or the like.
  5. The body should then be dried and the hair combed out. In the case of women the hair should be plaited into three braids,one from the front and two from the sides and placed behind her head.
  6. Exceptions: The Pilgrim… In the case of a person who dies in a state of ihraam, perfume should not be used in washing his or her body.

3.  The Martyr

In the case of the martyr (shaheed), his or her body should not be washed at all but be buried as it is.

4.  Injunctions concerning the shroud

  1. Shrouding the body is obligatory, based on the commands of the Prophet(SAW) to do so. The body should be shrouded immediately after it is washed and dried.
  2. The shroud or its cost should be taken from the wealth left behind of the deceased if there is enough money to purchase garments which can cover all the body.
  3. The shroud should be sufficient to cover the whole body, if not, those preparing the body should supply a proper shroud.
  4. If the number of dead is great or the cloth used for shrouding is insufficient for all the bodies, more than one body may be wrapped in the same shroud at a time.
  5. The number of sheets used to wrap the body may be as few as one sheet. It could also be two sheets. The preferable number is generally considered to be three sheets, based on the fact that the Prophet(SAW) was shrouded in three. However, since the use of one or two sheets were suggested and approved by the Prophet(SAW)himself, the companions choice of three sheets cannot be considered more preferable than two or one. There is no differance between the man and woman in the number of sheets used. The Prophet(SAW) did not specify a particular number for women and another for men, as is commonly held among muslims today.
  6. The preferable color is white. It is also recommended that the cloth or at least one of the sheets be striped.
  7. It is recommended that the shroud be perfumed with incense thrice, except in the case of the muhrim, as was previously mentioned.
  8. Spending large sums of money on the shroud the way non-muslims compete with each other in buying the most expensive coffins, is strictly forbidden in Islam.The sheets should be ordinary cloth, preferably cotton and not synthetics, so that it decomposes quickly along with the body, and the number of sheets should not exceed three.

5.  Injunctions concerning the funeral procession

  1. Following The Bier – To follow a muslims bier is among the obligatory rights due to every muslim from all muslims who witness his or her funeral procession.
  2. Method of following The BierThere are two basic ways of following the bier. Both ways were done by the Prophet(SAW), but he favored the second method by indicating that it’s reward was greater.
    • Following it from the family’s home until the funeral prayer is made for the deceased.
    • Following it from the family’s home until the body has been buried.
  3. The participation of Women – The virtue of following the bier is basically for men alone. Women are not encouraged to take part based on the fact that the Prophet (SAW) prohibited their participation.
  4. The Dirge – Following the bier with wailing, chants, dirges, burning incense etc.,are all forbidden and considered bidah (religious innovations). The way of the Prophet (SAW) and his companions wasto maintain silence while walking with the bier.
  5. Haste in carrying the Bier – The pallbeares are required to walk quickly from the deceased house to the masjid, and from the masjid to the graveyard.
    • Muwatta Hadith 16.58 – Yahya related to me from Malik from Nafi that Abu Hurayra said, “Make your funerals speedy, for it is only good that you are advancing him towards, or evil that you are taking off your necks.”
  6. Accompanying The Bier – Those walking with the bier are allowed to walk in front, behind, or on either side of it, while those riding should be behind it.
  7. Standing For The Bier – In the early days of Islam, the Prophet(SAW) used to stand when the bier passed by, but later he abolished the practice.
  8. Transporting The Bier – Transportation of the bier in a funeral coach or vehicle (hearse) according to the traditions of non-muslims is forbidden.Carts which could have been used to transport the dead existed in the Prophets (SAW) time, but he instructed his followers to walk and carry the bier with their own hands. The Prophet (SAW) explicitly instructed his followers on numerous occasions to differ in their religious and social customs from non-muslims.

 


The Funeral Prayer

 

The performance of salaatul-janaazah(the funeral prayer) is considered fard (obligatory) kifaayah. If someone is buried without it being performed, the whole community is held responsible, but as long as some gather and perform it, the obligation is removed from the community as a whole.

Exceptions: Children Below the Age of Puberty

A child born dead or aborted after the fourth month,or one that dies before reaching puberty, does not have to have a funeral prayer because the Prophet(SAW)did not do so for his own son.

A child aborted before the fourth month, if the child was stillborn before the fourth month,there is no funeral prayer for it, since it was not considered living in the human sense that it has a soul which may be prayed for. This ruling is based on the hadith related by ibn Mas’ood,in which the Prophet(SAW)was quoted as saying,

“Verily the creation of each one of you comes together in his mother’s stomach for forty days, then he becomes a leech-like clot for a similar period, then he becomes a clump of flesh for a similar period,then an angel is sent to him and the angel blows his soul into him.” [Sahih Al-Bukhari,vol.8,p.387,#593,and Sahih Muslim ,vol.4,p.1391,# 6390]

 


Salaatal-Janaazah

 

  1. The Martyr (Shaheed) – Salaatal-Janaazah is not required for one who dies or is killed while fighting for the cause of Islam. Such an individual can be buried without salaatal-janaazah. However, the funeral prayer may be made for martyrs, since the Prophet(SAW) did perform salaatal-janaazah for those who died in battle on other occasions.
  2. An Executed Criminal – One who voluntarily confesses to a crime whose punishment is death should be prayed for,since such a confession is an unparalleled form of true repentance.
  3. The Corrupt – The funeral prayer should be held even for those who were known to be corrupt, like alcoholics,drug addicts, adulterers, and those who abandoned prayer and zakat, while aknowledging that they are compulsory duties. However it is preferable that the scholars and the pious do not join in the funeral prayer for them as a punishment for them and deterrent for others like them. It was the practice of the Prophet (SAW) not to pray for those who committed major sins, although he did allow others to do so. [Muslim, vol.2, p.464, #2133]
  4. Debtors – In the beginning ,the Prophet(SAW) refused to lead the funeral prayer for those who died leaving behind debts and no means to pay them. This was done to emphasize the importance of clearing one’s debts from the charity (sadaqah) which he received. [Muslim, vol.3,.855, #3944]
  5. Burial without Salaah – It is allowable to perform the funeral prayer by the grave of someone who was buried without having salaatul-janaazah performed for him. [Sahih Al-Bukhari, vol.2, p.192, #339, p.228, #407, Sahih Muslim,vol.2,p.453,# 2084]
  6. Salaatul-Ghaa’ib – If someone dies in a country or situation where there is no one to perform the salaatal-janaazah for him,it is permitted for a group of muslims to make a funeral prayer for him in his absence.This prayer is known as salaatul-ghaa’ib. [Sahih Al-Bukhari,vol.2,p.191# 337]
  7. Disbelievers – The performance of funeral prayers or even seeking forgiveness or mercy for those who die in open disbelief or nifaaq (subtle disbelief) is strictly forbidden,based on the following instruction of Allah in the Qur’an:
    • “Never pray for any of them who die, and do not stand by their graves, for verily they have disbelieved in Allah and His Messenger and died in sin. [Surah at-Tawbah(9):84; Sahih Al-Bukhari, vol.2,pp.201-2,#359; Sahih Muslim,vol.4,pp.1456-7,# 6680; Sahih Al-Bukhari,vol.6,p.158,#197]

The Jamaa’ah (Congregation):

  1. In Congregation – Salaatul-janaazah, like the five daily compulsary prayers,must be performed in congregation.This was the only way that the Prophet (SAW) and his companions did it. The Prophet (SAW) was also reported to have said,”Pray as you saw me pray.” [Sahih Al-Bukhari,vol.1,p.345,# 604]
    • The only exception to this rule was in the case of the funeral prayer for the Prophet(SAW), in which the Prophets(SAW) companions seem to have all prayed seperately due to the uniqeness of the situation and their state of confusion at the time. [Al-Bidaayah wa an-Nihaayah, vol.5, pp.304-5]
  2. Three Rows – It is preferable that those behind the imaam form at least three rows, as this was the Sunnah when the number of worshippers was insufficient to fill the masjid.
    • “Any muslim who dies and three rows of muslims make salah for him, will be forgiven.”[Ahkaamul-Janaaiz, p.99, with support of the following Hadith: Dawud, vol.2, p.899, #3160]
  3. Two Men – If there is only one man besides the imaam, he should pray behind the imaam and not beside him as he would in the case of all other salaahs. [Collected by al-Bayhaqee,al-Haakim, and at-Tabaraanee and authenticated in Ahkaamul-Janaa’iz,p.100]
  4. The Imaam – The ameer or his assistant has more right to lead the funeral prayer than the deceased’s walee. If neither the ameer nor his representative is present, the one who has the most knowledge of Al-Qur’an should lead the funeral prayer, even if he is a child. Knowledge is not just memorization, but that which benefits. [Collected by al-Bayhaqee and authenticated in Ahkaamul-Janaa’iz,pp.100-01; Sahih Al-Bukhari,vol.5,pp.413-4,# 595]
  5. A Number of Dead – If there are a number of dead people, a single salaatul-janaazah can be made for all of them. However if there are males and females,the female bodies are placed in front of the imaam and the males behind the imaam even if they are young children. [Collected by an-Nasaa’ee(1:280),al-Bayhaqee(4:33) and ad-Daaraqutnee(194),and authenticated in Ahkaamul-Janaa’iz,p.103]

Location of Prayer:

  1. Inside the Masjid – The common practice today of holding the funeral prayer inside the masjid is based on the occasional practice of the Prophet (SAW). [See Sahih Muslim ,vol.2,pp.460-1,# 2124]
  2. Outside the Masjid – It is however, preferable to have a place (musallaa) set aside for the funeral prayer outside the masjid, as this was the usual practice of the Prophet(SAW). [See Sahih Bukhari, vol.2,p.191, #337, Sahih Muslim,vol.2,p.452,#2077]
  3. Between the Graves
    • It is forbidden for salaatul-janaazah to be said for the dead between the graves, according to the following hadeeth narrated by Anas ibn Maalik,in which he said:
    • “The Prophet(SAW)forbade the performance of the salaah for the dead in between the graves.” [Collected by at-Tabaraanee and authenticated in ahkaamul-Janaa’iz, p.108, #72]

The Method Of Prayer:

  1. Position of The ImaamThe imaam should stand, facing the qiblah, behind the head of the dead man and behind the middle of the dead woman. [Sunan Abu Dawud,vol.2,pp.907-8,# 3188 authenticated in Saheeh Sunan Abee Daawood,vol.2,p.615,# 2735]
  2. Number of TakbeersIt is possible to do either four, five, six, seven or nine takbeers, as all of them are recorded in authentic hadeeths and acts of the Prophets companions.
    • Four Takbeers: – Abu Hurayrah related that the Messenger of Allah (SAW) announced the Najaashee’s death on the same day which he died and went out with them to a place designated for large congregational prayers.He arranged them in rows and pronounced four takbeers during the funeral prayer. [Sahih Al-Bukhari,vol.2,p.227,# 404; Sahih Muslim,vol.2,p.452,#2077]
    • Five Takbeers: Abdur-Rahmaan ibn Abee Laylaa said,”Zayd ibn Arqam used to make four takbeers on our dead,but once he made five ,so we asked him about it. He replied,”Allah’s Messenger(SAW) used to do it.” [Sahih Muslim,vol.2,pp.453-4,# 2089]
    • Six Takbeers: Abd Khayr said Alee ibn Abee Taalib used to make six takbeers [when he led funeral prayers] on those who took part in the Battle of Badr, five takbeers on the [rest of the] Prophet’s companions, and four takbeers on all the rest of the people. [Collected by al-Bayhaqee and ad-Daaraqutnee and authenticated in Ahkaamul-Janaa’iz, p.113]
    • Seven Takbeers: Musaa, the son of Abdullaah ibn Yazeed, said that Alee ibn Abee Taalib made the funeral prayer using seven takbeers for Aboo Qataadah, who was among those who took part in the Battle of badr. [Collected by al-Bayhaqee and authenticated in Ahkaamul-Janaa’iz, pp.113-4]
    • Nine Takbeers: Abdullah ibn az-Zubayr reported that the Prophet(SAW) made the funeral prayer for Hamzah using nine takbeers. [Collected by at-Tahaawee and at-Tabaraanee and authenticated in Ahkaamul-Janaa’iz, p.114]
  3. Raising the Hands It is permissable to either raise one’s hands with each takbeer,or to do so only for the first takbeer. [Sahih Al-Bukhari,vol.2,p.228,chapter 55]
  4. Placing the Hands – The right hand should be placed on the left on the chest, as in regular prayer, since there are no authentic hadeeths to indicate otherwise. [Sahih Al-Bukhari, vol.1. pp.396-7, #707]
  5. Recitation – Immediately after the first takbeer,the chapter al-Faatihah should be read,as recorded in authentic hadeeths.The only thing which should be read prior to the Faatihah is the “Refuge” and the “basmalah.” [Sahih Al-Bukhari,vol.2,p.236,#419; Sahih Al-Bukhari,vol.1,p.397,# 710; Sahih Muslim,vol.1,p.219,#786]
  6. Prayer for the Prophet (SAW) – Immediately after the second takbeer, the prayer for the Prophet (SAW) should be made according to one of the various patterns used in regular salaah. [Saheeh Sunan an-Nasaa’ee,vol.2,p.428,# 1880; Sahih Al-Bukhari,vol.4,p.385,# 589]
  7. Du’aa for the Dead – After each of the remaining two or more takbeers, sincere prayers should be made for the dead,their relatives and the living. Nothing from the Qur’an should be recited following these remaining takbeers. [Daawood, vol.2, pp.616-7, #2740]
  8. Tasleem – There are two ways by which the closing greetings of the funeral prayer may be given[Collected by al-Bayhaqee and at-Tabaraanee, authenticated in Ahkaamul-Janaa’iz, p.127, # 83]:
    • either by tasleeming to the right side only, as in Abu Hurayrah’s hadeeth;
    • or by saying; tasleem to both sides, as in Ibn Mas’ood’s hadeeth;

 

Forbidden Times:

There are three times in the day when salaatul-janaazah or any other salaah is strictly forbidden except in the case of an emergency. These are the times during which the sun worshippers used to perform their rites of worship.Thus ,these became forbidden times in order to avoid any resemblance to them and to prevent non-muslims from thinking that muslims might also be worshipping the sun.

Uqbah ibn Amir said, “There are three times in which the Messenger of Allah(SAW) used to forbid us from making salaah or burying our dead:

  1. When the sun is rising until [the disc of the sun] is clearly above the horizon.
  2. When the sun reaches the middle of the sky until it declines.
  3. When the sun is setting until it [completely] disappears.” [Sahih Muslim,vol.2,p.395,# 1811 & p.906 # 3186]

 


The Burial

Injunctions Regarding Burial:

  1. Burying Everyone – Muslims are obliged to bury everyone who dies in areas under their jurisdiction.
  2. Muslims Buried Seperately – Muslims should not be buried beside non-muslims, nor non-muslims beside muslims; each should have their own seperate graveyard.
  3. Burial in the Graveyard – It was the Prophet’s (SAW) Sunnah to bury the dead in the graveyard of Madinah, known as al-Baqee. [Sahih Al-Bukhari,vol.2,p.156,# 280]
  4. Depth of the Grave – The grave should be dug deep and wide, and be well-prepared. [Sunan Ibn-i-Majah, vol.2, p.425, #1560]
  5. Shape of the Grave – The grave may be dug straight down (shaqq) with a burial chamber in the middle or with a niche (lahd) to create the burial chamber on the side. However, in both cases, a burial chamber is created from the earth, and sealed with bricks of unbaked clay. Both methods were practiced in the time of the Prophet(SAW). However, the Prophet(SAW) favored the lahd style. [Sunan Ibn-i-Majah, vol.2, p.423, #1557]
  6. Number of Bodies in a grave – Two or more bodies may be buried in the same grave.This may be due to the large number of dead resulting from a natural calamity or plague,or dead may be from the same family. [Sahih Al-Bukhari, vol.2, p.239, #427]

Injunctions Concerning Placing The Body In The Grave:

  1. Men and Not Women – It is preferable that only men should be responsible for placing the dead body inside the grave, even if the dead person is a woman. This is due to the fact that it has been the custom among muslims from the time of the Prophet(SAW) until today. The process requires a certain amount of strength, and men are generally stronger than women.
  2. Near Relatives – The blood relatives of the dead have more right to place the body in the grave,based on the general meaning of the following Qur’anic verse:
    • “Blood relatives have more right to one another in Allah’s scripture.”- Chapter al-Anfaal(8):75
    • The Husband is permitted to place his wife in the grave on condition that he did not have sexual relations with his wife the previous night. [Sahih Al-Bukhari, vol.2, p.238, #426]
  3. Feet First – It is preferable that the body be placed in the niche feet first. This was the recorded way of the Prophet(SAW).
  4. On the Right Side – Place the dead body in the grave on its right side with the face of the dead person towards towards the qiblah (makkah).
  5. Du’aa – At the time of inserting the body in the grave, those handling the procedure are recommended to make one of the following short prayers:
    • Ibn’Umar said,”Whenever the Prophet(SAW)placed a dead person in his grave,he would say,”In the name of Allah,and according to the way(Sunnah)of the Messenger of Allah.[Sunan Ibn-i-Majah, vol.2, pp.419-20, #1150 authenticated in Saheeh Sunan Ibn Maajah,vol.1,p.259,#1260]
  6. Throwing Dirt on the Grave – It is recommended for those near the grave to throw three double-handfuls of dirt into the grave after the burial chamber has been sealed.

 


After Burial

 

  1. Raising the grave – It is that the earth of the grave be slightly raised, no more than a palm’s width, so as to be higher than the surrounding ground. This is in order that it be easily distinguishable and not disrespected. In time the raised portion will naturally shrink as the earth settles.
  2. Marking the Grave – Placing a stone or something similar, without inscriptions, to identify the location of the grave is also from the Sunnah, the marker will help people later locate the grave in order to bury other family members in the same vicinity.
  3. Structures over Graves – The building of any kind of structures over graves is strictly prohibited.[Sahih Muslim, vol.2, p.459, #2116]
  4. Du’aa – On the completion of the burial,it is recommended that those present at the grave-site offer prayers on behalf of the deceased. [authenticated in Saheeh Sunan Abee Daawood, vol.2, p.620, #2758]
    • The prayers of other muslims on behalf of the dead will benefit the dead,by the permission of Allah. “The prayer of a muslim for his muslim brother in his absence will be answered. As long as he prays for the good of his brother,there is an angel assigned near his head who says:Amen,and may the same be for you.” [Sahih Muslim,vol.4,p.1429,#6590]
  5. Fasting – Fasts missed by dead persons may be done on their behalf by their close relatives.The fasts may be from Ramadan or from oaths(nathar).
    • Aishah quoted Allah’s Messenger(SAW) as saying ,”Whoever died owing fasts,his guardian should fast on his behalf.” [Sahih Al-Bukhari,vol.3,p.99,#173 and Sahih Muslim,vol.2,p.556,# 2553]
  6. Planting Twigs on Graves – It is not permissable to plant any flowers or twigs on the grave. The placing of wreaths and flowers is a non-muslim ritual. The companions of the Prophet(SAW)and the early generation of muslim scholars did not practice this ritual. It is however, authentically narrated that the Prophet(SAW)did, on one single occasion, stick a palm leaf in a grave. [Sahih Al-Bukhari,vol.2.pp.249-50,# 443 and Sahih Muslim,vol.1,pp.171-2,# 575]
  7. Annual Visits to Graves – Visiting graves on the anniversary of a person’s death,or at the time of special annual festivals of the deceased is forbidden. Also, setting out on journeys to visit graves was specifically forbidden by the Prophet (SAW). This practice forms the basis of idolatrous pilgrimages in other religions. [Sahih Al-Bukhari,vol.1,p.157,#281,Sahih Muslim,vol.2,p.699,#3218]
  8. Recitation of Qur’aan – There is no basis for the recitation of Qur’aan in the graveyard. Neither the Faatihah (first chapter) nor any other chapter of the Qur’aan should be read near the graves.
  9. Visiting Non-Muslim Graves – Although participation in the funeral rites of non-muslims is not permitted,muslims are allowed to visit the graves of disbelievers for reflection.However,praying for those who die in a state of disbelief is totally prohibited.
    • Whether you (O Muhammad SAW) ask forgiveness for them (hypocrites) or ask not forgiveness for them … (and even) if you ask seventy times for their forgiveness … Allâh will not forgive them, because they have disbelieved in Allâh and His Messenger (MuhammadSAW). And Allâh guides not those people who are Fâsiqûn (rebellious, disobedient to Allâh).[The Noble Qur’an 9:80]
    • And never (O Muhammad ) pray (funeral prayer) for any of them (hypocrites) who dies, nor stand at his grave. Certainly they disbelieved in Allâh and His Messenger, and died while they were Fâsiqûn (rebellious, – disobedient to Allâh and His Messenger ). [The Noble Qur’an 9:84]
    • Prophet Muhammad  was prevented by Allah from praying for his own mother at her funeral, because she and his father had died as polytheists. [Sahih Muslim,vol.2,p.463,#2130]
  10. The Charity Of Children – Parents will benefit from whatever righteous deeds their children do,without decreasing the reward of their children’s good deeds.A righteous child is considered to be part of the parent’s earnings. [Sunan Abu Dawud, vol.2, p.1002, #3521. Sahih Muslim,vol.3,p.866,#4002 and Sahih Al-Bukhari,vol.2,p.266,#470]

 


Visiting Graves

Visiting graves is recommended in Islaam in order to help the living reflect on the shortness of this life and the closeness of the next. [See Sahih Muslim, vol.2, p.463, #2131]

Women Visiting Graves…

The recommendation to visit graves is general and includes women, just as the earlier prohibition included them without any special mention. Furthermore, women share in the benefits of visiting the graves.

When the Prophet(SAW)found a woman crying in the graveyard, he did not chase her out of the graveyard, but told her not to cry. Anas ibn Maalik related that once the Prophet (SAW) passed by a woman crying beside a grave and said to her, “Fear Allah and be patient.” [Sahih Al-Bukhari, vol.2, p.208, #372; Sahih Muslim, vol.2, p.439, #2013]

After mentioning this hadith under the heading Visiting Graves, Ibn Hajar said: The [scholars] disagreed regarding women [visiting graves]. The majority held that they are included in the general permission for visiting graves [if there is no danger of corruption]. The ruling permitting women to visit graves is supported by hadith. The source of evidence in the hadith is the fact that he(SAW) did not censure the woman for sitting beside the grave, and whatever he approves is proof [of it’s permissibility]. [Fat-hul-Baaree, vol.4, p.244]

However, frequent visitation of graves by women is not permissable. Hassaan ibn Thaabit narrated that allah’s Messenger (SAW) cursed women who frequently visit graves.

Perhaps the reason for not frequenting the graves is the possible negative results of such visits like:

  1. The loss of some of their husband’s rights due to their frequent absences from the home,
  2. The unnecessary public exposure of women,
  3. Increased depression leading to wailing and other forbidden expressions of grief.

 


Speaking about the Deceased

 

Insha’Allah, there is punishment to the deceased when you speak ill off them at the time of the funeral. This does not mean that the deceased person hears you speaking ill or well of them.

Bukhari 2.449, Narrated Abu Al Aswad, r.a.
I came to Medina when an epidemic had broken out. While I was sitting with ‘Umar bin Al-Khattab a funeral procession passed by and the people praised the deceased. ‘Umar said, “It has been affirmed to him.” And another funeral procession passed by and the people praised the deceased. ‘Umar said, “It has been affirmed to him.” A third (funeral procession) passed by and the people spoke badly of the deceased. He said, “It has been affirmed to him.” I (Abu Al-Aswad) asked, “O chief of the believers! What has been affirmed?” He replied, “I said the same as the Prophet had said, that is: if four persons testify the piety of a Muslim, Allah will grant him Paradise.” We asked, “If three persons testify his piety?” He (the Prophet) replied, “Even three.” Then we asked, “If two?” He replied, “Even two.” We did not ask him regarding one witness.

Bukhari 2.448, Narrated Anas bin Malik, r.a.
A funeral procession passed and the people praised the deceased. The Prophet saaws said, “It has been affirmed to him.” Then another funeral procession passed and the people spoke badly of the deceased. The Prophet said, “It has been affirmed to him”. ‘Umar bin Al-Khattab asked (Allah’s Apostle (p.b.u.h) ), “What has been affirmed?” He replied, “You praised this, so Paradise has been affirmed to him; and you spoke badly of this, so Hell has been affirmed to him. You people are Allah’s witnesses on earth.”


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