Friday, November 24, 2017 - 5 Rabi' al-Awwal 1439
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What is the ruling for prompting the dead?

What is the ruling for prompting the dead?

Answer

In Rawdat al-Talibin wa 'Umdat al-Muftin (vol.2, p.138, al-Maktab al-Islami Books), Imam al-Nawawi said, "A group of Shafi'i jurists have declared that it is desirable to prompt the dead. These include al-Qadi Hussein, al-Mitwali the author of At-Tatimmah, Sheikh Nasr al-Maqdisi in his book At-Tahdhib and others. Al-Qadi Hussein transmitted the general permissibility of prompting the dead through Shafi'i jurists. The hadith mentioned on this issue is weak. However, there is a consensus among scholars of hadith and others on the implementation of weak hadiths that exhort virtue. This hadith is strengthened by a number of authentic hadiths such as that in which the Prophet, peace be upon him, is reported to have asked his Companions to ask Allah to make the deceased steadfast (when he is interrogated in his grave) and the hadith on 'Amr Ibn al-'As's instructions [for his burial] in which he said, "… and then remain by my grave for the time it takes to slaughter a she-camel and divide its meat so that I may take comfort from your presence and think of what I will say to the messengers of my Lord [Munkar and Nakir]" [Recorded by Muslim in his Sahih]. The people of Sham have put these hadiths into practice since early times and until this day and during the time of acknowledged scholars."

Allah Almighty says in the Qur'an, "And remind, for indeed, the reminder benefits the believers." [Qur'an 51: 55).

There is no time when one is in more need for reminder than that of death.

In his book Al-Rouh (vol.1, p.13, Dar al-Kutub al-'Ilmiyyah Books), Ibn al-Qayyim said, "The practice of prompting of the dead that has continued since early times until present is further proof for this. If the dead cannot hear the prompting of the living and benefit from it, the practice would be in vain. Imam Ahmed (may Allah have mercy on him) was asked about the ruling on prompting the dead and he maintained its recommendation which is evidenced by the people's practice." Ibn al-Qayyim then cited the previously mentioned hadith and commented, "Although the authenticity of this hadith has not been established, its continuous practice in different times and countries without repudiation suffices for acting upon it. The Muslim community, which has spread to all corners of the globe, is a community of intellectual elite. It is impossible for such a community to address those who cannot hear or understand [the dead] and approve without anyone repudiating it. Rather, the practice was transmitted and followed among successive generations. If the addressee [the dead] cannot hear, then addressing him is tantamount to addressing dust, wood, stone or any inanimate object. And if addressing a [non-hearing recipient] is approved by one scholar, the rest of the scholars will, without exception, disapprove."

A weak hadith differs from a fabricated one. Imams and musannifun (classifiers of hadith) are unanimous on the validity of mentioning weak hadiths in their books and did not deem them a form of fabricated hadiths in any way. Rather, the generation of the salaf (the first three generations of Muslims) and all scholars, both past and present, quoted weak hadiths as evidence so long as no other text contradict it. Most of the scholars use weak hadiths in the absence of any other texts. Scholars follow meticulous methodologies in authenticating hadiths; they examine the extent of the narrator's memorization abilities as well as that of the entire chain of transmission. If there is a weakness associated with the reporter or if the report contradicts the narration of trustworthy narrators, scholars classify the hadith as weak in the sense that there is a possibility that the narrator may have erred in transmitting the hadith, though this possibility does not reach the degree of certainty nor is it definitive. There is a possibility that this weak narrator has conveyed the hadith accurately especially if there is no other contradicting hadith, the salaf followed it, or it is supported by other narrations. In this case, the weakness of the hadith is disregarded and consequently the imams mention it in their books and use it as evidence. Most of the scholars favor the weak hadith over analogy or the reports of the Companions, tabi'in (the generation of Muslims who were born after the death of the Prophet but who were contemporaries of his Companions), and the recognized scholars. The hadith scholar Imam Taj al-Din Abu al-Hassan Ali Ibn Abdullah al-Ardabaily (d. 746 AH) mentioned in each chapter of his book Al-Mi'yar the weak hadiths that the four imams and their followers acted upon. In this regard, he mentioned around 1500 weak hadiths, all of which were used by the four imams.

Treating weak hadiths as fabricated is the corrupt methodology of pseudo-scholars and deviant thinking that seeks to destroy the heritage of the Muslim community.

The verifiers from among the scholars of hadith and scholars of Jarh and Ta'dil (critique and validation of hadith narrators) mentioned the permissibility of using weak hadiths. In his book Ma'rifat al-Rijal, Ali Ibn al-Madini (may Allah have mercy on him) said, "It is impermissible for anyone to belie the hadith if it was transmitted from the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him and his family) even if the hadith is mursal (hadith where the chain only goes up to a tabi'ee). A group of scholars rejected the hadith narrated by al-Zahri in which he narrated that the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings be upon him and his family) said, "Whoever practices wet cupping (hijama) on Saturdays or Wednesdays and is then afflicted with leprosy, let him blame none but himself." However, people disregarded the hadith and were consequently afflicted by leprosy. These included 'Uthman al-Batti, Abd al-Warith (i.e. IbnSa'eed al-Tannwri), Abu Dawud, Abd al-Rahman."
 

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