Prompting the dead after burial and shrouding the deceased
- What is the ruling for prompting the dead after burial and during the sermon delivered at the graveside?
- Is covering the coffin sanctioned by Islamic law?
It is recommended to stand by the grave for some time after burial to pray for the deceased.
- 'Uthman, may Allah be pleased with him, said: "The Prophet [pbuh] used to stand by the grave of the deceased after burial and say, 'Ask for forgiveness for your brother and pray that Allah make him steadfast for now he is being questioned' " [Abu Dawud and al-Hakem. Al-Hakem declared it authentic].
- 'Amr ibn al-'As, may Allah be pleased with him, said: "When you bury me, scatter earth over my grave 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]" [Muslim]. This is only after burial.
There is no harm if brief exhortations that remind of death and the last abode precede
supplications as this may soften hearts and prepares one for supplicating to Allah and motivates him.
'Ali, may Allah honor him, said: "We were attending a funeral at Baqi` al-Gharqad when the Prophet [pbuh] came and sat down and we sat down around him. He was holding a stick in his hands which he used to scrape the ground, and said: 'There is none among you, not one soul, but has its place in Heaven or Hell-fire decreed for him and whether he is among the blessed or the wretched.' A man said, 'O Messenger of Allah! Should we not depend on what has been written for us?' The Prophet [pbuh] replied, 'Work, for everyone will find easy that what he was created for' " [Bukhari and Muslim]. Bukhari dedicated a chapter on this topic in his Sahih which he entitled 'Exhortations and remaining by the grave of the deceased'.
Prompting the deceased
After burial, it is recommended to prompt the deceased to say the Testification of Faith as attested to by the hadith narrated by Rashid ibn Sa'd, Damrah ibn Habib and Hakeem ibn 'Umayir who were among the early Tabi'in (the generation of Muslims who were born after the death of the Prophet [pbuh] but who were contemporaries of his Companions) of Hums. They said, 'When the earth had been leveled on the grave of the deceased and after the people [attending the funeral] had departed, it was recommended to address the deceased and say, 'O so-and-so! Say, 'There is no God save Allah. I testify that there is no God save Allah' three times. O so-and-so! Say, 'My Lord is Allah, my religion is Islam and my prophet is Mohammed, peace and blessings be upon him and his family.' Then one would depart" [reported by Sa'id ibn Mansur in his Sunan].
It was reported from Abu Umama al-Bahli, may Allah be pleased with him, that he said, "When I die, do with me as the Prophet [pbuh] ordered us to do with our dead. He said, 'When one of your fellow brothers dies and you have leveled the earth over his grave, one of you is to stand at the head of the grave and say, 'O so-and-so son of so-and-so (naming his mother)'—the deceased will hear him but will not answer—and then he should continue and say, 'O so-and-so, son of so-and-so!'—the deceased will sit upright. He should continue and say, 'O so-and-so, son of so-and-so!' The deceased will say, 'Guide me, may Allah have mercy on you,'—but you will not hear him. He [the prompter] is to say, 'Remember the creed upon which you left this world—the testification that there is no God save Allah and that Mohammed is His servant and messenger, that you have accepted Allah as your Lord, Islam as your religion and Mohammed as a prophet and the Qur`an as a guide.' Munkar and Nakir (the two angels sent to question him on these matters) will then take each other by the hand and say, 'Let us depart! What is there to keep us here beside someone who has been instructed how to make his plea! Allah is his alibi.' A man said, 'O Messenger of Allah! What if his mother is not known?' The Prophet replied, 'Ascribe him to his mother Hawaa` and say, O so-and-so, son of Hawaa`' " [reported by Al-Tabarani, ibn Shaheen and others. The hadith scholar, Ibn Hajar, may Allah have mercy on him declared it authentic and the hadith was strengthened by Diya` in his Ahkam].
Imam al-Nawawi wrote in Al-Rawda and Al-Majmu' that there is a consensus among the scholars of hadith and others condoning the implementation of weak hadiths dealing with good deeds, exhortation and dissuasion since they are strengthened by other hadiths such as the hadith on asking Allah to make the deceased steadfast and the one containing 'Amr ibn al-'As's instructions [on his buria], both of which are authentic. Al-Nawawi went on to say that the people of al-Sham still put these hadiths in practice.
Covering the coffin
The matter is open and there is no legal objection to covering the coffin. The matter depends on what is of more benefit to the body and serves to conceal it.
Allah Almighty knows best.