Matters concerning funerals

Egypt's Dar Al-Ifta

Matters concerning funerals


nbsp;  We reviewed request no. 320 for the year 2006 which includes the following:

A dispute arose in our village on matters concerning funerals. Therefore we would like a legal verdict for the following:
1- The permissibility of supplicating for the deceased and whether these supplications are audible or silent.
2- The permissibility of a delivering a sermon by the graveside of the deceased preceding supplications.
3- The ruling for prompting the deceased and the words used.
4- The permissibility of reciting the Qur`an after burial.


      The funeral procession

·            Silence must be maintained during the funeral procession. Imam al-Nawawi (may Allah have mercy on him) said, "Know that the right thing to do is the practice of the Salaf who maintained silence during the funeral procession; voices must not be raised when reciting the Qur`an, supplicating or anything else since this is more conducive to a person's state of mind, allowing him to contemplate on what is associated with the funeral and with what is required in such situations."
·            It is a sunnah to stand by the grave for some time after burial and supplicate for the deceased as attested to by the hadith narrated by 'Uthman (may Allah be pleased with him) who said: "When the Prophetfinished burying a deceased, he would say, "Ask for forgiveness for your brother and ask Allah to make him steadfast for he is now being questioned" [Reported by Abu Dawud and al-Hakem who declared it authentic]. 'Amr Ibn al-'As (may Allah be pleased with him) said, "When you bury me, heap earth over me and stand by my grave for the time it takes to slaughter a she camel and divide its meat so that I may take comfort in your presence and think of what I will say to the messengers of my Lord[1]" [Muslim]. This is only done after burial.
·            There is no harm if brief exhortations that remind the people of death and the last abode precede supplications as this may soften hearts, prepare and motivate one to supplicate Allah the Almighty. 'Ali (may Allah honor him) said, "We were attending a funeral at Baqi' al-Gharqad when the Prophetcame 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 that it has its place in Paradise 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 then depend upon what was written for us?' The Prophetreplied, 'Work, for each will find easy that which he was created for' [Recorded by 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
·            It is recommended to prompt the deceased after burial as attested to by the hadith narrated by Rashid Ibn Sa'd, Damrah Ibn Habib and Hakim Ibn 'Umayir who were among the early Tabi'in[2] 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 is to depart" [reported by Sa'id Ibn Mansur in his Sunan].
·            It was reported through Abu Umama al-Bahli (may Allah be pleased with him) who said, "When I die, do with me as the Prophetordered 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 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, Mohammed as a prophet and the Qur`an as your guide.' Munkar and Nakir 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 on how to make his plea! Allah is his alibi.' A man then said, 'O Messenger of Allah! What if his mother's name is not known?' The Prophetreplied, '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 it 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 and exhortation and dissuasion since they are strengthened by other hadiths such as those on asking Allah to make the deceased steadfast and the one containing 'Amr ibn al-'As's instructions, both of which are authentic. The people of al-Sham still act upon these hadiths.'
Manner of supplicating for the deceased
·            As for whether the supplications are silent or audible, the matter is open; disputes over this matter are unacceptable to Allah and His Messengersince disputes are considered to be among the reprehensible innovations—an innovation includes restricting what Allah and His Messenger left unrestricted. Therefore, if Allah legislates a certain matter, making it general and it can be executed in more than one manner, then it is invalid to restrict it in any way without evidence.
·            The Prophetforbade persistent questions and debates and elucidated that if Allah Almighty remains silent upon a certain matter, it is out of His generosity and mercy for Muslims. The Prophetsaid, "Allah prescribed some duties, so do not neglect them; prohibited certain things, so do not violate them; set down certain limits, so do not transgress them. He remained silent about some things, out of mercy for you and not forgetfulness, so do not delve into them" [Reported by Darqatni and others through Abu Tha'laba al-Khushani (may Allah be pleased with him. Ibn Salah declared it authentic and Imam al-Nawawi declared it fair].
·            The luminary Al-Taftazani wrote in his commentary on Imam Nawawi's 40 Hadith: "What is meant by 'do not delve into them' is not to ask about their rulings because asking about matters on which Allah remained silent leads to their obligation which may be difficult to observe. A person is to assume the general principle of permissibility."
·            The Prophetillustrated the grave offence of those who caused restrictions upon Muslims due to their incessant questions and delving into matters by saying, "The gravest sinner amongst Muslims is the one who asks about something and probes into it, so it becomes prohibited upon the people due to his insistent questioning" [Recorded by Muslim through 'Amer Ibn Sa'd through his father (may Allah be pleased with him)].
·            Abu Huraira (may Allah be pleased with him) said that the Prophetgave a sermon during which he said, "O people! Allah made pilgrimage incumbent upon you so perform it.'" A man said, "O Messenger of Allah! Are we to perform it every year?" The Prophet remained silent so the man repeated his question three times after which the Prophet said, "If I say yes, it would become obligatory upon you and you will not be able to do it." He then said, "Do not ask about that which I do not tell you. Those who came before you perished on account of their incessant questions and disputes with their prophets. So, if I order to do something, do as much of it as is possible for you and if I forbid you to do something, forsake it" [Bukhari and Muslim]. In interpretation of the hadith, the luminary Al-Munawi said: " [The hadith means]: 'Do not ask me about a matter as long as I remain silent about it. Therefore, do not approach me seeking answers for what does not benefit you in matters related to your religion no matter how long I remain silent about them as this may accrue obligations and restrictions upon you. Take the manifest meaning of what I command you to do and do not search for answers as the People of the Book have done; do not intensify your investigation into what has been clearly depicted for you even though it may serve another's question as this may generate several answers. This is similar to the story of the Children of Israel—their persistent questions generated restrictions upon them. The Prophetfeared his community might make the same [mistake]."[3]
·            Group supplications are more likely to be accepted by Allah, stir the heart, motivate supplicants and are conducive to humility before Allah the Almighty, especially if accompanied with exhortations. Ibn 'Abbas (may Allah be pleased with them both) narrated that the Prophetsaid: "Allah helps those who are in a group" [Reported by Al-Tirmidhi and al-Nisa`i declared it fair].
Reciting the Qur`an by the graveside of the deceased
·            It is permissible to recite some portions of the Qur`an by the graveside after burial for the benefit of the deceased. Al-Baihaqi mentioned in Sunan al-Kubra, as imam al-Nawawi likewise maintained, that Ibn 'Umar (may Allah be pleased with them both) deemed it desirable to recite the opening and closing verses of Surat al-Baqarah by the graveside after burial. Mu'qal ibn Yasar (may Allah be pleased with him) narrated that the Prophetsaid: "Recite [surat] Ya-sin over your dead" [Recorded by Abu Dawud and Ibn Majah. Ibn Habban and al-Hakem declared it authentic]. Imam al-Qurtubi, the Maliki scholar, wrote in Al-Tadhkira: "This may be construed as reciting Ya-sin either by the deceased at the moment of his death or by his graveside."
·            Al-Nawawi mentioned in Al-Adhkar: "It is recommended to remain by the grave of the deceased after burial for the time it takes to slaughter a she-camel and divide its meat and to occupy oneself with reciting the Qur`an, supplicating for the deceased, making exhortations and relating stories of the pious and the righteous."
·            Al-Shafi'i and scholars of his school said: "It is recommended to recite by the graveside some portions of the Qur`an. It has also been said: "It is good if they conclude its entire recitation."

      Allah Almighty knows best.


[1]Munkar and Nakir, two angels sent by Allah to test the faith of the dead in their graves.
[2]The generation of Muslims who were born after the death of the Prophetbut who were contemporaries of his Companions
[3]Fayd al-Qadir Sharh Al-Jami' Al-Saghir, vol. 3, p. 562.
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