: Manner of burying a deceased

Egypt's Dar Al-Ifta

: Manner of burying a deceased


e="font-size: small">We reviewed request no. 856 for the year 2006 which includes a question on the proper manner of burying a deceased.


It has been established in Islamic law that burying the dead is by way of honoring them. Allah the Almighty mentions this when He enumerates His favors on man,
Did We not make the earth a home for the living and the dead? [Al-Mursalat: 25-6]
Muslims have unanimously agreed that burying the deceased is a communal obligation which, if undertaken by a few, its obligatoriness is fulfilled and the sin and responsibility is lifted from the rest.
Manner of burying the dead
According to non-prophetic reports and the opinion of the four followed schools of jurisprudence, after the deceased is entered into his grave, it is obligatory to position him on his right side and turn his face towards the qibla [the direction of prayer]. His feet should not face the direction of prayer as is the custom.
Entering the deceased into his grave
Ibn Qudama, the Hanbali scholar, maintained that it is recommended to enter the deceased headfirst from the foot of the grave (where his feet will rest after burial) and then slide him inside if this is easy upon those undertaking the burial. If not, there is no harm if they enter him from the head of the grave since the only reason for this is to facilitate the burial for those undertaking it. Imam Ahmed (may Allah have mercy on him) said that there is no harm in entering the deceased into the grave from any direction. Ibn Hazm said, "The deceased is entered into the grave from whichever direction is possible—from the direction of the qibla, from the opposite direction, or from the direction where the head or feet of the deceased will rest. There is no explicit text recommending one any single manner of burial."
Recommended measures
- During burial, it is recommended to supplicate for the deceased, untie the shroud and say as the Prophet would say when burying a deceased, "Bismillah wa 'ala millat rasulallah" [In the name of Allah and according to the religion of the Messenger of Allah] or, "Bismillah wa 'ala sunnat rasulallh" [In the name of Allah and according to the way of the Messenger of Allah].[1]
- It is recommended to raise the head of the deceased by placing it on a brick, stone or a mound of earth and lay his right cheek on it.
- Put some earth or bricks in front and behind the deceased for support.
- Conceal the body of a woman with a piece of clothing as she is entered into the grave (this is not necessary for men).
- Sprinkle three scoops of earth on the grave where the head is positioned due to the words of Ibn Majah who said, "On one occasion, the Prophet attended a funeral prayer. After praying over the deceased, he approached the grave and sprinkled three scoopfuls of earth from the direction of the head of the deceased."
- After burial, it is recommended to supplicate for the deceased and to ask Allah to forgive him and make him steadfast. 'Uthman (may Allah be pleased with him) said, "After burying a deceased, the Prophet would stand by the graveside and say, 'Ask forgiveness for your brother and ask Allah to make him steadfast for he is now being questioned' " [Recorded by Abu Dawud and by al-Hakem who declared it authentic].
- It is recommended to recite the Qur`an with chapters such as Al-Fatiha, Ya-sin, and the opening and closing verses of Al-Baqarah. Ibn 'Umar (may Allah be pleased with them both) reported that he heard the Messenger of Allah say, "When one of you dies, do not delay [his burial] but hasten to take him to his grave. [You should] recite Al-Fatiha at his head and the concluding verses of Al-Baqarah at his feet" [Recorded by Al-Tabarani and by al-Baihaqi in Shu'ab Al-Iman. The hadith scholar Ibn Hajardeclared it fair in Fat-h Al-Bari]. Another version of the hadith mentions the opening verses of Al-Baqarah instead of Al-Fatiha.
 Mu'qal Ibn Yasar (may Allah be pleased with him) reported that the Prophet said, "Recite Ya-sin over your dead" [Recorded by Ahmed, Abu Dawud and Ibn Majah. Ibn Habban and Al-Hakem declared it authentic]. According to Al-Qurtubi, Ibn Raf'a, al-Zarkashi and others, this hadith demonstrates the permissibility of reciting Ya-sin both at the death-bed and at the graveside.
Imam Al-Nawawi wrote in Al-Adhkar, "It is recommended to remain by the graveside for the time it takes to slaughter a she-camel and distribute its meat. Those present are to occupy themselves with reciting the Qur`an, supplicating for the deceased, exhortation and relating stories of the pious and the state of the righteous. Al-Shafi'I told his students that it is recommeded at the time of burial to recite parts of the Qur`an. They said that it is deemed good if the entire Qur`an is recited."
- It is recommended to instruct the deceased after burial. Abu Amama al-Bahli (may Allah be pleased with him) said, "When I die, do with me as the Messenger of Allah instructed us to do with our dead. He said, 'When one of your fellow brothers dies and you have levelled the earth over his grave, one of you should stand at the head of the grave and say, 'O so-and-so, son of so-and-so (and name his mother)!'—the deceased will hear him though he will not answer—and then the prompter should continue and say, 'O so-and-so!—the deceased will sit erect—'O  so-and-so son of so-and-so.' The deceased will then say, 'Instruct me, may Allah have mercy on you,'—but you will not be able to hear him. The prompter should then 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 leave, saying, 'Let us depart! What is there to keep us here beside someone who has been instructed on how to make his plea. Allah will be his alibi.' A man asked, O messenger of Allah! What if his mother's name is not known?' The Prophet replied, 'Ascribe him to his mother Hawaa` [Eve] and say: O so-and-so, son of Hawaa`" [Recorded by Al-Tabarani, Ibn Shaheen and others. Ibn Hajar (may Allah have mercy on him) declared it authentic and it was strengthened by Al-Diyaa` in his book Al-Ahkam]. Imam Al-Nawawi wrote in his book Ar-Rawdah: "There is a scholalry consensus condoning the implementation of weak hadith dealing with good deeds. This hadith was strengthened by other authentic ones such as the hadith on asking Allah to make the deceased steadfast and the one containing 'Amr Ibn al-'As's burial instructions. Since the time of the followed scholars, the people of Lebanon, Syria and Palestine have continued to put it into practice."
 Allah the Almighty knows best.    

[1]Reported by 'Umar (may Allah be pleased with him) and recorded by Ahmed, Abu Dawud and Ibn Majah.
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