What is the ruling for prompting th...

Egypt's Dar Al-Ifta

What is the ruling for prompting the dead?


What is the ruling for prompting the dead?


In Rawdat Al-Talibin wa 'Umdat Al-Mufteen (vol.2, p.138), Imam al-Nawawi wrote that 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 ahadith such as that in which the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) is reported to have asked his Companions to pray to God to make the deceased steadfast (when he is interrogated in his grave) and the hadith detailing '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 Levant have put these ahadith into practice since early times during the time of acknowledged scholars until present."

God Almighty says in the Qur`an, "And remind, for indeed, the reminder benefits the believers" [51: 55]. There is no time when one is in greater need for reminder than that of death.

In his book Al-Rouh (vol.1, p.13), 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 God 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, the continuous practice of prompting the dead in different ages and countries without repudiation suffices for practicing 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 such a practice without repudiation. Rather, the practice was transmitted and followed by successive generations. If the addressee [the dead] cannot hear, then addressing them 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 do not deem them a form of fabricated ahadith in any way. Rather, the generation of Salaf (the first three generations of Muslims) and all scholars of past and present, quoted weak ahadith as evidence provided no other text contradicts it. Most of the scholars use weak ahadith in the absence of other texts. Scholars follow meticulous methodologies in authenticating ahadith; 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 conveyed the hadith accurately especially if there is no other hadith that contradicts it, the Salaf followed it, or other narrations support it. In this case, the weakness of the hadith is disregarded and imams mention it in their books and use it as evidence. Most of the scholars favor the weak hadith over qiyas (analogy) or the reports of Companions, tabi'in (the generation of Muslims who were born after the death of the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) but who were contemporaries of his Companions), and 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 ahadith 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 ahadith 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 ahadith. In his book Ma'rifat al-Rijal, Ali Ibn al-Madini (may God have mercy on him) said, "It is impermissible for anyone to refute a hadith if it was transmitted from the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) even if the hadith is mursal (a hadith whose chain of transmission 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 God (peace and blessings be upon him and his family) said, "Whoever practices hijama (wet cupping ) 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 with leprosy. These included 'Uthman al-Batti, Abd al-Warith (i.e. Ibn Sa'eed al-Tannwri), Abu Dawud, and Abd al-Rahman."

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