Sunday, January 6, 2008

Funeral Rites in Islam

Some excerpts taken from Abu Ameenah's book "Funeral rites in islam'.

Reading it, i realised that there are alot of misconceptions that are practiced amongst muslims. There are some rituals that take place that have no link to the sunnah of the Prohet Muhammed PBUH.

InshÁllah i hope this post proves to be a guidance and a source of knowledge. May Allah guide us to become better muslims.

Some people read Surah Yasin at funerals. People and well wishers come in groups to sit and read the Quran and chapters of the Quran thinking that it will benefit the person who has died. Yet ponder for a moment - do we not know that only a few things will benefit a person who's soul has been taken?

Any good deed that a Muslim starts during his lifetime, and that is of renewed benefit and ongoing use for the Muslims, will continue to benefit him and augment his record of good deeds, even after his departure - as long as its benefits continue to reach others. Allaah subhanahu wa ta'ala says - "We record that (deeds) which they have put forward and their traces (that which they have left behind)." (Yaa-Seen 36:12)
Abu Hurayrah rahimahullaah reported that Allaah's Messenger sallallaahu 'alayhi wa sallam said: "When a human being dies, all of his deeds are terminated except for three types: an ongoing sadaqah, a knowledge (of Islaam) from which others benefit, and a righteous child who makes du'aa for him." (Muslim and others).

Abu Qataadah rahimahullaah reported that Allaah's Messenger sallallaahu 'alayhi wa sallam said: "Among the good deeds that continue to benefit a believer after death are: a knowledge that he taught and disseminated, a righteous child who lived after him, a Qur'aan book that he left as inheritance a masjid that he built, a house that he built for the two wayfarers, a stream that he ran, or a charity that he gave from his wealth during his healthy lifetime so that it would reach him (in rewards) after death." (Ibn Maajah and others. Verified hasan by al-Mundhiri and al-Albaanee). Commenting on this, al-Mundhiri rahimahullaah said: "Some scholars say that the deeds of a human being end with his death. However, since he had caused these things (which are mentioned in the above hadiths), such as the earning of a child, disseminating the knowledge among those who take it from him, compiling a book that remains after him, or establishing a sadaqah, the rewards of these things continue to reach him as long as they continue to exist." ('Awn al-Ma'bud, 8:86)

Thus there is no evidence that people coming and reading the Quran will benefit the person who has died. Thus reading specific chapters has no basis either. To specify that Surah Yasin should be read for the dying and to believe that doing so has special value is considered bidah - a sinful innovation in religion since neither the Prophet PBUH nor his companions did it or recommended that it be done.

Based on the hadith of Umm Salamah:

Umm Salamah said "Allah's Messenger PBUH came in and found Abu Salamash eyes wide open. He closed them and said "Indeed when the soul is snatched the eyes follow it."Some people from his family began to scream so he siad " Only pray for good for yourselves, for verily the angels say Amin [so be it].'to whatever you say ." He then prayed saying,

"Allahummagh-fir li Abi Salamah warfa'darajatahu fil-mahdiyin

O Allah, forgive Abu salamah and raise his level among the rightly guided

wakhlufhu fi áqibihi filghabirin

and let his remianing offspring be like him

waghfir laná walahú yá Rabbal- Álamin

Forgive us and forgive him O Lord of the worlds

wafsah lahu fi qabrihi wa nawwir lahu fih

and expand his grave and illuminate it for him

Facing the Qiblah [ before burial]

Turning the body of one who is dying so that he or she faces the qiblah [makkah] has no foundation in the practice of the Prophet and his Companions.The body should be turned to face Makkah when it is placed in the grave, according to the Prophet's instructions. However, at the time of dying , there were no such instructions [ i.e before burial - it was not a practice of the Prophet PBUH for the dead to be placed facing the Qiblah].Turning the body became a custom after the time of the Prophets Companions, but was objected to by the scholars of the time.


The Prophet PBUH strictly forbade wailing and screaming and the hiring of mourners.Furthermore, he identfied such practices as acts of kufr [disbelief], because they indicate displeasure with what Allah has decreed. Emaan [ faith] includes the belief that Allah is the source of all good and that all of His actions are wise .

Preparing food by the family of the deceased

The obligation placed on the family of the dead prson to prepare food for gatherings is incorrect and so is organising gatherings at the home of the deceased family.Mourning for family and relatives in only for three days. For a widow it is four month and 10 days. Besides this there is no relevance of meeting after 40 days after the death of the person, as is practiced in amongst some people. Those presenr and the relatives of the deceased are allowed to cry for a maximum period of three days.

Ábdullah ibn Ja'far narrated that the Prophet delayed coming to visit Ja'fars family for three days after his death, then hecame to them and said , " Do not cry fo rmy brother after today."

[Sunan Abu Dawud]

Imam ash'Shafi said "I dislike gatherings, even if there is no wailing or crying. For it only renews the [familys feeling of] sorrow and puts burdens on their food supplies" Imam Nawawi related that the leading scholars prohibited organized gatherings, based on its being and innovation.

Furthermore the Prophet PBUH explicitly instructed to relatives, friends and neighbours to send food to the bereaved famly.

This conludes this port for now inshÁllah will continue with some more issues involving funeral rites. May Allah guide us all to the straight path.Ameen


kaiza shozey said...

i find ur blog really interesting. its rare nowadays to find someone who would talk abt religion on a blog. everyones trying too hard to impress others and to act cool. i have a Question for u. something soem of my atheist friends as me. "if god is all mighty, powerful, planned everything upto the single cells in our bodies and knows us all that well, why would such a god have a need to test us and have a need for us to pray for him?". could u please shed some light on this for me? my mail address is

askmuslims said...

Br. Kaiza, It's not the case that God needs our prayers. But we need Allah to accept our prayers therefore we need our prayers. Regarding the Test, Allah has given human the free will so he is testing which one of us will use it for good purposes and which of us will use it for evil.

I want to quote Hadith Qudsi:
On the authority of Abu Dharr al-Ghifari (may Allah be pleased with him) from the Prophet (PBUH) is that among the sayings he relates from his Lord (may He be glorified) is that He said:

O My servants, I have forbidden oppression for Myself and have made it forbidden amongst you, so do not oppress one another. O My servants, all of you are astray except for those I have guided, so seek guidance of Me and I shall guide you, O My servants, all of you are hungry except for those I have fed, so seek food of Me and I shall feed you. O My servants, all of you are naked except for those I have clothed, so seek clothing of Me and I shall clothe you. O My servants, you sin by night and by day, and I forgive all sins, so seek forgiveness of Me and I shall forgive you. O My servants, you will not attain harming Me so as to harm Me, and will not attain benefitting Me so as to benefit Me. O My servants, were the first of you and the last of you, the human of you and the jinn of you to be as pious as the most pious heart of any one man of you, that would not increase My kingdom in anything. O My servants, were the first of you and the last of you, the human of you and the jinn of you to be as wicked as the most wicked heart of any one man of you, that would not decrease My kingdom in anything. O My servants, were the first of you and the last of you, the human of you and the jinn of you to rise up in one place and make a request of Me, and were I to give everyone what he requested, that would not decrease what I have, any more that a needle decreases the sea if put into it. O My servants, it is but your deeds that I reckon up for you and then recompense you for, so let him finds good praise Allah and let him who finds other that blame no one but himself.

It was related by Muslim (also by at-Tirmidhi and Ibn Majah).

Allah knows best.

Your brother in Islam