Burial of the Deceased (part 3/3)

Since 2012-12-21

We have already discussed in detail preparing the body of the deceased and the actual burial of the deceased. We now consider what happens after the burial.


We have already discussed in detail preparing the body of the deceased and the actual burial of the deceased. We now consider what happens after the burial.

It recommended to remain at the grave after the burial according to the majority of the scholars. The Prophet (Peace and Salutations be upon him) said as narrated by Uthmaan ibn Affan:“Seek forgiveness for your brother, and ask that he be firm because he is now being questioned.” [Reported in Abu Dawud and authenticated by Al-Albani].


«استغفروا لأخيكم وسلوا له التثبيت فإنه الآن يسأل» رواه أبو داود وصححه الألباني

The questioning in this hadith is referring to the questioning in the grave by the Angels. Al-Bara ibn Azib narrates that the Prophet (Peace and Salutations be upon him) said regarding the believer in the grave:“…Two angels will come to him, make him sit up and ask him: Who is your Lord? He will reply: My Lord is Allah. They will then ask him: What is your religion? He will reply: My religion is Islam. They will then ask him: What is your opinion about the man who was sent on a mission among you? He will reply: He is the Apostle of Allah. They will ask: Who made you aware of this? He will reply: I read Allah’s Book, believed in it…[Reported by Abu Dawud, and authenticated by Al-Albani].
«ويأتيه ملكان فيجلسانه فيقولان له: من ربك؟ فيقول: ربي الله، فيقولان: ما دينك؟ فيقول: ديني الإسلام، فيقولان له: ما هذا الرجل الذي بعث فيكم؟ قال: فيقول: هو رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم، فيقولان: وما يدريك؟ فيقول: قرأت كتاب الله فآمنت به وصدقت» رواه أبو داود وصححه الألباني
The believer will answer successfully and prosper, whereas the disbeliever will fail and say ‘I don’t know’ and the Hypocrite will say ‘I heard this and that’.

Amr Ibn al-’Aas ordered that after he is buried, that they should remain at his grave seeking his forgiveness for the period that it takes to slaughter a camel. Note that this was the order of a Companion regarding his own burial.

Allah said in the Quran: {And never pray for any of them (hypocrites) that die, nor stand at their grave} [At-Tawbah9:84].
{وَلَا تُصَلِّ عَلَىٰ أَحَدٍ مِّنْهُم مَّاتَ أَبَدًا وَلَا تَقُمْ عَلَىٰ قَبْرِهِ } التوبة: 84
Transliteration: Wala tusalli AAala ahadin minhum mata abadan wala taqum AAala qabrihi
Therefore if prayers should not be offered for the disbeliever and we should not stand near their graves then by implication prayers should be offered for a Muslim and we should stand near their graves.

The issue arises of whether one faces the Qibla or the grave when making du’a for the deceased. The majority of the scholars say it should be made towards the Qibla. According to Imam al-Nawawi, even if one is offering Salam to the inhabitants of the graves, then it should be done facing the Qibla. If people reject this and are obstinate in facing the grave while making dua, one should avoid causing fitna at the graves by arguing at such a sensitive moment in their lives. When making dua one can raise the hands, and it should be done individually, not in congregation. The dua of the individual is bound to be more sincere as their personal experiences with the deceased will make it all the more meaningful.

The majority of the scholars say visiting the grave is sunnah, and this is for men only.

The Prophet (Peace and Salutations be upon him) said:“I used to forbid you from visiting the graveyards, but now I allow you as they remind you of the hereafter, so visit them.”[Reported in Saheeh Muslim until “but now I allow you”, the part after that is reported by Abu Dawud].

«نهيتكم عن زيارة القبور، فزوروها، - فإن في زيارتها تذكرة» رواه مسلم والزيادة (فإن في زيارتها تذكرة) عند أبي داود
The ‘illah (underlying cause) is mentioned that it reminds people of the hereafter, as well as making one detached from the world. With regards to women visiting the graves, the scholars differ: The Hanafi school of thought say it is permissible, while others say it is makruh (highly disliked). Some scholars also consider it prohibited. Imam Ahmad is reported to have issued each one of these rulings. The scholars who say it is permissible, use the aforementioned hadith, and point to its generality and how the wording is not restricted to men. The scholars who prohibit it site other hadith that prohibit women visiting graves regularly. The Prophet (Peace and Salutations be upon him) said:“May Allah curse the women who are frequent visitors of the graves.” [Authenticated by Albani].
«لعن الله زوارات القبور» صححه الألباني

There is also the famous hadith of the Prophet (Peace and Salutations be upon him) narrated by Anas:“The Prophet, peace be upon him, saw a woman crying by the grave of her son, and said to her, ‘Fear Allah, and be patient…” [Reported in Saheeh al-Bukhari and Saheeh Muslim].
«فإن النبي صلى الله عليه وسلم مر بها وهي تبكي عند قبر، فقال: (اتقي الله واصبري)... » رواه البخاري ومسلم
The fact that the Prophet (Peace and Salutations be upon him) did not forbid her shows its implicit allowance.

However with regards to such issues that are controversial and keenly debated by scholars, where one side says it is permissible and another side says it is prohibited, one should not focus exclusively on just the evidence. It is also not from wisdom to always ask for the stronger opinion, as the answer you get will only reflect the opinion of the scholar you questioned. In fact if one finds the hadith that prohibit it include a curse or a warning of widespread corruption, one should abstain from it. Also from the other perspective if one does not find any hadith that permits it, or any stated reward attached to it, then it would be wise to leave it. In abstaining one will not lose reward and not incur a sin.

Other examples include the case of nimas (plucking of the eyebrows). This is divided into either completely removing the eyebrows or removing some hairs. The Prophet (Peace and Salutations be upon him) said as narrated by Abdullah ibn Masood:“May Allaah curse the one who does tattoos and the one who has a tattoo done, the one who plucks eyebrows and the one who has her eyebrows plucked, and those who file teeth for the purpose of beautification, changing the creation of Allaah.” [Reported by Saheeh al-Bukhaari (4886) and Saheeh Muslim (2125)].
«لعن الله الواشمات والمستوشمات، والنامصات والمتنمصات، والمتفلجات للحسن المغيرات خلق الله» رواه البخاري ومسلم واللفظ لمسلم
The scholars differed on whether this curse refers to the partial or complete removal of the eyebrows. Using the above principle, one would err on the side of caution and completely avoid any form of removing the eyebrows.

Further examples include the matter of khalwa (solitude with a woman one is not related to). There are situations where a man and woman who are not related are together in some form of private manner, but other factors will technically make that situation not khalwa. However there are scholars that will still define it as khalwa. Moreover if this situation was allowed to become widespread corrupt and obscene behaviour would inevitably follow, hence it would be wise to leave such situations.

With regards to visiting the graves it is sunnah. Aisha asked what one should say when one visits the grave. The Prophet (Peace and Salutations be upon him) said:“Peace be upon you all, O inhabitants of the graves, amongst the believers and the Muslims. and may Allah have mercy on those who have gone ahead of us, and those who come later on, and we shall, God willing, join you.” [Reported by Muslim].
«قلت: كيف أقول لهم؟ يا رسول الله! قال: قولي: السلام على أهل الديار من المؤمنين والمسلمين ويرحم الله المستقدمين منا والمستأخرين. وإنا، إن شاء الله، بكم للاحقون» رواه مسلم

Ibn Abbas once visited the graves and he is narrated to have faced the grave while he said his salaams.

When considering the ruling of performing prayers at the grave it is strange to find the Maliki school of thought allow prayers at the graves (apart from Janaza), and they use the hadith that mentions that the whole earth has been made a masjid as an evidence. The Prophet (Peace and Salutations be upon him) said:“The whole earth has been made for me a pure and clean place of prayer.” [Reported by Muslim].

«جعلت لي الأرض طهورا ومسجدا» رواه مسلم

However this hadith has exceptions and there are ahadith which prohibit prayer at a toilet and at the graves. Abu Marthid al-Ghanwi narrates that the Prophet (Peace and Salutations be upon him) said:“Do not pray facing towards the graves, and do not sit on them.” [Reported by Muslim].
«لا تجلسوا على القبور ولا تصلوا إليها» رواه مسلم
Abu Hurairah is reported to have prohibited Thabit from praying at the grave. Ibn Taymiyyah, in his kitab al-’uddah, concludes that prayer at the graves is therefore not only haram but rejected and must be repeated. Aishah narrates:
“When the Messenger of Allah was close to death, he covered his face with a cloth, and then when it became difficult for him to breathe, he uncovered his face and said:  “May Allah curse the Jews and Christians who took the graves of their Prophets as places of worship.”Aisha added “if it had not been for this, his grave might have been raised above ground, but it was feared that it would be taken as a place of worship.” [Reported by Saheeh al-Bukhari and Saheeh Muslim].
«لعن الله اليهود والنصارى، اتخذوا قبور أنبيائهم مسجدا. قالت: ولولا ذلك لأبرزوا قبره، غير أني أخشى أن يتخذ مسجدا» رواه البخاري ومسلم

The exception to this prohibition is the Janaza prayer as other ahadith prove its permissibility. Leniency in this matter is dangerous as it can and has lead to worship of the inhabitants of the grave. For this reason the Companions were very stern on this issue, and did not allow even the veneration of the grave of the Prophet (Peace and Salutations be upon him). Abu Aaliyah mentions that he discovered the grave of the Prophet Daniel (Peace and salutations be upon him), which was being venerated. Abu Musa reported this to Umar who ordered them to bury him in an unmarked grave in the middle of the night, with 13 decoy graves dug to disguise its actual location. This shows the great precaution they took against excessive veneration of the graves. Ibn Taymiyyah points to the fact that not a single grave of the blessed Prophets of Allah are decisively known, except for that of the Prophet Muhammadd (Peace and Salutations be upon him). This shows how the grave itself has little worth, and their excessive veneration is an evil which the Shari’ah of the Prophet (Peace and Salutations be upon him) took all means to end.



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