Fiqh-us-Sunnah, Volume 4: Contemplation of death and preparation for it bygood deeds
Allah and His Messenger, peace be upon him, encourage us to contemplatedeath and be ready for it with good deeds. This is regarded as a sign ofgoodness. Ibn ' Umar reports: "I came to the Prophet, peace be upon him,and I was the tenth of the first ten people (who embraced Islam). A man fromamong the Ansar got up and said: "O Prophet of Allah, who is the mostsagacious and the most prudent among the people?" He replied: "Thosewho are most aware of death and prepare themselves for it. They are the wisestof people and will have honor in this world and a generous reward in theHereafter'." Ibn 'Umar also said that Allah's Messenger, peace be uponhim, said: "You should remember the reality that brings an end to allworldly joys and pleasures, namely, death." (Both hadith are narrated byAt-Tabarani with a sound chain of narrators)
Ibn Mas'ud narrated that the Messenger of Allah, peace be upon him,explained the following words of Allah, the Exalted: "The hearts of thosewhom Allah wills to guide, He opens to Islam." (Qur'an 6.125) This means,the Messenger explained, that, "When the light (of truth) enters the heartit expands and opens up." The Companions asked: "Is there anyevidence of this (in the life of a Muslim)?" He replied: "Being evermindful of the eternal life of the Hereafter, and remaining at guard in thislife of delusion, and preparing oneself for death before it comes." Thisis reported by Ibn Jarir through different chains each of which strengthens theother.
It is makruh or "disliked" to wish for one's death, or pray toAllah for it, due to poverty, distress, illness, or the like. The six canonicalcompilers of hadith narrate on the authority of Anas that the Prophet, peace beupon him, said: "Let no one among you wish for death due to any hardshipthat may befall him. But if one has no other choice, but to do so, one shouldsay: "O Allah! Grant me life as long as life is good for me, and cause meto die when death is better for me."
The wisdom in the prohibition against wishing for death becomes obvious froma hadith narrated by Umm al-Fadl: "The Prophet, peace be upon him, went tosee Al-'Abbas. He found him wishing for death. Thereupon the Prophet said: 'OAbbas! O Uncle of Allah's Messenger! Do not wish for death. If you do good andlive long, your good deeds will multiply. Then that is better for you. If youare not good and your death is delayed, you may seek Allah's forgiveness. Thatis better for you. So do not wish for death'." (Narrated by Ahmad andAl-Hakim, who says it is sound according to Muslim's criteria)
It is permissible, however, to wish for death, and there is no harm in doingso, when one fears persecution that puts one's faith at risk, as is indicatedby the following supplication of the Messenger of Allah, peace be upon him:Allahumma inni as'aluka fi'lal khairat wa tarkal munkarat wa hubbal masakin waan taghfarali wa tarhamani wa izha aradata fitnatan fi qaumi fatawafani ghairamaftunin wa as'aluka hubbaka wa hubba man yuhibbuka wa hubba 'amalin yuqaribuila hubbika "O Allah! I ask You for the means to do good, to avoid evil,and to love the poor, and I beseech You to forgive me and have mercy on me.When You subject my people to a trial, cause me to die without being affectedby it. O Allah! I ask Your love, the love of those who love You, and the loveof all such actions that bring one closer to Your Love."(Narrated byTirmizhi who said it is a good and sound hadith)
'Umar used to pray in these words: Allahumma kabirat sinni wa da'ufatquwwati wa anshrat ra'i-atifaqbidni ilaika ghaira mudayi' wa la mufaratti"O Allah! I have grown old, I have become weak, and my flock has spreadfar and wide. Therefore, O Allah, take me to You before I fall short of doingmy duties or transgress my limits." This is reported by Malik.
It is reported by Abdurrahman ibn Abu Bakrah on the authority of his fatherthat a man asked: "O Messenger of Allah ! Who is the best of allpeople?" He replied, "He who lives long and does good deeds."The man asked, "And who is the worst of men?" The Prophet, peace beupon him, replied: "He who lives long but commits evil." (Narrated byAhmad and at-Tirrnizhi, who says it is a sound hadith) Abu Hurairah reportedthat the Prophet, peace be upon him, said, "Shall I tell you who is the bestamong you?" The Companions said, "Yes, O Allah's Messenger."Thereupon he said, "The best among you are those who live long and arebest in deeds." (Narrated by Ahmad and others with a sound chain)
Anas reported that the Prophet, peace be upon him, said: "When Allahintends good for a servant of His, He uses him for good." They asked:"How does Allah use him?" The Prophet, peace be upon him, replied:"He enables him to do good deeds and makes it easy for him before hisdeath and then causes him to die while he is in that state of goodness."(Ahmad, Tirrnizhi, Al-Hakim, and Ibn Hibban)
The patient should remember the boundless mercy of Allah and have a goodopinion about his Sustainer. Jabir reported: "I heard the Messenger ofAllah, peace be upon him, saying, three nights before his death, 'Let none ofyou die unless he has a good opinion of Allah'." (Muslim) This hadithencourages the triumph of hope and expectation of forgiveness when one meetsAllah, the Exalted. One should be in the state most loved by Allah, since He isthe most Gracious, the most Merciful, the most Beneficent, and the mostGenerous. He loves to forgive those with hope. In the words of a hadith:"Everyone will be raised on the Resurrection Day in the condition in whichhe died."
It is reported by Anas that "the Prophet, peace be upon him, went tosee a young man who was on his deathbed. The Prophet, peace be upon him, askedhim: 'How are you?' The young man said: 'I hope for Allah's pardon, but I amfearful because of my sins. ' The Prophet, peace be upon him, said: 'These twothings never gather in the heart of a person at such a time without Allahgranting him what he hopes for and sheltering him from what he dreads'."(Ibn Majah and Tirmizhi)
It is desirable that righteous people visit patients on their deathbeds andremember Allah.
Umm Salamah reported: "Allah's Messenger, peace be upon him, said,'When you visit someone who is ill or is dying, say good things about him.Indeed, the angels (present there) say "amen" to whatever youutter'." She added:"When Abu Salamah passed away, I went to theProphet, peace be upon him, and said, 'Oh Messenger of Allah! Indeed, AbuSalamah has died.' The Prophet said: 'Say: "O Allah! Forgive me and him.Give me in his place a better substitute".' So, I did so and Allah gave mesomeone better than he. He gave me Muhammad, peace be upon him." (Recordedby Ahmad, Muslim, and the five compilers of the sunan)
In another report she said: "The Messenger of Allah, peace be upon him,came to see Abu Salamah when his sight had become fixed (he had passed away).So the Prophet, peace be upon him, closed his eyes and said: 'When the soul isseized and it leaves the body, the sight follows it.' Some of Abu Salamah'sfamily wept and wailed, whereupon the Prophet, peace be upon him, said: 'Supplicate to Allah only to seek good for yourselves, because the angels (whoare present) say "amen" to whatever you utter.' Then he said: 'OAllah! Forgive Abu Salamah; raise his station among (Your) rightly guidedservants; and take good care of his family that he has left behind. O Lord ofthe Worlds ! Forgive him and us, make his grave spacious, and put light thereinfor him." (Muslim)
It is sunnah to do the following when a person dies:
-1- Advise the dying person to say: "La ilaha illa-Allah" (thereis no god but Allah). It is narrated on the authority of Abu Sa'id al-Khudrithat the Prophet, peace be upon him, said: "Prompt your dying people tosay: 'La ilaha illa-Allah'." (Muslim, Abu Daw'ud, Tirmizhi) Another reporton the authority of Mu'azh ibn Jabal states that the Messenger of Allah, peacebe upon him, said: "He whose last words are 'La ilaha illa- Allah' shallenter Paradise." (Narrated by Abu Daw'ud; Al-Hakim considers it a soundhadith)
This prompting (talqin) is necessary only when the dying person is unable toutter the shahadah (La ilaha illa- Allah . . . ). If such a person is able toutter these words then there is no need for prompting, but he should rather beadvised to do so. Such advice is useful in cases of persons who are inpossession of their faculties of reason and speech. If one is already mentallyimpaired such advice cannot be of benefit. But one who is unable to speak mightsay these words in his heart. The scholars are of the opinion that no pressureshould be put on the dying person. So one should not say to him, "Say, 'Lailaha ill-Allah'," lest he should become annoyed and utter somethingimproper. One may say the shahadah, however, in such a way that the dyingperson might be able to hear it and repeat it. If he utters it once, he shouldnot be asked to repeat it unless he says some words after it. In such a case heshould be asked to repeat shahadah to ensure that it be his last utterance.
Most scholars are of the opinion that one attending a dying person mayrepeat only the words: "La ilaha ill-Allah," according to theapparent meaning of the hadith. Others are of the opinion that the dying personshould be prompted to utter the two testimonies (that is, "I bear witnessthat there is no god but Allah, and I bear witness that Muhammad is His servantand Messenger"). The purpose is to remind him of the Oneness of Allah,which includes both of the two testimonies.
-2- Lay the dying person so that the qibla is on his right side. To thiseffect it is recorded that Abu Qatadah said: "Upon arrival in Madinah, theProphet, peace be upon him, enquired about a person called al-Bara ibn Ma'rur.The people told the Prophet, peace be upon him, that he had died, and hadwilled one-third of his property to the Prophet, peace be upon him, and thathis face be turned toward the Ka'bah at the time of his death. Hearing this,the Prophet, peace be upon him, said: 'He has been true to his innate nature. Ireturn the one-third of his property to his children. ' Then the Prophet, peacebe upon him, left and offered a prayer for him and prayed, saying: 'O Allah!Forgive him, have mercy on him, and cause him to enter Your Paradise. Indeed,You have accepted this prayer'." (Narrated by Al-Baihaqi and Al-Hakim, whoobserves: "I know of no hadith, other than this one, with regard toturning the face of a dying person toward Ka'bah.")
Ahmad reported that Fatimah, the daughter of the Prophet, peace be upon him,at the time of her death, turned toward the Ka'bah and placed her right handunder her head. This is the sleeping position recommended by the Prophet, peacebe upon him, and in a grave, a dead body should also be placed in the sameposition. A report recorded from Ash-Shafi'i says: The body of the deceasedshould be laid flat on his back with his feet toward the Ka'bah, and his faceraised a little, facing it. The majority of scholars, however favor the firstposition and hold it to be preferable.
-3- Recite Surah Ya Sin from the Qur'an. (Surah 36 of the Qur'an) This isreported by Ahmad, Abu Daw'ud, Nasa'i, Al-Hakim, and Ibn Hibban, and the lasttwo of them grade it as a sound hadith. They report also on the authority of M'aqilibn Yasar, that the Prophet, peace be upon him, said: "Ya Sin is the heartof the Qur'an. Whoever recites it seeking the pleasure of Allah and thehereafter will receive Allah's forgiveness. So recite it to your dead."(Ibn al-Qattan considers this hadith weak and manifests some confusion, doubt,and even ignorance about some of its narrators. Ad-Dar al-Qutni is reported tohave said: "In the chain of narrators of this hadith there is confusion.Its text is obscure and is not correct.")
Ibn Hibban observes: This hadith refers to the recitation of Ya Sin forthose on the eve of death and not for those already dead. This interpretationis supported by Ahmad, who recorded in his Al-Musnad that Safwan states:"The most eminent scholars say: 'The recitation of Surah Ya Sin at thetime of a person's death makes death easy for him'. "The compiler ofMusnad al-Firdaus attributes this hadith to Abu ad-Darda and Abu Zharr. Theyboth narrated: "The Prophet, peace be upon him, said: 'If any person is onhis deathbed and Ya Sin is recited to him, Allah makes his sufferingeasier'."
-4- Close the eyes of the deceased. It is narrated by Muslim that theProphet, peace be upon him, went to visit Abu Salmah. He saw that his eyes werewide open and blank with the stare of death. So the Prophet, peace be upon him,closed his eyes and said: "Verily, when a soul is seized, the eyesightfollows it."
-5- Cover the deceased: 'Aishah said: "When the Messenger of Allahdied, he was covered with a piece of cloth that had some designs on it."This is reported by Bukhari and Muslim. The objective here is clearly tosafeguard the respect and dignity of the deceased in death against prying eyesand against the exposure of his or her body to the idle curiosity of thoselooking for changes in its physical condition and features.
There is a consensus among scholars regarding the permissibility of kissinga dead person. The Prophet, peace be upon him, kissed 'Uthman ibn Maz'un afterhis death. Similarly, when the Prophet died, Abu Bakr leaned over him andkissed him between his eyes saying: "O my Prophet! O my best friend!!"
-6- Prepare the body for burial without delay, as soon as death is confirmed(by specialists i. e., a qualified physician or the like).
The guardian of the deceased should wash, wrap, and arrange for the burialof the body soon after the funeral prayer for the deceased, because the bodymight deteriorate if burial is delayed. This is based on a report, recorded byAbu Daw'ud from al-Husayn ibn Wujuh that when Talhah ibn al-Bara fell ill, theProphet, peace upon him, said: "I see that Talhah is on the verge ofdeath. Inform me about him (when he passes away) and make immediatepreparations for his burial, for a Muslim's remains should not be left longwith his family after his death."
The burial may be delayed only for the guardian, provided no physicaldeterioration in the condition of the body is feared from such delay. Ahmad andTirmizhi report on the authority of Ali ibn Abu Talib that the Prophet, peacebe upon him, said: "O Ali, never delay three things: prayer when its timeapproaches, the funeral when death is confirmed, and marrying a widow or adivorcee when a suitable match is found for her."
-7- Settle the debt of the deceased. Ahmad, Ibn Majah, and Tirmizhi haverecorded a hadith on the authority of Abu Hurairah that the Messenger of Allahsaid: "A believer's soul remains in suspense until all his debts are paidoff." Tirmizhi considers this a sound hadith.
This means that the judgement regarding a soul's salvation or perdition orits entry into Paradise is held in abeyance until its debts are fully paid offand settled. This applies to a person who leaves some property upon his death.His debt should be paid out of the property that he leaves behind. In the caseof a person who dies in debt which he sincerely intended to pay, but has noproperty (nor leaves any behind to pay his debt), according to a confirmedreport, his debt will be settled by Allah, the Exalted. Concerning a person whodies in debt with sufficient means to pay it and was willing to do so, but hisheirs do not pay it, Bukhari records on the authority of Abu Hurayrah that theProphet, peace be upon him, said: "If anyone takes other people's moneywith the intention to repay it and then he or she should die without settlingthe debt, Allah will pay the debt on his behalf. And if anyone takes money orproperty (of others) with the intention of destroying it, Allah will destroyhim."
A hadith recorded by Ahmad, Abu Nu'aym, Al-Bazzar, and At-Tabarani from theProphet, peace be upon him, says: "The debtor will be summoned beforeAllah on the Day of Judgement. Then Allah will ask him: 'O Son of Adam ! Whydid you incur debt and infringe on others ' rights? ' The man would reply: 'MyLord! You know I took it, but I neither abused nor lost it. It was stolen orbumed in a fire or lost its value.' Allah, the Almighty and Exalted, will say:'My slave has told the truth, and I am more entitled (than anyone else) tosettle his debt. Then Allah will issue a command and something will be placedon his scales causing his good deeds to outweigh his bad ones. And so, byAllah's Grace, he will enter Paradise'."
The Prophet, peace be upon him, did not perform funeral prayers for thosewho had died in debt. When, however, Allah the Almighty, granted him certainlands as a result of conquests, and the community's wealth increased, heoffered funeral prayer for them and settled their debts.
Bukhari reports that the Messenger of Allah, peace be upon him, said:"I am nearer to the believers than their own selves. So if someone diesleaving behind debt, but no wherewithal to settle it, we shall pay his debt,and if someone dies and leaves some estate behind him, it is for his heirs (topay his debt)."
This hadith shows that the debt of a deceased Muslim may be paid from thepublic exchequer out of the zakah funds specified as the portion for the peoplein debt. This is one of the prescribed categories of zakah recipients. Death byitself does not annul one's debt or other responsibilities to the living.
Saying: "Inna lillahi wa inna ilayhi raji'un" (We belong to Allahand truly to Him we shall Return)
A believer should, at the death of a relative or a friend, invoke Allah andsay: "Verily we belong to Allah, and truly to Him shall we return."The following reports show that to do so is commendable.
Ahmad and Muslim reported from Umm Salmah that she said: "I heard theProphet, peace be upon him, saying: "If a servant of Allah is afflictedwith a misfortune and says: Inna lillahi wa inna ilayhi raji'un, Allahummaajirni fi musibati wa akhlif li khairan minha 'Verily we belong to Allah andtruly to Him shall we return. O Allah! Protect me in this calamity that hasbefallen me and replace it with something better,'
Allah will accept his prayer, grant him reward for his affliction, andreplace it with something better." She added: "When Abu Salmah (herhusband) died, I invoked Allah in the words taught to me by the Prophet, peacebe upon him, and Allah did grant me someone better than he, i.e., (He gave me)the Messenger of Allah (as a husband)."
Tirmizhi reports from Abu Musa al-Ash'ari that the Prophet, peace be uponhim, said: "When a child of a servant of Allah passes away, Allah says tothe angels: 'Did you take the soul of My servant's child?' They say: 'Yes.' He,the Almighty, says: 'Did you take away the apple of my servant's eye?' Theysay: 'Yes.' He, the Almighty says: 'What did My servant say at this?' They say:'He praised You and said: "Inna lillahi wa inna ilayhi raji'a un (Verilywe belong to Allah and to Him shall we return)." At this Allah says: 'Build for My servant a mansion in Paradise and call it the House of Praise(bayt al-hamd)'." Tirmizhi says this is a sound hadith.
Bukhari has reported from Abu Hurairah that the Prophet, peace be upon him,said: "Allah, the Exalted and Glorious says: 'I have no better reward thanParadise for a believing servant of Mine who is patient and resigned when Itake away one of his beloved, one among those he most cherishes in theworld."
"Those who say, when afflicted with calamity, 'To Allah we belong, andto Him is our return,' are those on whom descend blessings from Allah, andmercy, and they are the ones who receive guidance." 55 Commenting on theseverses of the Qur'an, Ibn Abbas said: "Allah, the Almighty and theExalted, informs us that when a believer is patient and resigned after a misfortunevisits him and invokes Allah, Allah will grant him three (good) merits:blessings, mercy, and guidance to the right path."
The scholars consider it desirable that the deceased's family, friends, andother good people be informed about his death, so that they may share in thereward of participating in his funeral. It is reported in Sihah Sittah on theauthority of Abu Hurairah that the Prophet, peace be upon him, informed hiscompanions about the death of Negus (Najashi), the King of Abyssinia, the daythat he passed away. And then the Prophet, peace be upon him, led them to theprayer ground where he lined them up and offered funeral prayer (for him) withfour takbirs.
Ahmad and Bukhari narrate from Anas that the Prophet, peace be upon him,informed the people about the death of his companions, Zaid, J'afar, and IbnRawahah, commanders of the Muslim army in the Battle of Mu' tah, before theyreceived any news from the battlefield. Tirmizhi observes that there is no harmin informing the family and close relations of the deceased person about hisdeath. Al-Baihaqi says he was told that Malik ibn Anas disliked announcingsomeone's death at the gates of the mosque, but found nothing wrong with going aroundinside the mosque to the various groups of students there and informing them ofsomeone's death.
A report, recorded by Ahmad and Tirmizhi on the authority of Huzhaifah, saysthat Huzhaifah said: "When I pass away, let no one vex me, for I am afraid(my death will be announced) and it may be regarded (as an invitation to)mourning. And I heard that the Prophet, peace be upon him, forbade announcingthe death of a person as an invitation to mourning. This refers to a practiceof the pre-Islamic period. In those days when a noble died they would send ahorseman to various tribes to inform them about his death saying: 'The peopleare devastated on account of the death of so and so.' Such an announcement was(always) accompanied by crying and weeping."
Muslim scholars are agreed that weeping for the dead is permissible, whereascrying and wailing are not. It is reported in a sound hadith that the Prophet,peace be upon him, said: "Allah does not punish a person for sheddingtears or feeling pain in his heart. But He does punish, though he may showmercy, because of (what he utters with) this," and then he pointed to histongue.
The Prophet, peace be upon him, wept on the death of his son, Ibrahim, andsaid: "The eyes shed tears and the heart feels pain, but we utter onlywhat pleases our Lord. O Ibrahim! We are aggrieved at your demise." Healso wept when his grand daughter, Umaymah, daughter of Zainab, died. At thisSa'ad ibn 'Ubadah said: "O Messenger of Allah! Are you weeping? Did younot forbid Zainab from weeping?" The Prophet, peace be upon him, replied:"This (weeping) is the mercy that Allah has placed in the hearts of Hisservants. And surely Allah bestows mercy upon those who are merciful among Hisservants." A report is transmitted by At-Tabarani on the authority ofAbdullah ibn Zaid to the effect that weeping without wailing is permitted.
Weeping aloud and wailing cause pain and suffering to the dead person. It isreported from Ibn 'Umar that when 'Umar was stabbed and he became unconsciousthe people around him began crying loudly. When he regained consciousness hesaid to them: "Don't you know that the Messenger of Allah said: 'A deadperson is tormented by the wailing of the living'."
Abu Musa reports that when 'Umar was wounded Suhaib cried: "O my dearbrother!" At this 'Umar said: "O Suhaib! Don't you know that theMessenger of Allah said: 'A dead person is tormented by the wailing of theliving people'."
Al-Mughirah ibn Sh'ubah reports that he heard the Prophet, peace be uponhim, saying: "The one who is wailed for is tortured on account ofit." The above hadith are reported by Bukhari and Muslim.
These hadith mean that a dead person feels pain and displeasure when hisfamily wails over him, for he hears their wailing and their deeds are shown tohim. This does not mean that the dead are actually punished and tormentedbecause of the wailing of their families for them, because the Qur'an says thata person is not accountable for the actions of others.
Ibn Jarir reported from Abu Hurairah that he said: "Your deeds areshown to your dead relatives. So if these are good, they are pleased, and ifthese are bad, they despise them."
Ahmad and Tirmizhi reported on the authority of Anas that the Prophet, peacebe upon him, said: "Your deeds are shown to your dead relatives andkinsfolk. So if these are good they are pleased, and if these are bad they say:'O Allah! Let them not die until You have guided them to the right path as Youguided us before'."
An-N'uman ibn Bashir reports: "Abdullah ibn Rawahah fainted and hissister, 'Amrah, started wailing: 'O my monumental loss!' 'O, my this and that!'When he regained consciousness, he said to her: 'Every time you said something(about me) i was asked, "Are you really what she said?"'." Thisis narrated by Bukhari.
Wailing refers to mourning in a loud voice and crying in a high pitch, whichwas prohibited by the Prophet, peace be upon him, . Abu Malik alAsh'arireported that the Prophet, peace be upon him, said: "Four practices of thepre-Islamic days of Ignorance will continue to be practiced by my ummah: takingpride in one's parentage, giving a person a father other than his owngenealogical father, believing that rain is caused by some stars, and wailingover the dead." He further said: "A (professional) mourner, unlessshe repents before her death, will be raised on the Day of Judgement wearing agarment of tar and an armor of blistering puss." This is narrated by Ahmadand Muslim.
Umm 'Atiyyah reports: "The Messenger of Allah made us pledge that wewill not wail over (the dead)" (Bukhari and Muslim). Al-Bazzar hastransmitted, through a sound chain of authorities the report that the Prophet,peace be upon him, said: "Two sounds are accursed in this world and in thehereafter: the sound of wind instruments (to celebrate) good fortune, and ofmoaning aloud when afflicted with a misfortune."
Abu Musa is reported to have said: 'I declare my disavowal of all thatAllah's Messenger disavowed. The Messenger of Allah disavowed publically awoman who mourns loudly, one who shaves her head, and one who tears her clothesin mourning" (Bukhari and Muslim).
Ahmad narrates from Anas that he said: "The Prophet, peace be upon him,made the women pledge, while giving their allegiance to him, not to mournloudly for the dead. Thereupon they asked him, 'O Messenger of Allah, somewomen helped us (in mourning our dead) during the pre-Islamic days. Should we(also in return) help them (in mourning their dead) now that we are Muslims? 'He replied: 'There is no such thing in Islam (i. e., helping each other tomourn the dead loudly)'."
It is permissible for a woman to mourn for a period of three days on thedeath of a near relative, provided that her husband does not object to herdoing so. It is not permissible for her to mourn for more than three days,except in the case of her husband's death, when she is to mourn for four monthsand ten days, which is a legally prescribed period of waiting or"iddah". This is reported by the group, (The compilers of the sixmost reliable hadith books generally known as Sihah Sitta) except Tirmizhi.They report from Umm 'Atiyyah, that the Messenger of Allah said: "A womanshould not mourn for any deceased person for more than three days, except inthe case of her husband's death, which she may mourn for a period of fourmonths and ten days. Such a woman (in mourning) is not to wear any (brightly)colored dress. She may wear only plain dress. During this period she should notuse any adornment or eye makeup, nor wear any perfume, nor dye her hands andfeet with henna, nor comb her hair, except at the end of her menstruationperiod, when she may use some cleaning or refreshing agents (such as perfume,etc. ) to get rid of any offensive smell left over from her period."Accordingly, when a widow mourns, she must not use any adornment, such asjewelry, kohl, 58 silk, perfume, or henna dye on her hands and feet. A widowmust observe this waiting period in deference to her late husband's memory andto fulfill her obligations toward him.
Abdullah ibn Ja'far reported that the Messenger of Allah, peace be upon him,said: "Prepare some food for the family of Ja'far, for what has befallenthem is keeping them preoccupied." This is narrated by Abu Daw'ud, IbnMajah and Tirmizhi, who grades it as a sound hadith.
The Prophet, peace be upon him, recommended this practice for it is an actof virtue and kindness and brings friends and neighbors closer to each other.
Ash-Shafi'i said: "It is recommended that the relatives of the deceasedprepare enough food to feed all the deceased's family for one day and night,for it is the sunnah of the Prophet, peace be upon him, and a practice of goodpeople."
The scholars hold it commendable to urge the deceased's family to eat sothat their sorrow or excessive grief will not cause them to avoid food andthereby become weak. These scholars also hold that to offer food to the womenwhile they are mourning loudly is not permissible, for it would be helping themin something sinful.
All the schools of Islamic law disapprove of the deceased's family preparingfood for the people coming to pay their condolences, for it adds to their griefand further encumbers them unnecessarily. Such a practice would also resemblethe custom of the Arabs before Islam. Referring to this practice, Jarir says:"(In those days) we considered it a part of mourning to assemble at thedeceased's house and prepare food after burial for those gathered there."Some scholars consider this to be absolutely forbidden (haram).
Ibn Qudamah observes: 'It is permissible, however, when there is genuineneed for it, since sometimes people attending the funeral may be from distantplaces, and they have to stay with the family of the deceased, in which casethe family has to host such guests.
Bukhari deals with this subject in a chapter entitled: "Those WhoPrepared the Kafan in the Prophet's Days without him objecting to it. Reportingon the authority of Sahl, Bukhari says: "A woman came to the Prophet,peace be upon him, with a woven piece of cloth that had two seams on its edges.She said: 'I wove it with my own hands in order to wear it. ' The Prophet,peace be upon him, took it because he needed it. He wrapped it around his waistso that it covered the lower half of his body, and he came toward us. A manpraised it, saying: 'This is a very nice cloth! Why don't you give it to me towear?' Some of the people present there reproached the man for they knew thatthe Prophet needed that cloth and that he never denied anyone's request. Theman replied: 'By Allah, I asked him for it not to wear it, but to save it anduse it as my kafan'." Sahl continues: "And (later when he died) thatsame piece of cloth was used as his kafan."
Commenting on the above chapter of Bukhari, Al-Hafiz ibn Hajar says:"Bukhari phrased it so as to show that though (initially) the companionsdisliked the man's request for the cloth from the Prophet, they did notdisapprove of it when he explained to them the reason for his request. Thisproves that it is permissible for a person to arrange during his lifetime forthe things he will need after his death, such as a kafan or a grave." Hecites Ibn Battal who said it is permissible to arrange for something before itis actually needed. Furthermore Al-Hafiz observes: "Some righteous peopledid indeed have their graves dug and prepared for them during theirlifetime." Al-Zain ibn al-Munir criticized him, saying that the companionsof the Prophet, peace be upon him, did not do so, and that if doing so(preparing one's grave during one's lifetime) were desirable most of them wouldhave done so.
Commenting on this Al-'Aini says: "The fact that it was not done by thecompanions of the Prophet does not imply that doing so is not permissible, forif an act is deemed good by Muslims, then it is also good in the sight ofAllah, especially when it is practiced by some of the most piousscholars."
Ahmad said: "There is nothing wrong if a person purchases a site forhis burial and makes a will to the effect that he is to be buried there.'Uthman, 'Aishah, and 'Umar ibn Abd al-'Aziz, all did so."
The desire to die in either of the sanctuaries in Makkah and Madinah iscommendable. Bukhari has reported on the authority of Hafsah that 'Umar said:"O Allah ! Grant me martyrdom in Your cause, and cause me to die in thecity of Your Prophet, peace be upon him." Thereupon Hafsa asked him:"Why do you pray for such a thing?" He said: "Allah willing, Ishall get what I have prayed for."
At-Tabarani reported on the authority of Jabir that the Prophet, peace beupon him, said: "He who dies in one of the two sanctuaries will be raisedin peace on the Day of Resurrection." Among the narrators of this hadithare Musa ibn Abdul al-Rahman, who is mentioned as trustworthy by Ibn Hibban andAbdullah ibn al-Mu'amil. Ahmad regards the hadith as weak, while Ibn Hibbanconsiders it sound.
Abu Daw'ud reported from 'Ubaid ibn Khalid al-Sullami, a companion of theProphet, peace be upon him, that once he narrated from ' Ubaid and another timefrom the Prophet himself, peace be upon him, saying: "Being caughtunawares by a sudden death is a grievous misfortune." This hadith has beenreported by Abdullah ibn Mas'ud, Anas ibn Malik, Abu Hurairah and 'Aishah, butall these narrations are weak for one or another reason. Al-Azdi says: This hadithhas been reported through diverse chains of narrators, but none are reported onsound authority from the Prophet, peace be upon him.
Bukhari reported from Anas that the Prophet, peace be upon him, said:"A Muslim who loses three of his children before they come of age will bebrought to Paradise by Allah as a mercy to him for losing them."
Bukhari and Muslim reported from Abu Sa'id al-Khudri that he said:"Some women asked the Prophet, peace be upon him: 'Appoint a (separate)day to (admonish) us.' The Prophet, peace be upon him, told them: 'If a(Muslim) woman's three children die, they will be a protection for her fromHell.' A woman asked him, 'And what if two of her children die?' He replied:'And (even) if two of her children die'."
Tirmizhi reported from Abu Hurairah that the Prophet, peace be upon him,said: "The life-span of those in my ummah is 60 to 70 years. And a veryfew of them will exceed this span."
Bukhari and Muslim reported from Abu Qatadah that once, when the Prophetpassed by a funeral, he said: "He is (now) in peace secure from others andothers are in peace secure from him." The people asked: "O Allah'sMessenger! Who is in peace and from whom are others in peace?" He said:"A believing servant (of Allah) is relieved from afflictions of this worldupon his death, while upon the death of a wicked person, other people, land,trees, and animals are rid of his evil."
The body of the deceased person must be prepared for burial, washed, andshrouded, and a funeral prayer must be offered for him. Then he should beburied.
The majority of jurists are of the opinion that washing the body of a deadMuslim is a fard kifayah or a collective obligation. If some people attend toit, it is done on behalf of all, as commanded by Allah's Messenger, peace beupon him, and practiced by the Muslim community.
The body of a deceased Muslim, other than one killed in a battlefield by theinfidels, should be washed.
There is a difference of opinion among Muslim jurists concerning washingparts severed from a body. According to Ash-Shafi'i, Ahmad and Ibn Hazm theseparts must be washed and shrouded, and funeral prayer should be offered for thedeparted soul.
Ash-Shafi'i said: "We were informed that a bird dropped a (human) handin Makkah after the Battle of the Camel. The people identified it by a ring onone of its fingers (It was the hand of Abdul al-Rahman ibn 'Itab ibn Usayd(probably killed in the battle). It was washed and a (funeral) prayer wasoffered on it. This was witnessed by many Companions alive at the time.
Ahmad said: Abu Ayub offered funeral prayer on a (severed) foot of a deadperson, while 'Umar offered prayer on a dead man's bones.
Ibn Hazm said: "A funeral prayer may be offered on any organ found froma dead Muslim's body. It should be washed and shrouded, except when it is partof a martyr' s body." Ibn Hazm further remarks that offering prayer on anyorgan found from a Muslim's body is analogous to praying for the whole personof the deceased, namely, for body and soul.
Abu Hanifah and Malik say, however, that, "If more than half of aMuslim 's body is found, then it should be washed and funeral prayer be offeredon it, but otherwise it should not be washed nor should any funeral prayer beoffered on it.
The body of a martyr, that is, a Muslim killed in a battle at the hands ofdisbelievers, may not be washed even though it is in a state of major ritualimpurity. His body should be enshrouded in the clothes he wore when he died ifthey are good enough for the purpose. Otherwise some additional cloth may beused to enshroud his body according to the sunnah. The body of such a personshould be buried in its blood-stained state. None of his blood should be washedoff.
Ahmad reported: "The Prophet, peace be upon him, said: "Do notwash those who die as martyrs, for their every wound or drop of blood willexude a fragrance like musk on the Day of Judgement." The Prophet, peacebe upon him, ordered the martyrs of the Battle of Uhud to be buried in theirbloodstained clothes. They were not washed, nor any funeral prayer offered forthem.
Ash-Shafi'i said: "Burying the martyrs without washing or offeringfuneral prayer on them may be explained by the fact that they shall meet Allahwith their wounds exuding fragrance like musk. The honor bestowed on them byAllah frees them from the need for funeral prayers by others. Moreover it makesthings easier for the surviving Muslims, who may have received injuries inbattle and fear the enemy's attack, and may be concerned about the security oftheir families and their families' worries about them.
Abdullah ibn Ja'far reported that the Messenger of Allah, peace be upon him,said: "Prepare some food for the family of Ja'far, for what has befallenthem is keeping them preoccupied." This is narrated by Abu Daw'ud, IbnMajah and Tirmizhi, who grades it as a sound hadith.
It is said that the wisdom behind not offering a funeral prayer on a martyris that it is offered for a dead person, whereas a martyr is not dead butalive. Another reason may be that since prayer is a kind of intercession, themartyrs do not need it. In fact they will intercede for others.
Those who are not killed in a battle by disbelievers, though they may beregarded as martyrs in Islamic law, should be washed and funeral prayer saidfor them.
The bodies of such martyrs, during the Prophet's time, were washed. Later onMuslims, during the days of 'Umar, 'Uthman, and 'Ali, continued this practice(washing the bodies of such martyrs). We give below details about thesemartyrs.
Jabir ibn 'Utaik reported that Allah's Messenger said: "There are sevenkinds of martyrs besides those killed in the cause of Allah:
-1- a person who is killed in an epidemic,
-2- a person who is drowned,
-3- a person who has bed sores that cause fever and a bad cough resulting inhis death,
-4- a person who dies of a stomach disease,
-5- a person who dies in a fire,
-6- a person who dies under falling debris (in a disaster), and
-7- a woman who dies during childbirth." Ahmad, Abu Daw'ud and Nasa'ireport this hadith based on sound authority.
Abu Hurairah reported that Allah's Messenger, peace be upon him, asked:"Who do you consider to be a martyr?" They said: "O Allah'sProphet, he who is killed fighting for the cause of Allah." The Prophet,peace be upon him, said: "(If this is so) then very few in my communitywill be martyrs! " They asked: "Who else are they, O Allah'sMessenger?" He said: "He who is killed fighting for Allah's cause isa martyr, he who dies in the cause of Allah is a martyr, he who dies in anepidemic is a martyr, he who dies from a stomach disease is a martyr, and theone who dies of drowning is (also) a martyr." This hadith is narrated byMuslim.
Sa'id ibn Zaid reported that the Prophet, peace be upon him, said: "Hewho is killed while guarding his property is a martyr, he who is killed whiledefending himself is a martyr, and he who is killed defending his religion is amartyr, and he who dies protecting his family is (also) a martyr." Thishadith is narrated by Ahmad and Tirmizhi. The latter considers it a soundhadith.
It is not necessary for a Muslim to wash a disbeliever's body. Somescholars, however, consider it permissible. According to the Maliki and Hanbalischools, a Muslim may not wash a disbeliever' s body even if he is one of hisnear of kin. Similarly a Muslim is not permitted to shroud him or bury himunless it is feared that the body would decompose because of weatherconditions, or that it would attract predatory beasts, etc. In such a case, hemay be buried in a hole and covered with dust. This opinion is based on atradition transmitted by Ahmad, Abu Daw'ud, Nasa'i and Al-Baihaqi on theauthority of Ali who said: "I said to Allah's Messenger 'Your uncle, theold misguided man, has passed away. ' The Prophet, peace be upon him, said: 'Goand bury your father and do not do anything else until you return to me'."' Ali said: "I did as he had told me and went back to him. The Prophet,peace be upon him, ordered me to take a bath, and then he prayed for me."
Ibn al-Munzhir says there is nothing specific reported from the Prophet,peace be upon him, about the procedure of washing the dead body.
The entire body must be washed with water, at least once, regardless ofwhether the deceased is a male and needed a ritual bath, or a female who wasmenstruating at the time (of her death). It is recommended that the body beplaced on an elevated surface i.e., a table or a board. It then should bestripped of clothes, but his 'awra (private parts) should be covered.(Ash-Shafi'i says that it is better to wash the body of the deceased wearing ashirt, if it is thin enough to let water reach the body. The Prophet, peace beupon him, was washed this way, but it was done only in his case. The commonpractice has been to cover the 'awra and wash the body) At the washing, onlypeople whose presence is needed may stay.
The washer, male or female, must be a trustworthy and pious person who willnot broadcast what he or she might see except what is good.
Ibn Majah reports that the Prophet, peace be upon him, said:"Trustworthy persons should wash your dead." A washer must utter hisor her intention to wash the body of a specific person. Then he should begin bylightly pressing the stomach of the deceased so as to expel, if possible, anyremnants from it, and then wash the body of all impurities. The washer shoulduse a wash cloth or wrap his or her hand with it, because touching the privateparts of the dead is haram (forbidden). Then he or she should wash the deceasedas in wudu (ablution) for the salah (obligatory prayers). The Prophet, peace beupon him, is reported to have said: "Begin washing the dead by washingorgans on the right, and those parts that are washed in ablution." This isin order to crystalize the mark of the believer's parts of the body alwayswashed during wudu that will shine forth brightly on the Day of Judgement. Thenbeginning from its right side, the body should be washed with soap and water,three times. If soap is not available, then washing with ordinary water will suffice.If the washer feels that three washes are not enough to cleanse the bodyproperly, then he may wash it five or seven times. According to a sahih hadith,the Prophet, peace be upon him, said: "Wash the dead body an odd number oftimes, that is, three, five, or seven, or more if you feel it isnecessary." (Ibn Abd al-Barr observes: "I know about no one whorecommended more than seven washes." Ahmad and Ibn al-Munzhir disliked toexceed beyond seven)
Ibn al-Munzhir said: "The Prophet instructed the female washers to washthe dead body more than seven times in case they felt it was necessary to doso, but it must be an odd number of times. If the deceased is a female, thenher hair should be loosened, washed, redone, and placed behind her back. Accordingto a hadith narrated by Umm 'Atiyyah the hair of the Prophet's daughter wasdone in three plaits. I asked: 'Did they loosen her hair and then redo them inthree braids?' She said: 'Yes'." Muslim reports this in these words:"We braided her hair in three braids, on both sides and in front (ofher)." In his Sahih, Ibn Hibban says: "They did so in compliance withthe order of the Prophet: 'Do her hair in three plaits'."
After having washed the body, it should be dried with a clean cloth lest theshroud should get wet. Then some perfume should be applied to it. The Prophet,peace be upon him, said: "When you apply perfume (to the dead), apply itan odd number of times after washing it." This is reported by AlBaihaqi,Al-Hakim and Ibn Hibban, of whom the last two consider it a sound hadith.
Abu Wa'il said: "Ali had some musk, and he requested that it be appliedto his body upon his death. This was of what was left from the perfume used onthe body of the Prophet upon his death."
The majority of scholars are of the opinion that clipping a deceased'sfinger nails, trimming his mustache, shaving the hair under his arms or fromhis private parts is makruh (disliked). Ibn Hazm, however, considers itpermissible.
The scholars are agreed that the body of the deceased be rewashed if thestomach excrete something (i.e., urine or stool) after it had been washed andprior to being shrouded. They differ, however, whether in such a case theentire body should be rewashed. Some hold that the body must be washed again insuch a case. Others are of the opinion that there is no need to wash the wholebody again, while still others hold that at least wudu (ablution) must berepeated in such a case. Some others hold that in such a case the entirewashing must be repeated.
The opinions of most scholars concerning washing of the dead are based onthe hadith transmitted by the group on the authority of Umm 'Atiyyah who said:"The Prophet came to our house when his daughter died, and said: 'Wash herthree times, five times, or more than that if you consider it necessary, withwater and sidr (lotus tree leaves), and after the last wash apply some camphorto the body, and inform me after you have done so.' So when we finished washingwe informed him. He gave us a cloth that he wore around his waist, and told usto wrap her in it as a first sheet of shroud."
The reason for using camphor, as mentioned by some scholars, is its pleasantsmell, since burial is a time when angels are present. Besides, it is cool andhas a soothing effect, especially when the body stiffens, and helps keepvarious insects away from the body, thus preventing its early decomposition. Incase camphor is not available, any other substance that has these or some ofthese properties may be used instead.
If there is no water to wash the dead body, then it may be cleaned withtayammum (ablution with dust), for Allah says in the Qur'an: "If you donot find water, then perform tayammum (ablution with dust)." And theProphet said: "The entire earth has been made pure and a mosque forme." Similarly if it is feared that the body might deteriorate if it iswashed, then it may be given a tayammum.
The same applies to a woman who passes away when there is no other womanaround to wash her, or if a man dies and there are only women but no man towash him. Abu Daw'ud in his collection of Marasil, and Al-Baihaqi on theauthority of Makhul, report that the Prophet, peace be upon him, said: "Ifa woman dies while she is with men and there is no other woman with them, or ifa man dies while with woman, and there is no other man there, then the body ofthe dead person may be given a tayammum instead of washing it and then itshould be buried. They both will be regarded as ones who died when there was nowater available to wash (and purify)."
The body of a woman shall be given tayammum by one of her mahrim consanguinerelatives with his hand. If there is no consanguine relative present, then anyother man can give her a tayammum by wrapping a piece of cloth around his hand.This is the opinion of Abu Hanifah and Ahmad. Malik and Ash-Shafi'i are of theview that "if a male relative of the deceased is available, then he shouldwash the body of the dead woman, for in matters of 'awrah ('Awrah (Arabic),those parts of a person's body which must be covered. A man must cover thefront and back of his pubic region. There is disagreement about the navel,thighs, and knees. There is, however, no disagreement over what constitutes awoman's 'awrah. Her entire body is 'awrah and must be covered, except her handsand face) (nakedness of the private parts) and being alone with a woman, she isconsidered and treated in such a case as a male person for him.
In Al-Murawwa it is noted that Malik said: "I heard the scholarssaying: 'If a woman dies and there is no other woman there to wash her, nor anymale consanguine relative nor her husband who could undertake thisresponsibility, then she should be given a tayammum, wiping her face and handswith dry soil'." Malik said: "The same should be done in the case ofa man who dies and there are only women around him." (Ibn Hazm holds thatif a man dies while among women and there is no man around, or if a woman dieswhile among men with no other woman around, then the women may wash the body ofthe man and the men the body of the woman while covered in thick cloth. Thewater should be poured over the whole body without any physical contact. He isof the view that tayamm~m may not be given instead of a wash except when nowater is available)
The jurists are agreed on the permissibility of a wife washing the body ofher dead husband. 'Aishah said: "Had I known then what I know now, I wouldnot have allowed anyone, except his wives, to wash the body of theProphet." This has been transmitted by Ahmad and Abu Daw'ud, and byal-Hakim, who considers it a sound hadith.
There is a difference of opinion, however, on the permissibility of thehusband washing the body of his dead wife. The majority of scholars,nonetheless, consider it permissible, as is shown by a report, narrated byad-Daraqutni and Al-Baihaqi, that Ali washed the body of Fatimah on her death.This is also supported by a hadith that the Prophet, peace be upon him, said to'Aishah: "If you die before me, I will myself wash you and enshroudyou." Ibn Majah records this hadith.
The Hanafi school holds that it is not permissible for a husband to wash hiswife's dead body, and if there is no other woman available then he should giveher tayammum. However, the above hadith prove the contrary of this view.
Ibn al-Munzhir said: "All great scholars are agreed that a woman maywash the body of a young boy."