Fiqh-us-Sunnah, Volume 4: Burial
There is a consensus that burying a dead body and covering it is acollective obligation (fard kifayah). If some Muslims bury the dead body, itwould absolve the rest of them from this obligation. Allah, the Almighty, says:"Have We not caused the earth to hold within itself the living and the dead?"Qur'an 77.25-26
The majority of scholars are of the opinion that it is permissible to burythe dead anytime during the day or night. The Prophet, peace be upon him,buried at night a man, who used to remember Allah aloud during the night.Similarly 'Ali buried Fatimah at night. Abu Bakr, 'Uthman, 'Aishah, and IbnMas'ud were buried during the night as well.
Ibn ' Abbas reported: "The Prophet, peace be upon him, went into agrave one night and was given a lamp. Then he lifted the body from the sidetoward the qiblah, saying: "May Allah be merciful to you. You used to crya lot and often recited the Qur'an." After this the Prophet, peace be uponhim, said four takbirs."(Reported by Tirmizhi, who considers it a soundhadith) Tirmizhi said: "Most scholars consider the burial of the dead atnight permissible, provided the rights of the deceased are not neglected.
The same applies to offering a funeral prayer for the deceased. The Prophet,peace be upon him, commanded his followers not to bury the deceased at night ifit is feared that any of his rights might be neglected. Night time burial insuch a case is disliked.
One day the Prophet, peace be upon him, delivered a sermon and mentioned oneof his companions who had died and had been wrapped in a short shroud andburied during the night. The Prophet, peace be upon him, expressed hisdisapproval of burying someone at night unless one is compelled to do so.(Muslim) Jabir reported that the Prophet, peace be upon him, said: "Do notbury your dead during the night unless you are compelled to do so." (IbnMajah)
There is a consensus that a body may be buried during any of these threetimes whenever there is danger of it decomposing otherwise. If there is no suchdanger, its burial during these times is still permissible, according to themajority of scholars, provided that it is not done so on purpose, as reportedby Ahmad, Muslim, and the compilers of Sunan on the authority of 'Uqbah whosaid: "The Prophet, peace be upon him, forbade us from offering prayer orburying our dead at three times: at sunrise, until the sun rises high in thesky; at noon, when the sun is above one's head until it declines a little; andwhen the sun begins to go down until it sets." The Hanbali school holdsthat in light of the above hadith burial during these times is undesirablewithout exception.
The purpose of burial is to hide the body in a pit in order to prevent itsstench from fouling the atmosphere, and to save it from being eaten by variousbeasts and birds. If these conditions are met and this purpose is served, thenone has carried out one's responsibility . It is encouraged, however, to makethe depth of the grave equal to the height of an average man. This is based ona hadith reported by Nasa'i and Tirmizhi (who considers it a sound hadith) fromHisham ibn 'Amer who said: "We complained to the Prophet, peace be uponhim, on the day of the battle of Uhud, saying: 'O Allah's Messenger! Digging aseparate grave for every body is a very hard job.' The Prophet, peace be uponhim, said: 'Dig, dig deeper, dig well, and bury two or three bodies in eachgrave.' The Companions asked him: 'Who should be put in the graves first?' TheProphet, peace be upon him, said: 'Put those most learned in the Qur'an first.'My father, the narrator added, was the third of the three who were put in onegrave."
Ibn Abi Shaibah and Ibn Al-Munzhir reported that 'Umar said: "Dig agrave deep enough for a man's height and make it broader." According toAbu Hanifah and Ahmad the grave should be deep enough for half of the averageheight of a man, but if dug deeper, it is better.
Lahd is a crevice on the side of a grave facing the qiblah, which is coveredwith unburnt bricks like a house with a roof. A regular grave, on the otherhand, is a pit dug in the ground, with the body placed in it and then sealedoff with unburnt bricks and covered to form a ceiling. Either of these twomethods is permissible, but the first one--lahd--is preferable in the light ofa hadith reported by Ahmad and Ibn Majah on the authority of Anas who said:"When the Prophet, peace be upon him, died, there were two grave diggers.One usually dug the lahd and the other a regular tomb-like grave. TheCompanions said: 'Let us seek guidance from our Lord.' Then they asked each ofthem to dig a grave, and decided the grave of the one who finished first bechosen for the burial of the Prophet's remains. The one who dug the lahdfinished first, so they buried the remains of the Prophet, peace be upon him,in a lahd."
This hadith shows that both forms are permissible. The fact that the lahd ispreferable is indicated by a tradition transmitted by Ahmad and the Compilersof the Sunan on the authority of Ibn 'Abbas who reported: "The Prophet,peace be upon him, said: 'Lahd is for us, and digging a pit (i.e., a regulargrave) for others."'
It is sunnah to place a body in the grave with its feet first, if this ispossible and can be done easily. This is based on a hadith reported by AbuDaw'ud, Ibn Abi Shaibah, and Al-Baihaqi that Abdallah ibn Zaid placed a bodywith its feet first in the grave and said, "This is sunnah." If thisis not easy, then a body could be placed in the grave in any manner possible.
Ibn Hazm said: "A body may be placed in the grave in any mannerpossible, from the direction of the qihlah, or from a direction opposite to it,with its head first, or with its feet first, for there is no explicitinstruction regarding this in the texts."
An-Nawawi said: "You should know that the right manner of accompanyinga funeral procession is to remain quiet, as the pious among the previousgenerations of Muslims did. One should not raise one's voice for recitation orfor the remembrance of Allah, or for anything else. Keeping quiet is better andis helpful in concentrating one's attention on the funeral rites, which isneeded at that time. This is the correct position, and the fact that a largenumber of people do otherwise does not change it. There is a consensus amongscholars that the way ignorant people recite in the funeral processions,artificially prolonging sounds of various words and mixing them up, isforbidden.
The practice of the learned ones has been to place the body on its rightside facing the qiblah. The person placing the body in the grave should say:"In the Name of Allah, and in accordance with the tradition of Allah'sMessenger, peace be upon him. " Then he should loosen the shroud. Ibn 'Umar reported that when a body was placed in the grave, the Prophet, peace beupon him, used to say: Bismillah wa 'ala sunnat rasulillah. "In the nameof Allah, and in accordance with the tradition of Allah's Messenger or thepractice of Allah's Messenger." (Reported by Ahmad, Abu Daw'ud, Tirmizhi,Ibn Majab and Nasa'i, who transmitted it both as a mauquf hadith (its chain oftransmitters stopping at a Companion), and as a musnad (uninterruptedly fromthe Prophet himself)).
The majority of jurists dislike the idea of placing a garment, a pillow, orthe like for the deceased in the grave. Ibn Hazm, however, sees nothing wrongin placing a piece of garment under the body in the grave, in light of a hadithreported by Muslim from Ibn 'Abbas who said: "A red piece of cloth wasplaced in the grave of the Prophet, peace be upon him." Ibn Hazm saysapparently it was Allah's Will to permit them to do so, because His Prophet, theinnocent and guiltless, and others who practiced it were, according to theconsensus, indeed the best of men, and none of them ever objected to it."
The scholars consider it desirable, however, for the head of the deceased tobe placed on a brick, a stone, or on the ground with his right cheek on a brickor some other similar thing, and with his shroud removed from his face so thathis left cheek is open to the soil. 'Umar advised his heirs: "After havingplaced my body in the grave, leave my cheek open to the soil." SimilarlyAd-Dahak in his will gave instructions that his shroud should be untied and hischeek exposed. It is preferred if something, some bricks or stones or soil, isplaced to support the body so as not to leave it flat on its back.
Abu Hanifah, Malik, and Ahmad hold that a piece of cloth may be spread overa female body, but not over a male body, when lowering it into the grave. TheShafi'i school, however, is of the opinion that doing so is desirable for bothmale and female.
It is desirable to encourage those attending the burial to throw threehandfuls of soil over the grave from the head of the body. This is based on ahadith by Ibn Majah which says: "The Prophet, peace be upon him, onceoffered a funeral prayer and then went to the deceased's grave and threw threehandfuls of soil from near the deceased's head." Abu Hanifah, Ash-Shafi'i,and Ahmad hold that when throwing the first handful one should say, "Ofthis (i.e. the earth) We created you," and on the second one should say,"And to it shall We cause you to return," and on the third handfulone should say, "And of it We shall cause you to be resurrected a secondtime." This is based on a hadith that the Prophet, peace be upon him, saidthis when his daughter Umm al-Kulthum was laid in her grave. Ahmad said:"Nothing is required to be said while throwing handfuls of soil over thegrave because this is a weak hadith.
After the burial, it is desirable to pray for forgiveness of the deceasedand acceptance (of his conduct by Allah), because at this time he is beingquestioned about his life. It is reported by 'Uthman: "After burial theProphet, peace be upon him, would stand by the grave of the deceased and say:"Seek forgiveness for your brother and pray for his acceptance, because heis now being questioned about it." (This hadith is reported by Abu Daw'udand al-Hakim, who considers it a sound hadith. Al-Bazzar says: "This isthe only report from the Prophet (peace be upon him) on this subject.) Ruzainreported: "After the deceased was buried 'Ali used to pray: 'O Allah! Thisis Your servant, who is now a guest of Yours, and You are the best host.Forgive him, and expand the entrance into heaven for him." Ibn 'Umar likedto recite the first and the last few verses of Surah AlBaqarah by the graveafter the burial was over. (Reported by Al-Baihaqi with a sound chain ofnarrators.)
Ash-Shafi'i and some other scholars prefer that a deceased (A deceased if heor she is an adult, but not in the case of a child) be "prompted"after the burial. This is based on a report by Sa' id ibn Mansur from Rashidibn Sa'd and Damarah ibn Habib and Hakim ibn 'Umair. They said: "After thegrave is leveled and the people leave, one should stand by the grave and saythree times to the deceased: 'O so-and-so, say: "There is no god butAllah, I bear witness that there is no god but Allah",' 'O so-and-so, say:"Allah is my Lord, Islam is my din, and Muhammad is my prophet." 'And then one should leave the site." This is reported, without anycomment, by Al-Hafiz in his book Al-Talkhis. At-Tabarani reported that AbuAmamah said: "When one of your brethren passes away and you have leveledthe ground over his grave, you should stand by the grave's head and say: 'Oso-and-so, son of so-and-so,' for the deceased will hear him, but he cannotrespond. Then he should say 'O so-and-so, and son of so-and-so, whereby thedeceased will sit up in his grave. Then he should say: 'O so-and-so, son ofso-and-so, at which the deceased says: "Guide me, may Allah be merciful toyou,' but you cannot hear him. Then he should say to the deceased: 'Rememberthe faith with which you left this world, and remember to bear witness thatthere is no god but Allah and Muhammad is His servant and Messenger, andremember that you have accepted Allah as your Lord, Islam as your religion,Muhammad as your Prophet and the Qur'an as your guide. ' At this Munkar andNakir (the two angels appointed to question the people in the graves) will holdeach other's hand and say: 'Let us go! Why should we sit for a person who hasbeen taught this."' A man asked: "O Allah's Messenger! What if onedid not know the name of the deceased's mother?" The Prophet, peace beupon him, replied: "In such a case, one should call him by his firstmother, Eve, and say: 'O so and so, O son of Eve).'' (Al-Hafiz in his book AlTalkhis said that the chain of narrators of this hadith is sound. Ad-Diaya' inhis Al-Ahkam has also described it as a sound hadith. There is in its chain ofnarrators one called 'Asim ibn Abdullah who is a weak narrator.) Haithamirefers to this hadith and says there are some narrators in its chain whom hedid not know as trustworthy.
An-Nawawi said: "The above hadith, even if it is a weak one, would beconsidered a source of reference. The scholars of hadith and others agree thatin matters such as virtue, exhortation to good, and waming against evil, eventhe weak hadith are admissible. The above hadith is, however, supported byother evidence including the hadith in which the Prophet, peace be upon him, isreported to have asked his Companions, 'pray that he be supported.' Another isthe hadith about the will made by 'Amr ibn Al-'As. Both of these hadith aresound. The people of Syria still act on this, when the occasion arises, untilthis very day."
Both the Maliki school, according to general report, and the Hanbali schoolconsider prompting the deceased reprehensible. Al-Athram said: "I asked(Imam) Ahmad ibn Hanbal: 'This is what they do when the deceased is buried. Aman stands by the graveside and says: "O so and so and son of so and so (hismother's name").' Ahmad said: 'I have never seen anyone doing this exceptthe Syrians when Abu Al-Mughirah died."' He transmitted something aboutthe subject from Abu Bakr ibn Abi Maryam according to which their elders saidthat they used to do it. Isma'il ibn 'Ayyash related the hadith reported by AbuAmamah.
The sunnah is to raise the grave at least one hand above the ground so it isknown that it is a grave. It is forbidden to raise it more than that. This isbased on a narrative reported by Muslim and others from Harun that Thamamah ibnShufayy told him: "Once we were with Fadalah bin 'Ubayd in the Roman landof Brudis. One of our companions died and upon burying him we were ordered byFudalah ibn 'Ubayd to level his grave. Then Fudalah said: 'I heard Allah'sMessenger, peace be upon him, ordering people to level the graves of thedeceased." It is reported from Abul al-Hayaj al-Asadi who said 'Ali binAbu Talib told me: "Should I not instruct you to do as the Messenger ofAllah, peace be upon him, instructed me? Do not leave a statue standing withoutremoving it. Do not leave a grave raised without leveling it."
Tirmizhi said: "Some scholars act upon this opinion. They disapprove ofraising the grave more than necessary to indicate that it is a grave, and sopeople will not step or sit on it." Muslim governors used to destroycemetery structures not permitted by the law, in accordance with the authenticsunnah. Ash-Shafi'i said: "I prefer that the soil used for a grave be nomore than that dug for that grave. I like to see a grave raised above theground the length of a hand or so. I prefer not to erect a structure over agrave or to whitewash it, for indeed this resembles decoration and vanity, and deathis not the time for either of these things. I have never seen the graves of theMuhajirin or Ansar plastered. I have seen the Muslim authorities destroyingstructures in graveyards, and I have not seen any jurists object to this."
Ash-Shawkani said: "It is apparent that raising graves more than whatis legally permitted is forbidden. The followers of Ahmad, a group of thefollowers of Ash-Shafi'i, and Malik are of this opinion. An opinion that raisedgraves are not prohibited because this practice occurred during the time of thefirst and later generations without disapproval, which is the position of ImamYahya and Mahdi in al-Ghayth, is not correct. This argument is based only ontheir silence about the practice, and silence is not proof when a matter restson mere assumption, for prohibition of raising graves is presumptive."
Included in the discussion of raising the grave are dome buildings, shrinesbuilt on graves, and erecting mosques around graves.The Prophet, peace be uponhim, cursed those who did that. The practice of erecting buildings aroundgraves and beautifying them causes corruption, which Islam seeks to eliminate.
Part of such a corruption is exaggerating the importance of graves, inaccordance with the superstitious belief of the ignorant, similar to the beliefof non-believers in their idols, that these monuments can bring benefit orprevent harm. Thus they travel to these graves for fulfillment of their needsor achievement of their goals. They ask those in the graves what believersshould ask only of their Lord. They ride horses to them, touch them, and seektheir aid. In general, they do exactly what the pre-Islamic people used to dowith their idols.
Despite this disgraceful, reprehensible evil and hideous disbelief, how manypeople dare to take a stand for the cause of Allah, or evince any uneasinessfor the defense of the true din? Where are the scholars and students, and therulers, the ministers, and the kings, who are obliged to teach the truth?Various reports reaching us leave little doubt that many of these graveadorers, in fact most of them, when confronted and asked under oath to rejectsuch idolatry would readily take a solemn oath falsely by Allah. But if youthen ask them, "(Swear) by your spiritual leader and your saint,so-and-so," they will ponder, apologize, refuse, and confess the truth.This is one of the clearest proofs that their polytheism is indeed worse thanthat of the Christians and others who say: "Allah, the Exalted, is thesecond of two or the third of three."
O scholars of Islam! O kings of Islam! What calamity to Islam is worse thandisbelief? What tribulation for this religion is worse than worshipping othersthan Allah? What misfortune for Muslims can equal this misfortune? Is there anymore serious abomination than this open polytheism?
You might be heard if you called the living, But there is no life in himwhom you call; Had there been a fire in which you blew, there would have beenlight; but you blew in the sand.
The scholars have issued clear legal verdicts concerning the destruction ofmosques and domes built in cemeteries. Ibn Hajar said in his az-Zawajir: (Thisis a collection of legal verdicts, pubhshed when king Al-Zahir decided todestroy all the buildings in the graveyards. Coeval Islamic scholarscollectively supported him saying to do so was incumbent upon the ruler.)"We should not hesitate to destroy mosques and domes built over graves.These are worse than the mosque of adDirar, because these things are erected indisobedience to the Messenger of Allah, peace be upon him. The Prophet, peacebe upon him, has forbidden this and has ordered the destruction of raised graves.Every lamp or lantern placed over a grave must be removed. It is not correct tostop at a grave or make a vow at it.
Jurists agree that it is permissible either to make a little hump over thegrave or to flatten it. At-Tabari said: "I dislike it for a grave to beprepared in any way other than these two: it should be either leveled with theground or raised with a hump over it, but no higher than one hand, as is thecommon practice among Muslims. Leveling the grave differs from flattening itcompletely. Jurists differ concerning which of these two methods is best.Al-Qadi 'Iyad has reported from the major scholars that it is best to make ahump over the grave because Sufyan an-Nammar told him that he had seen thegrave of the Prophet, peace be upon him, with a hump over it." (Bukhari)This is the opinion of Abu Hanifah, Malik, Ahmad, al-Mazani, and many scholarsof the Shafi'i school. Ash-Shafi'i's opinion, however, is that because of theorder of the Prophet, peace be upon him, leveling is best.
It is permissible to place a mark, such as a stone or a piece of wood, overa grave so that it can be recognized. This is based on a hadith reported by IbnMajah from Anas that the Prophet, peace be upon him, "placed a rock over'Uthman ibn Maz'eun's grave so that it could be recognized." In az-Zawa'idit is stated that its chain of narrators is sound. Abu Daw'ud reported it inthe hadith of al-Muttalib ibn Abi Wada'ah which has the following words:"He carried a rock and placed it by the headside of the grave and said, 'Iwant to mark my brother's grave and then bury beside it whoever else of myfamily dies."' This hadith indicates that it is preferable for relativesof the deceased to be buried in adjacent spots because it makes it easier forthose who visit their graves to pray for them.
Most scholars are of the opinion that it is permissible to wear shoes in acemetery. Jarir ibn Hazim said: "I saw al-Hasan and Ibn Sirin walking withtheir shoes on in a cemetery." Anas reported: "The Prophet, peace beupon him, said: 'When a servant of Allah is put into a grave and his companionsleave, he can hear the sound of their sandals'.'' (Reported by Bukhari, Muslim.Abu Daw'ud, and Nasa'i) The scholars deduce from this hadith that it ispermissible to walk in a cemetery with one's shoes on since the only way thedead would hear the sound of their sandals is when they were wearing them.
Ahmad disliked, however, wearing dyed shoes (Sibtiyah (Arabic), a type ofshoes dyed with pods of a species of sant tree) in graveyards. This is based ona report by Abu Daw'ud, Nasa'i, and Ibn Majah from Bushair, the freed slave ofthe Prophet, peace be upon him, who said: "Once the Prophet, peace be uponhim, noticed a man wearing shoes while walking in the cemetery. He said to him:'O you who are wearing the sihtiyyah (shoes). Woe to you. Take off your sibtivyahshoes.' When the man recognized the Messenger of Allah, peace be upon him, hetook them off and threw them away."
Al-Khattabi said: "The order of the Prophet, peace be upon him, mayindicate that he disliked this because of the people involved in them. Thesibtiyvah shoes were wom by privileged people given to luxury. The Prophet,peace be upon him, liked those visiting the graveyards to be humble andunpretentious. Ahmad holds that wearing shoes is disliked only when donewithout any valid excuse. If there is a genuine reason for wearing shoes, suchas, thoms or impurities, then one may keep one's shoes on.
Covering graves or tombs is not permissible, because this involvesunnecessary expense for an invalid cause, and may mislead the common man.'Aishah reported: "The Prophet, peace be Up('ll him, left on a raid. Icovered the door with a piece of cloth. The Prophet, peace be upon him, noticedthe cloth when he retumed. He pulled at it until he tore it. Then he said:'Allah did not order us to cover stones and clay'.'' (Reported by Bukhari andMuslim)
There are many sound and clear hadith conceming the unlawfulness of buildingmosques over graves or putting lights on them. Abu Hurairah reported: "TheProphet, peace be upon him, said: 'May Allah destroy the Jews, because theyused the graves of their prophets as places of worship.'' (Bukhari and Muslim)
Ibn 'Abbas reported: "The Messenger of Allah, peace be upon him, cursedthe women who visit graves and those who build mosques and place lights onthem.'' (Reported by Ahmad and other compilers of the Sunan except Ibn Majah.Tirmizhi considers it a sound hadith) Abdullah Al-Bujali said: "I heardAllah's Messenger, peace be upon him, five nights before his death, saying: 'Ideclare myself innocent before Allah of having an intimate friend from amongyou. Indeed, Allah, the Mighty and the Majestic, has taken me as an intimatefriend just as he took Ibrahim as His intimate friend. Had I to take anintimate friend from among you, I would have taken Abu Bakr as my intimatefriend. Before you there was a group who tumed the graves of their prophets andtheir righteous ones into mosques. Do not tum graves into mosques. I forbid youto do that'.'' (Muslim)
Abu Hurairah narrated: "The Prophet, peace be upon him, said: 'MayAllah curse Jews and Christians for they turned the graves of their Prophetsinto places of worship'.'' (Muslim Bukhari and Muslim)
'Aishah reported: "Umm Habibah and Umm Salamah mentioned to Allah'sMessenger, peace be upon him, a church in which they saw drawings while inAbyssinia, whereupon he said: 'Those people used to build a place of worshipover the grave of a righteous man among them when he died and make suchdrawings in it.These will be the worst of people in the sight of Allah on theDay of Resurrection.'' (Bukhari and Muslim)
The author of Al-Mughni said: "It is not permissible to build mosquesaround graves because of the statement of the Prophet, peace be upon him, 'MayAllah curse the women who visit graves and those who build mosques and placelights over them.''' (Reported by Abu Daw'ud and Nasa'i)
If it were permissible, the Prophet, peace be upon him, would not havecursed those who did it. Moreover, this practice wastes money and encouragesadoration of graves similar in spirit to the adoration of idols. Because ofthis report it is not pemmissible to build mosques over graves. Besides, theProphet, peace be upon him, said, "May Allah curse the Jews who tumed thegraves of their prophets into places of worship," in order to wam othersagainst pursuing a similar course. (Muslim and Bukhari)
'Aishah said: "The only reason the grave of Allah's Messenger, peace beupon him, was not made prominent was to stop people from tuming it into amosque." Designating certain graves as places of prayers is similar toadoring idols and seeking their pleasure. The worship of idols started with theadoration of the dead, making images of them, touching them, and offeringprayers at their graves. (The commentator on this said: "It points to whatBukhari narrated from Ibn Abbas conceming the reason why the people of Noahworshipped idols. They were known as Wadd, Sawa', Yaghuth, Ya'uq, and Nasr.These were pious people of whom they made images in order to remember themafter their death and imitate them. Due to the lack of knowledge that becameprevalent among the people, Satan made it appear beautiful to worship their imagesand likenesses, and to honor them, wipe over them, and approach them. Wipingthem is passing one's hand over them to invoke their blessing and intercession.The same was done to the graves of nghteous people. This practice was initiatedby idolaters, and then passed on to Jews and Christians and then to Muslims.Such objects are equivalent to idols.")
The Prophet, peace be upon him, forbade the slaughtering of animals atgraves, which was practiced in the Days of Ignorance out of arrogance and selfconceit in order to flaunt one's wealth. Anas reported: "The Prophet,peace be upon him, said: 'There is no slaughtering (of animals on graves) inIslam.'' (Abu Daw'ud) Abdul Razzaq said: "They used to slaughter a cow ora sheep by the grave."
Al-Khattabi said: "During the Days of Ignorance the people used toslaughter camels by the graves of generous people. They used to say: 'We wouldlike him to be rewarded for his deeds. He used to slaughter them when he wasalive and feed them to his guests. We slaughter these camels at his grave tofeed the lions and birds, so that he may continue feeding others even after hisdeath as he used to do while he was alive'." A poet said: I slaughtered myshe-camel at the grave of my king, with a bright sharp sword, meticulouslycleaned by polishers, on the grave of someone, who, had I died before him,would have willingly slaughtered his mounts by my grave.
They believed in resurrection after death. Some people believed that if acamel was slaughtered by the grave of a person, he would be restored to lifemounted on it on the Day of Resurrection, whereas otherwise at hisresurrection, having no mount, he would have to walk on foot.
It is not permissible to sit on a grave, or lean on it, or walk over it.This is based on a hadith reported by 'Amr bin Hazm who said: "TheProphet, peace be upon him, saw me leaning on a grave, so he said: 'Do not harmthe dweller in this grave or do not harm him.''' (Reported by Ahmad, whoconsiders its chain of narrators as sound) Abu Hurairah reported: "TheProphet, peace be upon him, said: 'It is better for you to sit on a glowingcoal that burns through your clothes to your skin than to sit on a grave.''(Reported by Ahmad, Muslim, Abu Daw'ud, Nasa'i, and Ibn Majah) In the opinionof Ibn Hazm this statement amounts to an outright prohibition because of thewarning contained in it. He said this is the opinion of a group of the earlyMuslims of whom Abu Hurairah is one.
The majority of scholars hold that such an act is merely disapproved.An-Nawawi said: "Ash-Shafi'i (See Al-Shafi'i's work Al-Umm) and thecompanions mentioned in various narrations disapprove of sitting on a grave,holding it to be makruh tahrimi, (Makruh is divided into makruh tahrimi"that which is nearly unlawful without it being actually so," andmakruh tanzihi "that which approaches the lawful.") a term well-knownto jurists.The majority of scholars including An-Nakha'i, Al-Laith, Ahmad, andDaw 'ud hold this view.They also disapprove of reclining or leaning on agrave."
Ibn 'Umar, Abu Hanifah, and Malik are of the opinion that it is permissibleto sit on a grave. Malik said: "We think that prohibition of sitting andleaning on graves means prohibition of using them to answer the call ofnature.'' (Al-Muwatta) He cited a weak hadith in this regard. Ahmad considersthe interpretation of Malik weak and said: "This is not an argument."An-Nawawi said that this interpretation is weak or false. Likewise, Ibn Hazmregards it invalid for a number of reasons. This difference of opinion concernssitting on graves. However, there is agreement among the jurists, however, thatsitting on the graves to answer the call of nature is unlawful. The juristsalso agree on the permissibility of walking over graves if necessary, when forinstance, there is no other way of reaching the grave of one's dear one.
Jabir reported: "The Prophet, peace be upon him, forbade thewhitewashing of a grave, sitting on it, or erecting any structure on it."(Reported by Ahmad, Muslim, Nasa'i, Abu Daw'ud, and Tirmizhi who said that itis a sound hadith) Tirmizhi reported this hadith with this wording: "TheProphet, peace be upon him, forbade the whitewashing of graves, writing onthem, building on them, or stepping on them." Nasa'i, reported it in thesewords: "The Prophet, peace be upon, forbade building over a grave, addinganything to it, white washing it, or writing on it."
The majority of scholars interpret this prohibition as an expression ofdisapproval, while Ibn Hazm takes it to mean that the act is unlawful. Thewisdom behind it is that a grave is not made to last forever, but is sure todisintegrate with the passage of time. whitewashing graves is decorating themwith the beauty of this world for which the dead have no need. Others thinkthat its wisdom lies in the fact that whitewashing is done by burning gypsum(brimstone): This view is supported by a narration of Zaid bin Arqam who saidto a person who wanted to build something over his son ' s grave and whitewashit: "You are wrong and have done a useless thing. Nothing touched by fireshould be brought near the grave." There is nothing wrong, however, indaubing it with clay. Tirmizhi said: "Some scholars, including Al-HasanalBasri, hold it permissible to coat the graves with clay." Ash-Shafi'i isalso of the same view and sees no harm in giving the graves a coating of clay.
Ja'far bin Muhammad reported from his father: "The grave of theProphet, peace be upon him, was raised one hand from the ground and was coatedwith red clay and some gravel." This was narrated by Abu Bakr An-Najjad,but AlHafiz did not comment on this in his ai-Talkhis.
The scholars also disapprove of building graves with bricks or wood orburying the dead with a coffin unless the burial ground was wet or soft. If itis wet or soft, then it is permissible to use bricks and the like and to placethe body in a coffin. It is reported from Mughirah that Ibrahim said: "Thescholars preferred bricks of clay and straw, but disliked clay bricks; theypreferred bamboo and disliked wood."
Concerning the hadith prohibiting writing on graves, it apparently includeswriting the name of the deceased or any other thing on the grave. AlHakimcommented on this hadith and said: "Though its chain of narrators issound, in practice, however, it was not followed." Many Muslims from theEast and the West do write on the graves. This is a practice that was passed onfrom one generation to the next. Azh-Zhahabi said: "This hadith is aninnovated one, and no prohibition is genuinely reported."
The Hanbali school holds that inscription on graves is prohibited, whetherit is a portion of the Qur'an or the name of the deceased." The Shafi'ischool agrees with this ruling, but they also hold: "If the grave is of ascholar or a righteous man, it is preferable to write his name on it to make itknown."
The Maliki school holds that writing any portion of the Qur'an is notpermissible, but writing the name and date of death of the deceased is disliked(makruh) .
The Hanafi school disapproves of writing anything on the grave and considersit unlawful, except when it is feared that any trace of the grave mightdisappear. Ibn Hazm said: "It is not disapproved if the name of thedeceased was engraved on a rock."
It is forbidden in a hadith "to add more soil than what was taken outwhen digging the grave." Al-Baihaqi has dealt with this under a separatechapter entitled, "No adding of soil to the grave in excess of what istaken therefrom."
Ash-Shawkani said that: "Adding apparently here means adding more soilthan what was taken out while digging the grave." Some interpreted theaddition to a grave as making a grave over another one. Ash-Shafi'i preferred,however, the first interpretation, saying that it was preferable not to addmore soil than what was taken out while digging the grave which is preferredlest the grave be raised high. So long as the additional soil does not raisethe grave higher than the ground, there is nothing wrong with it.
From the example of early generations, we learn that one body is to beburied in a grave. It is disliked if more than one body is buried in a grave,unless there is a large number of corpses, and there is a scarcity of graves,and it is impossible to bury them separately. In such a case, it is permissibleto bury more than one body in a grave. This is based on a hadith reported byAhmad and Tirmizhi, who said, "The Ansar came to the Prophet, peace beupon him, on the day of the Battle of Uhud, saying: 'O Allah's Messenger! Weare afflicted with physical injury and we are tired, what do you command us todo?' The Prophet, peace be upon him, said: 'Dig it, enlarge it, and deepen it,then place two or three men in one grave.' They asked: 'Whom should we put infirst?' He said: 'The one who knows the most Qur'an'." Tirmizhi statedthat it is a sound hadith. 'Abd-ur Razzaq reported from Wathilah ibn al-Asqa'with a sound chain of narrators that, "a man and a woman were buriedtogether in the same grave. The man would be placed first, and then the womanbehind him."
The author of al-Mughni said: "If a person died while in a ship on thesea, then, according to Ahmad, they should wait a day or two to find a place tobury him, unless they are afraid that the corpse would decay. If they cannotfind a place (on land) to bury him, then the deceased should be washed,shrouded, a funeral prayer offered for him, then tied with a heavy weight, itbe thrown into the water." This is the opinion of 'Ata and Al-Hasan.Al-Hasan said, "He is to be put in a basket and then thrown into the sea."Ash-Shafi'i said: "The body should be placed on two boards and let intothe sea so that the boards might take it ashore, where some people might findit and bury it. But if one throws it into the sea, one would not be committingany sin."
The latter, i.e. burial at sea, is preferable, because it serves the purposeof covering the body which is comparable to burying him. Tying it between twoboards is apt to expose it and cause it to be disfigured and mutilated. Itmight be thrown on the shore, mutilated and naked, or it might fall into thehands of pagans. That is why we believe the second course mentioned above is tobe preferred.
It is not lawful to put a branch of a palm or flowers on a grave. Thecontrary is suggested by the following hadith reported by Bukhari and othersfrom Ibn 'Abbas: "The Prophet, peace be upon him, passed by two graves andsaid, 'Those two are being punished for a minor matter. The first did not cleanhimself carefully after urinating. The second one used to spread lies.' Thenthe Prophet, peace be upon him, asked for a fresh branch of a palm tree, brokeit into two parts, and then placed a part on each of them, saying, 'I hope thatthis will reduce their punishment for as long as the branch remains fresh.'Al-Khattabi is of the opinion, however, that "This placing of a branch ofa palm on the graves, while saying, "I hope that this will reduce theirpunishment for as long as it remains fresh," is a blessed effect of theProphet, peace be upon him, and of his supplication to Allah to lighten theirpunishment."According to Al-Khattabi, "He hoped, as it were, that thetwo would be relieved of their punishment so long as the palm branch remainedfresh. This, however, does not have anything to do with the freshness ordryness of the palm branch or its role in lightening the punishment as such.Though the masses in many of the Muslim countries place branches of palm overthe graves of their relatives, this practice has no basis or merit in the lightof Islamic teachings."
Al-Khattabi's opinion as reported above is correct. The Companions of theProphet, may Allah be pleased with them, were familiar with this and practicedit. Bukhari reported that, "There is no evidence to show that anyone ofthem ever put a branch of a palm or a bunch of flowers on graves, except on thegrave of Buraidah al-Asalmi, who had instructed his heirs in his will that twobranches of palm be placed on his grave.'' (Bukhari) The idea that such apractice was lawful, and yet was unknown to all the Companions, exceptBuraidah, is not plausible. Al-Hafiz said in Al-Fath: "Apparently Buraidahtook the hadith in its general import and did not regard it as specificallyrelated to those two men." Ibn Rashid said: "It is apparent fromBukhari's commentary that it was specifically done by the Prophet, peace beupon him, for those two men. He also quoted a statement of Tbn 'Umar, who, whenhe noticed a tent was set up over 'Abd ur Rahman's grave, said: 'Take it away;the only thing that can shade him is his deeds'." Ibn Umar's statementshows that he realized that placing anything over a grave does not benefit thedeceased, except his own good deeds.
If a pregnant woman dies and the trustworthy physicians are sure that thefetus is alive, then it must be taken out of her womb by a caesarian operation.
Al-Baihaqi reported from Wathilah bin al-Asqa' that he buried a Christianwoman bearing the child of a Muslim in a cemetery that belonged to neitherMuslims nor Christians. Ahmad supports this opinion because he says that thewoman being a disbeliever, cannot be buried in a cemetery of Muslims, for theywould suffer because of her punishment, nor can she be buried in a Christiancemetery because her fetus, which is a Muslim, would suffer by theirpunishment.
Ibn Qudamah said: "A burial in a cemetery is better for a servant ofAllah than being buried in home, for this is less harmful to survivors in hisfamily, is more like the dwellings of the hereafter, and is more suitable aplace for making supplications for forgiveness and mercy for the dead. TheCompanions, their Successors, and those after them buried their dead in thedeserts in cemeteries.
Some people may ask: "Why then were the Prophet, peace be upon him, andhis two Companions buried in his home?" In answer to this we would referto the statement of 'Aishah in which she said: "This was done lest thegrave of the Prophet be turned into a mosque.'' (Bukhari) The Prophet, peace beupon him, buried his Companions in the cemetery of "al-Baqi' in Madinahand surely his action is more preferable than someone else's action. TheCompanions of the Prophet regarded his burial arrangements as a special casefor him because, as reported in a tradition "the Prophets are buried atthe place they die," and because burying him at his home distinguished hisgrave from those of others, and protected it from being exposed to greatnumbers of people, he was buried at home.
When asked about a man who had instructed in his will that he be buried inhis house, Ahmad said: "He should be buried with Muslims in theircemetery."
It is not permissible to talk ill of the deceased Muslims or to mentiontheir evil deeds. This is based on Bukhari's report from 'Aishah that theProphet, peace be upon him, said: "Do not speak ill of the dead; they haveseen the result of (the deeds) that they forwarded before them." AbuDaw'ud and Tirmizhi have transmitted, but with a weak chain of narrators, fromIbn ' Umar a similar hadith that the Prophet, peace be upon him, said,"Mention the good deeds of your dead and cover their evil deeds." Asfor those Muslims who openly do evil or indulge in illicit innovation, it ispermissible to mention their evil deeds if some public good so requires and andas a warning to others in order to discourage anyone who might otherwise followtheir bad example. If no such benefit is to be gained, then it is notpermissible to mention anything evil about the deceased. Bukhari and Muslimreported that Anas said: "A funeral procession passed by and the peoplepraised the deceased. The Prophet, peace be upon him, exclaimed, 'It is decided.'Then another funeral procession passed by and the people said some bad thingsabout the deceased. The Prophet, peace be upon him, remarked, 'It is decided.''Umar asked: 'What is decided?' The Prophet, peace be upon him, answered, 'Theone whom you praised is entitled to Paradise, and the one whom you described asbad is entitled to the Hell Fire. You are Allah's witnesses on earth'."
Cursing the dead disbelievers is permissible, because Allah, the Exalted,says: "Curses by the tongue of David and of Jesus, the son of Mary, werepronounced on those among the Children of Israel who rejected faith.'' Qur'an5.78 Similarly we read in the Qur'an: "Perish the hands of the Father ofFlame!'' Qur'an 111.1 Pharaoh and others like him have also been cursed in theQur'an, besides the great curse of Allah about which we read: "Behold! thecurse of Allah is on those who do wrong. Qur'an 11.18
The jurists differ concerning the legality of reciting the Qur'an by thegraveside. Ash-Shafi'i and Muhammad bin Al-Hasan consider it desirable, becauseby it, the deceased might be blessed. Al-Qadi 'Iyad and scholars of the Malikischool agree with them on this point. Ahmad holds that there is nothing wrongin reciting the Qur'an at a grave, whereas Malik and Abu Hanifah view this asnot desirable because the sunnah does not mention this practice.
Muslim scholars agree that a place where a Muslim is buried should not bedisturbed if flesh, bones, or other parts of the body remain there. If any ofhis other remains are found it is not permissible to disturb them. But if theentire corpse has disintegrated into dust, then a new grave may be dug there.Also, in such a case it is permissible to use the land for planting,cultivation, building, and for other beneficial purposes. If the remains of abody, such as bones, are found during the digging, then the digging should bestopped. And if the remains are found after the digging is finished, then it isquite permissible to place these to one side in the grave and bury another bodybeside them.
If the deceased person was buried before a funeral prayer was offered forhim or her and the person had not yet been covered with soil, then the remainsshould be removed and the funeral prayer should be offered before reburial. Butif the deceased was buried completely without a funeral prayer, it is unlawful,according to the Hanafi and the Shafi'i schools, to dig up the grave. This isalso the opinion of Ahmad, according to one narration from him. In such a case,a funeral prayer should be offered for the deceased without disturbing thegrave. Yet another report from Ahmad says that in such a case the grave shouldbe dug up, the body exhumed, and a funeral prayer offered for the deceasedperson.
The leaders of the three schools hold it permissible to dig up a grave for avalid reason, e.g., to remove some money left in the grave, to turn the face ofa body toward the Kaibah if buried otherwise, to wash a body that was buriedwithout a proper purification, and to improve the shroud. This is not done,however, in cases when it is feared that by doing so the corpse willdisintegrate.
The Hanafi school disagrees and considers it not permissible to dig up agrave for any of the above reasons. They consider such digging of a grave as asort of dismembering of the body, which is not permissible in any case. IbnQudamah countered this position by explaining: "It would be considereddismemberment (muthlah) only in the case of those whose bodies have rottenaway. In such a case, a grave should not be dug up. If the deceased was buriedwithout a shroud, then there are two alternatives. First, he should be leftalone since the object of having a shroud is to cover the body. and that isachieved by covering it with soil. Second, the grave should be dug up and thebody shrouded, because shrouding is obligatory and is as important as washingthe body."
Ahmad said: "If the grave digger forgot and left his tools inside thegrave, he may dig them up." The same applies if someone dropped an axe,some money, or something of value. He was asked: "What if the deceased'sfamily offered the owner of the objects compensation for his lost valuables?"Hesaid: "If they give him his rightful due, then he may not dig."
Bukhari has reported a relevant hadith concerning this from Jabir, who said:"The Prophet, peace be upon him, came to Abdallah ibn Ubayy after he waslowered in his grave. He commanded his companions to take him out. Then he puthim on his knees, blew his saliva over him, then put a shirt on him." Hehas also reported: "A man was buried with my father. I did not feel gooduntil I removed him and buried him in a separate grave.'' (The body was takenout six months after his father's death)
Bukhari has given these two hadith in a separate chapter, entitled:"Can a deceased be taken out of the grave for any reason?" Abu Daw'udreported from Abdallah ibn ' Amr who said, "While we were going to al-Taifand passing by a grave, I heard the Prophet, peace be upon him, saying: 'Thisis Abu Raghal's grave. ' He used to treat the Prophet insolently in the sacredprecincts (of the Sacred Mosque). The Prophet, peace be upon him, added, 'Whenhe left, a retribution overtook Abu Raghal, as it did his people at this place,so he was buried here. And the proof of this is that he was buried with a pieceof gold. So if you dig up his grave, you will get it.' The People rushed to thegrave, dug it up, found, and removed the gold piece."
Al-Khattabi said: "This shows that it is permissible to dig up thegraves of polytheists if there is some good or benefit for Muslims in doing so.Indeed, in such a situation their case is not similar to that of deceasedMuslims."
The Ash-Shafi'i school considers it unlawful to transfer the body of adeceased from one country or town to another unless it is to Makkah, Madinah orJerusalem. It is permissible to remove the body to one of these cities becauseof their special significance and position.If someone leaves instructions inhis or her will that he or she be buried in a place other than these threecities, the will may not be executed, because it could delay the burial andcause the body to deteriorate. Likewise transferring the body from one grave toanother is prohibited unless there is a valid reason for doing so, for example,if the deceased was buried without a proper wash, or was buried without tumingthe deceased's face toward the qiblah, or the grave was damaged by flood ordampness.
It is stated in Al-Minhaj that digging up a grave after burial either forremoving the body or for any other reason is prohibited unless there is genuinereason for it. such as when a deceased person is buried without a wash or isburied in a usurped cloth or land or something of value is left in the grave orthe deceased was buried without facing the qiblah.
The Maliki school holds it permissible to remove the body from one place to another,before or after the burial, for a genuine reason, for example, when it isfeared that the body of a deceased may be drowned in the sea or eaten up bywild animals, or when relatives want to bury the deceased nearby so that theymay visit it more easily, or in order to seek the blessings of the place towhich the body is removed. In all such cases, transferring of the body from oneplace to another is permissible provided its sanctity is not affected, e.g., itdoes not bloat, does not decompose or its bones do not break.
The Hanafi school considers the removal of a body from one place to anotherundesirable, and holds it preferable to bury a person at the place of death.The body may be taken for a mile or two for burial, for that is the usual distanceto a cemetery. After the burial removing the body without a genuine reason isnot permissible as mentioned above. If a woman's son dies and he is buried inher absence in another town, and she was impatient and wanted to remove hisbody to her own town, her request may not be heeded.
The Hanbali school considers it desirable to bury a martyr at the placewhere he or she is killed. Ahmad said, "As to those who are slain, ahadith reported by Jabir from the Prophet, peace be upon him, says: 'Bury themartyrs wherever they are killed'." Ibn Majah reported: "The Prophet,peace be upon him, ordered that the martyrs of the Battle of Uhud be returnedand buried at the places where they had fallen." As for the others, theyare not to be removed from one town to another without a valid cause. This isthe opinion of AlAwza'i and Ibn al-Munzhir. Abdallah ibn Malikah said:"Abd-ur Rahman ibn Abu Bakr died in Abyssinia and his body was carried toMakkah where he was buried. When 'Aishah visited his grave she said: 'By Allah!Had I been there when you died, I would not have allowed you to be buriedanywhere except at the place where you had died. And had I seen you there, Iwould not have visited you'." Burying the deceased at the place of deathis easier and more secure against deterioration of the physical remains. It ispermissible, however, to remove the body from one place to another in casethere is a valid reason.
Ahmad said: "I do not know of any harm in transferring the deceasedfrom one town to another." When Az-Zuhri was asked about that, he said,"The bodies of Sa'd ibn Abi Waqqas and Sa'id ibn Zaid were removed fromal-'Aqiq to Madinah."
Offering one's condolences to someone means sharing in his grief andencouraging him to be patient. It means enjoining patience to comfort thedistressed person and to lighten his or her grief and misfortune.
Condolences are desirable, even if the deceased was a non-Muslim. Ibn Majahand Al-Baihaqi reported from 'Amr ibn Hazm that the Prophet, peace be upon him,said: "Every believer who consoles his brother in distress, will bedressed by Allah in an apparel of honor on the Day of Resurrection." It isrecommended, however, that the condolences be offered only once.
The condolences should be offered to the entire family of the deceased, thatis, to all the relatives, old and young, men and women. (The scholars excludefrom this list beautiful young women. Only their mahram relatives may offer condolencesto them) One may offer condolences either before or after the burial up tothree days after death. If the person either offering or receiving condolenceswas not present at the time of death, condolences may be offered even at alater period.
Condolences may be offered in any words so long as they lighten thedistress, induce patience, and bring solace to the bereaved. It is preferable,however, to use the wording as transmitted in hadith.
Usamah ibn Zaid reported, "A daughter of the Prophet, peace be uponhim, sent him a message to come to her house, because a son of hers had died.In response he sent her a message with his regards saying: 'Verily, to Allahbelongs what He has taken, and to Him belongs what He has given. For everythingHe has set a term. So be patient and be content'.'' (Bukhari. In CommentAn-Nawawi said: "This is a very comprehensive hadith. It contains a numberof essential principles of Islam. It encourages one to be patient in the faceof catastrophe and hard times. The meaning of 'what Allah takes' is thateverything belongs to Allah. Therefore what he takes also belongs to Him andnot to others. He takes what He owns. Whatever we have is on trust. Thus, weshould be patient and content with whatever befalls us.")
At-Tabarani, Al-Hakim, and Ibn Mardawayh reported - with a chain that has anunreliable narrator - from Mu'azh ibn Jabal that when a son of his slied,Mu'azh received a letter from the Prophet, peace be upon him, offering himcondolences. The Prophet wrote to him: "In the name of Allah, the mostBeneficent, the Most Merciful. From Muhammad, the Messenger of Allah, to Mu'azhbin Jabal. Peace be upon you. I praise Allah, there is no god but He. May Allahincrease your reward, grant you patience, and give us and you the power tooffer our thanks, for verily, our lives, our wealth, and our families are giftsof Allah entrusted to us only for awhile. May Allah grant you joy and bless youwith a large reward, mercy, and guidance. If you are content with Him, youshould be patient. Do not let your grief destroy your reward, so that you mayregret it later on. Remember grieving over the deceased will not restore him tolife, nor remove grief. Whatever is destined to happen, it is as if it hasalready occurred. Peace be on you'.'' (This hadith is weak. Mu'azh's sonreportedly died two years after the death of the Prophet, peace be upon him)
Ash-Shafi'i has reported the following in his Musnad from Ja'far ibnMuhammad, who reported from his father and from his grandfather, both of whomsaid: "When the Prophet, peace be upon him, died and condolences wereoffered, they heard someone saying. 'In Allah is the best consolation againstevery catastrophe, a substitute for every loss, and a replacement for anythingthat is missed. Trust Allah, seek His aid, and be hopeful of His mercy. The onereally afflicted is the one who is deprived of the reward for hismisfortune." The chain of narrators of this hadith is weak. Muslim scholarssay that if a Muslim offers condolences to another Muslim he should say:"May Allah increase your reward, give you the best consolation, andforgive your deceased beloved." And if one gives condolences to a Muslimfor a disbelieving relative, one should say: "May Allah increase yourreward, and grant you the best of consolation."
If one gives condolences to a disbeliever for a Muslim relative, one shouldsay: "May Allah give you the best of condolences and grant forgiveness toyour deceased beloved."
If both the deceased and the one to whom condolences are given aredisbelievers, then one should say: "May Allah grant you asubstitute." As for the response to condolences, the receiver shouldrespond, "Amin" and "May Allah reward you."
According to Ahmad, one may or may not shake hands with the bereaved whenoffering condolences. If one sees a person who has torn his or her clothesbecause of a misfortune, one should comfort the person, and should not refuseto do what is good because of his or her vain act, but it is good if one bidssuch a person to refrain from doing so.
The sunnah concerning this is that one should offer condolences to thebereaved family and leave. Neither the consoler nor the consoled should sit down.This is the lesson we learn from the example of our righteous predecessors.Ash-Shafi'i in his Al-Umm said, "I dislike gathering in groups together togive condolences even if those gathered do not cry. Such a gathering revivessorrow and adds to the grief and burden of the bereaved family. An-Nawawi said,"Ash-Shafi'i and his companions disliked sitting for condolences, wherebymembers of the family stay in their homes to receive anyone coming to givetheir condolences. Instead, they should go about their usual tasks and needs.This applies both to men and women. Al-Muhamili states this explicitly andtransmits it in reference to a text from Ash-Shafi'i. This is makruh tanzihi(Makruh tanzihl signifies something which is undesirable yet is closer to thelawful) unless it is coupled with some other innovation. If it is accompaniedwith another forbidden innovation (bid'ah), as is generally the case, then itis regarded as one of the strongly forbidden acts. All such acts are aninnovation, and as a sound hadith says, "All novel acts are an innovationand every innovation is error."
Ahmad and many other Hanafi scholars also hold this opinion. Early Hanafischolars, however, held the view that there is nothing wrong in holding agathering at places other than mosques for three days of condolence, so long asone does nothing prohibited. The practices of some people nowadays, such asgathering for condolences, setting up tents, spreading carpets, and incurring alot of expenses out of arrogance and show off are all despicable innovationsthat are forbidden and must be avoided, especially when most of these acts arecontradictory to the teachings of the Qur'an and sunnah and are vestiges ofpre-Islamic customs of jahiliyyah. Some of these innovations are reciting theQur'an in a melodic fashion and disregarding the rules of proper recitation, ornot keeping silent when listening to the Qur' an or indulging in smoking orsuch other activities. And this is not all. Some of these slaves of theirdesires indulge in extreme innovation. They are not satisfied with the daysoriginally prescribed by Islam, but designate Wednesday as the day to renewthese abominations and to indulge in these innovations. They celebrate theanniversary of death on the first day and observe remembrance on the secondday, and do other such other things without any justification by either text orreason.
Visiting graves is desirable for men. 'Abdallah ibn Buraidah reported fromhis father that the Prophet, peace be upon him, said: "I had forbidden youto visit graves, but now you may visit them. It will remind you of theHereafter." (Muslim, Ahmad, and the Sunan works) They were prohibited fromvisitlng the graves because of their proximity to the jahiliyyah (Days ofIgnorance) when they used incorrect and obscene language. After they had fullyentered the fold of Islam, became well pleased with it, and had fully acceptedits laws, the Prophet, peace be upon him, permitted them to visit graves.
Abu Hurairah reported: "The Prophet, peace be upon him, visited hismother' s grave and cried, and everyone there cried with him. Then the Prophet,peace be upon him, said: 'I sought my Lord's permission to seek forgiveness forher, but He did not permit me. I then sought permission to visit her grave andHe permitted me to do this. You should visit graves, because they will remindyou of the reality of death.'' (Muslim, Ahmad, and the Sunan, except Tirmizhi)
Since the purpose of visiting graves is admonition and remembrance of death,it is permissible to visit the graves of disbelievers. Weeping when passing bythe graves of the wrongdoers who were seized and punished by Allah for theirevil deeds, and to express one's humility and one's need for forgiveness ofAllah is desirable.This is obvious from a hadith, reported by Bukhari on theauthority of Ibn 'Umar, that the Prophet, peace be upon him, said to hisCompanions, when they passed through Al-Hijr, the dwellings of the people ofThamud, "Do not go without weeping to the places of burial of those whoare undergoing torment. But if you cannot weep, then do not enter these placeslest what befell them should befall you."
Whoever pays a visit to a grave should face the deceased, greet him, andsupplicate for him. On this subject we find the following: Buraidah reported:"The Prophet, peace be upon him, taught us that when we visited graves weshould say, 'Peace be upon you, O believing men and women, O dwellers of this place.Certainly, Allah willing, we will join you. You have preceded us and we are tofollow you.We supplicate to Allah to grant us and you security'.'' (Reported byMuslim, Ahmad, and others)
Ibn 'Abbas reported: "Once the Prophet, peace be upon him, passed bygraves in Madinah. He tumed his face toward them saying: 'Peace be upon you, Odwellers of these graves. May Allah forgive us and you. You have preceded us,and we are following your trail'." (Tirmizhi)
'Aishah said: "Every time it was my turn to be with the Prophet, peacebe upon him, toward the end of the night, he would go out to the cemetery ofal-Baqi' and would say,
'Peace be upon you, O abode of believers. What you were promised will cometo pass tomorrow at a fixed time. We shall, Allah willing, soon join you. OAllah! Grant forgiveness to the people who are buried in al-Baqi' al-Gharqad','(Muslim)
'Aishah also reported: "I asked: 'What should I say when I pass by agraveyard, O Messenger of Allah?' He replied, 'Say, "Peace be upon the believingmen and women dwelling here. May Allah grant mercy to those who have precededus and those who are to follow them. Certainly, Allah willing, we will joinyou"'."
What some people do, like wiping hands over the graves and tombs, kissingthem, and circumambulating around them are abominable innovations. Such thingsshould not be done, for they are unlawful. These things are permissible,however, if performed in relation with the House of Allah, the Ka'abah, forAllah has so honored it. The grave of the Prophet, peace be upon him, cannot beconsidered a similar case, nor the tomb of a saint. All good comes fromazherence to his example whereas all evil flows from innovating new things inreligion.
Ibn al-Qayyim said: "The Prophet, peace be upon him, visited the gravesto supplicate for their inhabitants, and to seek mercy and forgiveness of Allahfor them. Contrary to this, the pagans supplicated to the dead, swearing bythem, asking them for their needs, and seeking their support and help. Suchpagan practices are in conflict with the guidance of the Prophet, peace be uponhim, and his teachings about the Oneness of Allah and about the manner ofsupplicating for Allah's mercy for the dead. The people who do such things areguilty of polytheism; they are indulging in sin, and bringing evil to thedeceased.They may be divided into three categories: those who supplicate forthe deceased, those who supplicate through the deceased, and the third whosupplicate to the deceased. They think that making supplications by a grave isbetter than in a mosque. For anyone who looks to the guidance of the Messengerof Allah, peace be upon him, and his Companions, the distinction between thetwo cited positions is fairly obvious."
Imam Malik and some Hanafi scholars, and, according to one report fromAhmad, most of the scholars hold it permissible for women to visit graves. Thisis based on the following hadith from 'Aishah, "What should I say to them,O Messenger of Allah when visiting graves?" As mentioned above Abdallahibn Abi Mulaikah is also reported to have said, "Once 'Aishah returnedafter visiting the graveyard. I asked, 'O Mother of the Believers, where haveyou been?' She said: 'I went out to visit the grave of my brother Abdar-Rahman.' I asked her: 'Didn't the Messenger of Allah, peace be upon him,prohibit visiting graves?' She said, 'Yes, he did forbid visiting graves duringthe early days, but later on he ordered us to visit them'." This isreported by Al-Hakim and Al-Baihaqi, who also remarked that this hadith wasnarrated only by Bistam bin Muslim al-Basri. Azh-Zhahabi said that it is asound hadith.
Anas reported: "The Prophet, peace be upon him, saw a woman crying bythe grave of her son, and said to her, 'Fear Allah, and be patient.' Shereplied, 'What do you care about my tragedy?' When he went away, someone toldher, 'Indeed, that was the Messenger of Allah, peace be upon him. ' The womanfelt extremely sorry and she immediately went to the Prophet's house, where shedid not find any guards. She called out: 'O Messenger of Allah! I did notrecognize you.' The Prophet, peace be upon him, said, 'Verily patience isneeded at the time of the first affiction'.'' (Bukhari and Muslim) Thissupports the argument in favor of the permissibility of women visiting graves,for the Prophet, peace be upon him, saw her at the grave and did not show hisdisapproval of it.
The purpose of visiting graves is to remember the Hereafter, which issomething that both men and women need. Men are by no means more in need ofthis reminder than women. Some scholars disliked it for women to visit gravesas they are less patient and too emotional. The Prophet, peace be upon him,said, "May Allah curse the women who are frequent visitors of thegraves." (Reported by Ahmad, Ibn Majah, and Tirmizhi, who said that it isa sound hadith)
Al-Qurtubi said: "The curse mentioned in this hadith applies only tothose women who visit graves frequently. The reason for this curse lies perhapsin the fact that it involves infringement of the rights of the husband, andleads to adornment and exhibition of their beauty to strangers, and shouting,yelling, and other similar things." It may be said that, "If no suchharm is feared from women visiting graves, then there is no valid reason forpreventing them from visiting graves, for indeed remembrance of death issomething that both men and women equally need." Commenting onAl-Qurtubi's view, Ash-Shawkani said, "This statement may form the basisfor reconciling apparently contradictory hadith."
There is consensus that a deceased person benefits from all good deeds forwhich he or she in his or her life might have been a cause. Abu Hurairahreported, "The Prophet, peace be upon him, said, 'When a person dies allhis good deeds cease except for three: a continuous act of charity, beneficialknowledge, and a righteous son who prays for him'.'' (Muslim, and the Sunan)Also Abu Hurairah reported, "The Prophet, peace be upon him, said, 'Therighteous works that continue to benefit a believer after his death include theknowledge that he taught and spread among others, a righteous son whom heleaves behind, or a copy of the Qur'an that he bequeaths to his inheritors, ora mosque that he builds, or a rest house that he builds for the wayfarers, or acanal of water that he digs for the benefit of others, or a charity that hegives out of his property during his life while he is sound of health. He willcontinue to receive reward for all these even after his death.' (Ibn Majah)
Jarir ibn Abdallah reported: "The Prophet, peace be upon him, said:'Whoever introduces a good practice in Islam will get its reward and therewards for all those who follow these practices after him, without any loss totheir reward. And whoever introduces a bad practice in Islam will acquire itssin and the sins of all those who practice it, without any decrease in theirsins."
An account of the righteous deeds performed by others that continue to bebeneficial to the deceased is given in detail below:
-2- Charity. An-Nawawi has recorded that Muslim scholars agree that charitybenefits the deceased person and its reward reaches the deceased whether it isgiven by his or own son or by someone else. This is based on a report fromAhmad, Muslim, and others from Abu Hurairah that, "A man said to theProphet, peace be upon him, ' My father died leaving wealth but no will. Wouldhe be pardoned if we gave charity on his behalf?' He said: 'Yes."' It isalso reported from Al-Hasan from Sa'd ibn 'Ubadah that "his mother diedand he said, 'O Messenger of Allah, my mother has died. Should I give charityon her behalf?' He said: 'Yes.' I said: 'What is the best charity?' He said,'Offering people a drink of water'." Al-Hasan said: "This is thedrinking place of the family of Sa'd in Madinah." This is reported byAhmad, Nasa'i, and others. Giving charity in the graveyard is not permissibleand giving it during the funeral is disliked.
-3- Fasting. This is based on a report by Bukhari and Muslim from Ibn 'Abbaswho said, "A man came to the Prophet, peace be upon him, and said, 'Mymother has died without making up for a missed month of fasting. Can I fast onher behalf? ' The Prophet, peace be upon him, said, ' Would you pay her debt ifshe owed someone?' The man said, 'Yes.' The Prophet, peace be upon him, said,'Allah is more deserving of payment in settlement of His debt'."
-4- Performing the Pilgrimage (Hajj). This is based on a report by Bukharifrom Ibn 'Abbas that "a woman of the Juhainah tribe came to the Prophet,peace be upon him, and said, 'My mother had vowed to perform pilgrimage, butshe died before she could fulfill her vow. Should I do it on her behalf?' TheProphet, peace be upon him, said, 'Yes. Perform Hajj on her behalf. Would younot pay the debt of your mother if she had owed someone? Fulfill it. Allah ismore deserving of receiving payment for what is due to Him'."
-5- Prayer (salah). This is based on a report by Ad-Darqutni who said that"a man asked, 'O Allah's Messenger! I had parents whom I served while theylived. How can I be good to them after their death? ' The Prophet, peace beupon him, said, 'Verily, among the good deeds that you can do after their deathis to offer prayer (salah) for them when you pray for yourself and to fast forthem when you fast for yourself'."
-6- Recitation of the Qur'an. This is beneficial to the deceased accordingto the opinion of the majority of the scholars among the ahl al-sunnah.
An-Nawawi said, "The most well-known position of the Shafi'i school isthat this does not benefit the deceased." Ahmad ibn Hanbal and a group ofShafi' i scholars hold that it does benefit the deceased . The reciter has anoption. He may supplicate for the deceased to be rewarded for the recitation,saying: "O Allah! Grant the reward of what I recited to so-and-so."
Ibn Qudamah in al-Mughni stated, "Ahmad ibn Hanbal said, 'The deceasedwill receive the reward for every good done on his behalf. This is proved bytextual evidence found on this subject. The fact that Muslims in every citygather to recite the Qur'an for the benefit of the deceased and that they havebeen doing so without any disagreement or disapproval show that there isconsensus on this subject'."
Those who hold that the deceased benefits by the recitation of others makeit conditional upon the reciter not to accept any payment for his recitation.If the reciter is paid for reciting, it is unlawful for both the giver and thereceiver, and he shall have no reward for his reciting. Abd Ar Rahman ibn Shiblreported that the Prophet, peace be upon him, said, "Recite the Qur'an,and do good deeds .... Do not neglect it, nor be extreme in it. Do not make ita means of living nor a source of your wealth.'' (Reported by Ahmad,At-Tabarani, and Al-Baihaqi)
Ibn al-Qayyim said, "Worship is of two types: financial and physical.The Prophet, peace be upon him, has informed us that because charity (sadaqah)benefits the deceased, all other acts of charity will also benefit thedeceased, and that because fasting on his behalf benefits the deceased, allother physical acts of worship will likewise benefit the deceased. Similarlythe Prophet, peace be upon him, informed us that the reward of making Hajj,which involves both physical and financial sacrifice, does indeed benefit thedeceased. Thus these three types of beneficial acts of worship are supported byboth the revealed texts and reason."
The performer must have the intention of performing an act on behalf of thedeceased. Ibn 'Aqil said, "If one performed any act of obedience, forexample, a prayer, fasting, or recitation of the Qur'an and made its reward agift to a deceased Muslim, the deceased will receive the reward for it,provided that he has a prior intention of making it for the benefit of thedeceased, and the act and the intention go together." Ibn al-Qayyimsupports this opinion.
Ibn al-Qayyim said, "The best present for the deceased is an act thatis most beneficial to people, for example, freeing a slave.Thus a sadaqahgiving in charity is better than fasting on behalf of the deceased. The bestcharity is that which fulfills someone's need and is continuous. The Prophet,peace be upon him, said, "The best charity is to give people a drink ofwater." This applies to a place where water is scarce. Otherwise, givingsomeone a drink of water from a river or a canal would not be better thanfeeding the hungry who need food. Likewise, supplication and asking forgivenessfor the deceased is beneficial to the deceased, especially when the supplicantis sincere, earnest, and humble in his supplication. Such a supplication isbetter than charity, just as regular prayer (salah) is better than the funeralprayer and than supplicating for the deceased by his grave.
In general, the best gift to send the deceased is freeing a slave, giving incharity, asking forgiveness for him or her, and making the Hajj (pilgrimage) onhis or her behalf.
Ibn al-Qayyim said, "Some of the latter jurists hold it desirable whileothers do not agree because they regard it as an innovation (bid'ah). TheCompanions never did it. The Prophet, peace be upon him, shall receive a rewardfor every good done by anyone from among his community (Ummah) without in theleast diminishing the reward of the doer.This is because he is the one whoinvited his community to every good, and led them to it, and because the onewho calls others to truth always has a reward similar to that of those whofollow it without in any way diminishing their reward. Whatever guidance orknowledge his community gained, they gained it only through him, so he shallhave a reward equal to that of his followers whether they formally dedicate itto him or not.
The children of Muslims who die prior to the age of puberty go to Paradise.'Adi ibn Thabit reported that he heard al-Bara' saying, "When Ibrahim, sonof the Prophet died, the Prophet, peace be upon him, said, 'Verily, he willhave suckling in Paradise'.'' (Bukhari) Al-Hafiz said in Al-Fath, "Bukhariindicates his view on this subject when he makes the statement that 'they arein Paradise'." Anas ibn Malik reported that the Prophet, peace be upon him,said, "If any Muslim has three children and they die prior to reaching theage of puberty, Allah will cause him to enter Paradise on account of His mercyto them."
It is clear from this hadith that those children who become a reason forothers to enter Paradise, would themselves be in a far better position to enterit, because they are the real cause of the mercy of Allah.
As for children of non-Muslims, they are similar to the children of Muslimswith respect to their entry into Paradise. An-Nawawi said, "This is thesound view held by the eminent scholars, and it is supported by Allah's words,'We will not punish anyone until We have sent a Messenger.' (Qur'an 17.15) Nowif an adult is not punished for the reason that the truth did not reach him, itis far more reasonable to assume that a child will not be punished." Areport by Ahmad from Khansa, daughter of Mu'awiyah ibn Sarim, states that herelated her aunt's following account: "I asked, 'O Messenger of Allah! Whowill be in Paradise?' The Prophet, peace be upon him, said, 'Prophets will bein Paradise, martyrs will be in Paradise, and babies will be inParadise'." Al-Hafiz said that this hadith has a sound chain of narrators.
Allahl al-Sunnah wa Al-Jama'ah agree that each person will be questionedafter his death, whether he is buried or not. Even if a person were eaten bycarnivorous animals or bumt to ashes and thrown into the air or drowned in thesea, he or she would be questioned about his or her deeds, and rewarded withgood or evil depending on his or her deeds in life. Both the body and the soultogether experience punishment or reward.
Ibn al-Qayyim said, "The early Muslim community and its prominentscholars held that after death, a person is either in bliss or torment bothphysically and spiritually. After its separation from the body, the soulendures a state of happiness or punishment. At times, when the soul rejoins thebody, both of them receive torture or joy. On the Day of Resurrection, thesouls will be returned to the bodies and they will rise from their graves andstand before the Lord of the worlds. The Muslims, Christians, and Jews, allbelieve in the resurrection of the body.
Al-Maruzi related that Imam Ahmad said, "The punishment in the grave isa reality, and only he who is misguided or wants to misguide others deniesit."
Hanbal said, "I asked Abu Abdallah about the punishment in the grave.He said, 'These are the sound hadith and we believe in them and affirm them. Weaffirm everything that comes from the Prophet, peace be upon him, with a soundchain of narrators. If we were to confirm a report as being from the Prophet,peace be upon him, and then reject it or oppose it, we would be denying theWord of Allah, "Whatever the Messenger gives you, take it".' I askedhim, 'Is the punishment of the grave a reality?' He said, 'Yes, it is areality. The people are punished in their graves. ' I heard Abu Abdallahsaying, 'We believe in the punishment of the grave, in Munkar and Nakir (thetwo questioning angels), and that the deceased will be questioned in theirgraves.' The Qur'an states that 'Allah will establish in strength those whobelieve in the Word, that stands firm in this world and in the Hereafter,'Qur'an 14.27 that is, in the grave."
Ahmad ibn al-Qasim said, I asked, 'O Abu Abdallah! Do you believe in MunkarandNakir and what is related conceming the punishment of the grave? ' He said,'Glory to Allah.Yes, we do confirm that and we declare so.'I said, 'Thisexpression that you use, is it Munkar and Nakir? Or do you call them, "Thetwo angels?"' He answered: 'Munkar and Nakir.'I said, 'They say,"There is no mention of Munkar and Nakir in the hadith".' He replied,'Of course there is. There is Munkar and Nakir'."
Al-Hafiz said in Al-Fath, "Ahmad ibn Hazm and Ibn Hubairah are of theopinion that the questioning is addressed to the soul only, without itsreturning to the body. The majority of Muslim scholars, however, disagree withthem. They say, 'The soul is returned to the body or some of it, as isconfirmed by the hadith. Had the punishment been directed at the soul only,there would not be concern for the body. The scattered parts of a body shouldpose no problem, for Allah is able to give life to any part of a body, and thenaddress the questioning to that particular part. Likewise, He is able to gatherall its parts easily'."
Those who hold that the questioning will be addressed only to the soul saythat if one were to examine the body in the grave at the time of thequestioning, one will notice no trace of its sitting or any other movement.Onewill also notice that the grave is neither more narrow nor spacious. Similar isthe case of those who are not buried in any grave, e.g., the people who arecrucified. To counter this objection, it is maintained that it is notimpossible. Rather, in physical life we find a similar example, namely,sleeping. A sleeping person experiences both pleasure and pain, but hiscompanion cannot notice any of its effects on him. In fact, even a person whois wide awake also feels pain and pleasure when he hears or thinks of hispainful or pleasant experiences, but its effects cannot be noticed. Consideringthe unseen in the light of what is seen or guessing about life after death interms of the present life is the mistake of this fallacious thinking.
Obviously Allah has screened the sights and sounds of the other world fromman, and with our limited physical faculties, we are incapable of perceivingthe vast kingdom of heavens, unless Allah wills it.
The opinion of the majority in this respect is supported by various hadith.The Prophet, peace be upon him, for example, told us, "the deceased hearsthe sound of their footsteps"; "his ribs are altered because of theembrace of the grave"; "the sound of his voice resounds when theangel strikes him with a hammer"; "he is struck between his ears,"or "they (the two angels) will cause him to sit up." All these hadithrefer to various bodily conditions. We will mention here some of the soundhadith concerning this subject.
Zaid ibn Thabit reported, "The Prophet, peace be upon him, was goingwith us toward the dwellings of Banu an-Najjar. He was riding a pony, whichspooked and he nearly fell off. He found four, five, or six graves there, andasked, 'Which of you knows about those lying in these graves?' Someone said, 'I do . ' Thereupon the Prophet, peace be upon him, asked, ' In what state didthey die? ' He replied, 'They died as polytheists. ' He said, "Thesepeople are passing through an ordeal in the graves. You would stop burying yourdead in the graves if you heard the torment in the grave that I hear. If itwere not for this fact, I should have certainly made you listen to it.' Thenturning his face toward us, he admonished, 'Seek refuge with Allah from thetorment of Hell.' They replied, 'We seek refuge with Allah from the torment ofHell.' He said, 'Seek refuge with Allah from the torment of the grave.' Theysaid, 'We seek refuge with Allah from the torment of the grave. ' He warned,'Seek refuge with Allah from temptations both visible and invisible.' Theyreplied, 'We seek refuge with Allah from temptation (fitnah) in every visibleand invisible form.' Then he added, 'Seek refuge with Allah from the temptationof the Dajjal.' They said, 'We seek refuge with Allah from the temptation ofthe Dajjal'.'' (Muslim)
Qatadah reported that Anas ibn Malik said, "The Prophet, peace be uponhim, said, 'When a human is laid in his grave and his companions return and hehears their footsteps, two angels will come to him and make him sit and askhim, "What did you say about this man, Muhammad, may peace be uponhim?" He will say, "I testify that he is Allah's servant and HisMessenger." Then it will be said to him, "Look at your place inHell-Fire. Allah has exchanged for you a place in Paradise instead ofit".' The Prophet, peace be upon him, added, 'The dead person will seeboth his places. As for a non-believer or a hypocrite, he will respond to theangels, "I do not know, but I used to say what the people used to say !" It will be said to him, "Neither did you know nor did you seek guidancefrom those who had knowledge." Then he will be hit with an iron hammerbetween his two ears, and he will cry and that cry will be heard by all excepthuman beings and jinns'." (Bukhari and Muslim)
Al-Bara ibn 'Azib reported: The Prophet, peace be upon him, said, 'When aMuslim is questioned in his grave, he bears witness that there is no god butAllah, and that Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah.' According to one report,the verse, 'Allah will establish in strength those who believe with the Word,that stands firm in this world and in the Hereafter' (Qur'an 14.27) wasrevealed concerning the punishment of the grave. The deceased will be asked,'Who is your Lord?' He will say, 'Allah is my Lord and Muhammad is my Prophet.'That is what is meant by the statement of Allah, 'Allah will make firm thosewho believe with a firm statement in this life and in the hereafter'."(Al-Bukhari, Muslim, and Sunan)
Ahmad and Abu Hatim reported that the Prophet, peace be upon him, said,"When a deceased person is laid in his grave, he hears the sound of thefootsteps of people as they go away. If he is a believer, the prayer will standby his head, the fasting will be to his right, alms to his left, and all othergood deeds of charity, kindness to relations, and good behavior will be by hisfeet. The deceased will be questioned by the angels at his head. The prayerwill say, 'There is no entrance through me.' Then he will be questioned by hisright side where fasting will say, 'There is no entrance through me.' Then hewill be questioned by his left side where charity will say, 'There is noentrance through me.' Then he will be questioned by his feet where the goodacts of voluntary charity, kindness to relations, and good behavior will say,'There is no entrance through me.' Then they will say to him, 'Get up.'And hewill get up. The sun will appear to him and it will begin to set. Then theywill ask, 'This man who was among you, what do you say about him? What is yourtestimony about him?' The man will say, 'Let me pray.' The angels will say,'You will pray. Answer our question. What do you think about this man who wasamong you? What do you say concerning him? What do you testify concerning him?'The deceased will say, I bear witness that Muhammad was the Messenger of Allahwho brought the truth from Allah.' The deceased will be told, 'According tothis you lived, died, and according to this you will be resurrected, if Allahwills.'
"Then a door to Paradise will be opened for him. He will be told, 'Thisis your place in Paradise and what Allah has prepared for you. ' At this thedesire and happiness of the deceased will increase. His grave will be enlarged70 arms-length and his grave will be lit up. His body will change to hisoriginal form and his spirit will be placed in a bird dangling by the trees ofParadise in a nice breeze." The Prophet, peace be upon him, added,"That is what is meant by the statement of Allah, 'Allah will establish instrength those who believe with the Word that stands firm, in this world and inthe Hereafter'." He also mentioned the unbeliever and said, "Hisgrave will be compressed, so that his ribs will be crushed together. About thisthe Qur'an says, 'Verily, for him is a narrow life and We will resurrect himblind on the Day of Resurrection'.'' Qur'an 20.124
Samura ibn Jundub reported, "The Prophet, peace be upon him, after theprayers would turn toward us and ask us, 'Did any one of you have a dream?' Ifsomeone had, he would relate it. Upon hearing it the Prophet, peace be uponhim, would say, 'Whatsoever Allah wills (is done).' One day he questioned ussaying, 'Did anyone of you have a dream?' They answered, 'No.' Then theProphet, peace be upon him, said, 'But I saw tonight two men. They came to me.They held my hand and took me to the holy land. We came across a man Iyingdown, and behold, another man was standing over his head, holding a big rock.Behold, he was throwing the rock at the man's head, crushing it. The rockrolled away and the thrower followed it and brought it back. By the time hereached the man, his head was restored to its normal state. The thrower thendid the same as he had done before. I asked my two companions, "Who arethese two people?" They said, "Proceed!" So we proceeded andcame to a man lying flat on his back and another man standing over his headwith an iron hook. Behold, he would put the hook in one side of the man's mouthand tear off that side of his face to the back of the neck and similarly tearhis nose from front to back and his eye from front to back. Then he turned tothe other side of the man's face and did just as he had done with the otherside. As soon as he tore one side, the other side returned to its normal state.Then he returned to it to repeat what he had done before. I said to my twocompanions, "Who are these two people?" They said to me,"Proceed!" So we proceeded and saw a hole like an oven, narrow at thetop and wide at the bottom, and fire burning in it. In that oven there werenaked men and women, and behold, flames of fire were reaching them from underneath,and when it reached them, they would be raised high until they were close tothe mouth of the oven. Then the fire subsided and they went back inside itagain. I asked, "Who are these?" They said to me,"Proceed!" And so we proceeded and came to a river of blood. Andbehold, in the middle of the river was a man standing, and on the bank therewas one who had many stones. The man who was in the river would try to leavebut the other man would throw rocks into his mouth so that he would return towhere he was. Every time the former tried to leave, the other would throw rocksinto his mouth. Then he would return to where he was. I asked, "Who arethese people?" They replied, "Proceed! Proceed!" We proceededuntil we came to a man with a repulsive appearance, the most repulsiveappearance you ever saw in a man! Beside him there was a fire and he waskindling it and running around it. I asked my companions, "Who is this(man)?" They said to me, "Proceed! Proceed!" So we proceededuntil we reached a garden of deep green dense vegetation, bedecked with allsorts of spring colors. In the middle of the garden there was a very tall man.I could hardly see his head because of his great height. And around him therewere more children than I had ever seen before. I said to my companions,"Who is this?" They replied, "Proceed! Proceed!" So weproceeded until we came to a huge majestic garden, greater and better than Ihave ever seen! My two companions said to me, "Go up," and I went up.'
"The Prophet, peace be upon him, added, 'So we ascended until wereached a city built of gold and silver bricks. We went to its gate and askedthe gatekeeper to open the gate. It was opened and we entered the city. Therewe found men with one side of their bodies as handsome as the most handsomeperson you have ever seen, and the other side as ugly as the ugliest person youhave ever seen. My two companions ordered those men to throw themselves intothe river. Behold, there was a river flowing through the city, and its waterwas as white as milk. Those men went and threw themselves in it and thenreturned to us after the ugliness of their bodies had disappeared and theyturned in the best shape.' I said to them, "I have seen many wonderstonight. What is the meaning of all that I have seen?"
They replied, "We will inform you. As for the first man you came uponwhose head was being crushed with the rock, he is the symbol of the one whostudies the Qur'an and then neither recites it nor acts on it, and sleeps,neglects the enjoined prayers. As for the man you came upon whose mouth,nostrils, and eyes were torn off from front to back, he is the symbol of theman who goes out of his house in the morning and tells so many lies that itspreads all over the world. And those naked men and women whom you saw in theoven, they are the adulterers and the adulteresses, and the man whom you saw inthe river of blood is the usurer. As for the man by the base of the tree, hewas Abraham. As for the children around him, they are the children of the people.(The narrator added, "Some Muslims asked the Prophet. peace be upon him,'O Messenger of Allah! What about the children of pagans?' The Prophet, peacebe upon him, replied, 'And also the children of pagans'.") And the manwhom you saw near the fire kindling it and going round it, is Malik, thegatekeeper of Hell."'
"The Prophet, peace be upon him, added, 'My two companions explained,"The men you saw half handsome and half ugly were those persons who hadmixed an act that was good with another that was bad, but Allah forgavethem." The first house is the common believer's house. As for this house,it is the house of martyrs. I am Gabriel and this is Michael. Now, raise yourhead."
When I raised my head, I saw a palace that looked like a cloud. They said,"This is your home." I said, "Let me enter my house." Theysaid, "You still have some life to complete on earth. Upon completing it,you may come to your home''.' (Al-Bukhari)
Ibn al-Qayyim explained, "This is a text that pertains to thepunishment of barzakh, for a vision by the Prophets is like revelationdemonstrating the reality."
Al-Tahawi reported from Ibn Mas'ud that the Prophet, peace be upon him,said, "A person was ordered to be lashed a hundred times in his grave. Hecontinuously asked Allah to decrease his punishment until only one lashremained. His grave was totally filled by fire. When the fire was removed, heregained consciousness and asked, 'Why was I lashed?' He was told, 'You offereda prayer once without proper purification, and you passed by an oppressedperson but you did not help him'."
Anas reported, "The Prophet, peace be upon him, once heard a voice froma grave. He asked, 'When did this one die?' They said, 'He died during thepre-Islamic era.' He was pleased to hear that and remarked, 'Had I not fearedthat you would stop burying your dead, I would have asked Allah to let you hearthe punishment of the grave'." (Reported by Nasa'i and Muslim)
'Abdallah ibn 'Umar reported, "The Prophet, peace be upon him, said,'This is (Sa'd ibn Mu'azh), for whom the Throne (of Allah) moved. The doors ofHeaven were opened for him and seventy thousand angels participated (in hisfuneral prayer). (His grave) was compressed and later on was expanded forhim'.'' (Nasa'i)
Ibn al-Qayyim dealt with this subject under a separate chapter in which hementions opinions of various scholars concerning the abode of souls. Mentioningthe most correct position he explained, "It is said that the abodes of thesouls in barzakh vary considerably. Some of them are in the highest reaches ofthe heavens, such as the souls of the Prophets, peace be upon them all. Theirstatus also varies as observed by the Prophet, peace be upon him, during thenight of Isra."
Some souls are in the form of green birds who roam around freely inParadise. These are the souls of some of the martyrs, but not all of them. Thesouls of some martyrs are prevented from entering Paradise on account of theirdebts or some other similar thing. This is supported by a report by Ibn Hanbalin his Musnad from Muhammad ibn Abdallah ibn Jahsh that "A man came to theProphet, peace be upon him, and asked, 'O Allah's Prophet! What would I have ifI am killed in the cause of Allah?' The Prophet, peace be upon him, replied,'Paradise.' But, when the man got up to go, the Prophet added, 'Unless you havesome debts to pay. Gabriel has informed me about it just now'."
Some souls will be locked out at the gate of Paradise, in accordance withthis hadith: "I have seen your companion locked out at the gate ofParadise." Other souls are restricted to their graves as is evident fromthe hadith about the martyr who had stolen a cloak (He had stolen it out of thespoils of war before their proper distribution) when he was killed, the peopleasked, "Will he have bliss in Paradise?" The Prophet, peace be uponhim, said, "By Him in whose hand is my soul, the cloak which he stolecauses a fire to flare over him in his grave."
The abode of others is at the gate of Paradise, as described in a hadith byIbn 'Abbas that, "The abode of martyrs is in a green dome, on a brightriver, near the gate of Paradise. Their provision comes from Paradise in themorning and in the evening.'' (Ahmad) This does not apply to Ja'far ibn Abi Talib,whose hands were transformed into wings, and with these he flies wherever hewishes in Paradise.
Others remain confined to earth, for these souls cannot rise to heaven.Indeed, these are base, earthly souls which do not mix with the heavenly souls,just as they do not mix with them during their sojourn on earth. A soul that isoblivious to its Lord, blind to His love, negligent of His remembrance, andremiss in seeking His pleasure is a despicable earthly soul. After separationfrom its body, it cannot go anywhere, but remains here. On the other hand, theheavenly soul in this life clings to the love of Allah and to His remembrance,and seeks His pleasure and nearness. After separation from its body, it willjoin other kindred heavenly souls. In the barzakh (Literally an interval, aseparation or a partition, Al-barzakh may be defined as the intervening statebetween death and the Last Day) and on the Day of Resurrection a person will bewith those he loved. Allah will join some souls with others in the abode ofbarzakh and on the Day of Resurrection, placing the believer's soul with otherpure souls, that is, other pure souls kindred to his soul. A soul, afterseparation from the body, joins other kindred souls who in their nature anddeeds are similar to it and stays with them.
Some souls would be thrown in an oven or a pit along with other fornicatorsand harlots. Other souls would be in a river of blood, floating therein andswallowing rocks.The two categories of souls - the blessed and the damned - donot share a similar abode, for there are souls that reside in the highestreaches of heavens, while the others, low and mean earthly souls, cannot riseabove the earth.
When one ponders the hadith and traditions on this subject carefully, onecan easily find the reason for this. There is no contradiction in the soundtraditions on this subject. In fact, they are all true and each supports theother. It is important, however, to understand the soul and to appreciate itsessence and the laws that govern its functions. Indeed, the soul is somethingcompletely different from the body. It is in Paradise, but at the same time isattached to the grave and the body in it. It is the swiftest thing in moving,relocating, ascending, or descending from one place to another.These souls aredivided into various categories: the ones that are free to move about, thosethat are confined, the ones that are celestial, and the others that are earthlyand of a low order. After separation from their bodies, souls do experiencehealth and sickness, and they feel far more pleasure and pain than theyexperienced when they were joined together.They are subject to confinement,pain, punishment, sickness, and grief as they are to various states of joy,rest, bliss, and freedom. How similar is its condition in the body to when itwas in the womb of its mother! And likewise how analogous is its situationafter separation from the body to when it came out of the womb into this world!There are four abodes of the soul, and each abode is bigger and greater thanthe previous one.
The soul's first abode is the womb of the mother, where there isconfinement, compression, seclusion, and three layers of darkness.The secondabode is its earthly habitat where it grows, does good and evil, andaccumulates blessings for its ultimate success or failure. Its third abode isthe abode of barzakh, which is more spacious and immense than the abode of thisworld. This abode, compared to the fourth one, is like this [third] abodecompared to the first abode.
The fourth abode is the abode of eternity, either Paradise or Hell. There isno other abode after these.Allah causes the soul to pass through these abodesin stages, until it reaches the abode most suitable for it, an abode that onlyit deserves and for which it is [uniquely] suitable, because this abode wascreated for it, and the soul was given the ability to perform the deeds thatlead precisely to this abode.
In each abode the soul enjoys a peculiar status and position altogetherdifferent from what it has in other abodes. Blessed indeed is soul's Originatorand Creator, Who gives it life, causes it to die, makes it happy or subjects itgrief and sorrow. Blessed is He Who appointed for it various levels of successand failure, and distinguished them by various grades in accordance with theirknowledge, performance, faculties, and morality.Whoever truly understands andappreciates this cannot, but bear witness to the fact that there is no deityexcept Allah, Who has no partners. With Him alone rests all authority, praise,and all that is good, and to Him alone all affairs return for decision. His isthe absolute authority, and all dominion, might, honor, wisdom, and perfectionfree of any defects or imperfections. He is known through the testimony of Histruthful Prophets and Messengers. They did indeed come with Truth. Reasontestifies to its truthfulness, and nature supports and confirms it. Andanything that contradicts this testimony is untrue.
All words of praise and glory to Allah, extolling His Perfect Attributes ofPower and Majesty, Beauty and Sublimeness, whether one utters them by tongue orsays them silently in one's heart, are known as zhikr or remembrance of Allah.He has commanded us to remember Him always and ever. The Qur'an says: O you whobelieve! Celebrate the praises of Allah, and do so often; and glorify Himmorning and evening. Qur'an 33.41
If anyone remembers Allah, He remembers that person: "Remember me, Ishall remember you." Qur'an 2.152 In a hadith qudsi, the Prophet, peace beupon him, narrated: "Allah says: 'I am to my servant as he expects of Me,I am with him when he remembers Me. If he remembers Me in his heart, I rememberhim to Myself, and if he remembers me in an assembly, I mention him in anassembly better than his, and if he draws nearer to Me a hand's span, I drawnearer to him an arm's length, and if he draws nearer to Me an arm's length, Idraw nearer to him a fathom length, and if he comes to me walking, I rush tohim at [great] speed. (Bukhari and Muslim)
Allah has bestowed a special distinction upon those who remember Him. TheProphet, peace be upon him, said, "The devotees have surpassed all."They asked, "Who are these exceptional people (Mufarridun), O Prophet ofAllah?" He replied, "Those men and women who remember Allahunceasingly." (Muslim) These are the people who are really alive. Abu Musareported, "The likeness of the one who remembers his Lord and the one whodoes not remember Him is like that of a living to a dead person.'' (Bukhari)
Remembrance of Allah is the foundation of good deeds. Whoever succeeds in itis blessed with the close friendship of Allah. That is why the Prophet, peacebe upon him, used to make remembrance of Allah at all times. When a mancomplained, "The laws of Islam are too heavy for me, so tell me somethingthat I can easily follow," the Prophet, peace be upon him, told him,"Let your tongue be always busy with the remembrance of Allah." TheProphet, peace be upon him, would often tell his Companions, "Shall I tellyou about the best of deeds, the most pure in the sight of your Lord, about theone that is of the highest order and is far better for you than spending goldand silver, even better for you than meeting your enemies in the battlefieldwhere you strike at their necks and they at yours?" The Companionsreplied, "Yes, O Messenger of Allah!" The Prophet, peace be upon him,said, "Remembrance of Allah.'' (Reported by Tirmizhi, Ahmad, and Al-Hakim,who considers its chain of narrators sound)
Remembrance of Allah is also a means of deliverance from Hell Fire. Mu'azhreported, "The Prophet, peace be upon him, said, 'No other act of man is amore effective means for his deliverance from the chastisement of Allah thanthe remembrance of Allah.'' (Ahmad) Ahmad reports that the Prophet, peace beupon him, said, "Whatever you say in celebration of Allah's Glory,Majesty, and Oneness, and all your words of Praise for Him gather around theThrone of Allah. These words resound like the buzzing of bees, and callattention to the person who uttered them to Allah. Don't you wish to havesomeone there in the presence of Allah who would call attention to you?"