Fiqh-us-Sunnah, Volume 4: Contemplation of death and preparation for it by good deeds

Introduction to Fiqh-us-Sunnah

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Allah and His Messenger, peace be upon him, encourage us to contemplate death and be ready for it with good deeds. This is regarded as a sign of goodness. Ibn ' Umar reports: "I came to the Prophet, peace be upon him, and I was the tenth of the first ten people (who embraced Islam). A man from among the Ansar got up and said: "O Prophet of Allah, who is the most sagacious and the most prudent among the people?" He replied: "Those who are most aware of death and prepare themselves for it. They are the wisest of people and will have honor in this world and a generous reward in the Hereafter'." Ibn 'Umar also said that Allah's Messenger, peace be upon him, said: "You should remember the reality that brings an end to all worldly joys and pleasures, namely, death." (Both hadith are narrated by At-Tabarani with a sound chain of narrators)

Ibn Mas'ud narrated that the Messenger of Allah, peace be upon him, explained the following words of Allah, the Exalted: "The hearts of those whom Allah wills to guide, He opens to Islam." (Qur'an 6.125) This means, the Messenger explained, that, "When the light (of truth) enters the heart it expands and opens up." The Companions asked: "Is there any evidence of this (in the life of a Muslim)?" He replied: "Being ever mindful of the eternal life of the Hereafter, and remaining at guard in this life of delusion, and preparing oneself for death before it comes." This is reported by Ibn Jarir through different chains each of which strengthens the other.

Volume 4, Page 13a: It is not proper for a Person to Wish for Death

It is makruh or "disliked" to wish for one's death, or pray to Allah for it, due to poverty, distress, illness, or the like. The six canonical compilers of hadith narrate on the authority of Anas that the Prophet, peace be upon him, said: "Let no one among you wish for death due to any hardship that may befall him. But if one has no other choice, but to do so, one should say: "O Allah! Grant me life as long as life is good for me, and cause me to die when death is better for me."

The wisdom in the prohibition against wishing for death becomes obvious from a hadith narrated by Umm al-Fadl: "The Prophet, peace be upon him, went to see Al-'Abbas. He found him wishing for death. Thereupon the Prophet said: 'O Abbas! O Uncle of Allah's Messenger! Do not wish for death. If you do good and live long, your good deeds will multiply. Then that is better for you. If you are not good and your death is delayed, you may seek Allah's forgiveness. That is better for you. So do not wish for death'." (Narrated by Ahmad and Al-Hakim, who says it is sound according to Muslim's criteria)

It is permissible, however, to wish for death, and there is no harm in doing so, when one fears persecution that puts one's faith at risk, as is indicated by the following supplication of the Messenger of Allah, peace be upon him: Allahumma inni as'aluka fi'lal khairat wa tarkal munkarat wa hubbal masakin wa an taghfarali wa tarhamani wa izha aradata fitnatan fi qaumi fatawafani ghaira maftunin wa as'aluka hubbaka wa hubba man yuhibbuka wa hubba 'amalin yuqaribu ila hubbika "O Allah! I ask You for the means to do good, to avoid evil, and to love the poor, and I beseech You to forgive me and have mercy on me. When You subject my people to a trial, cause me to die without being affected by it. O Allah! I ask Your love, the love of those who love You, and the love of all such actions that bring one closer to Your Love."(Narrated by Tirmizhi who said it is a good and sound hadith)

'Umar used to pray in these words: Allahumma kabirat sinni wa da'ufat quwwati wa anshrat ra'i-atifaqbidni ilaika ghaira mudayi' wa la mufaratti "O Allah! I have grown old, I have become weak, and my flock has spread far and wide. Therefore, O Allah, take me to You before I fall short of doing my duties or transgress my limits." This is reported by Malik.

Volume 4, Page 14: Excellence of a Long Life Enriched with Good Deeds

It is reported by Abdurrahman ibn Abu Bakrah on the authority of his father that a man asked: "O Messenger of Allah ! Who is the best of all people?" He replied, "He who lives long and does good deeds." The man asked, "And who is the worst of men?" The Prophet, peace be upon him, replied: "He who lives long but commits evil." (Narrated by Ahmad and at-Tirrnizhi, who says it is a sound hadith) Abu Hurairah reported that the Prophet, peace be upon him, said, "Shall I tell you who is the best among you?" The Companions said, "Yes, O Allah's Messenger." Thereupon he said, "The best among you are those who live long and are best in deeds." (Narrated by Ahmad and others with a sound chain)

Volume 4, Page 15: Good Deeds Prior to Death: An Indication of a Good End

Anas reported that the Prophet, peace be upon him, said: "When Allah intends good for a servant of His, He uses him for good." They asked: "How does Allah use him?" The Prophet, peace be upon him, replied: "He enables him to do good deeds and makes it easy for him before his death and then causes him to die while he is in that state of goodness." (Ahmad, Tirrnizhi, Al-Hakim, and Ibn Hibban)

Volume 4, Page 15a: Desirability of Having a Good Opinion about Allah

The patient should remember the boundless mercy of Allah and have a good opinion about his Sustainer. Jabir reported: "I heard the Messenger of Allah, peace be upon him, saying, three nights before his death, 'Let none of you die unless he has a good opinion of Allah'." (Muslim) This hadith encourages the triumph of hope and expectation of forgiveness when one meets Allah, the Exalted. One should be in the state most loved by Allah, since He is the most Gracious, the most Merciful, the most Beneficent, and the most Generous. He loves to forgive those with hope. In the words of a hadith: "Everyone will be raised on the Resurrection Day in the condition in which he died."

It is reported by Anas that "the Prophet, peace be upon him, went to see a young man who was on his deathbed. The Prophet, peace be upon him, asked him: 'How are you?' The young man said: 'I hope for Allah's pardon, but I am fearful because of my sins. ' The Prophet, peace be upon him, said: 'These two things never gather in the heart of a person at such a time without Allah granting him what he hopes for and sheltering him from what he dreads'." (Ibn Majah and Tirmizhi)

Volume 4, Page 15b: Desirability of Supplications and Remembrance of Allah for Those Visiting Someone on his Deathbed

It is desirable that righteous people visit patients on their deathbeds and remember Allah.

Umm Salamah reported: "Allah's Messenger, peace be upon him, said, 'When you visit someone who is ill or is dying, say good things about him. Indeed, the angels (present there) say "amen" to whatever you utter'." She added:"When Abu Salamah passed away, I went to the Prophet, peace be upon him, and said, 'Oh Messenger of Allah! Indeed, Abu Salamah has died.' The Prophet said: 'Say: "O Allah! Forgive me and him. Give me in his place a better substitute".' So, I did so and Allah gave me someone better than he. He gave me Muhammad, peace be upon him." (Recorded by Ahmad, Muslim, and the five compilers of the sunan)

In another report she said: "The Messenger of Allah, peace be upon him, came to see Abu Salamah when his sight had become fixed (he had passed away). So the Prophet, peace be upon him, closed his eyes and said: 'When the soul is seized and it leaves the body, the sight follows it.' Some of Abu Salamah's family wept and wailed, whereupon the Prophet, peace be upon him, said: ' Supplicate to Allah only to seek good for yourselves, because the angels (who are present) say "amen" to whatever you utter.' Then he said: 'O Allah! Forgive Abu Salamah; raise his station among (Your) rightly guided servants; and take good care of his family that he has left behind. O Lord of the Worlds ! Forgive him and us, make his grave spacious, and put light therein for him." (Muslim)

Volume 4, Page 16: What Should be Done When Someone Dies

It is sunnah to do the following when a person dies:

-1- Advise the dying person to say: "La ilaha illa-Allah" (there is no god but Allah). It is narrated on the authority of Abu Sa'id al-Khudri that the Prophet, peace be upon him, said: "Prompt your dying people to say: 'La ilaha illa-Allah'." (Muslim, Abu Daw'ud, Tirmizhi) Another report on the authority of Mu'azh ibn Jabal states that the Messenger of Allah, peace be upon him, said: "He whose last words are 'La ilaha illa- Allah' shall enter Paradise." (Narrated by Abu Daw'ud; Al-Hakim considers it a sound hadith)

This prompting (talqin) is necessary only when the dying person is unable to utter the shahadah (La ilaha illa- Allah . . . ). If such a person is able to utter these words then there is no need for prompting, but he should rather be advised to do so. Such advice is useful in cases of persons who are in possession of their faculties of reason and speech. If one is already mentally impaired such advice cannot be of benefit. But one who is unable to speak might say these words in his heart. The scholars are of the opinion that no pressure should be put on the dying person. So one should not say to him, "Say, 'La ilaha ill-Allah'," lest he should become annoyed and utter something improper. One may say the shahadah, however, in such a way that the dying person might be able to hear it and repeat it. If he utters it once, he should not be asked to repeat it unless he says some words after it. In such a case he should be asked to repeat shahadah to ensure that it be his last utterance.

Most scholars are of the opinion that one attending a dying person may repeat only the words: "La ilaha ill-Allah," according to the apparent meaning of the hadith. Others are of the opinion that the dying person should be prompted to utter the two testimonies (that is, "I bear witness that there is no god but Allah, and I bear witness that Muhammad is His servant and Messenger"). The purpose is to remind him of the Oneness of Allah, which includes both of the two testimonies.

-2- Lay the dying person so that the qibla is on his right side. To this effect it is recorded that Abu Qatadah said: "Upon arrival in Madinah, the Prophet, peace be upon him, enquired about a person called al-Bara ibn Ma'rur. The people told the Prophet, peace be upon him, that he had died, and had willed one-third of his property to the Prophet, peace be upon him, and that his face be turned toward the Ka'bah at the time of his death. Hearing this, the Prophet, peace be upon him, said: 'He has been true to his innate nature. I return the one-third of his property to his children. ' Then the Prophet, peace be upon him, left and offered a prayer for him and prayed, saying: 'O Allah! Forgive him, have mercy on him, and cause him to enter Your Paradise. Indeed, You have accepted this prayer'." (Narrated by Al-Baihaqi and Al-Hakim, who observes: "I know of no hadith, other than this one, with regard to turning the face of a dying person toward Ka'bah.")

Ahmad reported that Fatimah, the daughter of the Prophet, peace be upon him, at the time of her death, turned toward the Ka'bah and placed her right hand under her head. This is the sleeping position recommended by the Prophet, peace be upon him, and in a grave, a dead body should also be placed in the same position. A report recorded from Ash-Shafi'i says: The body of the deceased should be laid flat on his back with his feet toward the Ka'bah, and his face raised a little, facing it. The majority of scholars, however favor the first position and hold it to be preferable.

-3- Recite Surah Ya Sin from the Qur'an. (Surah 36 of the Qur'an) This is reported by Ahmad, Abu Daw'ud, Nasa'i, Al-Hakim, and Ibn Hibban, and the last two of them grade it as a sound hadith. They report also on the authority of M'aqil ibn Yasar, that the Prophet, peace be upon him, said: "Ya Sin is the heart of the Qur'an. Whoever recites it seeking the pleasure of Allah and the hereafter will receive Allah's forgiveness. So recite it to your dead." (Ibn al-Qattan considers this hadith weak and manifests some confusion, doubt, and even ignorance about some of its narrators. Ad-Dar al-Qutni is reported to have said: "In the chain of narrators of this hadith there is confusion. Its text is obscure and is not correct.")

Ibn Hibban observes: This hadith refers to the recitation of Ya Sin for those on the eve of death and not for those already dead. This interpretation is supported by Ahmad, who recorded in his Al-Musnad that Safwan states: "The most eminent scholars say: 'The recitation of Surah Ya Sin at the time of a person's death makes death easy for him'. "The compiler of Musnad al-Firdaus attributes this hadith to Abu ad-Darda and Abu Zharr. They both narrated: "The Prophet, peace be upon him, said: 'If any person is on his deathbed and Ya Sin is recited to him, Allah makes his suffering easier'."

-4- Close the eyes of the deceased. It is narrated by Muslim that the Prophet, peace be upon him, went to visit Abu Salmah. He saw that his eyes were wide open and blank with the stare of death. So the Prophet, peace be upon him, closed his eyes and said: "Verily, when a soul is seized, the eyesight follows it."

-5- Cover the deceased: 'Aishah said: "When the Messenger of Allah died, he was covered with a piece of cloth that had some designs on it." This is reported by Bukhari and Muslim. The objective here is clearly to safeguard the respect and dignity of the deceased in death against prying eyes and against the exposure of his or her body to the idle curiosity of those looking for changes in its physical condition and features.

There is a consensus among scholars regarding the permissibility of kissing a dead person. The Prophet, peace be upon him, kissed 'Uthman ibn Maz'un after his death. Similarly, when the Prophet died, Abu Bakr leaned over him and kissed him between his eyes saying: "O my Prophet! O my best friend! !"

-6- Prepare the body for burial without delay, as soon as death is confirmed (by specialists i. e., a qualified physician or the like).

The guardian of the deceased should wash, wrap, and arrange for the burial of the body soon after the funeral prayer for the deceased, because the body might deteriorate if burial is delayed. This is based on a report, recorded by Abu Daw'ud from al-Husayn ibn Wujuh that when Talhah ibn al-Bara fell ill, the Prophet, peace upon him, said: "I see that Talhah is on the verge of death. Inform me about him (when he passes away) and make immediate preparations for his burial, for a Muslim's remains should not be left long with his family after his death."

The burial may be delayed only for the guardian, provided no physical deterioration in the condition of the body is feared from such delay. Ahmad and Tirmizhi report on the authority of Ali ibn Abu Talib that the Prophet, peace be upon him, said: "O Ali, never delay three things: prayer when its time approaches, the funeral when death is confirmed, and marrying a widow or a divorcee when a suitable match is found for her."

-7- Settle the debt of the deceased. Ahmad, Ibn Majah, and Tirmizhi have recorded a hadith on the authority of Abu Hurairah that the Messenger of Allah said: "A believer's soul remains in suspense until all his debts are paid off." Tirmizhi considers this a sound hadith.

This means that the judgement regarding a soul's salvation or perdition or its entry into Paradise is held in abeyance until its debts are fully paid off and settled. This applies to a person who leaves some property upon his death. His debt should be paid out of the property that he leaves behind. In the case of a person who dies in debt which he sincerely intended to pay, but has no property (nor leaves any behind to pay his debt), according to a confirmed report, his debt will be settled by Allah, the Exalted. Concerning a person who dies in debt with sufficient means to pay it and was willing to do so, but his heirs do not pay it, Bukhari records on the authority of Abu Hurayrah that the Prophet, peace be upon him, said: "If anyone takes other people's money with the intention to repay it and then he or she should die without settling the debt, Allah will pay the debt on his behalf. And if anyone takes money or property (of others) with the intention of destroying it, Allah will destroy him."

A hadith recorded by Ahmad, Abu Nu'aym, Al-Bazzar, and At-Tabarani from the Prophet, peace be upon him, says: "The debtor will be summoned before Allah on the Day of Judgement. Then Allah will ask him: 'O Son of Adam ! Why did you incur debt and infringe on others ' rights? ' The man would reply: 'My Lord! You know I took it, but I neither abused nor lost it. It was stolen or bumed in a fire or lost its value.' Allah, the Almighty and Exalted, will say: 'My slave has told the truth, and I am more entitled (than anyone else) to settle his debt. Then Allah will issue a command and something will be placed on his scales causing his good deeds to outweigh his bad ones. And so, by Allah's Grace, he will enter Paradise'."

The Prophet, peace be upon him, did not perform funeral prayers for those who had died in debt. When, however, Allah the Almighty, granted him certain lands as a result of conquests, and the community's wealth increased, he offered funeral prayer for them and settled their debts.

Bukhari reports that the Messenger of Allah, peace be upon him, said: "I am nearer to the believers than their own selves. So if someone dies leaving behind debt, but no wherewithal to settle it, we shall pay his debt, and if someone dies and leaves some estate behind him, it is for his heirs (to pay his debt)."

This hadith shows that the debt of a deceased Muslim may be paid from the public exchequer out of the zakah funds specified as the portion for the people in debt. This is one of the prescribed categories of zakah recipients. Death by itself does not annul one's debt or other responsibilities to the living.

Volume 4, Page 19: On invoking Allah upon witnessing Death

Saying: "Inna lillahi wa inna ilayhi raji'un" (We belong to Allah and truly to Him we shall Return)

A believer should, at the death of a relative or a friend, invoke Allah and say: "Verily we belong to Allah, and truly to Him shall we return." The following reports show that to do so is commendable.

Ahmad and Muslim reported from Umm Salmah that she said: "I heard the Prophet, peace be upon him, saying: "If a servant of Allah is afflicted with a misfortune and says: Inna lillahi wa inna ilayhi raji'un, Allahumma ajirni fi musibati wa akhlif li khairan minha 'Verily we belong to Allah and truly to Him shall we return. O Allah! Protect me in this calamity that has befallen me and replace it with something better,'

Allah will accept his prayer, grant him reward for his affliction, and replace it with something better." She added: "When Abu Salmah (her husband) died, I invoked Allah in the words taught to me by the Prophet, peace be upon him, and Allah did grant me someone better than he, i.e., (He gave me) the Messenger of Allah (as a husband)."

Tirmizhi reports from Abu Musa al-Ash'ari that the Prophet, peace be upon him, said: "When a child of a servant of Allah passes away, Allah says to the angels: 'Did you take the soul of My servant's child?' They say: 'Yes.' He, the Almighty, says: 'Did you take away the apple of my servant's eye?' They say: 'Yes.' He, the Almighty says: 'What did My servant say at this?' They say: 'He praised You and said: "Inna lillahi wa inna ilayhi raji'a un (Verily we belong to Allah and to Him shall we return)." At this Allah says: ' Build for My servant a mansion in Paradise and call it the House of Praise (bayt al-hamd)'." Tirmizhi says this is a sound hadith.

Bukhari has reported from Abu Hurairah that the Prophet, peace be upon him, said: "Allah, the Exalted and Glorious says: 'I have no better reward than Paradise for a believing servant of Mine who is patient and resigned when I take away one of his beloved, one among those he most cherishes in the world."

"Those who say, when afflicted with calamity, 'To Allah we belong, and to Him is our return,' are those on whom descend blessings from Allah, and mercy, and they are the ones who receive guidance." 55 Commenting on these verses of the Qur'an, Ibn Abbas said: "Allah, the Almighty and the Exalted, informs us that when a believer is patient and resigned after a misfortune visits him and invokes Allah, Allah will grant him three (good) merits: blessings, mercy, and guidance to the right path."

Volume 4, Page 20: Informing the Deceased's Family and Friends

The scholars consider it desirable that the deceased's family, friends, and other good people be informed about his death, so that they may share in the reward of participating in his funeral. It is reported in Sihah Sittah on the authority of Abu Hurairah that the Prophet, peace be upon him, informed his companions about the death of Negus (Najashi), the King of Abyssinia, the day that he passed away. And then the Prophet, peace be upon him, led them to the prayer ground where he lined them up and offered funeral prayer (for him) with four takbirs.

Ahmad and Bukhari narrate from Anas that the Prophet, peace be upon him, informed the people about the death of his companions, Zaid, J'afar, and Ibn Rawahah, commanders of the Muslim army in the Battle of Mu' tah, before they received any news from the battlefield. Tirmizhi observes that there is no harm in informing the family and close relations of the deceased person about his death. Al-Baihaqi says he was told that Malik ibn Anas disliked announcing someone's death at the gates of the mosque, but found nothing wrong with going around inside the mosque to the various groups of students there and informing them of someone's death.

A report, recorded by Ahmad and Tirmizhi on the authority of Huzhaifah, says that Huzhaifah said: "When I pass away, let no one vex me, for I am afraid (my death will be announced) and it may be regarded (as an invitation to) mourning. And I heard that the Prophet, peace be upon him, forbade announcing the death of a person as an invitation to mourning. This refers to a practice of the pre-Islamic period. In those days when a noble died they would send a horseman to various tribes to inform them about his death saying: 'The people are devastated on account of the death of so and so.' Such an announcement was (always) accompanied by crying and weeping."

Volume 4, Page 21: Weeping Over the Dead

Muslim scholars are agreed that weeping for the dead is permissible, whereas crying and wailing are not. It is reported in a sound hadith that the Prophet, peace be upon him, said: "Allah does not punish a person for shedding tears or feeling pain in his heart. But He does punish, though he may show mercy, because of (what he utters with) this," and then he pointed to his tongue.

The Prophet, peace be upon him, wept on the death of his son, Ibrahim, and said: "The eyes shed tears and the heart feels pain, but we utter only what pleases our Lord. O Ibrahim! We are aggrieved at your demise." He also wept when his grand daughter, Umaymah, daughter of Zainab, died. At this Sa'ad ibn 'Ubadah said: "O Messenger of Allah! Are you weeping? Did you not forbid Zainab from weeping?" The Prophet, peace be upon him, replied: "This (weeping) is the mercy that Allah has placed in the hearts of His servants. And surely Allah bestows mercy upon those who are merciful among His servants." A report is transmitted by At-Tabarani on the authority of Abdullah ibn Zaid to the effect that weeping without wailing is permitted.

Weeping aloud and wailing cause pain and suffering to the dead person. It is reported from Ibn 'Umar that when 'Umar was stabbed and he became unconscious the people around him began crying loudly. When he regained consciousness he said to them: "Don't you know that the Messenger of Allah said: 'A dead person is tormented by the wailing of the living'."

Abu Musa reports that when 'Umar was wounded Suhaib cried: "O my dear brother!" At this 'Umar said: "O Suhaib! Don't you know that the Messenger of Allah said: 'A dead person is tormented by the wailing of the living people'."

Al-Mughirah ibn Sh'ubah reports that he heard the Prophet, peace be upon him, saying: "The one who is wailed for is tortured on account of it." The above hadith are reported by Bukhari and Muslim.

These hadith mean that a dead person feels pain and displeasure when his family wails over him, for he hears their wailing and their deeds are shown to him. This does not mean that the dead are actually punished and tormented because of the wailing of their families for them, because the Qur'an says that a person is not accountable for the actions of others.

Ibn Jarir reported from Abu Hurairah that he said: "Your deeds are shown to your dead relatives. So if these are good, they are pleased, and if these are bad, they despise them."

Ahmad and Tirmizhi reported on the authority of Anas that the Prophet, peace be upon him, said: "Your deeds are shown to your dead relatives and kinsfolk. So if these are good they are pleased, and if these are bad they say: 'O Allah! Let them not die until You have guided them to the right path as You guided us before'."

An-N'uman ibn Bashir reports: "Abdullah ibn Rawahah fainted and his sister, 'Amrah, started wailing: 'O my monumental loss!' 'O, my this and that!' When he regained consciousness, he said to her: 'Every time you said something (about me) i was asked, "Are you really what she said?"'." This is narrated by Bukhari.

Volume 4, Page 22: Wailing over the Dead

Wailing refers to mourning in a loud voice and crying in a high pitch, which was prohibited by the Prophet, peace be upon him, . Abu Malik alAsh'ari reported that the Prophet, peace be upon him, said: "Four practices of the pre-Islamic days of Ignorance will continue to be practiced by my ummah: taking pride in one's parentage, giving a person a father other than his own genealogical father, believing that rain is caused by some stars, and wailing over the dead." He further said: "A (professional) mourner, unless she repents before her death, will be raised on the Day of Judgement wearing a garment of tar and an armor of blistering puss." This is narrated by Ahmad and Muslim.

Umm 'Atiyyah reports: "The Messenger of Allah made us pledge that we will not wail over (the dead)" (Bukhari and Muslim). Al-Bazzar has transmitted, through a sound chain of authorities the report that the Prophet, peace be upon him, said: "Two sounds are accursed in this world and in the hereafter: the sound of wind instruments (to celebrate) good fortune, and of moaning aloud when afflicted with a misfortune."

Abu Musa is reported to have said: 'I declare my disavowal of all that Allah's Messenger disavowed. The Messenger of Allah disavowed publically a woman who mourns loudly, one who shaves her head, and one who tears her clothes in mourning" (Bukhari and Muslim).

Ahmad narrates from Anas that he said: "The Prophet, peace be upon him, made the women pledge, while giving their allegiance to him, not to mourn loudly for the dead. Thereupon they asked him, 'O Messenger of Allah, some women helped us (in mourning our dead) during the pre-Islamic days. Should we (also in return) help them (in mourning their dead) now that we are Muslims? ' He replied: 'There is no such thing in Islam (i. e., helping each other to mourn the dead loudly)'."

Volume 4, Page 23: Mourning for a Deceased

It is permissible for a woman to mourn for a period of three days on the death of a near relative, provided that her husband does not object to her doing so. It is not permissible for her to mourn for more than three days, except in the case of her husband's death, when she is to mourn for four months and ten days, which is a legally prescribed period of waiting or "iddah". This is reported by the group, (The compilers of the six most reliable hadith books generally known as Sihah Sitta) except Tirmizhi. They report from Umm 'Atiyyah, that the Messenger of Allah said: "A woman should not mourn for any deceased person for more than three days, except in the case of her husband's death, which she may mourn for a period of four months and ten days. Such a woman (in mourning) is not to wear any (brightly) colored dress. She may wear only plain dress. During this period she should not use any adornment or eye makeup, nor wear any perfume, nor dye her hands and feet with henna, nor comb her hair, except at the end of her menstruation period, when she may use some cleaning or refreshing agents (such as perfume, etc. ) to get rid of any offensive smell left over from her period." Accordingly, when a widow mourns, she must not use any adornment, such as jewelry, kohl, 58 silk, perfume, or henna dye on her hands and feet. A widow must observe this waiting period in deference to her late husband's memory and to fulfill her obligations toward him.

Volume 4, Page 23a: Preparing Food for the Bereaved Family is Encouraged

Abdullah ibn Ja'far reported that the Messenger of Allah, peace be upon him, said: "Prepare some food for the family of Ja'far, for what has befallen them is keeping them preoccupied." This is narrated by Abu Daw'ud, Ibn Majah and Tirmizhi, who grades it as a sound hadith.

The Prophet, peace be upon him, recommended this practice for it is an act of virtue and kindness and brings friends and neighbors closer to each other.

Ash-Shafi'i said: "It is recommended that the relatives of the deceased prepare enough food to feed all the deceased's family for one day and night, for it is the sunnah of the Prophet, peace be upon him, and a practice of good people."

The scholars hold it commendable to urge the deceased's family to eat so that their sorrow or excessive grief will not cause them to avoid food and thereby become weak. These scholars also hold that to offer food to the women while they are mourning loudly is not permissible, for it would be helping them in something sinful.

All the schools of Islamic law disapprove of the deceased's family preparing food for the people coming to pay their condolences, for it adds to their grief and further encumbers them unnecessarily. Such a practice would also resemble the custom of the Arabs before Islam. Referring to this practice, Jarir says: "(In those days) we considered it a part of mourning to assemble at the deceased's house and prepare food after burial for those gathered there." Some scholars consider this to be absolutely forbidden (haram).

Ibn Qudamah observes: 'It is permissible, however, when there is genuine need for it, since sometimes people attending the funeral may be from distant places, and they have to stay with the family of the deceased, in which case the family has to host such guests.

Volume 4, Page 24: Preparing the Kafan (Shroud) and Grave Before Death

Bukhari deals with this subject in a chapter entitled: "Those Who Prepared the Kafan in the Prophet's Days without him objecting to it. Reporting on the authority of Sahl, Bukhari says: "A woman came to the Prophet, peace be upon him, with a woven piece of cloth that had two seams on its edges. She said: 'I wove it with my own hands in order to wear it. ' The Prophet, peace be upon him, took it because he needed it. He wrapped it around his waist so that it covered the lower half of his body, and he came toward us. A man praised it, saying: 'This is a very nice cloth! Why don't you give it to me to wear?' Some of the people present there reproached the man for they knew that the Prophet needed that cloth and that he never denied anyone's request. The man replied: 'By Allah, I asked him for it not to wear it, but to save it and use it as my kafan'." Sahl continues: "And (later when he died) that same piece of cloth was used as his kafan."

Commenting on the above chapter of Bukhari, Al-Hafiz ibn Hajar says: "Bukhari phrased it so as to show that though (initially) the companions disliked the man's request for the cloth from the Prophet, they did not disapprove of it when he explained to them the reason for his request. This proves that it is permissible for a person to arrange during his lifetime for the things he will need after his death, such as a kafan or a grave." He cites Ibn Battal who said it is permissible to arrange for something before it is actually needed. Furthermore Al-Hafiz observes: "Some righteous people did indeed have their graves dug and prepared for them during their lifetime." Al-Zain ibn al-Munir criticized him, saying that the companions of the Prophet, peace be upon him, did not do so, and that if doing so (preparing one's grave during one's lifetime) were desirable most of them would have done so.

Commenting on this Al-'Aini says: "The fact that it was not done by the companions of the Prophet does not imply that doing so is not permissible, for if an act is deemed good by Muslims, then it is also good in the sight of Allah, especially when it is practiced by some of the most pious scholars."

Ahmad said: "There is nothing wrong if a person purchases a site for his burial and makes a will to the effect that he is to be buried there. 'Uthman, 'Aishah, and 'Umar ibn Abd al-'Aziz, all did so."

Volume 4, Page 25: The Desire to Die in the Haramain (Sacred precincts around the Ka'aba in Makkah and the Mosque of the Prophet in Madinah)

The desire to die in either of the sanctuaries in Makkah and Madinah is commendable. Bukhari has reported on the authority of Hafsah that 'Umar said: "O Allah ! Grant me martyrdom in Your cause, and cause me to die in the city of Your Prophet, peace be upon him." Thereupon Hafsa asked him: "Why do you pray for such a thing?" He said: "Allah willing, I shall get what I have prayed for."

At-Tabarani reported on the authority of Jabir that the Prophet, peace be upon him, said: "He who dies in one of the two sanctuaries will be raised in peace on the Day of Resurrection." Among the narrators of this hadith are Musa ibn Abdul al-Rahman, who is mentioned as trustworthy by Ibn Hibban and Abdullah ibn al-Mu'amil. Ahmad regards the hadith as weak, while Ibn Hibban considers it sound.

Volume 4, Page 25a: Sudden Death

Abu Daw'ud reported from 'Ubaid ibn Khalid al-Sullami, a companion of the Prophet, peace be upon him, that once he narrated from ' Ubaid and another time from the Prophet himself, peace be upon him, saying: "Being caught unawares by a sudden death is a grievous misfortune." This hadith has been reported by Abdullah ibn Mas'ud, Anas ibn Malik, Abu Hurairah and 'Aishah, but all these narrations are weak for one or another reason. Al-Azdi says: This hadith has been reported through diverse chains of narrators, but none are reported on sound authority from the Prophet, peace be upon him.

Volume 4, Page 25b: The Reward of a Person Losing a Child

Bukhari reported from Anas that the Prophet, peace be upon him, said: "A Muslim who loses three of his children before they come of age will be brought to Paradise by Allah as a mercy to him for losing them."

Bukhari and Muslim reported from Abu Sa'id al-Khudri that he said: "Some women asked the Prophet, peace be upon him: 'Appoint a (separate) day to (admonish) us.' The Prophet, peace be upon him, told them: 'If a (Muslim) woman's three children die, they will be a protection for her from Hell.' A woman asked him, 'And what if two of her children die?' He replied: 'And (even) if two of her children die'."

Volume 4, Page 26: The Life-Span of Muslims

Tirmizhi reported from Abu Hurairah that the Prophet, peace be upon him, said: "The life-span of those in my ummah is 60 to 70 years. And a very few of them will exceed this span."

Volume 4, Page 26a: Death: A Form of Rest

Bukhari and Muslim reported from Abu Qatadah that once, when the Prophet passed by a funeral, he said: "He is (now) in peace secure from others and others are in peace secure from him." The people asked: "O Allah's Messenger! Who is in peace and from whom are others in peace?" He said: "A believing servant (of Allah) is relieved from afflictions of this world upon his death, while upon the death of a wicked person, other people, land, trees, and animals are rid of his evil."

Volume 4, Page 26b: Preparation for the Burial of the Dead

The body of the deceased person must be prepared for burial, washed, and shrouded, and a funeral prayer must be offered for him. Then he should be buried.

Volume 4, Page 26c: Washing the Dead

The majority of jurists are of the opinion that washing the body of a dead Muslim is a fard kifayah or a collective obligation. If some people attend to it, it is done on behalf of all, as commanded by Allah's Messenger, peace be upon him, and practiced by the Muslim community.

Volume 4, Page 26d: Who is to be Washed and Who is Not

The body of a deceased Muslim, other than one killed in a battlefield by the infidels, should be washed.

Volume 4, Page 26e: Washing Severed Parts of a Body

There is a difference of opinion among Muslim jurists concerning washing parts severed from a body. According to Ash-Shafi'i, Ahmad and Ibn Hazm these parts must be washed and shrouded, and funeral prayer should be offered for the departed soul.

Ash-Shafi'i said: "We were informed that a bird dropped a (human) hand in Makkah after the Battle of the Camel. The people identified it by a ring on one of its fingers (It was the hand of Abdul al-Rahman ibn 'Itab ibn Usayd (probably killed in the battle). It was washed and a (funeral) prayer was offered on it. This was witnessed by many Companions alive at the time.

Ahmad said: Abu Ayub offered funeral prayer on a (severed) foot of a dead person, while 'Umar offered prayer on a dead man's bones.

Ibn Hazm said: "A funeral prayer may be offered on any organ found from a dead Muslim's body. It should be washed and shrouded, except when it is part of a martyr' s body." Ibn Hazm further remarks that offering prayer on any organ found from a Muslim's body is analogous to praying for the whole person of the deceased, namely, for body and soul.

Abu Hanifah and Malik say, however, that, "If more than half of a Muslim 's body is found, then it should be washed and funeral prayer be offered on it, but otherwise it should not be washed nor should any funeral prayer be offered on it.

Volume 4, Page 27: A Martyr does not need to be Washed

The body of a martyr, that is, a Muslim killed in a battle at the hands of disbelievers, may not be washed even though it is in a state of major ritual impurity. His body should be enshrouded in the clothes he wore when he died if they are good enough for the purpose. Otherwise some additional cloth may be used to enshroud his body according to the sunnah. The body of such a person should be buried in its blood-stained state. None of his blood should be washed off.

Ahmad reported: "The Prophet, peace be upon him, said: "Do not wash those who die as martyrs, for their every wound or drop of blood will exude a fragrance like musk on the Day of Judgement." The Prophet, peace be upon him, ordered the martyrs of the Battle of Uhud to be buried in their bloodstained clothes. They were not washed, nor any funeral prayer offered for them.

Ash-Shafi'i said: "Burying the martyrs without washing or offering funeral prayer on them may be explained by the fact that they shall meet Allah with their wounds exuding fragrance like musk. The honor bestowed on them by Allah frees them from the need for funeral prayers by others. Moreover it makes things easier for the surviving Muslims, who may have received injuries in battle and fear the enemy's attack, and may be concerned about the security of their families and their families' worries about them.

Abdullah ibn Ja'far reported that the Messenger of Allah, peace be upon him, said: "Prepare some food for the family of Ja'far, for what has befallen them is keeping them preoccupied." This is narrated by Abu Daw'ud, Ibn Majah and Tirmizhi, who grades it as a sound hadith.

It is said that the wisdom behind not offering a funeral prayer on a martyr is that it is offered for a dead person, whereas a martyr is not dead but alive. Another reason may be that since prayer is a kind of intercession, the martyrs do not need it. In fact they will intercede for others.

Volume 4, Page 28: The Martyrs whose Bodies must be Washed and for whom Funeral Prayer must be Performed

Those who are not killed in a battle by disbelievers, though they may be regarded as martyrs in Islamic law, should be washed and funeral prayer said for them.

The bodies of such martyrs, during the Prophet's time, were washed. Later on Muslims, during the days of 'Umar, 'Uthman, and 'Ali, continued this practice (washing the bodies of such martyrs). We give below details about these martyrs.

Jabir ibn 'Utaik reported that Allah's Messenger said: "There are seven kinds of martyrs besides those killed in the cause of Allah:

-1- a person who is killed in an epidemic,

-2- a person who is drowned,

-3- a person who has bed sores that cause fever and a bad cough resulting in his death,

-4- a person who dies of a stomach disease,

-5- a person who dies in a fire,

-6- a person who dies under falling debris (in a disaster), and

-7- a woman who dies during childbirth." Ahmad, Abu Daw'ud and Nasa'i report this hadith based on sound authority.

Abu Hurairah reported that Allah's Messenger, peace be upon him, asked: "Who do you consider to be a martyr?" They said: "O Allah's Prophet, he who is killed fighting for the cause of Allah." The Prophet, peace be upon him, said: "(If this is so) then very few in my community will be martyrs! " They asked: "Who else are they, O Allah's Messenger?" He said: "He who is killed fighting for Allah's cause is a martyr, he who dies in the cause of Allah is a martyr, he who dies in an epidemic is a martyr, he who dies from a stomach disease is a martyr, and the one who dies of drowning is (also) a martyr." This hadith is narrated by Muslim.

Sa'id ibn Zaid reported that the Prophet, peace be upon him, said: "He who is killed while guarding his property is a martyr, he who is killed while defending himself is a martyr, and he who is killed defending his religion is a martyr, and he who dies protecting his family is (also) a martyr." This hadith is narrated by Ahmad and Tirmizhi. The latter considers it a sound hadith.

Volume 4, Page 28a: A Disbeliever is not to be Washed

It is not necessary for a Muslim to wash a disbeliever's body. Some scholars, however, consider it permissible. According to the Maliki and Hanbali schools, a Muslim may not wash a disbeliever' s body even if he is one of his near of kin. Similarly a Muslim is not permitted to shroud him or bury him unless it is feared that the body would decompose because of weather conditions, or that it would attract predatory beasts, etc. In such a case, he may be buried in a hole and covered with dust. This opinion is based on a tradition transmitted by Ahmad, Abu Daw'ud, Nasa'i and Al-Baihaqi on the authority of Ali who said: "I said to Allah's Messenger 'Your uncle, the old misguided man, has passed away. ' The Prophet, peace be upon him, said: 'Go and bury your father and do not do anything else until you return to me'." ' Ali said: "I did as he had told me and went back to him. The Prophet, peace be upon him, ordered me to take a bath, and then he prayed for me."

Ibn al-Munzhir says there is nothing specific reported from the Prophet, peace be upon him, about the procedure of washing the dead body.

Volume 4, Page 29: Washing a Dead Body

The entire body must be washed with water, at least once, regardless of whether the deceased is a male and needed a ritual bath, or a female who was menstruating at the time (of her death). It is recommended that the body be placed on an elevated surface i.e., a table or a board. It then should be stripped of clothes, but his 'awra (private parts) should be covered. (Ash-Shafi'i says that it is better to wash the body of the deceased wearing a shirt, if it is thin enough to let water reach the body. The Prophet, peace be upon him, was washed this way, but it was done only in his case. The common practice has been to cover the 'awra and wash the body) At the washing, only people whose presence is needed may stay.

The washer, male or female, must be a trustworthy and pious person who will not broadcast what he or she might see except what is good.

Ibn Majah reports that the Prophet, peace be upon him, said: "Trustworthy persons should wash your dead." A washer must utter his or her intention to wash the body of a specific person. Then he should begin by lightly pressing the stomach of the deceased so as to expel, if possible, any remnants from it, and then wash the body of all impurities. The washer should use a wash cloth or wrap his or her hand with it, because touching the private parts of the dead is haram (forbidden). Then he or she should wash the deceased as in wudu (ablution) for the salah (obligatory prayers). The Prophet, peace be upon him, is reported to have said: "Begin washing the dead by washing organs on the right, and those parts that are washed in ablution." This is in order to crystalize the mark of the believer's parts of the body always washed during wudu that will shine forth brightly on the Day of Judgement. Then beginning from its right side, the body should be washed with soap and water, three times. If soap is not available, then washing with ordinary water will suffice. If the washer feels that three washes are not enough to cleanse the body properly, then he may wash it five or seven times. According to a sahih hadith, the Prophet, peace be upon him, said: "Wash the dead body an odd number of times, that is, three, five, or seven, or more if you feel it is necessary." (Ibn Abd al-Barr observes: "I know about no one who recommended more than seven washes." Ahmad and Ibn al-Munzhir disliked to exceed beyond seven)

Ibn al-Munzhir said: "The Prophet instructed the female washers to wash the dead body more than seven times in case they felt it was necessary to do so, but it must be an odd number of times. If the deceased is a female, then her hair should be loosened, washed, redone, and placed behind her back. According to a hadith narrated by Umm 'Atiyyah the hair of the Prophet's daughter was done in three plaits. I asked: 'Did they loosen her hair and then redo them in three braids?' She said: 'Yes'." Muslim reports this in these words: "We braided her hair in three braids, on both sides and in front (of her)." In his Sahih, Ibn Hibban says: "They did so in compliance with the order of the Prophet: 'Do her hair in three plaits'."

After having washed the body, it should be dried with a clean cloth lest the shroud should get wet. Then some perfume should be applied to it. The Prophet, peace be upon him, said: "When you apply perfume (to the dead), apply it an odd number of times after washing it." This is reported by AlBaihaqi, Al-Hakim and Ibn Hibban, of whom the last two consider it a sound hadith.

Abu Wa'il said: "Ali had some musk, and he requested that it be applied to his body upon his death. This was of what was left from the perfume used on the body of the Prophet upon his death."

The majority of scholars are of the opinion that clipping a deceased's finger nails, trimming his mustache, shaving the hair under his arms or from his private parts is makruh (disliked). Ibn Hazm, however, considers it permissible.

The scholars are agreed that the body of the deceased be rewashed if the stomach excrete something (i.e., urine or stool) after it had been washed and prior to being shrouded. They differ, however, whether in such a case the entire body should be rewashed. Some hold that the body must be washed again in such a case. Others are of the opinion that there is no need to wash the whole body again, while still others hold that at least wudu (ablution) must be repeated in such a case. Some others hold that in such a case the entire washing must be repeated.

The opinions of most scholars concerning washing of the dead are based on the hadith transmitted by the group on the authority of Umm 'Atiyyah who said: "The Prophet came to our house when his daughter died, and said: 'Wash her three times, five times, or more than that if you consider it necessary, with water and sidr (lotus tree leaves), and after the last wash apply some camphor to the body, and inform me after you have done so.' So when we finished washing we informed him. He gave us a cloth that he wore around his waist, and told us to wrap her in it as a first sheet of shroud."

The reason for using camphor, as mentioned by some scholars, is its pleasant smell, since burial is a time when angels are present. Besides, it is cool and has a soothing effect, especially when the body stiffens, and helps keep various insects away from the body, thus preventing its early decomposition. In case camphor is not available, any other substance that has these or some of these properties may be used instead.

Volume 4, Page 30: Cleaning the Body by Tayammum When Water is Unavailable

If there is no water to wash the dead body, then it may be cleaned with tayammum (ablution with dust), for Allah says in the Qur'an: "If you do not find water, then perform tayammum (ablution with dust)." And the Prophet said: "The entire earth has been made pure and a mosque for me." Similarly if it is feared that the body might deteriorate if it is washed, then it may be given a tayammum.

The same applies to a woman who passes away when there is no other woman around to wash her, or if a man dies and there are only women but no man to wash him. Abu Daw'ud in his collection of Marasil, and Al-Baihaqi on the authority of Makhul, report that the Prophet, peace be upon him, said: "If a woman dies while she is with men and there is no other woman with them, or if a man dies while with woman, and there is no other man there, then the body of the dead person may be given a tayammum instead of washing it and then it should be buried. They both will be regarded as ones who died when there was no water available to wash (and purify)."

The body of a woman shall be given tayammum by one of her mahrim consanguine relatives with his hand. If there is no consanguine relative present, then any other man can give her a tayammum by wrapping a piece of cloth around his hand. This is the opinion of Abu Hanifah and Ahmad. Malik and Ash-Shafi'i are of the view that "if a male relative of the deceased is available, then he should wash the body of the dead woman, for in matters of 'awrah ('Awrah (Arabic), those parts of a person's body which must be covered. A man must cover the front and back of his pubic region. There is disagreement about the navel, thighs, and knees. There is, however, no disagreement over what constitutes a woman's 'awrah. Her entire body is 'awrah and must be covered, except her hands and face) (nakedness of the private parts) and being alone with a woman, she is considered and treated in such a case as a male person for him.

In Al-Murawwa it is noted that Malik said: "I heard the scholars saying: 'If a woman dies and there is no other woman there to wash her, nor any male consanguine relative nor her husband who could undertake this responsibility, then she should be given a tayammum, wiping her face and hands with dry soil'." Malik said: "The same should be done in the case of a man who dies and there are only women around him." (Ibn Hazm holds that if a man dies while among women and there is no man around, or if a woman dies while among men with no other woman around, then the women may wash the body of the man and the men the body of the woman while covered in thick cloth. The water should be poured over the whole body without any physical contact. He is of the view that tayamm~m may not be given instead of a wash except when no water is available)

Volume 4, Page 31: One Spouse Washing the Other

The jurists are agreed on the permissibility of a wife washing the body of her dead husband. 'Aishah said: "Had I known then what I know now, I would not have allowed anyone, except his wives, to wash the body of the Prophet." This has been transmitted by Ahmad and Abu Daw'ud, and by al-Hakim, who considers it a sound hadith.

There is a difference of opinion, however, on the permissibility of the husband washing the body of his dead wife. The majority of scholars, nonetheless, consider it permissible, as is shown by a report, narrated by ad-Daraqutni and Al-Baihaqi, that Ali washed the body of Fatimah on her death. This is also supported by a hadith that the Prophet, peace be upon him, said to 'Aishah: "If you die before me, I will myself wash you and enshroud you." Ibn Majah records this hadith.

The Hanafi school holds that it is not permissible for a husband to wash his wife's dead body, and if there is no other woman available then he should give her tayammum. However, the above hadith prove the contrary of this view.

Volume 4, Page 32: A Woman Washing a Boy

Ibn al-Munzhir said: "All great scholars are agreed that a woman may wash the body of a young boy."

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