Haram and bid’ah (innovation) ways of conducting the funeral procession, burial, condolence and visiting graves and why these things are bid’ah or haram
Written by Asim Nazir
Student of Master in Islamic Studies
Islamic University Qatar
The beauty of Islam is that it covers every aspect of our life and Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) has explained us practically conducting every act even about death. As Imam Ibnul Qayyim quoted beautifully that “The sunnah of the Prophet (pbuh) regarding sick and dying people is the most perfect one…”. We have comprehensive Sunnah of Prophet (peace be upon him) on the issues of funeral procession, burial, condolence and visiting graves. But unfortunately many haram and bid’ah (innovations) practices have also been introduced in those acts as in many other religious practices.
In regards to the funeral procession, it is a sunnah to to be a part of the gathering and escort the deceased to this grave as mentioned in the hadith, Prophet (pbuh) said, “Whoever attends the funeral procession until he performs the funeral prayer for it will get a reward equal to on qirat and whoever accompanies it until burial will get a reward to two qirats” when he (pbuh) was asked, “what are two qirats?” He replied, “They are like two huge mountains (of reward) ”. But unfortunately we have added few innovations while performing this ritual. For instance, saying invocations and dhikar (invocations implying remembrance of and mentioning Allah)while carrying deceased. This practice has no evidences in sunnah but has become common practice in masses. Whereas it should opposite to this practice, while carrying deceased one should ponder upon his deeds and should remember his death. It was also noted that sometime women also follow funeral procession which is completely prohibited according to the hadith narrated by Umm Atiyyah (may Allah be pleased with her) who said, “We (women) were forbidden (by the Prophet) to follow funeral processions.”
Regarding about the burial, it is very common that graves are plastered, built above the ground and writing is engraved upon them, while these all acts are considered haram and innovations in religion. Jabir Ibn Abdullah narrated that “Allah’s messenger (pbuh) forbade that the graves should be plastered or be used as sitting places, or a building should be built over them”. It also has become very normal to build a mosque over grave which is completely forbidden in Islam, according to the Umm Salamah’s hadith in which the Prophet (phub) explained that those who build places of worship over graves are the most evil of creation in Allah’s sight. In another hadith Prophet (pbuh) also forbade the women to visit graves and cursed those who build mosques over graves, Prophet said, “May Allah curse the women who visit graves, the people who build mosques over them, and those who establish mosques and lamps therein” . Building tomb and cemented graves are also strictly forbidden according to aforesaid hadiths. The reason behind this prohibition is that such acts can lead to polytheism, as Prophet (pbuh) for same reason forbade to visit the graves at the beginning but later permission granted . People also place different kind of sacred things with the deceased in his grave, for example, some write quranic verses on the shroud or on the walls of the grave for blessings, and some bury sacred amulets or charms with the deceased. These practices are absolutely innovations and have no base in Islam. We neither find any support for these practices in the Quran nor in Sunnah, not even in Sahabas’s traditions.
Islam also stresses out to console the bereaved person and advise him to be patient. The innovations we have in regards to this matter that people do large gathering for condolences, food is prepared on large scale and Quran reciters are hired for recitation. Extravagance of money itself makes this occasion haram. As Jarir Ibn Abdullah said, “We (the companions) used to consider gathering with the family of the deceased and the preparation of food after his burial a kind of (prohibited) wailing.” Shaykhul-Islam Ibn Taymiyah also described this issue as a detestable act, he said, “Gathering people by the bereaved family, offering them food and reciting the Quran to grant him (the deceased) the reward of recitation, were never practiced in the time of the Salaf (early Muslim scholars). Such acts were deemed detestable by some groups of scholars because of many proofs.” We have also several innovations while visiting graves. Women are strictly prohibited visiting graves, as Prophet said, “May Allah curse women who visit the graves.” (see foot note 5). But in spite of this warning it is very common between women to visit graves on regular basis. People also recite Quran while standing next to grave which also has no evidence in Islam. However Prophet (pbuh) recommended asking forgiveness for the deceased, as he said, “Seek forgiveness for your brother and beg steadfastness for him, for he is being questioned now.” Prophet (pbuh) gave us permission to visit graves for only one purpose, to remind death and ponder upon your deeds, as according to the Tirmidhi’s narration [hadith no 1055 (3/370)] the Prophet (pbuh) said, “I forbade you to visit the graves, but you may visit them now, for it will remind you of the Hereafter.” Also people set out long journeys to visit graves or attend some Urs (annually religious ceremonies) of deceased scholars, whereas Prophet (pbuh) said, “Do not set out on a journey except for three Mosques…
These are all innovations which should be excluded from religion because they contradict with Prophet’s teachings. Islam has absolutely no place for these practices, people who follow these traditions as part of Sunnah or Islam they need to be educated in this field. It should be explained to them through authentic sources of Islam which are Quran, Sunnah and practices of Sahabas. They should be given dawah (preaching) in particular field so that original Sunah can be transferred to next generation.
Collected by Imam Bukhari in Saheeh Bukhari,
hadith no 1325 and also in Saheeh Muslim,
hadith no 945 mentioned in Dr Salih Al-Fawzan, A Summary of Islamic Jurisprudence,
vol 1, p 305.
Saheeh Bukhari, hadith no 313 [1/536] and Saheeh Muslim, hadith no 2164 [4/5] mentioned in Dr Salih Al-Fawzan, A Summary of Islamic Jurisprudence, vol 1, p 309
Saheeh Muslim, Hadith no 2242 [4/41] mentioned in Dr Salih Al-Fawzan, A Summary of Islamic Jurisprudence, vol 1, p 311
Dr. Abu Ameenah Bilal Philips, The Foundations of Islamic Studies101, IOU edition, p 26.
Masnad Ahmed¸hadith no 2030 [1/230], Sunan Abu Dawood, hadith no 3236 [3/362] Ibid
Narrated by Buraidah Ibn al-Husaib and collected by Muslim in Saheeh Muslim, English Trans, vol 2, p 463-4, hadith no 2131. Abu Dawood in Sunan Abu Dawood¸ English Trans, vol 2, p 919, hadith no 3229 mentioned in Dr Salih Al-Fawzan, A Summary of Islamic Jurisprudence, vol 1, p 313
Masnad Ahmed¸hadith no 6908 [2/270] and Ibn Majah Haidh no 1612 [2/275], Ibid
See “Majmu ul-Fatawa” 24/316, Ibid
Abu Dawood, Sunan Abu Dawood, 3221 [3/357] mentioned in Dr Salih Al-Fawzan, A Summary of Islamic Jurisprudence, vol 1, p 310
Collected by Bhukari in Saheeh Bukhari¸ hadith no 1189 [3/82], three mosques are, Baitul Haram, prophet’s mosque and Al-Aqsa mosque mentioned in Dr Salih Al-Fawzan, A Summary of Islamic Jurisprudence, vol 1, p 314