Salam alaikum brothers and sisters,
Today I will be completing the topic- Death in Islam and proper burial techniques. You can read the first part to the article here. Let us start with how a Muslim can benefit his dying brother.
What should a Muslim do when his brother is dying?
It is recommended/mustahabb a Muslim exhort the dying person to utter the Kalimah or word of faith so that his life will end with that and it will be the last words that he utters. This wasb enjoined by the prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him). Exhorting means teaching and explaining.
It was narrated that Abu Sa’eed al-Khudri (may Allaah be pleased with him) said: the Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: “Exhort your dying ones to say Laa ilaaha ill-Allaah.” Narrated by Muslim, 916.
It was also narrated that Mu’aadh ibn Jabal (may Allaah be pleased with him) said: I heard the Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) say: “If a person’s last words are Laa ilaaha ill-Allaah, Paradise will be guaranteed for him.” Narrated by Ahmad, 21529; Abu Dawood, 3116; classed as saheeh by al-Albaani in Irwa’ al-Ghaleel, 687
Another way a Muslim can help his dying brother is reciting surah Yaseen. Although the scholars differed on this, majority of scholars (including the Hanafis, Shaafa’is and Hanbalis) are of the view that it is mustahabb.
Shaykh Ibn ‘Uthaymeen (may Allaah have mercy on him) mentioned in Fataawa Ibn ‘Uthyameen (17/72).
Reciting Soorat Yaa Seen for one who is dying is Sunnah according to many scholars, because the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: “Recite Yaa Seen for your dying ones.” But some of the scholars spoke about this hadeeth and said that it is da’eef. According to those who classed it as saheeh, reciting this soorah is Sunnah, and according to those who classed it is da’eef it is not Sunnah. And Allaah knows best. End quote.
I guess that I should mention that when scholars differ, it is up to the individual Muslims to research both sides of the argument and decide on the side he is convinced is more correct. Otherwise, one can follow a safer opinion until the above can be done.
A Muslim should be buried early and with other Muslims- This is because of the hadeeth of Abu Hurayrah (may Allaah be pleased with him) which he attributed to the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him): ‘Hasten to bury the deceased, for if he was righteous, then you are taking him to something good, and if he was otherwise, then it is an evil of which you are relieving yourselves.” (Narrated by the two Shaykhs (al-Bukhaari and Muslim) – this version was narrated by Muslim, and the authors of the four Sunans. It was classed as saheeh by al-Tirmidhi, Ahmad and al-Bayhaqi from Abu Hurayrah).
They should bury him in the city or country where he died, and not move him elsewhere, because that would contradict the haste in burying that is enjoined in Islam. Hence when a brother of ‘Aa’ishah died in Wadi al-Habashah, and he was moved from the place where he had died, she said, “The only thing that upset me (or grieved me) was that I wished that he had been buried in the place where he died.” (Narrated by al-Bayhaqi with a saheeh isnaad).
It is obligatory to carry the deceased and follow the funeral. This is one of the rights that the dead Muslim has over the Muslims, which will bring great reward and virtue to the one who does it. The Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: “Whoever attends the funeral from the house (of the deceased) [according to one report: whoever follows the funeral of a Muslim out of faith and the hope of reward] until the funeral prayer is offered will have one qeeraat, and whoever attends the funeral until the deceased is buried will have two qeeraats.” He was asked, “O Messenger of Allaah, what are the two qeeraats?” He said, “Like two huge mountains.” (Narrated by al-Bukhaari, al-Janaa’iz, 1240).
The funeral prayer is fard kifaayah; if some people do it then the rest are absolved of responsibility, but if all of them fail to do it then all are guilty of sin.
Crying or weeping in a loud voice; following it with incense (bukhoor) etc.; reciting dhikr in a loud voice in front of the coffin as it is being carried, is bid’ah. Qays ibn ‘Abbaad said: “The companions of the Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) used to regard it as makrooh to raise the voice in front of the coffin” – and because it is an imitation of the Christians.
The Sunnah is to put the deceased into the grave from the end, then he should be turned onto his right side in the grave, with his face facing towards the qiblah. The one who puts him into the lahd (niche in the grave) should say, “Bismillaahi wa ‘ala sunnat Rasool-Allaahi or ‘ala millat Rasool-Allaahi (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) (In the name of Allaah and according to the Sunnah of the Messenger of Allaah or according to the religion of the Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him)).” Narrated by al-Tirmidhi, al-Janaa’iz 967; classed as saheeh by al-Albaani in Saheeh Sunan Abi Dawood, 836)
It is mustahabb for those who are at the grave to throw handfuls of earth, three handfuls scooped up in both hands, after the lahd has been sealed. To make the grave a little higher than the ground, approximately a handspan, and not to make it level with the ground, so that it may be distinguished as a grave and respected, and not subjected to disrespect. It should be made approximately a handspan higher than the ground, and there is nothing wrong with placing a marker such as a stone or something similar, so that others of his family may be buried near him later on. Water should be sprinkled on the grave so that the soil will settle and not fly around.
Prohibitions and innovations
No one should stand by the grave telling the deceased that he will be questioned soon etc., as is the custom among some people. Rather people should stand at the grave and pray for the deceased to be made steadfast and for forgiveness for him. Those who are present should be told to do this, because of the hadeeth of ‘Uthmaan ibn ‘Affaan (may Allaah be pleased with him), who said: “When the deceased had been buried, the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) would stand by (the grave) and say: ‘Pray for forgiveness for your brother and ask for him to be made steadfast, for even now is he being questioned.’” (narrated by Abu Dawood, al-Janaa’iz, 2804; classed as saheeh by al-Albaani in Saheeh Sunan Abi Dawood, 2758).
Women should not follow the funeral procession, because it was narrated that Umm ‘Atiyah said: “We were forbidden to follow the funeral processions, but not emphatically.” This was narrated by al-Bukhaari and Muslim. It should be noted that women are not forbidden to offer the janaazah prayer, whether it is offered in the mosque, in a house or in a prayer-place. Women used to offer the janaazah prayer with the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) in his mosque and after his lifetime.
It is prohibited to build on graves or to plaster them or to write anything on them, because Jaabir said: “The Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) forbade us to plaster graves with gypsum, to sit on them or to build anything over them.” (Narrated by Muslim, al-Janaa’iz, 1610. According to Abu Dawood, “He forbade us to plaster graves with gypsum, to write on them or to step on them.” (al-Janaa’iz, 3226. Classed as saheeh by al-Albaani in Saheeh Sunan Abi Dawood, 2763)
Reciting the Qur’an at the graveside is an innovation. Although it is proven that the prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) made duaa for the deceased at gravesides, there were no reports about him reciting the Qur’an for the dead or at the graves. This is because it was not practiced during the time of the prophet (peace and blessing of Allah be upon him). One of the duaa’s the prophet (peace and blessing be upon him) said at the graveside is : “Al-salaamu ‘alaykum ahl al-diyaar min al-mu’mineen wa’l-Muslimeen, wa inna in sha Allaah bikum laahiqoon, nas’al Allaaha lana wa lakum al-‘aafiyah (Peace be upon you, O people of the dwellings, believers and Muslims. If Allaah wills we will join you. We ask Allaah to grant us and you safety).”
One-minute silence for the deceased and preaching at the graveside are both innovations. There were no reports that the prophet (peace and blessing be upon him) did such. Shaykh Muhammad ibn Saalih al-‘Uthaymeen, may Allaah preserve him mentioned (on preaching at the grave ):
"I think that this is an innovated bid’ah. No preacher can claim that he loves to preach to people more than the Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) did. It is not reported anywhere that the Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) used to stand up to address the people with a khutbah in the graveyard. All that is mentioned is that one day he came to a grave when the burial had not yet been completed. He sat down, and his companions sat down with him, and he started talking to them about what happens when a person is on his deathbed and after he dies. This is the nearest thing that has been reported, and anyone who stands up to preach to the people after a burial is doing so on the basis of incorrect ijtihaad."
Key points about benefiting the deceased
- Paying up debts- Missed obligatory fasts, zakah, hajj, debts to others.
- Fulfilling the nadhr (vow) of the deceased.
- Prayer for the deceased done by his children are a means of raising his status. The children should ask for Allah’s forgiveness and mercy on the deceased as well as protection from the hellfire.
- Charity may be given on behalf of the deceased and the best of charity is water. Ongoing charity is one of the rewards a person gets after dead- so maybe the family can take part in constructing a well or borehole where they give out water as sadaqah. They can even build a tree and whenever anyone or animal takes shade under it, it is counted as sadaqa.
- Hajj and umurah may be performed on behalf of the deceased (after the person has performed his).