As we all know, Death, and the process that goes with ensuring that someone is given their Human right to a proper burial is a very weighty responsibility. However, for Muslims, particularly/especially, this journey of Life into Death, as well as those who live on after us, whom are now in possession of the arduous task of making sure that we are buried according to Islamic-Protocol, takes an even greater toll than one should or would ever expect. I’m up-close & personal with Noorudean Rabah, one of the founding-members of The Janazah Project, and with the Permission of Allah, he will detail all of the Islamic Funerary-Rites, entitle to any/all who die as Muslims, from the moment in which they die until the moment they are buried. Please, pay close attention, as this information is very noteworthy, as well as highly educational for all, regardless of Faith or even Non-Faith; plus, it grants the respective audience an even greater opportunity to understand more things about Islam, which is always useful & necessary.
1. What exactly is Janazah?
Janazah- Is generally known to mean “Funeral.”
More specifically, The Janazah is the funeral process of a Muslim in which their Final Rites are performed, from the moment that the Muslim experiences death until the congregation present for the burial then leaves the burial ground and everything in between.
– closing the eyes of the deceased,
– making Du`a’ (supplication) for the deceased,
– covering the deceased with a cover from head to toe,
– hurrying the funeral procedure,
– washing the deceased,
– shrouding the deceased,
– performing the funeral prayer for the deceased,
– traveling to the burial ground,
– burying the deceased…
All of these (and more) are considered to be from the Janazah. Along with this are the actions of those who are present, those grieving and morning, those condoling and comforting, they too have righteous actions to be performed throughout the funeral, which is also considered to be from the Adab (Etiquette) and Ahkam (the Rules and Regulations) of Jana’iz (plural for Janazah).
Something which should be clearly noted, is that all of these righteous actions throughout the Janazah must coincide with the Authentic teachings found within The Qur’an and Sunnah (The Prophetic-Tradition) and must not be confused with innovated rituals which have been adopted by cultural norms or imitated by other religions or ideologies.
2. How is this different from Non-Islamic Funerals?
Something that should be considered is how the first human, Adam ( عليه السلام), was taken care of upon his death. We find that RasoolAllah (صلی الله علیه وسلم) said:
“When Adam died, the angels washed him with water Witran (an odd number of times), dug his Lahd (a specific niche dug inside of the grave), and said “This will be a guidance from Adam to his descendants”(Authentic narration by al-Hakim)
So the Islamic Funerary-Rites, are no different than the way our Father Adam (عليه السلام) had his Janazah. Anything contradicting this way is unauthorized by Allah سبحانه وتعالى.
With that said, a general the answer to this question can be:
The Janazah procedure of a Muslim is the Divinely Ordained method of how a funeral should take place, by direction and guidance from the Book Allah and the Sunnah of His Messenger- Muhammad صلی الله علیه وسلم.
Now to give examples of how the Janazah of a Muslim differs from non-Islamic Funerals, we can categorize some of them, in general:
Death- To Allah we belong, and to Him we shall return.
The concepts of Death and the Life after Death can be illustrated throughout the entire Janazah.
For an observing/practicing Muslim, the idea of death brings about a higher sense of Faith and a stronger desire to do good actions, to better prepare himself before His Creator on the Day of Judgement. They accept the reality of death and prepare accordingly.
As death approaches (for some more sudden than others), the Muslim attaches himself to the remembrance of His Lord and constantly repeats the Testimony of Faith (La Ilahaa illa Allah/There is no god [true object of worship], except Allah), hoping these to be his final words before his soul is extracted. He, the sincere Muslim, at the arrival of death, is concern about his position with his Lord and forgets all other worries and concerns, because the affair of meeting his Lord is far greater and more concerning. All other worries are drowned to the point of nonexistence. Making sure that they paid off their debts, that they seek forgiveness from those whom they may have harmed knowingly or unknowingly, saying their farewells to their close ones, etc.
You find the majority of Non-Muslims reject the reality of death- if not by their words, then clearly by their actions. Those attending the death of a non-Muslim are usually unaware of what to do with themselves, let alone what to do with the dying person. Unprepared to face death and being heedless of the Life to come after death, you find the majority in a frantic state, forgetting the priorities which should be attended to by the one dying before his death. If it weren’t for the protocols of the laws of the land regarding what to do when someone dies, most people would be unable to properly carry out the funeral for their loved ones.
The Arrival of Death:
In Islam, the Muslims are ordered to close the eyes of the deceased immediately at the time of death. The points of benefit for this action are not limited to the fulfillment of the command from our Prophet صلی الله علیه وسلم- but we also find benefit in the physical appearance of the deceased. As we know, rigor mortis even effects the muscles of the eyelids, that if they eyelids were to remain open, one would find it close to impossible to close them afterwards. Then add to the equation the additional hours of rigor mortis plus the coolness of refrigeration of the corpse- how can the deceased be decently presented to the funeral attendees with its eyes wide open?
Now, many of times, or even most of times, funeral homes utilize “Eye Caps,” which are plastic lenses consisting of raised lanced spurs (sharp protruding slits) which are inserted just like contact lenses would be, and then the eye lids are closed over the caps while the lanced spurs cling on the meat of the insides of the eyelids to keep them from re-opening. Islamically, this is atrocious considering the narration of the Final Messenger صلی الله علیه وسلم:
“Breaking the bones of the dead is just like breaking the bones of the living.”
Now, a Muslim couldn’t possibly imagine putting eye caps on the dead because you wouldn’t find them doing that to someone alive.
The same goes for the action of securing the jaws closed at the time of death (by tying a piece of cloth under the chin, along the sides of the face and then tied off at the top the head) for a Muslim, this would prevent the need to wire the mouth shut, as done in most cases by nonMuslim funeral homes in what’s known as part of “setting the features.”
The Shrouding- We are all equal in the site of The Creator, except in piety.
Muslims are to be shrouded with plain cloth. No tuxedos, no blazers, no dresses, no make-up, no shoes… Just plain cloth.
This signifies the ideology of a Muslim that we will return to our Creator with nothing, the same way we were brought into this world- with nothing. The king, the layman, the Scholar and the student are all shrouded the same, as we are all children of Adam, and no one is in a higher position than the other in the Sight of the Creator, except in piety- which is found in the heart, and this matter is unknown to all except the Knower and Seer of the hearts: who is Allah سبحانه وتعالى.
Nothing enters the grave except the person and his deeds. And the deeds will decide whether the person will be in happiness or in sorrow.
Those who attend this funeral will feel the appreciation of life, the seriousness of death, and the blessing of additional time above the ground.
We find in many Non-Muslim funerals that the deceased is covered in makeup and dressed like they’re attending a wedding. Some more exquisitely than others (defining their place in society). And, then, the person is placed in an expensive casket, and along with them you’d find cigarettes, money, gold, mp3 players, condoms, cards, bottles of alcohol…
Can the dead do anything with these items? And can these materials benefit the dead in anyway? No, rather the people who practice these rituals are only fooling themselves to believe that death is not a serious matter, and that death is something to be covered up and its reality be hidden. For verily, if they treated the deceased the way a deceased should be treated, more people would become touched by the funeral experience which would then reflect how they would conduct their lives from that day forward. (Which would put the funeral industry into a black hole.)
Inheritance- It was never yours.
For Muslims, the issue of inheritance is a matter already defined by The Creator, The Legislator- Allah سبحانه وتعالى.
With very little room for maneuvering, one is limited to how much can be donated to a noble cause, and generally, everything else is handled through the “versus of inheritance” found in the Book of Allah: al- Qur’an.
Wealth and provision- these blessings are provided by Allah unto his slaves, and He is the owner of all things. Upon the death a Muslim, Allah transfers the “ownership” to the next of kin and the surviving members.
The Messenger of Allah (صلی الله علیه وسلم) said:
“Indeed, Allah has given all the rightful people their rights, so there is no will for the inheritor.”
Inheritance for the majority of Non-Muslims come as a surprise to its heirs. Sometimes a deceased would leave millions for his pet or caretaker and nothing for his family.
I mentioned a few point regarding how a Janazah may differ from a Non-Islamic funeral. It wouldn’t be possible to mention them all on this type of platform.
**The only Non-Islamic Funeral which resembles the Janazah in many aspects (while still containing legitimate differences) are Orthodox-Jewish funeral traditions. They also have a washing (the Taharah), a shrouding (Tachrichim), a funeral prayer, and a burial.
3. Why is it so important for a Muslim to be funerated according to the regulations of Janazah?
Allah says in the Nobel Qur’an:
Say (O Muhammad): “Verily, my Salah (prayer), my sacrifice, my living, and my dying are for Allah, the Lord of the Universe. He has no partner, and of this I have been commanded, and I am the first of the Muslims.” (Chpt.6, V.162-163)
It is from the very Creed and Faith of a Muslim that his or her servitude to Allah does not cease at the time of death. Rather it is from the Fitrah (natural disposition) of each and every individual to be inclined towards the true and sincere worship of the One True Lord, the Creator of the Heavens and Earth- Allah.
So to live upon this path is one struggle, to die upon this path, is another, and to be honored at the time of death through the practices by means of this Divine Guidance- is both, a blessing and a mercy.
The handling of the deceased body in Islam:
As we previously mentioned the Prophetic narration regarding the importance of handling the body carefully, as though the body is still alive, this is more honoring and respectful especially when compared to how the vast majority of funeral homes deal with their deceased corpses.
Just to quickly depict an image for clarity, funeral directors are taught how to transfer a deceased from the bed, to the stretcher to the wash table, alone. I’ve witnessed thin girls lugging large corpses on their own- and it’s not a dignifying site. But I guess it gets the “job” done.
A Muslim Janazah considers the sensitive nature of the deceased, and reacts gently and cautiously in all regards ie- Transferring, moving, transporting is done by more than 1 person, and is carried out with the understanding that the deceased should be treated as though they are alive.
We already mentioned the importance of closing the eyes, and closing the mouth if necessary.
Understanding the saying of The Messenger of Allah صلی الله علیه وسلم:
“When the soul is taken, the eyesight follows it. Do not say but good things, because the angels say ‘Amen’ to what you say…” (Recorded by Muslim, Ahmad, al-Bayhaqi and others).
A Muslim in charge of the Janazah utilizes the time with the deceased, while transferring them, transporting them, and just simply being around them, that they should be in a constant state of prayer for the deceased, that Allah forgive them and have mercy on them and admit them into Paradise and protect them from the punishments of the grave and Hell-Fire.
Compare that to a transporter listening to music, chatting on the phone, etc.
Hurrying With the Janazah:
Most funeral homes are not in “rush” mode. Everything is arranged and organized in a slow fashion. Between the day of arrangements, the day of prayer, the day(s) of viewing, the day of burial/cremation etc. It takes a Muslim who is driven by the obligations of Islam, and the love of brotherhood and sisterhood that we perform the Janazah as soon as possible, hurrying the procedure until the burial.
Abu-Hurayrah رضي الله عنه reported that Allah’s Messenger صلی الله علیه وسلم said:
“Hurry with Janazah. If it is for a good person, you bring it forward to its good destination; and if it is other than that, you drop the evil (quickly) off your necks.” (Recorded by al-Bukhari, Muslim, and others)
It’s not standard procedure to cover the privates of the deceased in the vast majority of funeral homes. And even if practiced, they place what’s known as a “modesty cloth” over the genitalia, which in Islam isn’t nearly enough. Considering the honor of the deceased Muslim, the brothers are to be covered at least from their navel to knees, and for the sisters, from the bottom of the neck until the mid-shins, at all times, even during the washing (washing would be done under these covers without actually looking under the covers).
Conducting a Janazah Prayer is crucial to requesting Allah سبحانه وتعالى to bestow His Mercy and Forgiveness upon the deceased Muslim. And the larger the gathering, the better, considering/assuming the worshippers are sincere. As Prophet Muhammad صلی الله علیه وسلم said:
“Whenever a Muslim dies, and 40 men pray over his Janazah, non of them joining anything with Allah in worship, Allah grants them intercession for him” (Recorded by Muslim and others.)
He صلی الله علیه وسلم also said:
“Whenever a group of Muslims numbering 100 pray Janazah for a deceased, all interceding on his behalf, their intercession is granted (by Allah), and he is forgiven.” (Recorded by Muslim and others.)
And He صلی الله علیه وسلم also said:
“Whenever a large group of (Muslim) people pray Janazah for a deceased, they are grated intercession for him.” (Recorded by an-Nasa’i)
Burying a Muslim in a Muslim-Cemetery is imperative:
As one Companion by the name of ibn-il-Khasasiyah ( رضي الله عنه) was walking with the Prophet صلی الله علیه وسلم one time, they passed by the graves of the Mushriks (polytheists), and Allah’s Messenger صلی الله علیه وسلم said:
“These have missed a lot of good. These have missed a lot of good. These have missed a lot of good”
Then they passed by the graves of the Muslims, and he said:
“These have attained a lot of good. These have attained a lot of good. These have attained a lot of good.”…
This Prophet narration indicates that there was a clear distinction between the graves of the disbelievers and those of the Muslims. Ibn Hazm (رحمه الله) took it as evidence that it is not permissible to bury a Muslim with a disbeliever.
Protecting the deceased at a time when he cannot speak out or defend himself:
Many of times, people out of grief and other emotions, tend to get carried away at a funeral. Sometimes they tear their clothes, harm themselves, say words and comments with serious implications which may place their very own Faith at question. You also find many people wailing. Wailing is a serious prohibition with serious effects.
The Prophet صلی الله علیه وسلم has been reported to say:
“Two of the people’s practices are acts of disbelief: dishonoring kinship ties and wailing over the dead.” (Recorded by Muslim, al-Bayhaqi and others)
Also, he صلی الله علیه وسلم said:
“A dead person is punished in his grave because of his family’s crying over him” (Recorded by al-Bukhari, Muslim and others.)
And he صلی الله علیه وسلم said:
“The one who is wailed over will be punished on The Day of Resurrection because of that wailing” (Recorded by al-Bukhari, Muslim and others.)
At the time of death, emotions are strong and sometimes clutter the thoughts of those close to the deceased. It’s important to have a Janazah coordinator assist everyone through this difficult time.
From the condolences, the advice, the physical rituals and the spiritual motivation- although there are sincere funeral directors out there, you can’t turn them into Muslims, educated in the field of Janazah, overnight.
The Janazah process is an act of `Ibadah (Worship), and should not be confused as a modern day “funeral service” that can be provided by any licensed funeral director.
So the easier way to answer the question is to ask: Why NOT have a funeral upon the regulations of the Muslim Janazah? As this was the way of our Original father- Adam عليه سلم
Islam is the complete way of life- the way by which if everyone implemented, we would find true serenity and happiness. Even with regards to funerals.
From among the supplications we recite in the funeral prayer we say: “Oh Allah, whomsoever you give life from among us- give them Life upon Islam, and whomsoever you cause to die from among us- give them Death upon Iman/Faith (unadulterated belief in Allah & the Last-Day).”
From among the actions of the burial of a Muslim is that as the deceased is being lowered into the grave, those present are to say : “In The Name of Allah, and according to the Sunnah of The Messenger of Allah (do we bury our deceased)”
The reasons of importance are too many to enumerate on this Q&A.
4. What are some key things which are both allowed & not allowed during the Janazah process?
I believe the best way to approach this question is to mention some of the important, Permissible aspects which are highly neglected by present day Muslims, and then mention the many regularly practiced actions which are actually NOT Allowed in Islam.
DO #1. Spouses are allowed to wash one another:
Although many believe that this is impermissible, they are greatly mistaken. There are many evidences found which support the legitimacy of the husband washing his deceased wife and vice versa.
– Evidence #1:
The Mother of the Believers, `A’ishah (رضي الله عنها) reported that Allah’s Messenger صلی الله علیه وسلم returned from a funeral at al-Baqi` to find her suffering from a headache and saying “Oh my head!” He صلی الله علیه وسلم said:
“Rather, it is my head that is aching! What would hurt you if you die before me, and I wash you, shroud you, and then pray Janazah for you and bury you?” (Recorded by Ahmad, ibn-Majah and others)
– Evidence #2:
The Mother of the Believers, `A’ishah (رضي الله عنها) said:
“Had I known then what I knew later, none should have washed the Prophet صلی الله علیه وسلم but his wives.” (Recorded by Ahmad, Abu Dawud and other)
`Ali ibn Abi-Talib (رضي الله عنه) washed his wife Fatimah bin Muhammad (as this was her will)
(Recorded by `Abd-ir-Razzaq 6177, ad-Daraqutni 2/79 #12, al-Bayhaqi 3/369, deemed Hasan (reliable) by ibn-Hajar al-Asqalani in at-Talkhis al-Qabir, and Ash-Shawkani in Nil-il-Awtar 2/54, and al-Albani as well as others)
Abu-Bakr (رضي الله عنه) was washed by his wife Asma’ bint-Umays (رضي الله عنها)
(Well known fact in his biography that his last 2 commands were that Asmaa’ bint-Umays رضي الله عنها wash him and that he be buried beside Muhammad, the Messenger of Allah (صلی الله علیه وسلم.)
-Evidence # 5
ibn-Mas`ud رضي الله عنه washed his wife (رضي الله عنها)
In Sharh-is-Sunnah al-Baghawi
DO #2. It is Sufficient and Permissible to wash your hands after washing a deceased body (and not have to perform a full wash for yourself, or even Wudhu’)
ibn-`Abbas رضي الله عنه reported that The Prophet صلی الله علیه وسلم said:
“You are not required to take a bath after washing your deceased, because he is not Najis/Impure. It is sufficient that you wash your hands” (Recorded by al-Hakim & al-Bayhaqi)
Also, ibn-`Umar (رضي الله عنه) said:
“After washing a deceased (at the time of the Prophet صلی الله علیه وسلم), some of us would take a bath and some would not.” (Recorded by ad-Daraqutni & al-Khatib in at-Tarikh.)
DO #3. Recite Surat-al-Fatiha in the 1st Rak`ah of the Janazah-Salah (Funeral-Prayer)
DO #4. It is allowable for the Imam to lead the Janazah-Prayer audibly
Talhah ibn-`Abdillah ibn-`Awf رضي الله عنه reported:
“I prayed behind ibn-`Abbas رضي الله عنه, over a Janazah. He audibly recited al-Fatihah and another Surah (chapter), enabling us to hear him. After the Janazah prayer, I held his hand and asked him about that and he said, ‘I only raised my voice for you to learn the true guidance (in this regard)’.'” (This is a collective report recorded by al- Bukhari, an-Nasa’i and others.)
at-Tirmidhi رحمه الله commented on this Hadith:
” This Hadeeth is sound and authentic. Thus, the opinion held by a number of the 3ulamaa’ (scholars) from the Prophet’s SAWS companions and others is to read al-Fatihah after the first Takbir. This is also the opinion of Ahmad, ash-Shafi`i, and Ishaq. Other `Ulama’/Scholars say that there is no reading (of Qur’an) in the Janazah prayer, because it is only reserved for praising Allah, praying upon His Prophet SAWs, and supplicating for the deceased. This is the opinion of ath-Thawri and other from al-Kufah.”
The above report is an evidence against those to whom Imam at-Tirmidhi refers at the end of his statement.
As for reading a Surah (Chapter) after al-Fatihah, an-Nawawi says that it should be a short one. The reason for this is probably to avoid delaying the burial of the Janazah- and Allah knows best.
DO #5. Women are allowed to visit the graves:
Buraydah ibn-il-Husayb (رضي الله عنه) reported that Allah’s Messenger صلی الله علیه وسلم said:
“I had prohibited you from visiting the graves. Now, visit them, because they will remind you of the hereafter – and may your visits benefit you. Thus whoever wishes to visit them let him do so, but do not say heedless words…” (Recorded by Muslim, an-Nasa’i and others)
The above recommendation to visit the graves applies to both men and women, because, the statement is general in this regard. And the purpose for visiting the graves (remembering the hereafter) is applicable to both men and women.
There are also many other instances where the Prophet صلی الله علیه وسلم permitted women to visit the graves in his lifetime.
`Abdullah ibn Abi-Mulaykah (رضي الله عنه) reported that he once saw `A’ishah (رضي الله عنها) coming from the directions of the graveyard (in al-Makkah). He asked her, “Oh Mother of the Believers! Whence are you coming?” She replied, “From the grave of `Abd-ir-Rahman ibn Abi-Bakr.” He asked, “Had not Allah’s Messenger صلی الله علیه وسلم prohibited visiting the graves?” She replied, “Yes, but he later permitted visiting them.” (Recorded in al-Hakim, al-Bayhaqi and others)
In a very lengthy narration from Muhammad ibn-Qays ibn-Makhramah ibn-il-Muttalib (رضي الله عنه) reported that `A’isha (رضي الله عنها) told him that The Messenger of Allah صلی الله علیه وسلم said:
“… Yes! Verily, Jibril/Gabriel came to me when you saw that. He called me without letting you hear, and I responded to him without letting you know. He was not to enter into your house after you have laid down your clothes. I thought that you had slept, and hated to wake you up, and feared that you would feel lonely (if you knew that I was leaving). He told me, ‘Your Lord commands you to go to the (dead) people of al-Baqi` (cemetery) and ask forgiveness for them’. I (`A’ishah) said, “What should I say for them, O Allah’s Messenger?’ He instructed:
Peace be on the dwellers of these houses- of the Believers and Muslims. May Allah have mercy upon the earlier and later among us. Certainly, we will follow you when Allah wills.” (Recorded by Muslim, Ahmad and others)
This Hadith as an evidence that it is permissible for the women to visit the graves.
Anas ibn-Malik (رضي الله عنه) reported that Allah’s Messenger صلی الله علیه وسلم passed by a women crying next to a grave. He told her “Have Taqwa of Allah and be patient.” Not recognizing him, she responded, “Leave me alone, you have not been struck by an affliction like mine!’ She was then told that he was Allah’s Messenger صلی الله علیه وسلم . Extremely distressed and agitated at her blunder, she hastened to him and said, “O Allah’s Messenger, I did not recognize you.” The Messenger صلی الله علیه وسلم replied:
“Indeed, patience should be displayed at the beginning of the affliction.”(Recorded by al-Bukhari, Muslim and others)
The above mentioned narration is another proof that women are allowed to visit the graves, because had it been prohibited the Prophet صلی الله علیه وسلم would have most definitely told her so, but he did not.
DO #6. Uncovering and Kissing the Dead Person
Those who were permitted to kiss the deceased during his life are allowed to kiss him after death.
Ja`far ibn-`Abdillah (رضي الله عنه) reported his father’s body was covered after he was killed and mutilated. He uncovered his face and wept. Those around him tried to prevent him from that, but the Prophet صلی الله علیه وسلم did not. When the Prophet صلی الله علیه وسلم commanded that he be raised (in preparation for burial), his sister Fatimah (Jabir’s aunt) started weeping. The Prophet صلی الله علیه وسلم then assured her of her brother’s great status with Allah سبحانه وتعالى;
“Do not weep, because the angels continued shading him with their wings until he was raised.” (Recorded by al-Bukhari, Muslim and others)
`A’ishah (رضي الله عنها) reported:
“The Prophet صلی الله علیه وسلم entered to where the body of `Uthman ibn-Maz`un was, uncovered his face, leaned over him, kissed him, and cried until I saw the tears running down his cheeks.” (Recorded by at-Tirmidhi, al-Bayhaqi and others)
`A’ishah (رضي الله عنها) also narrated, at the news of the Death of the Messenger of Allah صلی الله علیه وسلم:
Abu-Bakr came from his house at as-Sunh on a horse. He dismounted and entered the Mosque, but did not speak to the people till he entered (upon `A’ishah) and went straight to Allah’s Messenger who was covered with Hibra cloth (i.e. a kind of cloth native to modern-day Yemen). He then uncovered the Prophet’s face and bowed over him and kissed him and wept, saying, “Let my father and mother be sacrificed for you. By Allah, Allah will never cause you to die twice. As for the death which was written for you, has come upon you.”(al-Bukhari and others)
Now, it’s time to discuss the “Don’ts.” Although, they too are many, I will mention some of the major, most commonly practiced actions which contradict the pure teachings of the Qur’an and Sunnah.
DON’T #1: Wail or Shout
Allah’s Messenger صلی الله علیه وسلم did not allow wailing, even over his own son. Abu-Hurayrah (رضي الله عنه) reported that when Ibrahim, the son of Muhammad had died, Usamah ibn-Zayd (رضي الله عنه) screamed. Allah’s Messenger صلی الله علیه وسلم intervened saying:
“This is not of my teachings! A screamer has no right (to do that). The heart gets sad, the eye sheds tears, but the Lord may never be angered.”
Death is a reality of life, and it is part of the greater Decree of Allah. So, shouting and wailing, and of the like, are in acts of rejection and disapproval of Allah’s Decree, and no one has the right to reject that, regardless of one’s faith or non-faith.
DON’T #2: Designate a Place for Receiving Condolences.
Jarir ibn-`Abdillah al-Bajali (رضي الله عنه) said:
“We (the companions) considered gathering for visiting the deceased’s family, and making food after burying him, both acts of wailing (impermissible).” (Recorded by Ahmad and others.)
an-Nawawi رحمه الله said:
“ash-Shafi`i, ash-Shirazi, and our other scholars have all expressed that it is disliked for the deceased’s family to sit for receiving condolences… Rather, they should conduct their normal life, and whoever happens to meet them would console them. And this ruling applying equally to men and women.”
ash-Shafi`i رحمه الله said:
“I dislike condolence gatherings, even if the people did not raise their voice with crying. That surely renews the distress, burdens the people with unnecessary expenses, and conflicts with the report (or Jarir).”
DON’T #3: Do Not Enter into the Hole of The Grave if you had Intercourse the night before.
Anas (رضي الله عنه) reported that he witnessed the Janazah of Umm-Kulthum (رضي الله عنها), (the daughter of the Prophet صلی الله علیه وسلم and the wife of `Uthman (رضي الله عنه). Allah’s Messenger صلی الله علیه وسلم sat near the grave, his eyes tearing, and asked:
Is there among you a man who did not approach his wife last night?
Abu-Talhah replied, “I did not, O Messenger of Allah.” He told him “Go down into her grave then.” And he went down and buried her.” (al-Bukhari and others)
In another report of this incident, Anas said that Allah’s Messenger صلی الله علیه وسلم said:
“Any man who has approached his wife last night may not enter into the grave.”
So `Uthman (رضي الله عنه) did not enter into the grave (to bury her). (Recorded by Ahmad, al-Hakim and others)
An-Nawawee رحمه الله commented on this:
“This is one of the Hadith used as an evidence in that men are the ones who conduct the burial, even if the deceased was a woman. It is well-known that Abu-Talhah (رضي الله عنه) was a Non-Mahram (any Human being [Muslim/Non-Muslim] not allowed to see you uncovered) to the Prophet’s صلی الله علیه وسلم daughter, but was one of the righteous men present. There was no Mahram present except the Prophet صلی الله علیه وسلم and `Uthman رضي الله عنه, who probably both had excuses for not entering her grave. It is well known that her sister Fatimah رضي الله عنها and other women were available, which indicates that women may not enter into a grave and conduct the burial.”
ibn-Hajar رحمه الله commented:
“This Hadith indicates that a person who has not recently experiences (sexual) pleasures is given priority over a father and a husband in conducting the burial, even for a woman.”
DON’T #4: Autopsies or Embalming
These 2 procedures are a mutilation of the body and should be rejected by the deceased, in his/ her Will, and/or by his family and those responsible over his funeral.
DON’T #5: Recite Qur’an over the Graves
The Prophet صلی الله علیه وسلم never prescribed his companions to do so. When his beloved wife `A’ishah رضي الله عنها asked him what to say at the graveyard, he taught her a supplication, but did not tell her to recite al-Fatihah or Surat Ya-Sin, or any other portions of the Qur’an.
Furthermore, Abu-Hurayrah رضي الله عنه reported that RasoolAllah صلی الله علیه وسلم said:
“Do not turn your houses into graveyards, because Satan runs away from a house in which Surat-al-Baqarah is recited.” (Recorded by Muslim and others.)
The Prophet صلی الله علیه وسلم indicates in this Hadith that the graveyards are not places for reading Qur’an, and that the houses should be distinguished from them in that regard. Therefore, it is not recommended to recite Qur’an at the graveyards.
The great scholars of this ummah, such as Abu Hanifam Malik, Ahmad, and ash-Shafi3i disliked reading Qur’an over the graves. (Recorded in Ahkam-il-Jana’iz). Imam Malik رحمه الله indicated that he did not know of anyone doing it, from which Ibn Taymiyyah رحمه الله concluded that neither the Sahabah nor the Tabi`un did it. (Recorded in Iqtida’-is-Sirat il-Mustaqim.)
All reports mentioning reading Surat-al-Ikhlas (Chpt.112), Ya-Sin (Chpt.36), or other portions of the Qur’an over the graves are weak (which cannot be used to support any act of worship.)
5. What is the Janazah Program?
The Janazah Program, which has merged with Muslms Giving Back, is Funeral assistance program initiative, for any Muslims in need of Janazah services. Our site discusses the many different needs which constantly come up by Muslims who are in serious need for complete support at the time of death, including financial.
Had it not been for the obligation upon the entire Muslim Community to make sure that each and every deceased Muslim receives a proper Janazah- there would have been no genuine drive to see that this Program be established.
This is a program which has started in New York State and by Allah’s Permission and Blessings will be established in every major city in the United States, wherever Muslims are.
After witnessing far too many cases of Muslims not being able to pay for the average funeral bill, we stepped in.
After coming to realize that a depressing number of deceased Muslims are spending months in a fridge of a morgue in a hospital, medical examiners office, etc, we stepped in.
Many reverts coming into Islam face difficult dilemmas presented by their families, even at the time of death. The families either “Fight” for their relative to be funerated according to their way and not the way of the Janazah, or they take “Flight” by giving us a call and telling us they can’t pay for the funeral bill. (Very rarely do we have sincere and genuine people who offer to see to it that their deceased receive a Janazah, even though the surviving members are Non-Muslim.) So we stepped in.
Many Muslim family’s are new to the states and have no idea where to turn when their loved one dies, searching for an Islamic alternative. And other new families are so poor, they feel that they “can’t afford to die in this country.” So we stepped in.
Many Muslims have outlived their close family and friends and don’t have anyone to take care of their funeral needs.
So we thank Allah that He used us a means to Step In.
The Janazah Program address these issues an more.
6. What is the purpose of even having this kind of initiative?
There are many purposes, the first being- It’s an Obligation upon the community.
Again, it is Fardh-Kifayah (a Communal-Obligation) upon the Muslims as a whole to see to it that each and every Muslim is buried according to the Qur’an and Sunnah.
Now seeing how Muslims are in great need of Janazah assistance, from the moment of death until the burial and everything in between, there is no legitimate Janazah initiative to care for these needs of the Muslims in this regard.
At a time of high funeral costs- this initiative is a must.
With our present day issues like wide-spread bribery and trickery, especially in the funeral industry, Muslims are taken advantage of, not only by funeral homes but by many of our local Imams and community leaders (sad to say). The local Imams would receive word of a death in the community, so he’ll go ahead and call “his funeral guy” to handle the necessary arrangements, for the exchange of a kick-back (which in Islam is completely haram (prohibited) for numerous reasons). And let’s say the family can’t pay off the high price of the funeral bill (which is understandably so considering the amount needs to cover the funeral home and the kick-back to the Imam, representative, etc) then the Imam / representative would raise the funds, in total, from the community, or just use the money from the existing donations. Again, it’s simply wrong.
Instead of providing a low cost Janazah to the families, and requesting the funeral home to be lenient and understanding, the full amount is squeezed out of the pockets of the community to continue the cash-flow between the funeral home and the one receiving the bribe.
So to wipe all of this out- we make the Janazah free for anyone in need. If they wish to donate back into this project at a time when they are more financially stable, they are welcomed to do so. When more and more people learn about the initiative, they will become more inclined to donate to a cause specific for this purpose, while protecting their local community leaders the embarrassment of being exposed outright for their actions of oppression, stealing and trickery.
Outside of the costs and the regular funeral rites of the Janazah, Muslims in this country are in need of the proper support all throughout the procedure.
We support our Muslim families before the time of death by:
informing them about the procedures which may exist in the
place of prayer,
and the cemeteries.
We provide support for the dying by:
visiting them and
comforting them by the death beds, implementing the Islamic Traditions.
We rush the procedure so that there is no delay:
from the hospital in releasing the necessary documents,
from the funeral home to hurry in removing the deceased and transferring them to the washroom,
from the cemetery to bury the deceased as soon as possible
We stay throughout the entire procedure:
by providing the respective washers to wash and shroud the deceased,
helping the loved ones choose a place of prayer for their deceased
assist them decide on which Muslim burial place to use.
We try to provide our sincerest and most determined efforts to see to it that our brothers and sisters receive a proper Janazah without being burdened by the various factors one may face in the average funeral.
7. How does it compare with the Funeral initiatives of other religious-groups?
We find that there are Jewish and Christian funeral assistance programs for those of the same faith.
They too provide either financial assistance, or funeral services.
As for the Janazah Project, it provides both Financial assistance plus the religious Janazah services for the deceased. And while others may help at the time of death, the Janazah Project is more family oriented as it helps the family even before death (as we mentioned above), as well as the time of death, and well after death through grief counseling.
I cannot speak for other religions, but what I can say about the Janazah Project is that this cannot be confused as a mere charity. This is an obligation. Charity is something extra, something to help with. But we are commanded to see to it that each and every Muslim brother and sister receives a proper Janazah regardless of their situation, and if we do not, we are LIABLE and falling into SIN.
8. What is the religious position on things like Embalming, Cremation, etc., since among various other religious-groups, this is very common place?
As mentioned in detail above- Embalming, cremation, autopsies and the likes are completely prohibited in Islam considering the many evidences against it.
We previously quoted the Prophetic narration:
“Breaking the bones of the dead is just like breaking the bones of the living.”
And regards to things like being placed in Mausoleums, this goes against the teachings of Islam.
Those buried therein believe that they are “above” others and are “above” the Earth itself, and shouldn’t be buried under the Earth, under the people… It is a prideful and arrogant ideology that Islam condemns.
9. What is the best way to support this noble initiative?
The best way is to make sincere supplications to Allah سبحان و تعالى to Bless this Project and to accept it from all of those involved, to remove from it any evil and to protect it from the plots of those who seek to terminate it, with Yaqin (Certainty) Knowing that Allah will answer your Du`a’ (supplications).
Next, we encourage our brothers and sisters who are financially capable to donate to this cause, either through our website, check by mail, or cash to respective organizations for pick up.
We also encourage everyone to share this project with their friends, families, local hospitals, medical centers and offer their suggestions and ideas to better support this project.