We offer grieving families funeral sermons and prayer services.
What are important things that family members and friends should do when someone is dying?
It is recommended by the prophet Muhammad (S.A.W.) to do the following:
The dying person should be asked to pronounce, “Laa ilaaha illal Lah.” (There is no God but Allah.) before death. The prophet Muhammad (S.A.W.) said: “Ask your dying fellows to pronounce, “Laa ilaaha illal Lah.” (There is no God but Allah.)” [Reported by Imams Muslim, Abu Dawood, At-Tirmithi, An-Nisa’I and Ibn Majah]
The prophet Muhammad (S.A.W.) said: “The one whose last words are “Laa Ilaaha Illal Lah.” (There is no God but Allah) will enter Paradise.” [Reported by Imams Abu Dawood]
What should family members and friends do immediately after the death of their loved one?
They should consult with a doctor or experienced people to make sure that the person has truly died and is not in a coma.
They should also supplicate and say “Inna Lillahi Wa inna ilaihi Raje’oon.” (To Allah we belong, and to Him we will all head back.) Allah (S.W.T.) says what can be translated as, “…Who, when afflicted with calamity, say:’ To Allah we belong, and to Him is our return.’ They are those on whom (descend) blessings from their Lord, and mercy. And they are the ones who receive guidance.” [surat Al-Baqarah, verses (156,157)]
Um-Salama heard the prophet Muhammad (S.A.W.) say: “Whomsoever is inflicted by a misfortune and then says: ‘Inna Lillahi wa inna ilaihi Raje’oon, and then says, O’ Allah, reward me because of my misfortune, and bestow on me a better substitute,’ then Allah will reward him because of his misfortune and will bestow on him a better substitute.” Um-Salamah said: ‘When my husband, Abu-Salama died, I said what the messenger of Allah ordered me, so Allah bestowed on me a better substitute, the messenger of Allah (S.A.W.).” [Reported by Imams Muslim and Ahmad]
Those near the deceased should also close the dead person’s eyelids. The messenger of Allah went to see Abu-Salama after he died; he found his eyes open, so the prophet Muhammad (S.A.W.) closed them and said: “When the soul is retrieved, the sight follows it.” [Reported by Imam Muslim]
They should also cover the dead. The prophet Muhammad (S.A.W.) upon his death was wrapped with a piece of striped cloth.” [Reported by Imams Bukhari and Muslim] According to all scholars, it is permissible to kiss the dead and to cry for him, because the prophet Muhammad (S.A.W.) kissed Othman Bin Math’oon and cried for him until the tears wet his two cheeks when he died.” [Reported by Imams At-Tirmthi and Ibn Majah]
Also, Abu-Bakr (R.A.) kissed the prophet Muhammad (S.A.W.) between his eyes after his death and said: “O’ Prophet, O’ Dear Friend”
The family or friends of the deceased should pay off the debts of the dead person from the wealth that he has left, or by donations to pay off his debt if there is no wealth left. The prophet Muhammad (S.A.W.) said: “The believer’s soul is attached to his debt until it is paid,” [Reported by Imams Ahmad, Ibn Majah, and At-Tirmithi] meaning that the dead person’s soul will not rest until his debt is paid.
They should also notify the relatives and friends of the deceased about the death: that the prophet (S.A.W.) announced the death of Al-Najashi (the ruler of Ethiopia) on the same day of his death to the people. He also gathered people in the mosque, lined them up, and made four Takbeerat, (meaning: they prayed the Janazah prayer which consists of saying “Allah Akbar” four times). [Reported by Imams, Bukhari, Muslim and others] the prophet (S.A.W.) announced the death of Zaid, J’afar, and Ibn-Rawaha (R.A.) before he received news of their death from the people. [Reported by Imams Bukhari and Ahmad]
It is permissible to cry up to three days after the death, but not permissible to yell or weep: The prophet Muhammad (S.A.W.) said: “Allah does not punish a person as a result of tears, or of the sorrow of the heart, but Allah punishes or bestows His mercy as a result of this.” And the, prophet pointed to his tongue. The prophet Muhammad (S.A.W.) cried because of the death of his son, Ibrahim, and said:” The eye tears and the heart grieves, and we say nothing except what pleases our Lord, and we grieve as a result of your departure, Ibrahim.” [Reported by Imams, Bukhari and Muslim] “When the prophet went to visit the family of Jafar (R.A.) after his death he gave them three days to cry over Jafar’s death, then he told them, after today do not cry anymore for my brethren.” [Reported by Imam An’ Nasai’ and Abu Dawood]
It is forbidden to weep: Weeping means to yell or cry out loudly. Um-Atia (R.A.) said: “We took an oath before the messenger of Allah not to weep.” [Reported by Imams, Bukhari and Muslim]
It is permissible for the woman to mourn the death of her relative for three days: (Mourning includes giving up perfume, jewelry, Kuhl, etc.); it is forbidden for her to mourn for more than three days except if it was her husband in which case she has to mourn, at home, throughout the “Eddah” waiting period, which is four months and ten days. The prophet Muhammad (S.A.W.) said: “The woman must not mourn for more than three days except for her husband where she must mourn for four months and ten days.” [Reported by Imams Bukhari, Muslim and the six Imams except At-Tirmithi]
It is recommended that food be prepared for the deceased’s family. The prophet Muhammad (S.A.W.) said when J’afar (R.A.) died: “Prepare food for the family of J’afar, for they have been inflicted by a matter that occupied them.” [Reported by Imams Abu Dawood, Ibn-Majah, and At-Tirmithi] The scholars have agreed that it is disliked for the family of the dead to prepare food and gather people to eat it since this will keep them busy at a time of calamity, and since people before Islam (Jahilyah) also used to do so.
How should the preparations begin for the Islamic burial?
Preparing the dead for burial is a “Fard Kifayah” duty, meaning that if some Muslims properly carry out this duty, then other Muslims are exempt from the responsibility. Preparing the dead for burial consists of the following: Bathing the dead, wrapping the body with a shroud, praying for the dead, and burying the body.
How is the bathing of the dead (Ghusl) carried out?
Deceased males should be washed by men, while deceased females should be washed by women. It is permissible for either spouse to wash the other after death. This is because Ali (R.A) washed his wife, Fatima (R.A.) after her death and also the prophet (S.A.W.) said to his wife, Aishah (R.A.), “If you die before me, I will wash you and wrap you in a shroud.” [Reported by Imam Ibn Majah]
It is obligatory to wash the whole body once with water with the intention of bathing the dead.
It is recommended that the body be laid on an elevated platform off of the floor, the body stripped of its clothes, and the area between the naval and the knee covered. Those bathing the body should press the abdomen of the deceased to release any impurities. Impurities should be removed and washed off of the body. The person should wrap a cloth around his/her hand to wash the private parts of the dead, since touching the private parts is forbidden. Then, perform ablution to the dead, meaning the dead is washed as if he were to perform ablution. Then the body is washed three times with water and soap starting with the right side.
If the deceased were a woman and her hair is braided, then her braids should be loosened and washed, and then braided back in three separate braids that go down her back. If there are any hair clips, bows, or bands they should be removed before washing the hair.
After bathing is done, the body should be dried with a clean cloth and perfumed. Only the people who are needed for carrying out this process should attend.
When can Tayammum [dry Wash] be performed on the deceased?
We should also know that Tayammum [dry wash] for the dead person can substitute washing the body in any case when water is not available or the place for washing the dead person is not available, or if there are no tools available for washing the dead person.
Also, it is permissible if there is a concern that the body will disintegrate if touched by water such as in cases of burn victims. We could also use Tayammum [dry wash] for deceased females if there are no women available to wash her body, and the same goes for men, if there are no men available to wash their bodies.
How is Tayammum [dry wash] performed for the dead person?
The person performing the Tayammum [dry wash] should tap one hand on any materials from the earth, such as stones, marble, bricks, sand, or soil. Then he should wipe his hand over the whole face of the deceased person. He then should tap material’s from the earth again with one hand and wipe each hand of the deceased person up to his/her wrist.
How is the Kafan (the shroud) prepared and placed?
Trained members of the community will help you with this. It is obligatory that the body be covered by at least a single shroud.
Recommendations about the shroud
A clean shroud is used.
A white shroud is used, because the prophet (S.A.W.) said, “Wear white clothing it is the best of your clothes, and wrap the dead with it.” [Reported by Imam Abu Dawood, Tirmidhi, and Ibn Majah]
The shroud is perfumed. The prophet (S.A.W) ordered a group of women to wash his deceased daughter three times and for the third time, add Kafoor” (a good smelling substance).” [Reported by Imams Bukhari, Muslim, and others]
The shroud consists of three pieces for the male, and of five pieces for the female, at the most. This limit was placed because “The prophet (S.A.W.) himself was shrouded by the companions in three white sheets.” [Reported by Imams Bukhari, Muslim, and others]
How is the “Salatul Janazah” performed?
All the requirements that are observed in regular prayers should be observed here (i.e. ablution, facing Qibla, etc.)
The Janazah (funeral prayer) has six essentials:
- Intention to pray the Janazah prayer lies in the heart.
- Standing up for prayer for those who are capable of doing so.
- After the first Takbeerah recite surat (Al-Fatiha) silently.
- After the second Takbeerah, saying a prayer for prophet Muhammad (S.A.W.).
- After the third Takbeerah supplicating to Allah (S.W.T.) for the deceased.
- After the fourth Takbeerah, make “Tasleem” saying: “Assalamu Alaikum Warahmatullah” and turning your head to the right. It is optional to add another Tasleem to the left side.
Can you give us more details on “Salatul Janazah”?
After performing ablution, people must stand facing the Qiblah with the intention of praying Janazah (the funeral prayer).
He then raises his hands and utters “Allahu Akbar” (which is known as Takbeerat Al-Ihram). He doesn’t have to raise his hands in other Takbeerat, because “when the prophet (S.A.W.) performed the Janazah prayer he raised his hands in the first Takbeerah and not in the others.”
He, then, puts his right hand on top of his left hand and recites surat Al-Fatiha. He, then, utters “Allahu Akbar” and prays for the prophet (S.A.W.), meaning he asks Allah (S.W.T.) to bestow His prayer (His mercy) and blessings unto the prophet Muhammad (S.A.W.). Then, he utters “Allahu Akbar” and supplicates to Allah for the deceased. After that, he utters “Allahu Akbar” and supplicates to Allah for whatever he likes, and after that, he says “Assalamu Alaikum Warahmatullah.” while turning his head to the right side. It is okay to add another Tasleemah to the left side. All this is done while standing up–there is neither a Rukuh nor a Sujood in this prayer.
The body of the deceased should be placed in the front of the congregation and the Imam. The Imam (the one who is leading the Janazah (funeral) prayer stands beside the head of the male-deceased and towards the middle part of the female-deceased.
It is recommended that a large number of people pray the Janazah (funeral) prayer. The prophet Muhammad (S.A.W.) said: “If a Muslim dies and the people who pray the Janazah (funeral) prayer for him total one hundred, and all of them intercede with Allah and ask Him for forgiveness for the deceased, then their intercession will be accepted.” [Reported by Imams Muslim, Ahmed, and At-Tirmithi]
The prophet Muhammad (S.A.W.) said: “No single Muslim who dies and forty Muslims pray the Janazah (funeral) prayer for him, and all of them do not associate any deities with Allah, then Allah will accept their intercession for the deceased.” [Reported by Imams Muslim, Ahmed, and Abu Dawood]
How is the Islamic burial actually carried out?
The scholars, by consensus, have said that burying the dead is a “Faradh Kifaya” and that it is better to perform it as soon as possible.
Furthermore, the body is laid in the grave on its right side facing the “Qiblah”. The person laying the body should say: “In the name of Allah, and by the way of the messenger of Allah – or by the tradition of the messenger of Allah”, while laying the body. He then must untie all the ties of the shroud when the prophet (S.A.W.) laid a dead body in the grave, he said:” In the name of Allah, and by the way of the messenger of Allah or by the tradition of the messenger of Allah.” [Reported by Imams Ahmad, Abu Dawood, At-Tirmithi, and others]
It is good for those attending the funeral to throw – three times each -a handful of dirt. They should throw the dirt to the side of the grave where the head has been placed. The prophet (S.A.W.) once prayed the Janazah (funeral) prayer, then went to the dead’s grave and threw dirt on it from the side of the body’s head, three times. [Reported by Imam Ibn Majah]
Another thing that is highly recommended to do is to ask Allah (SWT) forgiveness for the dead person upon finishing the burial and to take advantage of the gathering to advise and preach to people about the Hereafter. The prophet (S.A.W.) used to say when he is done with the burial: “Ask Allah forgiveness for your brother and ask Him to confirm his heart because he is being questioned now.” [Reported by Imams Abu Dawood and Al-Hakim]
Also, it is a etiquette to respect the grave by not sitting on it or walking on top of it. Two Hadiths are cited here. When the prophet (S.A.W.) saw Omar Ibn Hizam leaning against a grave, he said:” Do not harm the occupant of this grave.” [Reported by Imam Ahmad]
What should the relatives and members of the community do to comfort the family of the dead person?
It is recommended to comfort the family of the dead person with consoling words that would soothe the grieving relatives and reduce their sadness. The prophet Muhammad (S.A.W.) said: “Surely, every believer who comforts his brother at a time of grief will be dressed with the garments of dignity on the Day of Judgment.” [A good Hadith reported by Imams Ibn Majah and Al-Baihaqui]
It is better to stick to the words that the prophet Muhammad (S.A.W.) used in such occasions. when the prophet’s daughter called upon him to come because a son of hers had died, he sent his greeting (Salam) followed by:” It is His What He has taken, and it is His what He has given, and everything in His possession has a prescribed lifetime, so let her be patient and content (with Allah’s will and reward.” [Reported by Imam Bukhari]
What kind of things can be done that would benefit the dead?
The scholars agree that the dead person is benefited by the good things that he initiated in his lifetime. The prophet Muhammad (S.A.W.) said: “When a son of Adam dies, his deeds cease to benefit him except three: a perpetual charity, a useful contribution to knowledge, and a good child who would pray for him.” [Reported by Imam Muslim and the other six Imams]
As far as the good acts by the living people that will benefit the dead person, they are as follows:
Supplicating and asking for Allah’s forgiveness for the dead: Allah (S.W.T.) says what can be translated as, ” And those who came after them saying: ‘O our Lord, forgive us and our brothers who preceded us in good faith.”‘ [surat Al-Hashr, (verse 10)] Also, this practice of praying for the dead is from the tradition of the prophet Muhammad (S.A.W.).
Charity: the mother of Sa’ad Ibn Obada (R.A.) died while he was away, so he came to the prophet (S.A.W.) and said:” O messenger of Allah, my mother has died while I was away, would it benefit her if I gave charity on her behalf? He (S.A.W.) said: “Yes.” Sa’ad said: “I would like you to witness that my orchard – Al-Mikhraf – is a charity on her behalf.” [Reported by Imam Al-Bukhari]
Fasting: A man came to the prophet (S.A.W.) and said:” O messenger of Allah, my mother died before she made up a month’s time of fasting, can I make it up for her?” he (PBUH) said:” If your mother were in debt, would you have paid the debt for her?” he said: “Yes”, he (S.A.W.) said: ” A debt to Allah is more worthy of being paid.” [Reported by Imams Bukhari and Muslim]
Hajj: A woman from Juhaynah (a tribe) came to the prophet (S.A.W.) and said: “My mother has made (Nathr) – (a promise to Allah) – to go to Hajj, but she died before she fulfilled her “Nathr”. Can I perform Hajj on her behalf? He (S.A.W.) said: “Perform Hajj on her behalf. If your mother were in debt, would you not have paid it for her? Do it (all of you) because Allah is more worthy of being paid pack.” [Reported by Imam Al-Bukhari]
Paying off the Deceased’s Debts: The money to pay off the debt can come from the deceased’s wealth, or any donations from family or friends. “Abu Qatada (R.A.) donated money to pay the debt of a deceased person, which was two Dinars, with the approval of the prophet (S.A.W.).” [Reported by Imam Al-Hakm and Al-Baihaqui]
What are the rules concerning the visitation of graves?
Visiting the graves is desirable for both men and women. This will remind us of the reality of death. The prophet (S.A.W) said to the companions, “I had (previously) forbidden you to visit the graves, now (it is permissible for you, so) go and visit them, there is a lesson to learn from them, and do not say anything that will upset Allah.” [Reported by Imams Al-Hakm, Al-Baihaqui, and Al-Bazzar]
Whoever pays a visit to a grave; you should face the deceased, greet and supplicate for him/her as the prophet used to do while he visited graves.