All praise is due to Allah All-Mighty, the Ever-Living Who said: “Every soul shall taste death.” And may His peace and blessings be upon His slave and final Messenger, our beloved Prophet Muhammad who himself tasted death. The one who said: “Always remember the destroyer of pleasures – Death.” The topic between your hands is a very important one, given that most certainly every human being will taste death, just as the prophets, kings, rich, poor, young, old, and nations of the past experienced. By the grace of Allah, Islam has provided a complete set of instructions for the dying individual, those who are present at the time of death, as well as those responsible for burying the deceased. These regulations and exhortations should be common knowledge among Muslims, since death often occurs when it is least expected. This article attempts to provide the reader with a concise compilation of rules and regulations regarding funeral rites in accordance with authentic Islamic teachings.
What to do for a dying and dead person
1. Gently but firmly advise and prompt the dying person to say the Shahaadah – the declaration: Laa ilaaha illa-Allah, which means there is no true god except Allah. This prompting in Arabic is known as Talqeen. The Messenger of Allah (s.a.w) said: “Prompt your dying ones to say ‘Laa ilaaha illa-Allah.’ Whoever last words at the time of death was Laa ilaaha illa-Allah will enter Jannah (Paradise) one day, irrespective of what happens to him prior to that.” The talqeen is necessary only when the dying person is unable to utter the shahaadah.
Muslims are also encouraged to be present when non-Muslims are dying in order to present Islam to them. This permission is conditioned by the absence of any signs of shirk or acts of disobedience to Allah. The Messenger of Allah (s.a.w) visited a Jewish youth who used to serve the Prophet (s.a.w) during his fatal illness. He (s.a.w) sat by his head and said to him: “Embrace Islam, embrace Islam.” He looked at his father as if to take his permission. His father said: “Obey Abu Al-Qaasim (i.e. Muhammad).” He took his advice and died immediately thereafter. The Prophet (s.a.w) said: “All praise be to Allah who has saved him from the Fire,” and commanded his companions to pray the funeral prayer over him.
2. It is recommended to supplicate and say good words aloud in the presence the one who is dying. These positive words make the process of dying easier, and recovery from illness more bearable. The Prophet (s.a.w) said: “If you are in the presence of a sick or dying person, you should say good things, for verily the Angels say ‘Aameen’ to whatever you say.”
The practice of reciting Surat Yasin in the presence of the dying person or dead person is based on weak prophetic reports, having no basis in the authentic Sunnah. Neither the Prophet (s.a.w) nor his companions did it, or recommended that it be done. Those who observe the practice of reciting Yasin over the dead do so in light of the hadith: “Yasin 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.” Concerning this hadith, 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.” Another practice which has no foundation in the practice of the Prophet (s.a.w) and his companions, is turning the body of one who is dying so that he or she faces the Qiblah (i.e. the Ka’bah in Makkah). Turning the body became a custom after the time of the Prophet’s companions, but was objected to by leading scholars of that time.
3. After a person’s soul leaves his body, a person from amongst those who are present should close the eyes of the dead person if they were open at the time of death. The Prophet (s.a.w) said: “When the soul is taken, the eyesight follows it.” Also, the entire body of the deceased should be covered, except for the one who dies in a state of Ihraam – that is, whilst performing Hajj or ‘Umrah, in which case the head and face should not be covered.
Weeping and Mourning over the Dead
Preparing the Body
Manner of Washing
In the case of a martyr, their body should not be washed at all. Concerning the martyrs, the Prophet (s.a.w) said: “Do not wash them, for verily every wound will emit musk on the Day of Judgement.” The following practices are amongst common innovations related to washing: Clipping of the nails and shaving of armpit or pubic hair, pressing hard on the stomach to expel impurities, stuffing cotton into the throat, nose and anus of the deceased (This is only permissible if the body has a continuous leak.), saying a specific phrase for every part of the body that is washed, and the present people making a loud thikr while the body is washed. We seek refuge with Allah from ignorance.
The Kafan – Shroud
The next procedure after washing is the obligatory act of shrouding the entire body. It is allowable for the deceased to be wrapped with one or two sheets. The preferable number is generally considered to be three, given that the Prophet (s.a.w) was shrouded in three. The preferable colour of the shroud is white. The Messenger of Allah (s.a.w) said: “Wear white clothes, for verily it is among the best of your garments, and shroud your dead in it also.” It is not permissible to be extravagant in shrouding the dead. The sheets should be ordinary cloth, and the number of sheets should not exceed three. It is recommended that the shroud be perfumed with incense, except in the case of a person who died in a state of ihraam. The clothing of one killed on the battlefield is not to be removed. It is recommended to shroud the martyr with one or two sheets over their clothes as the Prophet (s.a.w) did for Hamzah and others.
The Funeral prayer
It is preferable to pray the funeral prayer outside of the mosque, in a place designated for that, known as the Musallah. This was the most common practice of the Prophet (s.a.w). The funeral prayer may be carried out in the mosque, however praying it outside the mosque was the predominant practice of the Prophet (s.a.w). It is permissible to pray Janaazah (but not other prayers) in a graveyard, either away from the graves, or in an area designated for that. It is also permissible to perform the funeral prayer over a grave, after burial, in two situations: If the dead person was buried before performing the prayer; or if he was buried before giving chance to the Muslims to perform the prayer. This was done by the Prophet (s.a.w) over a black woman who used to clean the mosque.
We ask Allah Most High to grant us with authentic beneficial knowledge, and to bestow upon us the understanding of His deen. We ask Him to give us the strength and support to remember Him, praise Him, and to perfect our worship – Aameen.
Source: missionislam.com [External/non-QP]