WEEKLY SERMON: Islamic Teachings Concerning Mourning The Dead, By Imam Murtadha Gusau

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I Begin With The Name Of Allah, The Most Merciful, The One Who Bestows Mercy

Alhumdulillah. Indeed, all praise is due to Allah. We praise Him and seek His Help and forgiveness. We seek refuge in Allah from our soul’s evils and our wrong doings. He whom Allah guides, no one can misguide; and he whom He misguides, no one can guide.

I bear witness that there is no god except Allah – alone without any partners. And I bear witness that Muhammad is His Abd (servant) and Messenger.

O Allah, send prayers upon Muhammad and the family of Muhammad, just as You sent prayers upon Ibrahim and upon the family of Ibrahim, verily you are full of praise and majesty. O Allah, send blessings upon Muhammad and upon the family of Muhammad, just as You sent blessings upon Ibrahim and upon the family of Ibrahim, verily, You are full of praise and majesty.

Respected Servants of Allah! First of all, it is to be noted that Islam demands its adherents to show patience and acceptance of Allah’s will when they face the calamity of the death of a relative. Therefore, it (Islam) forbade them from all acts and sayings that show discontent and dissatisfaction with Allah’s verdict such as wailing, screaming, shouting, wearing black clothes, tearing clothes, demonstrations, etc.

The eyes of the Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him) shed tears for the death of his son, Ibrahim, and he said:

“O Ibrahim, our eyes shed tears and our hearts are filled with grief, but we do not say anything except that by which Allah is pleased. O Ibrahim, we are grieved for you.”

The late Sheikh Hassanain Makhluf, former Mufti of Egypt, states the following:

“Every Muslim and Muslimah should receive the death (of a relative or an associate) patiently showing their acceptance of Allah’s verdict. The maximum period of mourning for a woman is four months and ten days, if the deceased is her husband, and three days for relatives and other persons. It is impermissible for a woman to exceed these periods for the Prophet, (Peace be upon him) said: “It is not legal for a woman who believes in Allah and the Last Day to mourn for more than three days for any dead person except her husband, for whom she should mourn for four months and ten days.” Mourning (for woman who lost her husband) is done by avoiding ornaments and perfumes, etc. not by crying, wailing, slapping the cheeks, shaving hair, wearing black clothes and other forbidden acts.”

Elaborating on the concept of mourning from an Islamic point of view and its limitation, I would like to quote the following:

Different societies have different customs and traditions associated with death in the family. In non-Islamic societies, there are visible signs of mourning which are supposed to convey grief. People, especially women, should wear black clothes for a certain period, according to the degree of their relation with the deceased. Men may wear black clothes also or a black tie, etc. In certain communities, death is marked by loud crying, demonstrations, disturbing the peace in the town, and tearing of clothes, etc. All this is forbidden in Islam. This does not preclude that people may grieve for their deceased and they may express their grief with shedding tears. This sort of crying must not be accompanied by wailing. That is un-Islamic.

The maximum period of mourning for a woman is three days, if the deceased is a very close relation to her, but not her husband. In other words, mourning for a deceased father, son, brother or a leader, may be only over a period of three days, after that, she must show her acceptance of Allah’s verdict. We have a report of two cases of the Prophet’s wives, Umm Habibah and Zainab. The first lost her father, Abu Sufyan, and the other lost her brother. After three days, in each case, each of them requested perfume to wear. Both of them said that they had no desire whatsoever to wear perfume, but they had heard the Prophet saying:

“It is not legal for a woman who believes in Allah and the Last Day to mourn for more than three days for any dead person except her husband, for whom she should mourn for four months and ten days.”

As you realise, this is the length of the waiting period of a widow. During her waiting period, she must not wear make-up.

Dear Brothers and Sisters! When someone close to your heart dies, it feels like your whole world is about to fall apart. Mourning the dead is allowed in Islam but then, what we see most of the Muslims practicing at the present time is way different from what Islam teaches or allows.

Yes, to grief at the death of a beloved person and weeping is normal but going the extra mile by wailing, shrieking, beating the chest of the person consoling you, tearing clothes, breaking things, scratching faces, injuring oneself, wearing black clothes, or saying all sorts of phrases are not allowed as this makes a Muslim lose faith in Allah. He (Allah) knows the reason why your beloved person had to go. So turn to Him in these trying times and make Him sufficient for you, rather than causing a scene.

All these aforementioned acts are prohibited in Islam. May be one thing people fail to realize is that the deceased actually feels pain by these actions. So instead of wailing, pray for your beloved. Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him) said:

“The deceased suffers when one bewails loudly.” [Bukhari and Muslim]

Nowadays, people are of the habit of letting their beards grow to show their sadness and then after seven days, they shave it. Others would wear black clothes; black ties, black shoes, and all these do not have a basis in Islam. Relatives may mourn a deceased for three days only, but a widow may mourn her husband for four months and ten days.

Therefore, it is a Muslim’s duty to render advice to those who do these things thinking that they are right, when they are in fact wrong. It’s hard to come to terms with losing a beloved person but no loss, however great, should lead a Muslim to sour his faith. Instead, one should bear patiently and accept what Allah has decreed which goes to show one’s belief in Destiny (Qadar). Indeed, Allah is with the patient.

One can cry silently as much as one can as there is no objection to this. The Prophet (Peace be upon him) did same when he lost his son and said:

“It is mercy that Allah made in the hearts of his servants.” [Bukhari and Muslim]

So I urge us all to have faith in Allah and what He decrees to happen. I know dealing with the loss of a beloved is easier said than done, but let’s remember that Allah is in control and always pray for the deceased. The deceased would need that prayer more than you could ever imagine. As one good turn deserves another, you’ll also get to receive your quota of the prayer someday.

Here are a few of the Prophet’s sayings you might want to ponder on:

The Prophet (Peace be upon him) said:

“Two things in people are ignorance (Jahiliyyah), one is to ridicule someone on his family genealogy, and the other is bewailing loudly the dead.” [Bukhari and Muslim]

The Prophet (Peace be upon him) also added:

“I detest a woman who cries out very loudly, or shaves her hair, or tears her clothes when a beloved one dies.” [Bukhari and Muslim]

The Prophet (Peace be upon him) said:

“He is not of us who beats his face, tears his clothes and bewails loudly when misfortune happens to him as was done before during the days of ignorance (Jahiliyyah).” [Bukhari and Muslim]

My Respected People! The great scholar, the jurist, Shaykh Ibn Uthaimin (May Allah shower him with mercy) said:

“The condolence is not a well-wishing like a person who hosts the well-wishers. The purpose behind the condolence is that when we see a person who has been affected by a calamity that we speak to him to lessen his affliction or to console. That is the purpose of the condolence. So we say as the Prophet (Peace be upon him) said to one of his daughters: “Be patient for indeed to Allah belongs what He takes and to Him belongs whatever He gives, and everything with Him has a determined time.” [Muslim] There is no need to gather at a house because the gathering in a house opposes what the Righteous Predecessors (the early generations) were upon, such that they would say: “We [the Companions] would consider gathering to visit the house of the deceased and making food after their burial, both to be from wailing over them.” [Ahmad and Ibn Majah] And wailing is from the major sins, and the Prophet (Peace be upon him) invoked the curse of Allah upon the woman who wails and the women who listen to her. [Abu Dawud] However, when we hear that a person has been affected by the death of a relative or a friend etc, then we should be eager to reach them, and say: “Be patient and anticipate the reward of Allah.” As for just gathering the people together upon the death of a relative, and some may even light candles, and get chairs and canopies ready and then reciters appear and so on, then this is not permitted. The Muslims used not to do this until only recently – instead when a person died and people had finished from the burial (or Janazah) and they would see there one who was affected by a bereavement, they would console him (or her) and then return back to their families. Also if one was to meet a person for example in the marketplace, working place, or the Mosque, they would offer condolences. But as for gatherings for that purpose, then no doubt, it is an innovation (a Bid’ah), an affair that is forbidden. And this is especially so when it is accompanied by lamenting, screaming and wailing – wherein women gather together and say, “By Allah, he was like this and like that, he was the father of these children! He was the head of this household. To who now is this family, and to whom is this house?” and so on! This is forbidden lamenting. Upon the scholars and the students of knowledge is to make the people aware before the floodgates are breached.” [See Fatawa fi Ahkam Al-Jana’iz, page 278-279]

The Imam of Hadith and Sunnah, Shaikh Muhammad Nasiruddin Al-Albani (May Allah shower him with mercy) stated:

“It is necessary to avoid two matters: 1. Gathering to receive condolences in a specified location such as a house, or the cemetery or a Masjid (Mosque). 2. Preparation of food by the household of the family for those coming to give condolences. This is due to the Hadith of Jarir Ibn Abdullah Al-Bajali (RA) who said: “We [the Companions] would consider gathering to visit the house of the deceased and making food after their burial, both to be from wailing over them.” (Ahmad and Ibn Majah – its chain of narration is authentic upon the conditions of Bukhari and Muslim; authenticated by An-Nawawi, Ahmad Al-Wasiti in Tarikh Wasit, page 108, reported it as the saying of Umar Ibn Al-Khattab (RA). An-Nawawi said: “Imam Ash-Shfi’i and his students held such gatherings to be disliked (forbidden). Meaning: the gathering of the family of the deceased at a house and sitting for condolences and then people come to them for that purpose. Rather they should continue their lives as normal and whenever they happen to meet, they would console them. There is no difference between men and women in the dislike (forbiddance) of gathering for it.” [Al-Majmu, vol. 5, page 306] Imam Ash-Shafi’i said in Al-Umm, vol. 1, page 248: “I hold the Matam (gathering for mourning and lamenting) to be disliked (forbidden), even if they do not cry, for it is a revival of grief, and is a burden on provisions, alongside conflicting with what has been stated in the narration.” It is as if he is referring to the Hadith of Jarir Ibn Abdullah. Ibn Al-Humam likewise declared the practice of hosting people after a burial at the home of the deceased and making food to be something hated and he said: “It is an ugly innovation (Bid’ah).” [See Sharhul-Hidayah, vol. 2, page 565] From the deplorable innovations is to remove furnishings from the home of the family of the deceased in order to make space for the people to gather for mourning and receive condolences, and to remain in that state for seven (or three) days – and then to return back the furnishings. [See also Al-Madkhal of Ibn al-Haj, vol. 3, page 279-280]” [Ahkam al-Jana’iz of Shaykh Al-Albani, page 210, 211 and 320]

Dear Brothers and Sisters! I ask Allah to assist us in living by the Qur’an and Sunnah. I pray that He lets us recognise the truth for what it is and helps us to follow it, and that He lets us see falsehood for what it is and helps us to avoid it.

O Allah! Guide us and protect us from the causes of ignorance and destruction! Save us o Allah from the defects of ourselves! Cause the last of our deeds to be the best and most righteous! And forgive all of us.

Respected Servants of Allah! Anything good I have said in my today’s Sermon is from Allah the Almighty, and any mistakes are my own and I seek refuge in Allah from giving wrong advice and from all forms of calamities and fitnah.

I ask Allah’s forgiveness if I stepped beyond bounds in anything I said or I do.

May Allah be praised; and may the peace and blessings of Allah be upon His Messenger Muhammad (Peace be upon him) and upon his family and Companions.

With this I conclude my today’s Sermon, and I ask Allah, the Almighty and the Sublime, to forgive all of our sins. So seek his forgiveness, He is All-forgiving and Most-Merciful.

This Jumu’ah Khutbah (Friday Sermon) was prepared for delivery today Friday, Muharram 18, 1440 AH (September 28, 2018), by Imam Murtadha Muhammad Gusau, the Chief Imam of Nagazi-Uvete Jumu’ah and the late Alhaji Abdurrahman Okene’s Mosques, Okene Kogi State, Nigeria. He can be reached via: gusaumurtada@gmail.com or +2348038289761.

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