The dos and don’ts of funeral etiquette
09 May 2022, 11:14 am
Every living being has a finite time on earth and death is an inevitable reality that everyone has to face one day.
It is therefore imperative that we know what we can or cannot do when attending a funeral so that we can bring the soul of the deceased to the next world surrounded by prayers and acts of kindness.
Funerals are not only a social obligation but also a transfer of a soul from this world to the next. They treat the dead as much as they do the living.
The holy Quran and the Sunnah together guide us through all stages of life and teach us how to act in certain situations. Accordingly, there must be certain rules and obligations while attending any funeral. This article will help you to learn how to act with death and the process of burial.
Hearing about a person’s death
First, as soon as one hears about a person’s death or sees it, one should say al-istirja, a short a dua on behalf of the deceased:
إِنَّا ِلِلَّٰهِ وَإِنَّا إِلَيْهِ رَاجِعُونَ,
Inna lillahi wa inna ilayhi raji’un
Meaning: Really! We belong to Allah and indeed, we will return to Him.
The feeling of grief and regret for the deceased as well as for the close relatives and friends he or she has left behind is a natural feeling, although it is permissible for the living to cry and mourn in the initial stages of the news. After spending these three days of mourning, a believer is said to perform ‘Sabr’ (patience) and ask Allah’s mercy for the deceased as well as for himself.
Burial of the Deceased
Burial must take place immediately after the death of the individual, after ‘ghusl’ and purification of the body. There should be minimal delay in burial and funeral preparations. The Prophet is known to have said, “Quickly perform the funeral rites.” Sahih Al-Bukhari 225
After transporting the body to the mosque or the field, the funeral prayer, which means Salat al-Janazah, takes place. If a person living in the community dies, all members of the community should attend his or her funeral prayers. It is best to offer prayers in three rows.
What is forbidden?
Wailing and Self-Harm
It is comprehensible that it may be hard for someone to govern one’s emotions and feelings at the demise of someone. However, the Holy Prophet forbade wailing in addition to self-harm in the shape of putting one’s cheeks and tearing clothes etc. He labeled such acts as the disbelievers due to the fact the act indicates wondering about Allah’s Divine Will.
What is permissible?
Uncover the face of the deceased and kiss it
The attendees of the funeral are allowed to discover the face of the deceased and kiss the face as it is considered the Sunnah of the Prophet.
Mourning and crying for the deceased is permitted for the most length of 3 days in Islam. The Holy Prophet waited for 3 days after the demise of Hazrat Jafar to go to his own family and relatives and then said, “No longer cry for my brother after today.” Abu Dawud 1165
The real test of a believer’s patience is when calamity strikes. Allah commands the family and friends of the deceased to patiently and slowly accept that whatever happens is the will of Allah and that He is the best planner.
وَلَنَبْلُوَنَّكُم بِشَىْءٍ مِّنَ ٱلْخَوْفِ وَٱلْجُوعِ وَنَقْصٍ مِّنَ ٱلْأَمْوَٰلِ وَٱلْأَنفُسِ وَٱلثَّمَرَٰتِ ۗ وَبَشِّرِ ٱلصَّـٰبِرِينَ
Meaning: I will certainly test you with a touch of fear and famine, and loss of property, life, and crops. Give good news to those who patiently endure. Al-Baqarah 2:155
Talking about the good deeds of the deceased
Those who have a close relationship with the deceased, be it family, friends or neighbors, should take a moment and remember him for his good deeds and tell others about them.
“For every Muslim who dies and his four close neighbors who state that they know him as a good man, Allah will say: I have accepted your evidence and have forgiven him. Tell him what you don’t know.” Ahkam al-Jana’iz 45-66
Death is a reality of life and funerals should remind us that this life is temporary. Each of us must return to our Lord one day, so we must prepare well for the final test on Judgment Day and muster all the virtues we can.