Fiqh-Us-Sunnah Notes, Janaa’iz (Funerals), Ch. 9: The Funeral Prayer [Part 1]


[As usual my notes will be indented written in gray text. However due to the length of this topic I will devide it into three segments]

Chapter 9: The Funeral Prayer [Part 1 of 3]

Chapter 9a: Funeral Prayer, its Legal Status

There is a consensus among all the great Muslim jurists that a funeral prayer for a deceased person (1) is a collective obligation or fard kifayah. The Prophet, peace be upon him, commanded the Muslims to offer it, and they have been doing so ever since they received this commandment.

(1) … in congregation…

And it is waajib to do so (in congregation) because the Prophet (saw) said, “Pray as you have seen me praying.” [Bukhaaree]

If the janaazah prayer is done individually it would suffice and the obligation (of offering the janaazah prayer) would be fulfiled but they would sin for leaving off the jamaa’ah (congregation).

As An-Nawawee said, “There is no difference that it is permissible to pray janaazah individually. But the sunnah is to pray in jamaa’ah (congregation.” [Al-Majmoo’ 5/314]

The minimum people to establish a congregation is three, if there are two people than one stands behind the other, not next to him (this will be discussed later inshaaAllaah).

Abu Hurairah reported that when the Prophet, peace be upon him, was informed of the death of a person, he used to ask: ‘Does he owe anything to anyone?‘ If the answer was in the affirmative, he would then ask: ‘Has he (the deceased) left anything to settle his debt?‘ If he had left something to settle his debt, he would offer the funeral prayer for him. Otherwise, he would say to the Muslims: ‘Offer a (funeral) prayer for your brother‘ (Bukhari 5371 and Muslim 1691).

With regards to paying off the debt, that has been discussed in the previous chapter “What to do when someone dies“.

Chapter 9b: Reward for Offering Funeral Prayer

The following hadeeth can be divided into two parts. Part 1:

Abu Hurairah narrates that the Prophet, peace be upon him, said: “Whoever follows a funeral procession and offers the prayer for the deceased, will get one Qeraat of reward.

Part 2:

And whoever follows it and remains with it until the body is buried, will get two kerats of reward, the least of which is equal in weight to ‘Mount Uhud’ or he said ‘one of them is like Uhud.‘ The narrator is not certain as to the exact words used by the Prophet, peace be upon him. This is reported by the group.

Note, you do not get a reward of a qiraat if you only do part two of the hadeeth. You must do both parts to get two qiraats of reward.

Hadeeth is in Bukhaaree 1325 and Muslim 947.

Khabbab reported that he asked “O ‘Abdullah Ibn ‘Umar! Did you hear what Abu Hurairah says? He says that he heard Allah’s Messenger, saying. ‘Whoever leaves its house to attend a funeral prayer, offers funeral prayer, and then follows the funeral procession until the body is buried will receive two qiraats of reward, each of which is like the mountain of Uhud. And whoever offers the funeral prayer and then leaves for home (This proves that a person does not need permission of the family of the deceased to leave after attending the funeral) will get a reward like the mountain of Uhud” (Muslim 945).

Ibn ‘Umar sent Khabbab to ‘Aishah asking her about the statement of Abu Hurairah. She said, “Abu Hurairah has told the truth.” When Ibn ‘ Umar was informed about this he said, “We have indeed lost many a qiraat.

This part shows that it is good to check up, even if the narrator is trustworthy. Here it was Aboo Hurayrah.

Chapter 9c: Requisite Conditions for Funeral Prayer

The prerequisites for a funeral prayer are the same as for the obligatory prayers. Anyone intending to offer funeral prayer must be in a state of purity (1), be free from all minor and major impurities, must cover his or her “awrah,” and stand facing the direction of the Ka’bah.

(1) Strangely there is nothing from a hadeeth of the Prophet (saw) which states this.

However, it is strongly preferable to be in a state of wudhoo, because the general rules of salaah apply to the janaazah prayer. Though see below for more info.

Malik reported from Nafi’ that Abdullah Ibn ‘Umar (2) used to say: “One should not offer a funeral prayer unless he is in a state of purity.

(2) This is known as te ‘Golden Chain’.

Furthermore, if one come late to the janaazah salaah, he can just do tayammum and join the salaah, if by you doing wudhoo, you fear you will miss the prayer.

The funeral prayer differs from the prescribed prayers in that there is no fixed time for offering it. It may be offered at any time, including the times when regular prayers may not be offered. This is the opinion of the Hanafi and Shafi’i schools.

And this^ seems to be the weaker opinion, and Allah knows best. As there are narrations to the contrary.

Ahmad, Ibn Al-Mubarak, and Ishaq dislike offering a funeral prayer at sunrise, at noon when the sun is at its zenith, and at dusk when the sun is about to set, except in cases when it is feared that if delayed, the body might decompose.

Except out of necessity it is not allowed to pray the janaazah prayer in the prohibited times. The proof for this is the narration of ‘Uqbah Ibn ‘Aamir where he said:

“There are three times at which Allaah’s Messenger (saw) prohibited us from praying or burying our dead:

(a) When the sun rises – until it becomes high,

(b) When the noon time starts – until the sun declines (off the zenith), and

(c) When the sun approaches setting – until it sets.

[Muslim, Aboo Daawood and others]

So here is a clear cut narration not allowing the praying over the dead at the prohibited times.

Some say it is legit t pray in these prohibited times because it is a prayer with a reason behind it, for example, just as you can pray tahiyatul masjid during the prohibited times, then likewise you can offer the janaazah prayer during the prohibited times.  This however doesn’t seem to be correct because the janaazah prayer can be delayed for a short while, only unless it is feared the corpse may deteriorate. According to these scholars, the only prohibited time where one cannot do any salaah (even the ones for a reason behind them) is during the khutbah on fridays. The only exception to this is the tahiyatul masjid.

Chapter 9d: Main Requirements of the Funeral Prayer

Certain requirements must be met for a valid funeral prayer, and failure to meet any of these may invalidate the prayer. These requirements are given below:

1 Intention

The real intention is what is in the heart, and its verbal utterance is not legally required. Allah says in the Qur’an: “And they have been commanded no more than this: To worship Allah, offering Him sincere devotion, being true in (faith).” [Qur’an 98.5]

And the Prophet, peace be upon him, said: “Verily, all deeds (of a person) will be judged in the light of the intentions behind them, and every person will attain what he intends.

This^ is the first hadeeth in saheeh bukhaaree. Intention is needed for the janaazah prayer just like all other actions one hopes for a reward. So sincerity is needed.

2 Standing Prayer

The majority of scholars regard it as an essential condition for a valid funeral prayer to stand while praying if one is physically able to do so. A funeral prayer offered while sitting or riding, without any valid excuse, is not valid.

One must stand for the prayer, if you cant stand then sit, if you cant sit then lay down on your right side, if you cant then on your back, if not, then indicate with your eyes. The Hanafees say you should indicate with your finger but there is no proof for that.

It is reported in Al-Mughni “It is not permissible for one to offer a funeral prayer while riding, as in this case an essential condition – standing while praying – would be missing.” This is the opinion of Abu Hanifah, Ash-Shafi’i, and Abu Thaur. There is no difference on this point. It is preferable (1) to put one’s hands together, placing the right on the left, as is done in the prescribed regular prayer. Some disagree, but in our view it is better and preferable.

(1) It is not ‘preferable’ but rather it is obligatory to put ones hands together.

3 Loud Recitation of Four Takbirs

‘Loud’ recitation is only for the Imaam.

Furthermore one may do 5, 6, 7, 8 or 9 takbeers for the janaazah salaah.

This is based on a report transmitted by both Bukhari and Muslim on the authority of Jabir who said: “Allah’s Messenger, peace be upon him, offered funeral prayers for Najashi (Negus) and said four takbirs.” (That is, he said Allahu akbar four times)

There is no specific number of takbeers which one should stick to. And the prof for this is the naration in which Alqumah came from shaam to Iraaq and said to Ibn Mas’ood:

“Your brothers in Shaam make five takbeers over their funerals. Would you specify for us a certain number that we would expect to make behind you?”

Ibn Mas’ood was silent for a while and then said:

“In yuor funerals make as many takbeers as your imaams make – no specific number.”

[Authenticated by Ibn Hazm and Al-Albaanee]

Tirmizhi said: Most of the learned Companions of the Prophet (may Allah be pleased with them) and others followed and acted in accordance with the above example of the Prophet. They hold that four takbirs should be said in a funeral prayer. Among these scholars are Sufyan, Malik, Ibn Al-Mubarak, Ash-Shafi’i, Ahmad, and Ishaq.

‘Alee is reported to have made 4, 5, 6 and 7 takbeers [Aboo Daawood, Ahmad, Tahaawee, Daaraqutnee, Bayhaqee, authenticated by Al-Albaanee]

Likewise the Prophet (saw) is reported to have made 9 takbeers when he (saw) prayed over Hamza [Tawaawee, tabaraanee among oters, authenticated by Al-Albaanee]

To be continued…

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