Persons for Whom Funeral Prayer is to be Offered:
There is a consensus among the jurists that funeral prayer is offered for all Muslims, male or female, and young or old. Ibn Al-Mundhir said: "The scholars are in agreement that if it is established that an infant is born alive, that is, by his crying, sneezing, or moving etc., then, if it dies, a funeral prayer should be offered for it."
Al-Mughirah ibn Shu'bah reports that the Prophet, peace be upon him, said: "One may ride one's mount behind the funeral, and walk on foot a little ahead of it or to its right or left. A funeral prayer should be offered for an aborted baby, seeking for his parents the mercy and forgiveness of Allah." This is reported by Ahmad and Abu Daw'ud. Another narration reads: "A person on foot may walk behind a funeral, or ahead of it, or on its left side or right side or still nearer to it." According to another report, "A rider should ride behind the funeral, whereas one on foot may walk anywhere. And a funeral prayer should be offered for a child." This is reported by Ahmad, Nasa'i, and Tirmidhi, who consider it a sound hadith.
Funeral Prayer for an Aborted Child:
A miscarried fetus, less than four months old, may not be washed, nor may a funeral prayer be offered for it. It should be wrapped in a piece of cloth and buried. The majority of jurists are in agreement on this point.
On the other hand, if a miscarried fetus is four months old or older, and the existence of life in it is established, then there is a consensus that it should be washed and a funeral prayer offered for it. But if its life is not established by its movements or other evidence, then according to Malik, Al-Awza'i, AlHasan, and the Hanafi school, funeral prayer may not be offered for it. They base their opinion on a hadith transmitted by Tirmidhi, Nasa'i, Ibn Majah, and Al-Baihaqi on the authority of Jabir that the Prophet, peace be upon him, said: "If in a miscarried fetus life is established by its movements, a funeral prayer should be offered for it, and it is entitled to its share of inheritance." According to this hadith offering a funeral prayer for a miscarried fetus is conditioned upon proof of its life evident in signs of life, such as its movement, etc.
Ahmad, Sa' id, Ibn Sirin, and Ishaq are of the opinion that in the light of the above hadith, a miscarried fetus may be washed and a funeral prayer may be offered for it. The words used in this hadith are "a funeral prayer should be offered for a miscarried fetus" because it has a soul and is alive. The Prophet, peace be upon him, informed us that a fetus receives a soul when it is four months old. Others refute this argument with the assertion that there is confusion in the chain of narrators of this hadith, and besides, a stronger hadith contradicts it. But this alone does not constitute a valid argument.
Funeral Prayer for a Martyr:
A martyr is one who is killed in a battlefield fighting the enemies of Islam. All the hadith on this subject are quite explicit that no funeral prayer may be offered for a martyr. Bukhari has narrated from Jabir that the Prophet, peace be upon him, ordered that the martyrs of the battle of Uhud be buried while they were still bleeding. He neither washed them nor offered a funeral prayer for them.
Ahmad, Ahu Daw 'ud and Tirmidhi reported that Anas said: "The martyrs of Uhud were not washed. They were buried with their wounds unwashed, and no funeral prayer was offered for them." There are, however, some hadith that are equally explicit and state that a funeral prayer should be offered for martyrs. Bukhari reported from 'Uqbah ibn 'Amir that one day the Prophet, peace be upon him, went out and offered a funeral prayer for the martyrs of Uhud, eight years after their death, as if he were bidding farewell to both the living and the dead.
Abu Malik Al-Ghafari reported: "The bodies of the martyrs of Uhud were brought in batches of nine and placed with the body of Hamzah, who served as the tenth. Then the Prophet, peace be upon him, offered a funeral prayer for them. After that the nine bodies were removed leaving Hamzah undisturbed. Then a batch of another nine martyrs was brought and placed beside Hamzah. The Prophet, peace be upon him, offered a funeral prayer for them as well. This way the Prophet offered funeral prayer for all of them. This hadith has been narrated by Al-Baihaqi, who says: "This is the most sound hadith on this subject. It is, however, a mursal hadith. (Mursal: A hadith that rests on a chain of authonties going no further back than the second generation after the Prophet (peace be upon him))
The difference in the narrations in these various hadith has led jurists to differ on this matter. Some take all of them together, while others prefer some narrations over others. Ibn Hazm holds that either--offering or not offering (funeral prayer for the martyrs)--is permissible. It is alright whether or not a funeral prayer is offered for the martyrs. In one of his statements Ahmad has also expressed a similar view. Ibn al-Qayyim approves of this view and says: "The correct position in this regard is that one is given a choice whether or not to offer a funeral prayer (for a martyr), because there are reports in favor of both positions." This is the opinion also of Ahmad, and he is the proper person to describe the principles of his school. He says: "What is apparent from this is that no funeral prayer was offered for the martyrs of Uhud before burying them. There were seventy people who fell martyrs in that battle, and any funeral prayer for them could not have taken place in secret."
The hadith reported by Jabir ibn 'Abd Allah that the Prophet, peace be upon him, did not offer funeral prayer for these martyrs is sound and very explicit. Jabir' s father was among those who were killed that day, and he knew what few besides him knew.
Abu Hanifah, Al-Thawri, Al-Hasan, and Ibn Al-Musayiyaib, however, are inclined to the reports stating that the Prophet, peace be upon him, did offer funeral prayer for the martyrs. They hold that a funeral prayer must be offered for martyrs. However, Malik, Ash-Shafi'i, Ishaq, and, according to one report, Ahmad, prefer the reports that say no funeral prayer is to be offered for martyrs. Ash-Shafi'i in his Kitab al-Umm writes: "All reports received concerning this subject are sound and show that the Prophet, peace be upon him, did not offer funeral prayer for the martyrs of Uhud. Those who report that he offered funeral prayer for them and said seventy takbirs for Hamzah are not correct. Those who turn away from these sound hadith should be ashamed of themselves. The hadith reported by 'Uqbah ibn 'Amir also states that the Prophet, peace be upon him, did so eight years after their death, as if he were bidding them farewell. This does not constitute abrogation of an established practice. (See Al-Umm. by Ash-Shafi'i)
A Person Surviving a Battle but later Dying of Wounds:
If one is wounded in a battle, but survives, remains in a stable condition for a while, and then dies, he should be washed, and a funeral prayer should be offered for him, even though he may be a martyr. The Prophet, peace be upon him, washed Sa'd ibn Mu'adh, and offered a funeral prayer for him, after he died of his hand wounds. Sa'd was taken to the mosque, where he remained for a few days, and then he died as a martyr because of his infected wound.
If on the other hand, a wounded fighter does not survive in a stable condition, or he just talked or drank water and thereafter died, he is not to be washed or offered a funeral prayer.
The author of Al-Mughni states: "It is recorded in Futuh Al-Sham, that a man said: "I took some water to give a drink to my cousin if he were still alive after some injuries in the battle. On the way, I passed by Al-Harith ibn Hisham, who was also wounded in the same battle. I wanted to give him a drink, but he noticed that another wounded man was looking toward him for a drink. At this he pointed that I should first give this man a drink. I went toward him to give him a drink, but he also found another man looking to him. So he gestured that I should first give him the drink. Thus they all died. None of them was washed or offered a funeral prayer although they all died after the battle.
Funeral Prayer for a Person Sentenced to Death for a Crime:
Anyone sentenced to death by an Islamic court is to be washed and a funeral prayer should be offered for him. This is based on a report by Bukhari that Jabir said: "A man from the tribe of Aslam came to the Prophet, peace be upon him, and confessed to fornication. The Prophet, peace be upon him, tried to avoid him four times, while the man repeated his testimony against himself. Then the Prophet, peace be upon him, asked the man: 'Are you mad?' The man said, 'No.' The Prophet, peace be upon him, asked him, 'Are you married?' He said, 'Yes.' Thereupon the Prophet, peace be upon him, ordered that the man be stoned to death. He was stoned to death at the place where ( 'Eid prayer) used to be offered. When the stones struck the man, he tried to run away, but was overtaken and killed. After his death, the Prophet, peace be upon him, spoke well of him, and offered funeral prayer for him. Ahmad said: "We know of no cases where the Prophet, peace be upon him, refused to offer funeral prayer for any one except in cases of one convicted of embezzlement (of zakat funds) and a person who committed suicide."
Funeral Prayer for those Guilty of Embezzlement, Suicide, or Some Other Sins:
The majority of Muslim scholars are of the opinion that a funeral prayer may be offered for a person who is convicted of embezzlement of public funds, or commits suicide or some similarly sinful act. An-Nawawi said: "Al-Qadi said: 'All Muslim scholars hold that a funeral prayer be offered for all Muslims - those sentenced to death under Islamic law, or stoned to death, or those who committed suicide, or were born out of wedlock. The reports about the Prophet, peace be upon him, not praying for embezzlers and those guilty of suicide may be explained perhaps by considering such refusal to be a form of reprimand to these people. This is similar to his practice of refusing to pray for those who died in debt, though he asked other Muslims to offer the funeral prayer for them'."
Ibn Hazm said: "Funeral prayer should be offered for all Muslims, whether good or bad, including those sentenced to death and those that die fighting or in revolt. The imam, or any one other than him, may lead the funeral prayers. Likewise funeral prayers should be said for an innovator, provided his innovation does not become blasphemy, and prayer may also be said for one who commits suicide or kills some one else. A funeral prayer may be offered in all such cases even though the deceased might have been the most evil person on the face of the earth, provided he dies as a Muslim. This is based on a hadith from the Prophet, peace be upon him, that has a general bearing. "Offer a funeral prayer for your friend (a fellow Muslim)," he is reported to have said on the death of a Muslim. All Muslims are friends to one another. The Qur'an says: "Verily! The believers are but a single brotherhood" Qur'an 49.10 and "The believers, men and women, are protectors, one of another." Qur'an 9.71
To prevent others from offering funeral prayers over a Muslim is a most serious thing, for surely a sinful Muslim is more in need of prayers from his Muslim brothers than a pious and saintly person! An authentic hadith records that a man died in Khayber, and the Prophet, peace be upon him, said: "Offer a funeral prayer for your friend. He has stolen something of the war booty." The Muslims searched the deceased's personal effects and found less than two dirham worth of beads in them.
In another sahih hadith 'Ata reported that a funeral prayer may be offered for an illegitimate child, and his mother, and for those who curse each other, (In cases of Lu'an, for instance, when in the absence of any evidence of a spouse's adultery both the man and wife are required to swear an oath that he/she is telling the truth or face being cursed by Allah if they were lying) as well as the person who is killed in requital, and the person stoned to death, and the person who flees from the battlefield and is put to death for it. ' Ata said: "I will never abstain from offering a funeral prayer for a person who says: 'I bear witness that there is no deity except Allah.' Allah says: 'It is not fitting for the Prophet and those who believe to pray for forgiveness for pagans, even though they be of kin, after it is clear that they are companions of the Fire'.'' Qur'an 9.113
Another authentic hadith says that Ibrahim An-Nakh'i said: "Our predecessors never eschewed attending a funeral prayer for any Muslim. They offered the funeral prayer for those who had committed suicide, and it is a sunnah to offer funeral prayer for those who are stoned to death." In another sound hadith Qatadah reported: "I do not know of any scholar who refused to offer a funeral prayer for anyone witnessing that 'there is no god but Allah'." Ibn Sirin, according to a sahih hadith, said: "I do not know of any Muslim who considers it a sin to offer a funeral prayer for another Muslim."
Abu Ghalib reported: "I asked Abu Amamah Al-Bahili: 'What if a man is known to drink liquor. Should a funeral prayer be offered for him? ' He said: 'Yes, for he might [at least] once in his life, while lying down for rest, have said: "There is no deity but Allah," and he might have been forgiven by Allah' ." In a sahih hadith Al-Hasan is reported to have said: "Funeral prayer will be offered for all those who declare 'There is no deity but Allah. ' It will be offered for all Muslims; for it is an act of intercession on behalf of the deceased."
Funeral Prayer for a Non-believer:
A Muslim may not pray for a non-believer, for Allah says: "Nor do you ever pray for any of them that dies, nor stand at his grave, for they rejected Allah and His Messenger," Qur'an 9.84 "It is not fitting for the Prophet and those who believe to pray for forgiveness for pagans, even though they be of kin, after it is clear to them that they are companions of the Fire. And Ibrahim prayed for his father's forgiveness only because of a promise he had made to him. But when it became clear to him that he (his father) was an enemy to Allah, he dissociated himself from him." Qur'an 9.113-l14
Likewise no prayer may be offered for their children, for what applies to their parents applies to them as well, except for children who accept Islam, because one of their parents was a Muslim or they die or are taken prisoner separately from either or both of their parents, then a funeral prayer may be offered for the children.
Funeral Prayer on a Grave:
It is permissible to offer funeral prayer for a deceased anytime after his burial, even if a prayer was offered prior to his burial. As mentioned above, the Prophet, peace be upon him, offered funeral prayer for the martyrs of Uhud after eight years. Zaid ibn Thabit reported: "Once we went out with the Prophet, peace be upon him . When we reached al-Baqi ' (Famous cemetery in Madinah, where a large number of the Prophet's companions are buried) we noticed a newly dug grave. The Prophet, peace be upon him, asked about it and was told that was the grave of such and such a woman. At this he said: 'Why did you not inform me of her death?' They replied, 'O Prophet of Allah! You were fasting and were resting at the time and we did not want to bother you. ' He said: 'Do not do that again. So long as I am with you, make sure you inform me when any one among you dies, for my prayers for the deceased is a mercy for them.' Then the Prophet, peace be upon him, went to the grave. We stood in rows behind him and he offered a funeral prayer for her with four takbirs." This hadith has been reported by Ahmad, Nasa'i, Al-Baihaqi, Al-Hakim and Ibn Hibban. The last two reporters regard it as a sound hadith.
Tirmidhi said: This has been the practice of most of the scholars, the Companions of the Prophet (may Allah be pleased with them), as well as others. Ash-Shafi'i, Ahmad, and Ishaq hold the same view. This hadith also shows that the Prophet, peace be upon him, offered funeral prayer at a grave when a funeral prayer had already been offered by his Companions for the deceased before her burial, for they could not bury her without a funeral prayer. From this hadith it is also obvious that praying for the dead (before the burial) was a common practice of the Companions, and was not limited only to the Prophet, peace be upon him.
Ibn Al-Qayyim said: "These proven traditions of the Prophet, peace be upon him, do not contradict the sound hadith that reports the statement of the Prophet, peace be upon him: 'Do not sit by the graves, or offer prayer facing them.' This is a sound hadith that bids us not to sit or pray at the graves. What is forbidden is to offer formal prayer (salah) facing a grave. Offering a funeral prayer at the grave is not forbidden, for funeral prayer does not have to be offered at any specific place. It is rather better offered outside a mosque than inside it. The funeral prayer at the grave is similar to offering it beside the coffin. In either case the prayer is offered for the deceased, and his body, whether it is in the coffin or in the grave, remains in the same position. Offering prayers other than funeral prayers are forbidden at graves, for there is a risk that this may tum these graveyards into mosques, against which the Prophet, peace be upon him, wamed us. He cursed those who tum graves into places of worship, saying: 'Some evil people will be overtaken by the Day of Judgement, including those (evil people) who tum graves into mosques.' This warning has no bearing on an act that the Prophet, peace be upon him, repeatedly perfommed. "
Funeral Prayer for an Absentee and for a Person who has Disappeared:
Offering a funeral prayer for an absent person in another city is pennissible, whether the city is near or far. In such a case those offering funeral prayer should stand facing the qiblah, even if the city where the absentee is located is not in the direction of the qiblah. After making an intention to pray for the absentee, takbirs should be said as they are nommally said in funeral prayer over a deceased who is present. This is based on a hadith reported by the group on the authority of Abu Hurairah that the Prophet, peace be upon him, infomned people about the death of Negus the day he died, and then took them out to offer funeral prayer for him. There he arranged his Companions in rows and said four takbirs. Ibn Hazm said: "The funeral prayer for an absentee may be perfommed by a group of people under an imam. The Prophet, peace be upon him, offered a funeral prayer for Negus, who had died in Ethiopia, with his Companions standing in rows behind him. There is consensus among the Companions regarding this issue, and it should not be overlooked. Abu Hanifah and Malik, however, disagree with this view, but they have no ground for this disagreement."
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