Wednesday, 5 October 2011
We Pray for the Departed
The Funeral Procedures
In the Holy Qur'an in verses 26, 27 & 28 of Surath Al Ja'siya, we are reminded: "(O Muhammed S.A.W.S.) Say (unto them): 'It is Allah, Who gives you life, then gives you death; then He will gather you together for the Day of Judgment, about which there is no doubt; but most men do not know.
"And unto Allah belongs the Sovereignty over the heavens and the earth and on the Day when the Hour (of Judgment) arrives, on that Day those who follow falsehood will perish.
"And you will see every nation crouching on its knee, every nation will be called to (account for) its record. (And it will be told) 'This Day will you be recompensed for all that you did!'"
To a Muslim, the thought of death is no cause for fear or desperation. And we are directed not to mourn a death. We say INNAA LILLAHI VA INNAA ILAHI RAAJIYOON (What came from Allah, has to return to Him ultimately).
The Prophet S.A.W.S. has cautioned us that if the near and dear ones or others affected by the death, mourn overly the loss, the dead person's soul is subjected to an ordeal of suffering.
In another significant Hadith, we are told that:
in attending to worldly concerns (like our business or industry or our office and while seeking professional advancement) we must not think of death at all.
(This effectively negates the charge so often levelled against us: that we are fatalistic and this is the cause of our economic backwardness. According to research, the real cause is the prevailing discrimination against us and the denial of opportunity to us by those who dominate the region's economy).
(But) in the context of our religious duties, we must feel that the very next moment could be our last (and so, we must perform all due Salaahs, observe fasts and give away the Zakaath dues and miss no opportunity of fulfilling our Islamic responsibilities).
When a Muslim is near his end, he is laid on his back, with his legs stretched towards the Qiblah. This implies no disrespect to it. But rather, this helps the person's eyes to be turned towards the House of Allah in Makkah. His head is raised a little to facilithate this.
We must not goad the dying to be reciting the Kalimah. But we must recite it ourselves repeatedly and rather audibly. This will inspire him/her also to do so.
In the moment of utmost suffering, the recitation will be a boon. Reciting the Surath Yaseen is also a great help. We must sit near the head of the mattress or mat on which the person is lying and read to him/her the Holy Qur'an.
When life is extinct, we close the eyes of the dead and recite:
BISMILLAHI VA ALAA MILLATH-E-RASOOLILLAHI SALLALLAHU ALAIHI VA SALLAM VA J'A LILLAHUMMA MAA KHARAJA ILAI'HI KHAI'YRAM MIMMAA KHARAJA AN'HU.
With a scarf or towel the jaw is secured and the two ends of the cloth tied into a knot at the top of the head. The feet are brought together and the toes tied to one another. And preparations are expedited for bathing and then clothing the body in a shroud.
Air is freshened in the room with the burning of aloe wood or oodh-loabaan etc.
Women in menstruation must not be in the room. Recitation of Holy Qura'n must not commence until after the dead body has been bathed and clothed.
Bathing the Dead: A broad-topped bench or cot is placed in a tilting position, by raising its head and placing some bricks or the like under it. This would allow the water to flow down easily. The cot or bench is perfumed by having fumes of agarbathis or loabaan anoint it 3, 5, or 7 times.
The body is laid on it. A clean sheet large enough to cover its sath'r is spread over it and the unclean clothing removed from underneath it.
Privacy must be ensured in case of the female dead. The bath is performed in lukewarm water.
First, the private parts are cleaned, by splashing water under the sheet. The hands of the person giving the bath are covered with a cloth and the parts wiped clean without being seen and the dirty cloth discarded.
Next the Wudu, ablution, is performed, after closing the mouth and both nostrils and both ears with surgical cotton, so that water does not enter either orifice.
In Wudu, neither gargling nor letting water into the nostrils is effected. The face is washed clean and the hands washed upto and including the elbows. The 'masah' (wiping the head and ears clean with a wet hand) is done. Then, both feet are washed.
The head is cleaned with herbal powder or any mild cleansing agent. A good soap is also used for the bath.
The body is tilted first to the right and water splashed softly over it from head to foot three times, covering the full half of the body. Now the body is tilted to the other side and the procedure repeated three times.
Now the body is brought to near-sitting position and the belly massaged in a circular manner to bring out any waste matter left inside.
The same is splashed away with water and the affected part is wiped and cleaned again with water. This does not negate the bath and Wudu performed already.
Finally, the body is laid a little to its right.
Camphor is dissolved in water and sprinkled on the body, from head to foot, three times.
The Kafan (shroud):
For a man it is of 10 yards, in three pieces. (1) Izaar, from head to foot. (2) Chaadar, which is larger by half a yard. (3) Kafni or Kurta which is sleeveless and covers the body from the neck to the feet.
For a woman it is of 22 yards, in five pieces: (1) to (3) as above. And the two additional pieces: (4) Head tie, which is 1.5 yards long and (5) Chest cover which covers the body from the chest to the knees.
The sheet that is spread on the body, as it lies in state, is not part of the Kafan and is generally given away in charity. It is a must for women.
In case of children, the size of cloth needed is proportionate and less than an adult's.
Another cot or bench has, in the meantime, been cleaned, perfumed and got ready. We spread on it the Kafan, shroud, first the largest piece, the Chaadhar. On this the Izaar, the second largest is spread. Finally, the Kafni is rolled and kept on the top side.
Once the bath is over, the body that is covered with a sheet, is lifted and wiped over lightly with a towel.
It is now laid on the sheets spread on the cot. It is placed gently in the center of it all. Now the kafni is unrolled from under the head in such a manner that it comes over to the neck and is extended to cover the body upto the feet. Now the sheet that had been covering it thus far, is removed.
Camphor is applied gently on the head and the beard and on the spots whereon the person had performed sajdah, namely, the forehead, the nose, the palms of both hands and the soles of both feet.
The two sides of the Izaar sheet below are brought together, the right over the left, so as to contain the body totally. The large Chaadar is also rolled up similarly and the body is totally encased. With two thin strips of cloth cut out earlier, the sheets are gathered together both at the head and the feet and are tied and secured. This is for males.
For females, the process is the same except that after the kurta is worn, the hair are let down on both sides and the head tie is used to cover all of it. It is not tied or contained.
Then the Izaaar sheet is brought together and tied; and the Chest piece is gathered over it and the Chaadar sheet and tied up as above.
Once this is done, we hasten to perform the Salaah al Janazah and the burial ceremony.
(The Funeral Prayer)
It is Far’d Kifaaya, an obligation we owe to the community, to participate in the Funeral Prayer of every Muslim who has died in our neigborhood.
The Prophet S.A.W.S. has directed us in the Mishkaath Collection of Hadith that
every Muslim who is guided by Eemaan and the intent to earn sawab, (approval of Allah)
and participates in the Funeral Prayer of another Muslim
and then accompanies the Janaaza to the burial ground
and then returns home,
will earn one measure of 'Khai'yraath'.
He has also informed us that
the Muslim who does all this and yet stays on with the group and attends to the burial till it is completed and then goes home, earns two 'Khai'yraath', as sawaa, the reward.
The 'Khai'yraath' measures as high, in terms of reward from Allah, as the historic Uhad mountain in Medinathul Munawwarahh.
Syedina Muhammed S.A.W.S. has also confirmed that when forty or more Muslims, who have not equated anyone with Allah, stand in Salaahul Janaaza and pray for the salvation of a departed Muslim, their recommendation is accepted by Allahu Subhanahu va ta Aalaa.
In exceptional circumstances, if a group prayer is not possible, it would suffice if one man or even one woman performs the Salaahul Janaaza for the Muslim who has died.
We line up for this Salaah, which is performed with everyone standing up.
The rows must be in odd number. The lines may be as close as possible.
The Imam leads, standing behind the Janaaza, a little to its right.
We make the Niyyath: NAVAI'YTHU AN USALLEE LILLAHI THA AALA ARBA'A THAKBEIRAATHI SALAAHIL JANAAZA ASSANAA'O LILLAHI THA AALAA VAD DUA'O LI HAAZAL MAI'YATHIKH'DATHAI'YTHU BI HAAZIL IMAMI MUTHAVAJJIHAN ILAL KAA'BATHISH SHAREEF.
"I state my intent to perform this Funeral Prayer with four Thakbeiraath; all praise is to Allahu ta Aalaa: I pray for the salvation of this Deceased under the lead of this Imam and I face the Holy Kabathullah Shareef".
Now the Imam calls out ALLAHU AKBAR (the first Thakbeir of this Salaah), and he and the group raise their hands to ear level, bring them down and hold them, the right over the left, a little below the navel.
The Imam and the assembly recite in low, inaudible tones: SUBHANAKA ALLAHUMMA VA BI HAMDIKA VA THABAARAK'ASMUKA VA THA AALAA JAD’DUKA VA JALLA SANAA'OKA VA LAA ILAAHA GHAIY'RUKA
"Our Allah, to Your Pristine Purity and Your Praiseworthiness,
we pay sincere homage. Blessed and rewarding is Your name,
Your Omnipotence prevails.
Limitless is the Praise due to You and there is none who
can be equated with You".
Now, with the Imam calling ALLAHU AKBAR (the second Thakbeir)
Everybody recites: ALLAHUMMA SALLI ALAA MUHAMMEDIN VA ALAA AALI MUHAMMEDIN KAMAA SALLAI'YTHA ALAA IBRAHIMA VA ALAA AALI IBRAHIMA INNAKA HAMEEDUM MAJEED
ALLAHUMMA BAARIK ALAA MUHAMMEDIN VA ALAA AALI MUHAMMEDIN KAMAA BARAK'THA ALAA IBRAHIMA VA ALAA AALI IBRAHIMA INNAKA HAMEEDUM MAJEED.
"May Allah's blessings and bounties be showered on our Prophet Muhammed S.A.W.S. and his descendants in the way Allah's neymaath were endowed on Prophet Ibrahim and his lineage".
Again, with the Imam calling ALLAHU AKBAR (the third Takbeer), everybody recites (for the deceased, if he/she is an adult):
ALLAHUMM'AGH'FIRLI HAIY’INAA VA MAIYATHINAA VA SHAAHI’DINAA VA GHAA'YIBINAA VA SAGHEERINA VA KABEERINAA VA ZAKARINAA VA UN'SAANAA. ALLAHUMMA MAN AH'YAIYTHAHU MINNAA FA AH'YIHEE ALAL ISLAM, VA MAN THAWAF’FAI'YTHAHU MINNAA FA THAVAF’FAHU ALAL EEMAAN.
"Our Lord, kindly forgive us our sins, of those who are alive
and of those who are dead, of those who are present and of those
who are far and away, of those who are just growing up and
of those who are grown up, both male and female.
"O Allah, to those of us who are given life by Your Grace, kindly
keep us steadfast on Islam. And to those from us whom You
recall, kindly grant that we breathe their last with their faith in
If the deceased is a boy, young in age, we recite ALLAHUMMAJ'AL'HU LANAA FARATHAN'V VAJ'ALHU LANAA AJ'RANV VA ZUKH'RANV VAJ'ALAHU LANAA SHAA’FIYANV VA MUSHAFFA'AN.
"Our Lord, make this young Muslim our predecessor (on the road to
Paradise) and make him a treasure unto us, an interceder on our behalf, and kindly accept his prayers for our salvation".
In case we are praying for a young girl who has died before puberty, we recite:
ALLAHUMMAJ'ALHAA LANAA FARATHAN'V VAJ'AL'HAA LANAA AJ’RAN'V VA ZUKHRAN'V VAJ'ALHAA LANAA SHAAFIYAN'V VA MUSHAFFA'ATHAN.
(This Dua is the same as above, except for the difference in gender)
The Imam calls ALLAHU AKBAR (the fourth Thakbeir).
And we make salaams to the right and to the left and conclude the prayer.
To participate in the burial of the deceased is also Far’d Kifaaya, obligatory upon Muslims.
As we head for the Burial Ground, everyone remembers that there is immense sawaab in being one of the four or more Muslims carrying the Janaaza on their shoulder as far as they can. Generally, there are more Muslims volunteering for this than the minimum four required. They take turns and earn sawaab. We walk rather fast as we near the burial ground.
People recite LAA ILLAHA ILLALLAHU, ALLAHU AKBAR and ASH'HADU AN LAA ILAAHA ILLALLAHU VA ASH'HADU ANNA MUHAMMEDAN ABDUHU VA RASOOLUHU. It would be better if we do this in a low tone.
The Janaaza is lowered carefully towards the Qiblah side of the grave (that had been got ready earlier). The persons lowering the body into the grave must stand facing the Qiblah. Everyone recites BISMILLAHI VA ALAA MILLATH-E-RASOOLILLAH.
The body is laid, slightly tilted to the right in the direction of the Qiblah. The head is also turned somewhat to face the Holy Baithullah. Now the knots tied to the shroud, one above the head and the other below the feet to keep it from opening up, are removed.
If the deceased is a female, purdah must be observed, out of resepct to the dead.
The blessed Saiyidathi Fathimathaz Zahraa R.A.A., the Prophet S.A.W.S.'s daughter, often requested her husband Syedina Ali R.A.A., to pray to Allah that her life’s end may come after sunset. Her burial would then be performed in the darkness of the night and she would leave the world unseen by any male other than her kinfolk as she had remained unseen by any of them during her lifetime. Her wish was granted.
While filling the grave with earth, every person picks up, and hands in, three handfuls, each handful the measure of his cupped hands.
For the first handful, we recite MIN'HAA KHALAQ'NAAKUM.
For the second we recite VA FEEHAA NUREEDUKUM.
And, finally, for the third handful we recite:
VA MIN'HAA NUKH’RIJUKUM THAARATHAN UKH’RAA