What is the after death in islam? Why do Muslims believe in the afterlife?
As stated in a Qur’anic verse, the believers are brothers and sisters to one another. One of the crucial responsibilities that this fellowship imposes on the believers is to fulfil their final duty and pay their last respects to their fellow believers. Allah Almighty created the human being upon the perfect pattern of creation (ahsani taqwim) and made them the most honourable of all creatures. They are thus to carry out the burial of their fellow believers in the best possible way, washing and shrouding them with compassion, in a manner that befits human honour and dignity.
The Messenger of Allah (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) specifies the rights that Muslims have over one another in a prophetic narration:
“The rights a Muslim has over another Muslim are five: returning the greetings of peace, visiting the sick, joining funeral processions (attending the funeral prayer and burial), accepting invitations and blessing those who sneeze, (saying, yarhamuk Allah, may Allah have mercy on you).” (Bukhari, Jana’iz, 2; Muslim, Salam, 4)
“Six are the rights of a Muslim over another Muslim. When you meet him, offer him greetings (As-Salamu Alaykum); when he invites you to a feast accept it; when he seeks your council offer it to him, and when he sneezes and says: ‘All praise is due to Allah,’ you say yar hamuk Allah (may Allah have mercy on you); when he fails ill visit him; and when he dies, follow his bier (his funeral procession).” (Muslim, Salam, 5)
1. Preparations for Burial, Enshrouding and Attending the Funeral Procession 
Offering the funeral prayer for the deceased and burying them is an obligation on the community, or fard kifaya, while other acts have been classified recommended (sunna) and commendable (mustahab). If these duties are neglected, the whole community as a whole is held accountable for not having met this obligation.
The Messenger of Allah (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) was always meticulous when it came to burial preparations, demanding that those who were charged with such duties wash and enshroud the deceased in the best possible way. Regarding the importance of this duty, he said:
“Whoever washes a deceased person and conceals their knowledge of its condition is forgiven forty times. Whoever enshrouds a deceased person is clothed with the silk garments of the Garden. Whoever digs for them a grave and buries them is granted a reward equal to that of providing a needy person with a dwelling until the Last Day.” (Hakim, I, 506/1307)
One of the things that one should pay attention to during their enshrouding is to show due respect to the deceased person and to avoid those actions that would have made them uncomfortable while alive. For instance, the deceased person should not be washed in very hot or very cold water, but water that is lukewarm.
Furthermore, burial preparations and enshrouding should be undertaken with extravagance or excess.
Jabir ibn ‘Abdullah (may Allah be well pleased with him) reports:
” One day the Messenger of Allah (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) in the course of his sermon made mention of a person among his companions who had died and had been wrapped in a shroud not long enough to cover his whole body and then buried during the night. The Messenger of Allah (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) then forbade burial at the night, except in cases of dire necessity, so that the funeral prayer could be offered (over the deceased). He then said:
‘When one of you shrouds his brother, he should shroud him well.” (Muslim, Jana’iz 49; Abu Dawud, Jana’iz, 29-30/3148; Nasa’i, Jana’iz 37)
Again, the Messenger of Allah (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) has said:
“Wear white, for indeed it is purer and cleaner, and shroud your dead in it.” (Tirmidhi, Adab, 46/2810)
Moreover, the Messenger of Allah advised the matter of burying the dead without delay:
“Carry the funeral bier quickly. If the deceased was righteous, it is good you are advancing him to. If they were other than that, then it is an evil you are casting off from your necks.” (Bukhari, Jana’iz, 51; Muslim, Jana’iz, 50, 51)
Despite the Messenger’s injunction in this regard, bodies of the deceased are still kept waiting in some places, for other people to be able to attend the funeral prayer. However, what matters most is that the deceased is not kept waiting, under any circumstances, and that they are buried as soon as possible. For as has already been stated, the funeral prayer is a collective duty. The congregation that is present should offer the funeral prayer and those who are unable to make the prayer can offer it again, should they wish to do so, upon their arrival. Moreover, it is also possible for those who are unable to come, to offer the funeral prayer from the place where they are located.
However, if there is a necessity to keep the body of the deceased waiting, for an autopsy for instance, then it can be held in a morgue. Placing a body in a morgue when there is no such necessity, however, is considered to be a cause of suffering for the deceased.
Placing a head stone or marker for graves is permissible. Al-Muttalib ibn Abi Wada’a relates:
“When Uthman ibn Maz’un died, he was brought out on his bier and buried. (‘Uthman was the first of the Emigrants to die.) The Messenger of Allah (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) instructed a man to bring him a rock to mark ‘Uthman’s grave, but the man was unable to carry it. The Messenger of Allah (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) got up himself, went over to it and rolled up his sleeves.”
The narrator said that al-Muttalib remarked:
“I can still see the whiteness of the forearms of the Messenger of Allah (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) when he rolled up his sleeves.
He then carried it and placed it at the head of Uthman’s grave, saying:
‘I am marking my brother’s grave with it, and I shall bury beside him those of my family who die.'” (Abu Dawud, Jana’iz, 57-59/3206. See, Ibn Majah, Jana’iz, 42)
On the way to Hudaybiya for the minor pilgrimage (‘Umra), the Messenger of Allah (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) stopped at Abwa, to visit the grave of his mother.
He said, “Verily Allah permitted Muhammad to visit his mother’s grave.”
The Messenger of Allah (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) came there, tidied up the grave and wept by its side, moving others around him to tears also. He was asked about it and he replied:
“I remembered my mother’s affection and compassion for me and this is what caused me to weep.” (Ibn Sa’d, I, 116-117. Also see, Muslim, Jana’iz, 105-108)
Preparing the grave properly is a requirement of Islam and an expression of doing whatever one does in the best possible way.
When the grave of his son Ibrahim was being levelled over, the Messenger of Allah (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) noticed something like a stone in one corner and began to level it and stroke it with his hand. As he did so, he said, “When any one of you undertakes a task, let them do it properly, for this console the afflicted soul.” (Ibn Sa’d, Tabaqat, I, 141-142)
According to another narration, the Messenger of Allah (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) was standing on the edge of the grave of his son, and he noticed a crack in the grave. He then handed over a clump of soil to the gravedigger and said:
“This will not harm nor profit the deceased, but this pleases (literally, ‘cools’) the eye of the living.” (Ibn Sa’d, Tabaqat, I, 142, 143; Baladhurl, Ansab al-Ashraf, I, 451)
There is no harm in sprinkling water on the soil of the grave to allow consolidation. When the Messenger of Allah (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) buried Ibrahim, he said:
“Is there anyone who can bring a water skin?”
A man from the Ansar (helpers) immediately brought a water skin.
The Messenger of Allah (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) said to him:
“Sprinkle it over the grave of Ibrahim.” (Ibn Sa’d, Tabaqat, I, 141)
Planting trees and other greenery in suitable areas around the grave has also been favourably looked upon. As indicated in one Prophetic narration, the Messenger of Allah (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) informed his companions when passing by two graves that their occupants were being punished. He then asked for a branch of a fresh date palm, split it into two, and planted them on each grave and said:
“It is hoped that their punishment be lightened so long as these remain fresh.” (Muslim, Tahara, 111)
Qur’anic commentator, narrator of prophetic traditions and jurist Imam al-Qurtubi says the following in his explication of this Prophetic narration:
“The expression, ‘so long as these remain fresh’, indicates that these branches engage in remembrance and invocation of Allah for as long as they do not dry up. The scholars have said:
‘The deceased benefits from the planting of trees on graves and the recitation of the Qur’an. If even planting a single tree lightens the punishment of those in the grave, then imagine the benefit of a believer’s recitation of the Qur’an. The reward of that which is presented to the deceased is given to those who recite it also.” (Qurtubi, X, 267)
Standing or sitting on graves is disliked (makruh). The Messenger of Allah (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) says in this regard:
“It is better that one of you should sit on live coals which would burn his clothing and come in contact with his skin than that he should sit on a grave.” (Muslim, Jana’iz, 96; Abu Dawud, Jana’iz, 77; Nasa’i, Jana’iz, 105)
Again, Jabir (may Allah be well pleased with him) reports that the Messenger of Allah (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) forbade that graves be plastered, or be used as sitting places (for the people), or that buildings be built on top of them.
In addition, while there has been disagreement on the matter of the talqin, or the prompting of the deceased in the grave, which prepares them for questioning by the interrogating angels, there have been those who have espoused the view that such a practice is agreeable. Indeed, the Prophetic narration, “Recite the Qur’anic chapter Ya-Sin over your deceased,” has been understood as recommendation to recite this Qur’anic chapter frequently both before death and after death.
2. Paying their Debts
A Muslim is one who leads their life in the consciousness of forever being under divine surveillance and who fears being in debt when appearing before Allah Almighty.
If a person has died without paying their debts, the relatives must first try to pay all his debts before executing his will and distributing his property among his heirs. For it is stated in a prophetic narration that even martyrs cannot enter the Garden as long as their debts remain unpaid.
Likewise, the Messenger of Allah (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) says in another tradition:
“The soul of the believer is attached to his debt until it is repaid.” (Tirmidhi, Jana’iz, 74. See Ibn Majah, Sadaqa, 12)
So, such people are in a sense captive, and cannot attain their esteemed rank. Moreover, judgement cannot be made as to whether they will attain salvation or damnation. For this reason, their anxious wait continues.
It is related from Abu Hurayra (may Allah be well pleased with him) that when a dead man with debts was brought to the Messenger of Allah (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) he used to ask, ‘Has he left anything with which to pay his debts?’
If he was told that he had left enough to pay his debts, he would offer the funeral prayer over him. Otherwise he would say to the Muslims, ‘Offer the pray for your companion.’
When Allah granted him victories, he said, “I have more right to be the guardian of the believers than themselves. Recite (the Qur’anic verse) if you wish, The Prophet is closer to the Believers than their own selves…’
“I have more right to be the protector of the believers than themselves. If any believer dies leaving a debt, I will pay it. If anyone leaves property, it goes to his heirs.” (Bukhari, Tafsir 33/1, Kafala 5, Fara’id 4, 15, 25; Muslim, Fara’id, 14)
Sa’d ibn Atwal (may Allah be well pleased with him) narrates that his brother died, leaving behind three hundred dirhams (silver coins) as well as dependents: “I wanted to spend (his money) on his dependents, but the Messenger of Allah (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) said, ‘Your brother is being detained due to his debt, so pay it off for him.’
Sa’d said, “Messenger of Allah, I have paid it off apart from two dinars (gold coins), which a woman is laying claim too without proof.”
He said, “Give them to her for she is telling the truth.” (Ibn Majah, Sadaqat, 20)
Similarly, in another prophetic narration, the Messenger of Allah (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) warns the believers about being in debt at the Reckoning:
“Whoever has done an injustice to a fellow believer in respect to their honour or anything else should seek to be absolved by them before the day when there will be neither dinar nor dirham. If he has deeds of righteousness, they will be taken from him to counterbalance the injustice he did, and if he does not have any good actions, some of the bad actions of his friend will be taken and he will be made to shoulder them.” (Bukhari, Mazalim 10, Riqaq 48)
3. Fulfilling their Will
Following the enshrouding, preparations for burial and the repayment of debts, the last will and testament of the deceased is executed with one third of the remaining property and possessions, while the remainder is divided among the heirs.
Sa’d ibn Abi Waqqas (may Allah be well pleased with him) one of the ten companions who were promised the Garden, narrates:
“The Messenger of Allah (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) used to visit me in the year of the Farewell Pilgrimage on account of a serious illness I had. I said, ‘This illness has affected me and I have property but no heirs except a daughter. Shall I give two-thirds of my property away as charity?’
He said, ‘No.’
I said, ‘A half?’
He said, ‘No.’
I said, ‘A third?’
He said, ‘A third, but a third is a lot. It is better to leave your heirs wealthy than to leave them poor, begging from other people. There is nothing you spend, desiring by it the good pleasure and approval of Allah, but that you will be rewarded, even for a morsel that you put in your wife’s mouth.’
I said, ‘Messenger of Allah, will I be left behind after my friends depart?’ (Am I going to die here?)
He said, ‘You will not be left behind, for any virtuous actions you do will raise you in degree and elevation. And then you might be left behind so that some people will benefit from you and others harmed by you. O Allah, let my companions complete their Emigration and do not let them turn back on their heels.’
But poor Sa’d ibn Khawla had the Messenger of Allah (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) grieve over his death in Makka.” (Bukhari, Jana’iz 36, Wasaya 2, Nafaqat 1, Marda 16, Da’awat 43, Fara’id 6; Muslim, Wasiyya, 5)
4. Supplication and Seeking Forgiveness
The first form of supplication offered for a deceased Muslim is performing their funeral prayer. The Messenger of Allah (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) offers the glad tidings that, “If any Muslim dies and forty men who do not associate any partners with Allah stand over him and offer prayer for him Allah will accept them as intercessors for him.” (Muslim, Jana’iz, 59)
The number forty mentioned here has been used to indicate a crowd of people. For while the number one hundred is used in another Prophetic narration for this group, yet another Tradition deems a congregation of three rows sufficient to this end. Moreover, Malik ibn Hubayra (may Allah be well pleased with him) who relates the last Tradition, once considered those who attended the funeral of a fellow Muslim to be a few and divided them into three rows in accordance with this tradition.
Furthermore, being able to receive the good opinion of the Muslims is a great privilege for the deceased person. Anas (may Allah be well pleased with him) narrates:
“A funeral procession passed by the Messenger of Allah (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) and some of his companions, were praising the dead man. The Messenger of Allah (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) said, ‘It has become certain.’
Then another passed, and they were speaking ill of the dead man. He said, ‘It has become certain.’
‘Umar ibn al-Khattab (may Allah be well pleased with him) asked, ‘What has become certain, O Messenger of Allah?’
He said, ‘You praised this one, and so the Garden has become certain for him and you spoke evil of this one, so the Fire has become certain for him. You (believers) are the witnesses of Allah on the earth.'” (Bukhari, Jana’iz, 86; Muslim, Jana’iz, 60)
Attending the funeral prayer of a fellow believer and accompanying their bier until their place of burial earns great rewards for the believer.
The Messenger (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) has said:
“Anyone who follows the funeral procession of a Muslim motivated by their belief and in expectation of the reward and accompanies it until the prayer has been offered and the completion of the burial, comes back with the reward of two qirats. Each qirat is the size of Mount Uhud. And whoever prays over him and leaves before he is buried, comes back with one qirat.” (Bukhari, Iman, 35)
The Messenger of Allah (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) says, “When you pray over the dead, make sincere supplication for them,” he offers the most excellent example in this regard to his community. A few examples of such supplications that he offered at funerals are the following:
Abu ‘Abdurahman ‘Awf ibn Malik (may Allah be well pleased with him) narrates:
“The Messenger of Allah (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) offered the funeral prayer for a deceased person. I heard him say in his prayer and I remembered his words:
‘O Allah, forgive him, have mercy upon him, protect him from torment and punishment and forgive him his sins. Receive him with honour and make his grave spacious.
Wash him with water, snow and ice and purify him of sins as white garments are cleansed of impurity.
Admit him to the Garden and protect him from the torment of the grave and the torment of the Fire.'” (Muslim, Jana’iz, 85)
Abu Hurayra, (may Allah be well pleased with him) relates the Messenger of Allah (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) as saying during the funeral prayer:
“O Allah, forgive our living and our deceased, our present and our absent, our young and our old, our male and our female.”
O Allah, to whomever of us You bestow life, grant them life as a believer, and whomever of us You take in death, take them in death as a follower of Islam.
O Allah, do not withhold from us the reward (of being present at this funeral) and do not lead us astray Next World.” (Tirmidhi, Jana’iz, 38)
“O Allah, You are his Lord. You created him, and you guided him to Islam. You have seized his soul, and You know best his hidden and manifest aspect. We have come to Your presence as intercessors, so forgive him.” (Abu Dawud, Jana’iz, 56)
Ibn ‘Abbas (may Allah be well pleased with him) relates:
“The Messenger of Allah (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) entered a grave during the night, so a torch was lit for him. He took the deceased from the direction of the qibla, and he said, ‘May Allah have mercy upon you. You were often invoking Allah by reciting the Qur’an.’ And he repeated the phase, ‘Allahu Akbar‘ four times.” (Tirmidhi, Jana’iz, 62/1057)
Allah Almighty also makes known to us the prayers of the believers for those who came before them:
“… Our Lord! Forgive us, and our brothers who preceded us into the Faith and do not put any rancour in our hearts towards those who believe. Our Lord, You are All-Gentle, Most Merciful.” (Al-Hashr, 59:10)
One of the most important things that those who have passed away expect from those they leave behind are prayers for their forgiveness. The Messenger of Allah (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) has advised that when a deceased person is buried, and forgiveness is asked for them that they pass the questioning in the grave with ease.
Similarly, the Messenger of Allah (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) used to frequently visit the graves of his companions who lay in the Baqi’ cemetery as well as those martyred at Uhud. ‘A’isha reports that whenever it was her turn for the Messenger of Allah (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) to spend the night with her, he would go out towards the end of the night to Baqi’ cemetery, greet those buried there and supplicate to Allah for them.
On one occasion, the Archangel Gabriel came to him and said, “Your Lord has commanded you to go to the inhabitants of Baqi’ and beg pardon for them.” The Messenger of Allah (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) went immediately to the graveyard. (Muslim, Jana’iz, 103)
The Messenger of Allah (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) has also stated:
“When a person dies, their deeds come to an end, save three: continuous charity, knowledge by which the people benefit, or a righteous child, who prays for them.” (Muslim, Wasiyya, 14)
He states in another Tradition:
“A slave will be raised in status in the Garden and will say, ‘Where did this come from?’
And it will be said, ‘From your righteous child’s praying for forgiveness for you.'” (Ibn Majah, Adab, 1; Ahmad, II, 509)
In the world, children are in need of their parents as they grow, but parents are in need of their children in the latter part of their lives. After their death, parents are again in need of the prayers of their children, for their children to be a never-ending charity for them.
As indicated in the Prophetic saying, righteous children become an ongoing charity and a means of mercy for their deceased parents and predecessors. In contrast, however, children whose religious and moral training and education have been neglected become – God forbid – an ongoing misdeed for their parents. Such parents remain unvisited and alone in their graves, though they are in much need.
So, in order not to be downcast on that day, we must pay attention to the direction that our own lives take in the here and now, as well as being closely concerned with the spiritual upbringing of our children, who are each a Divine trust, from their early ages.
The most compassionate parents are those who raise their children in line with the Qur’an and the Prophetic example and thus prepare them for the true future that is the Next World. The most precious legacy that a parent can leave for their child is noble character.
The compassion to be shown to children and young people doesn’t mean simply to feed them, dress them in fine clothes, amuse and entertain their desires and their bodily comfort, as though life were comprised merely of this world. Far from it, true mercy and compassion is to nourish their spirits and trigger their wisdom. Consequently, it is to inculcate in them those spiritual values that will save their eternal future from being a time of torment, and render it instead an infinite season of bliss, before it is too late.
In this respect, when compassionate parents who believe in Allah and the Last Day are faced with the choice between the worldly and eternal happiness of their children, they spurn the world without hesitation, and choose the Next World. They do not make the foolish mistake of forsaking the ocean in pursuit of a drop.
They cannot get caught up in their child’s nourishment in the world at the expense of their Next World, or seek a promising worldly future over and above their eternal happiness.
In the present day, great importance is given to the worldly education of children in order that they have a bright future, with more than enough time, money and labour being spent to this end. Regrettably, however, the religious and moral training that will contribute to their eternal happiness is not given anywhere near as much priority. In addition to worldly diplomas, attention is not paid to the diplomas that will be awarded in the Next World. Sending children to a mosque for a short period over the summer holidays is deemed sufficient. Yet, seeing the religious education and training in such simplistic terms is a bitter indication of the weakness of our faith.
In that case, parents need to stop and think:
üIn whose hands is the future of their children? Is the true future in this world or in the Next World?
ü Do we aspire for our children to reach an esteemed rank in the Next World, the eternal abode, as much as we desire that they receive a good education and get somewhere in this fleeting worldly realm?
üAre our children being raised as truly our children? Which circles are shaping their personality and character? Which ideals, goals and individuals have they set their hearts on? Are our children using television, the internet, computers and their mobile phones, or are these devices using them?
üDo our efforts at beautifying their outer appearance, or the efforts and sacrifices we make towards enabling their inner worlds to blossom in the climate of the Qur’an and Sunna, take precedence?
Yet, the actual aspect of the slave esteemed before Allah Almighty is revealed in a Qur’anic verse as follows:
“…The noblest among you in Allah’s sight is the one with the most taqwa” (Al-Hujarat, 49:13)
As stated in a prophetic narration:
“Verily Allah does not look to your bodies nor to your faces, but He looks to your hearts.” (Muslim, Birr, 33)
So, that which is to benefit us and our children on our journey to eternity is neither physical strength nor outer beauty, but belief, Taqwa and right actions.
In short, so as not to remain desolate and all alone in the grave, and to be able to receive our children’s supplication and prayers for forgiveness, we ought to strive while we still have the chance to raise them with the spirituality of the Qur’an. We must be closely concerned with the upbringing of our children and we must infuse the love of Allah and the Messenger, as well as the culture of the Qur’an and the Sunna, into their pristine hearts. Given that success breeds success, we should encourage our children with gifts and positive reinforcement for their spiritual growth and development.
Imam Malik (may Allah have mercy on him) explains that each time he memorised a saying of the Prophet, his father would give him a present and that he came to such a point that even if his father did not offer him a gift, he got a taste for memorising the hadith and did so nonetheless.
Let us not forget that we will reap just what we sow in the hearts of our children. In other words, we can only expect from them what we give them to begin with.
5. Charity and Spending in the Way of Allah
That which is most beneficial to the deceased after supplication and praying for their forgiveness is giving in charity and speeding in the way of Allah on their behalf.
Abdurahman ibn Abi ‘Amra relates that his mother had wanted to free a slave, but she delayed this until morning and died before reaching morning. Abdurahman asked al-Qasim ibn Muhammad, “Will it help her if I free a slave for her?”
Al-Qasim replied, “Sa’d ibn ‘Ubada said to the Messenger of Allah (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) ‘My mother died. Will it help her if I set a slave free for her?’ The Messenger of Allah (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) said ‘Yes.'” (Muwatta’, Itq, 13; See, Bukhari, Wasaya, 15)
Abu Bakr’s son ‘Abdurahman died suddenly in his sleep and ‘A’isha, the wife of the Messenger (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) set free many slaves for him. (Muwatta’, Itq, 14)
All these prophetic narrations indicate that deceased believers benefit from the prayers, almsgiving and charity of their fellow believers and loved ones and love the living to undertake such good works.
Ibn ‘Abbas (may Allah be well pleased with him) reports:
“A man came to the Messenger of Allah (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) and said, ‘Messenger of Allah, my mother has died and fasts of one month are due from her. Should I complete them on her behalf?’
Thereupon the Messenger of Allah (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) said, ‘If debt was due from her, would you not pay it?’
The man said, ‘Yes.’
The Messenger of Allah (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) said, ‘The debt owed to Allah deserves payment more than any other.'” (Muslim, Siyam, 155)
It is essential that the elderly and the incurably ill pay the fidya, or expiatory payment in their health for missed obligatory fasting days, or that they state in their will that their heirs pay the fidya. The existence of such a will, and in the event that one third of the deceased’s estate is sufficient, such expiatory payment by the heirs is a religious obligation. If there is no will or if a third of the deceased’s estate is not sufficient for the execution of the will, it is recommended that the heirs pay this amount by way of charity.
6. Reciting the Qur’an
Reciting the Qur’an and conferring its reward upon deceased persons is also included in the category of good works undertaken on their behalf.
For the dead to benefit from the Divine mercy to ensue from recitation of the Qur’an, reading the Qur’anic chapter entitled Ya-Sin is well known and broadly practiced. As stated in a prophetic narration:
“…Ya-Sin is the heart of the Qur’an. So, whoever recites it purely for the sake of Allah and seeking the abode of the Next World, then he will be forgiven. Recite it upon your deceased.” (Ahmad, Musnad, V, 26)
Similarly, the Messenger (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) has stated:
“When one of you dies do not tarry, but make haste to take them to their grave and let one of you read at their head the Opening chapter al-Fatiha, and at their feet the end of the Qur’anic chapter al-Baqara.” (Tabarani, al-Mu’jam al-Kabir, XII, 340; Haythami, Majma’ al-Zawa’id, III, 44; Daylami, Musnad, I, 284)
Al-‘Ala’ ibn al-Lajlaj relates that his father, the companion al-Lajlaj, said to his children before he died:
“When you bury me, say, بِسْمِ اللّٰهِ وَعَلٰى سُنَّةِ رَسُولِ اللّٰهِ: ‘Bismillah wa ‘ala sunnati rasul Allah.’ (In the name of Allah and in conformity with the practice of the Messenger of Allah (may Allah bless him and grant him peace). Then level the earth over me and recite at my head the beginning of Surah al-Baqara and its end, for I have seen that Ibn ‘Umar approved of such a practice.” (Bayhaqi, Kitab al-Sunan al-Kubra , VI, 56)
Again, al-‘Ala’ ibn al-Lajlaj’s son Abdurahman relates:
“My father said to me: ‘O my son, when I die, then dig my grave in the form of a lahd (a type of grave that has a niche cut into the side in which to place the deceased). When you place me in the lahd, recite, بِسْمِ اللّٰهِ وَعَلٰى مِلَّةِ رَسُولِ اللّٰهِ صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ: ‘Bismillah wa ‘ala millati rasul Allah.’ (In the name of Allah and upon the religion of the Messenger of Allah, upon him be peace and blessings). Then slowly cast the earth upon my grave and then recite at my head side the beginning and end of Surah al Baqara. For verily I heard the Messenger of Allah (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) saying so.” (Haythami, III, 44)
When the Companion ‘Amr ibn al-‘As (may Allah be well pleased with him) was on his deathbed, he said to those around him:
“When you bury me, fill my grave well with earth, then stand around it for the time within which a camel is slaughtered and its meat is distributed so that in your company I may adapt to my new life and ascertain what answers I can give to the Messengers (the interrogating angels) of my Lord.” (Muslim, Iman, 192)
Citing this narration in his collection, Imam Nawawi includes the following words of Imam Shafiʻi (may Allah have mercy on him):
“It is commendable (mustahab) to recite verses and chapters from the Qur’an at the graveside. Reciting the entire Qur’an, however, is even better.”
As mentioned in a Prophetic narration, when Sa’d ibn Mu’adh (may Allah be well pleased with him) died, the Messenger of Allah (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) offered his funeral prayer, and after placing him in the grave and levelling over it, he remained by the grave along with his companions for a long time and recited the takbir.
One of the great scholars of Hadith of the generation of the Successors, Imam al-Sha’bi, (may Allah have mercy on him) says:
“When one of their loved ones passed away, the Helpers would visit their grave frequently and recite the Qur’an at the graveside.”
Again, Imam al-Sha’bi (may Allah have mercy on him) says:
“The Helpers would recite the Qur’anic chapter al-Baqara beside the deceased.” (Ibn Abi Shayba, Musannaf, II, 445/10848)
Tabi’in scholar Jabir ibn Zayd would recite the Qur’anic chapter ar-Ra’d beside the deceased. (Ibn Abi Shayba, Musannaf, II, 445/10852)
As can be gleaned from all these narrations, visiting graves, greeting those buried there, offering supplication and prayers for their forgiveness, performing good works in their name and reciting the Qur’an are all a means of mercy both for the living and the dead.
The sayings and practices of the Messenger of Allah (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) and his companions about visiting graveyards clearly demonstrates to us just how we too are to conduct ourselves in such circumstances, without going to extremes.
7. Offering Condolences
Offering condolences to those who have lost a loved one or who are suffering in any way, or in other words, to console and encourage them to endure patiently, is a very high social virtue.
The Messenger of Allah (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) says:
“There is no believer who consoles another believer who is stricken with a calamity, but Allah will clothe them with garments of honour on the Day of Resurrection.” (Ibn Majah, Jana’iz, 56)
The human being has been created with an innate weakness and helplessness and is in need of support and consolation in the face of hardship and misfortune. Therefore, such matters as attending a funeral procession and offering condolences are each a religious and a human duty. Neglecting these is a cause for great liability and shortcoming.
Moreover, let us not forget that the short visit and small consolation that we begrudge our fellow believer today, we may ourselves be in need of tomorrow. For this reason, if we want to find somebody to turn to when we ourselves are in need, we should strive to share the pain of our fellow believers and to offer them whatever support we can. True religious companionship requires that one is as willing to share in their fellow believer’s grief and sorrow as they are in their joy.
Enshrouding (takfin): The washing and shrouding of the body of the deceased.
Accompanying the funeral procession (tashyi’): Accompanying the deceased from their placement on a bier, to the offering of their funeral prayer, until the place of burial.
 Collective duty (fard kifaya): the fulfilment by a sufficient number of individuals excuses other individuals from fulfilling it.  Commendable (mustahab): Those acts that are recommended and rewardable but are not binding or compulsory. The practice of such actions is rewarded, but their omission is not punishable.
 Offering the funeral prayer twice is considered reproachful according to the Hanafi and Maliki schools. According to the Shafiʻi and Hanbali schools, however, it is permissible for those who cannot make it to the funeral prayer to offer the prayer separately afterwards, even if after the burial; this is even recommended according to the Shafi’is.  Ibn Sa’d, Tabaqat, I, 144; Baladhurl, Ansab al-Ashraf, I, 451.
 Ibn ‘Abd al-Barr, al-Isti’ab, I, 59; Ibn al-Athir, Usd al-ghaba, I, 51; Qastalani, al-Mawahib al-Ladunniya, I, 259.  For the full text of the Prophet ic Tradition, see p. 131.  See Muslim, Jana’iz 94; Abu Dawud, Jana’iz 76; Tirmidhi, Jana’iz 58.  Abu Dawud, Jana’iz 19-20; Ahmad ibn Hanbal, Musnad V, 26, 27; Ibn Hibban, Sahih, V, 3.  See Muslim, Imara, 119, 120; Nasa’i, Buyu’, 98; Ahmad, V, 289.  Tirmidhi, Jana’iz, 69/1069; Nasa’i, Jana’iz, 67.  Bukhari, Nafaqat, 15; Muslim, Fara’id, 14.  (33:6)  As a result, a debtor who cannot leave sufficient possessions and property with which to pay off their debts despite wanting to do so, has their debt paid from the state treasury.  See Muslim, Jana’iz, 58.  See Abu Dawud, Jana’iz, 39/3166; Tirmidhi, Jana’iz, 40.  Qirat: A unit used to weigh precious metals and stones. One qirat equals 2 decigrams, one-sixteenth of the silver dirham.  Abu Dawud, Jana’iz, 54-56/3199. 39 For the full text of the Tradition, see p. 123.  See Muslim, Jana’iz, 102.  Nawawi, Riyad al-Salihin, Beirut, n.d., p. 293.  For the full text of the Tradition, see p. 132.  Bakr al-Khallal, al-Qira’a ‘ind al-Qubur, Beirut 1424, p. 89, no. 7.