Islamic Rites (Part 3) - Janaazah
“Blessed be He in whose hand is dominion; and He over all things has power. He who created death and life that He may try which of you is best in deed; and He is the exalted in Might Oft-Forgiving” –Q67V1-2 “Every soul shall have a taste of death..”- Q3V185
Every muslim’s life should be led with the full appreciation of death. We are required to live in the world like a traveler who is having a brief stopover en route to his final destination.
The Prophet (SAW) upon being asked about the most intelligent believer said: “He who most frequently remembers death and best prepares himself for the same as it alights upon him.” (Razin)
When a muslim is in the throes of death, he should be laid facing the qiblah while someone around repeats the Kalimah to his ear.
The Prophet (SAW) said: “Dictate to the dying man ‘there is no god but Allah’.” (Muslim) because “he whose last word is ‘there is no god but Allah’ will enter Paradise.” (Abu Daud). The Prophet (SAW) also recommended that Surah Yasin be read to lighten the pangs of death. (Ibn Majah)
After the death of a muslim, the deceased’s assets must be computed and his debts and liabilities settled. Burial should be immediate as the Prophet (SAW) said: “Hurry the dead to its grave” and along with marriage and reversion to Islam, the burial of a muslim should not be delayed without compelling reason. The corpse must be washed by someone who knows how to perform Ghusl Janaazah, thereafter it is shrouded in plain white inexpensive garment in readiness for burial. To clothe the dead in a uniform, suit or expensive dress is a symbol of jahiliyyah (ignorance) and waste. The Prophet (SAW) advised: “Don’t spend much on a funeral cloth and verily it will be destroyed a hasty destroying.” (Abu Daud) The funeral prayer (Janaazah) should be observed and the dead should be carried to the grave. Women are barred from following the funeral procession to the grave. Wailing is forbidden but silent shedding of tears is allowed as it is only natural to grieve at the loss of a loved one. After three days mourning is usually over for everyone except the wife of the dead.
Muslims are enjoined to always supplicate on behalf of the dead as often as possible. It is wrong to throw parties and ceremonies to celebrate the dead. It is wrong to serve food to people who have come to commiserate with the bereaved, the exception being only a traveler. Rather, it is the sympathizers that are required to provide the needs of the deceased’s dependents for the period of mourning only.