Question: Is it wrng to instruct the grave which is done at a lot of Muslim funerals?


w32.1 (N:) Instructing the deceased (talqin) is when a Muslim sit beside the grave of his fellow Muslims after burial to speak to him, reminding him of the Testification of Faith “There is no god but Allah, Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah,” and certain other matters of belief, such as that death is real, paradise is real, hell is real, and that Allah shall raise up those who are in their graves-and praying that the deceased will prove steadfast when the two angels question him. It does not have a particular form, but rather anything that accomplishes the above is called “instructing the deceased.” The following evidence may be adduced for its validity in Sacred Law:

(1) The rigorously authenticated (sahih) hadith that the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) ordered that the bodies of the idolators slain on the day of Badr be thrown into a well whose interior was uncased with stones, then he approached the well and began calling the unbelievers by their names and fathers’ names, saying: “O So-and-so son of So-and-so, and So-an-so son of So-and-so: it would have been easier had you obeyed Allah and His messenger. We have found what our Lord promised to be true; have you found what your Lord promised to be true?” To which ‘Umar said, “O Messenger of Allah, why speak to lifeless bodies?” And he replied, “By Him in whose hand is the soul of Muhammad, you do not hear my words better than they do.”

(2) The Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) said:

   “When a servant is laid in his grave and his friends have turned from him and he hears the footfalls of their sandals, two angels come to him, sit him upright, and ask him, ‘What wre you wont to say of this man Muhammad (Allah bless him and give him peace)?’ The believer will answer, ‘I testify that he is the slave of Allah and His messenger,’ and it will be said, ‘Look at your place in hell, Allah has changed it for a place in paradise,’ an the man will behold both of them…”

(3) ‘Uthman bin Affan (Allah be well pleased with him) relates that when the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) used to finish burying someone, he would stand by the grave and say, “All of you, ask Allah to forgive your brother and make him steadfast, for he is now being asked.”

(4) Abu Umama said, “When I die, do with me as the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) ordered us, saying, “When one of your brother dies and you have smoothed over the earth upon his grave, let one of you stand at the head of the grave and say, “O So-and-so son of So-and-so [n: the latter “So-and-so is feminine, naming the deceased’s mother]” – for he will hear, though he cannot reply-and then say, “O So-and-so son of So-and-so and he will sit upright; and then say, “O So-and-so son of So-and-so,” and he will say, “Direct me, Allah have mercy on you,” though you will not hear it, but should say, “Remember the creed upon which you departed from this world, the testification that there is no god but Allah, and Muhammad is His slave and messenger, and that you accepted Allh as your Lord, Islam as your religion, Muhammad as your prophet, and the Koran as your examplar.” For then the two angels Munkar and Nakir will take each other’s hand and say, “Let us go, what is there to keep us beside someone who has been instructed how to mke his plea?” ‘

  “A man said, ‘O Messenger of Allah, what if one does not know the name of his mother?’ and he answered, ‘Then one should mention his descent from his mother Eve, saying, “O So-and-so son of Eve…” ‘ ”

Tabarani related this hadith in his al-Mu’jam al-kabir, and Ibn Hajar ‘Asqalani has said that “its chain of transmission is sound” (Talkhis al-habir fi takhrij ahadith al-Rafi’i al-kabir (y15), 2.143). Some scholars have said that this hadith is not well authenticated (daif), while others have gone to the extreme of calling it a forgery.


w32.2 The first three of the above hadiths, all of hem rigorously authenticated (sahih), show that:

(1) a dead person hears the words of a living person speaking to him and even the sounds of movement around him;

(2) the dead are questioned in their graves;

(3) and that it is legally valid after burial for a living person to ask Allah to forgive the deceased and make him steadfast for the questioning of the two angels.

  As for the fourth hadith, scholars have felt comfortable with it, saying that if the deceased can hear, we should let him hear these words which he is in the direst need of in such circumstances, and even if the hadith that has conveyed them is not well authenticated, its content is valid and true.

  The foregoing is what has been said about instructing the deceased (talqin), so whoever does it cannot be blamed, since they have something of a case for it; and whoever does not cannot be blame, because they do not consider the case sufficient. In any event, we should be anxious to promote love and brotherhood between Muslims, andnot divide the ranks with questions like this, for the important thin is our belief in the oneness of Allah, and the unity of the Islamic community.

(‘Umdat Al-Salik(Reliance of the Traveller). page 924)


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