Rights and Duties in Islam: Death and Burial

Islam is a way of life not only a religion. There is no aspect of life that is

Islam is a way of life not only a religion. There is no aspect of life that is left out, there is always a perfect Islamic way to handle it.  Death is of no exception as it is the gateway to  “Afterlife”, the real one where we started and where we will end up.

To put this subject into perspective we need to take it in stages:

Before death During actual dying if lengthenedAfter death.    

So, let’s go.

Before death:

Preparing for one’s death is a life time endeavor regardless to one’s belief, and for a Muslim it is this life’s goal as his Afterlife is “The real life”. Instead of going on and on about this, let it be explained in clear points:

  1. Whatever a Muslim does in his life, he is accountable for. So, a life time is looked at as a bank like place where every penny counts.  A Muslim does his best to stay on the righteous path to earn Allah’s pleasure and reward “Paradise” and avoid all that result in Allah’s wrath and punishment.
  2. Financially: one must not be indebted nor has something in his keep that must be returned to its rightful owner. If that Muslim passes away before fulfilling these duties, his successors must do it on his behalf.
  3. A Muslim can bequest one third of his estate to whomever provided that that someone does not inherit legally from him according to Islamic Sharia. This should be in writing or in front of reliable witnesses. The rest should be divided according to Islamic Sharia.
  4. A Muslim should ask Allah’s forgiveness and show sincere remorse for his intentional and unintentional sins and forgive his brothers for intentional and unintentional wrong that may have been done to him and ask for their forgiveness as well.
  5. A Muslim who did not perform Hajj provided that he had the means for it can ask some other to perform it on his behalf and on his expense (Hajj must be done by one’s own money).

During actual dying if lengthened:

If the one on deathbed has time, ailment or old age or whatever, we can do the following:

  1. A Muslim should be laying down on back in such a way that the soles of his feet face the “Qiblah” the direction of his prayer (toward  Mecca).
  2. It is recommended to say by one’s self or repeat after someone else the declaration of faith. The declaration of faith: is the reconfirmation of a Muslim’s belief in Allah and His Prophet Muhammad (PBUH).

Allah’s Messenger said:

I testify that there is no god worthy of worship but Allah and that I am the Messenger of Allah. Any servant who meets Allah with those two {testimonies}, having no doubt in them, will enter Paradise.” (Sahih Muslim)

  1. Saying only good words and prayers in presence of the dying person, the Prophet (PBUH) said:

             “If you are in the presence of a sick or dying person, you should say good things for verily the angels say “Ameen” to whatever you say.” (Sahih Muslim)

The Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) has informed us that the increase in occurrence of sudden death is a sign for the nearing of Judgment day (there is no denying on its prevalence nowadays). So, in case of sudden death, these points as well as the previous ones are of no significance.

After death:

The human being is made of body and soul, so we should take care of both.

As for the body of the deceased:

  1. Closing the eye-lids and mouth of the deceased.
  2. Straightening the arms and legs.
  3. Covering the body.
  4. “Ghusl” this is washing the body of the deceased in a specific Islamic manner.  http://islamicacademy.org/html/Learn_Now/English/Ghusl.htm
  5. “Kafan” Shrouding of the body in three pieces of cloth in a certain way.
     http://islamicacademy.org/html/Books/GLIS/tdb.htm  

 

  1. All debts of the deceased should be paid from the wealth he or she left behind, even if it consumes all of the inheritance.
  2. A prayer performed by Muslims (relatives, acquaintances and others) in a specific manner is obligatory to be offered called “Funeral prayer”.
    http://www.islamicacademy.org/html/Learn_Now/English/Funeral_Salah.htm
  1. The deceased should be taken to the Muslim cemetery or the Muslim section of the local cemetery.  Carrying a coffin and accompanying it (Funeral Procession) to the burial ground is a recommended and rewardable act and is one of the rights of a Muslim on his fellow Muslims. The Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) said:
          “Every Muslim has five rights over another Muslim: to return the greetings, to visit the sick, to accompany funeral processions, to accept an invitation, to respond to the sneezer” (Sahih Al-Bukhari and Muslim).
  2. Burial in Islam is recommended to be swift (ASAP). The Prophet (PBUH) instructed:

                “Hasten the funeral rites”.  (Sahih Al-Bukhari)

http://sunnahonline.com/library/fiqh-and-sunnah/276-funerals-according-to-the-quran-and-sunnah      

  1. There are permissible actions by those present during or after someone’s death: Uncovering the face, kissing it, crying, and reading from Quran, Supplication, mourning and sadness. Up on the death of the Prophet Muhammad’s son Ibrahim, he cried and when was asked about it By Ibn-Awf  he said:
         “O Ibn ‘Awf, this is mercy”  Then he wept more and said, “The eyes are shedding tears and the heart is grieved, and we will not say except what pleases our Lord, O Ibrahim! Indeed we are grieved by your separation.” (Sahih Al-Bukhari).
  2. Screaming, tearing of clothes, bad sayings and slapping one’s face as well as similar acts are forbidden.
  3. Preparing Food by the Family of the deceased as the Prophet (PBUH) ordered some of the companions to do so.

As for the soul of the deceased:

“Birr” (good dealing) of parents does not end by their death, their rights and their children’s duties continue by:

  1. Supplication to Allah for forgiveness and mercy for him. The Prophet (PBUH) said:
    “The prayer of a Muslim for his Muslim brother in his absence will be answered.
    As long as he prays for the good of his brother, there is an angel assigned near his head who says: Amen, and may the same be for you.” (Sahih Muslim)
  2. Reading from Quran for the deceased.
  3. Paying his debts swiftly from his money and if not enough people may help to fulfill it on his behalf.
  4. Fasting on their behalf if they missed some obligatory fasting Ramadan or from oaths (nathar). The Prophet (PBUH) said:
         “Whoever died owing fasts, his guardian should fast on his behalf” (Sahih Al-Bukhari)
  5. Performing obligatory Hajj on their behalf from their money if: they did not perform it but intended to and did not get the chance for it, could afford it out of the deceased money, provided that the one who would do it has performed his or her obligatory Hajj first.
  6. Fulfilling their bequest according to Sharia.
  7. Keeping relations with their friends and people they loved is a continuance of Birr.
  8. The Prophet (PBUH) said:
         “When the son of Adam dies no further reward is recorded for his actions, with three exceptions: charity whose benefit is continuous, knowledge from which benefit continues to be reaped, or the supplication of a righteous son (for him).” (Sahih Muslim).
    So charity on their behalf is recommended and acceptable.

 

Conclusion:

Allah says in the Quran:
Everyone shall taste death. And only on the day of resurrection shall you be paid your wages in full. And whoever is removed away from the fire and admitted to paradise, this person is indeed successful. The life of this world is only the enjoyment of deception:” (Quran 3:185)

Preparing for one’s death is a life time endeavor regardless to one’s belief.  “Birr” (good act toward parents) of parents that is respectful, merciful and obedient treatment of them, that they are entitled is in both their lifetime and It’s rewarding for both parties both in this life and the afterlife. These duties one of the  magnificent aspect of Islam.

For more detailed reads:  https://www.missionislam.com/knowledge/janazahstepbystep.htm  

http://www.islamicbulletin.org/free_downloads/other/funeral.pdf

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