Al ‘Azaa (Condolences)

Condolences
It is a Muslim’s duty to offer condolences, comfort, and sympathy to the family and the relatives of the deceased. This strengthens the relationships within the Muslim community.

When offering condolences, words should be chosen carefully and said gently to convey sympathy and to encourage the family and the relatives of the deceased to accept Allah’s will and to help them to get back to their normal life. Condolences may be offered to the family and to the relatives of the deceased before, during, or after burial for up to three days; but it may be offered even at a later time if someone did not hear about it or was far away.

Recommendations:
Leave after offering condolences in order to give the family time to take care of their other affairs.
Relatives and friends may offer assistance for anything the family of the deceased may need. They may stay in the cemetery for a while and make dua’( Supplicate ) for the deceased, since he is being questioned by the Angels. Prophet Muhammad (P.B.U.H.) in an authentic Hadith said, " Make dua’ of Istighfar (Supplicate for forgiveness) for your brother and request steadfastness for him because he is now being questioned." (Authentic -Abu Dawood).

Preparing food for the bereaved family is encouraged (Fiqh us-Sunnah)
It is appropriate according to Sunnah that friends, neighbors and relatives prepare food for the family of the deceased, for the loss of the loved one occupies the family’s whole attention. Abdullah ibn Ja’far reported that the Messenger of Allah, peace be upon him, said, “Prepare some food for the family of Ja’far, for what has befallen them is keeping them preoccupied.” This is narrated by Abu Daw’ud. (Ibn Majah and Tirmidthi grade it as a sound hadith).

The Prophet, peace be upon him, recommended this practice for it is an act of virtue and kindness and brings friends and neighbors closer to each other. Ash-Shafi’ said, “It is recommended that the relatives of the deceased prepare enough food to feed all the deceased’s family for one day and night, for it is the sunnah of the Prophet , peace be upon him, and a practice of good people.”

The scholars hold it commendable to urge the deceased’s family to eat so that their sorrow or excessive grief will not cause them to avoid food and thereby become weak. These scholars also hold that to offer food to the women while they are mourning loudly is not permissible, for it would be helping them in something sinful.

Things that should be avoided:
There is no Islamic teaching regarding transferring the deceased to another country.
There is no Islamic teaching about revealing the face of the deceased after putting the body in the grave.
There is no Islamic teaching about shouting with a special zikr (Certain words to remember Allah) before, during, and after burial.
There is no Islamic teaching about reading the Quran in the cemetery.
There is no Islamic teaching about putting flowers, food, water, or money around the grave.
There is no Islamic teaching about putting anything in, on, or around the grave that will benefit the deceased.
There is no Islamic teaching about slaughtering an animal during or after burial.
There is no Islamic teaching about staying in a state of sadness for one year.
There is no Islamic teaching that the relatives of the deceased should wear black clothes.
There is no Islamic teaching that planting flowers on, or around the grave will benefit the deceased.
It is prohibited to express grief by wailing, ( wailing refers to mourning in a loud voice), shrieking, beating the chest and cheeks, tearing hair or clothes, breaking things or scratching faces or saying phrases that make the Muslim deviated from faith. All of these are totally prohibited, and the deceased may feel pain caused by these actions. The following authentic Hadiths, clearly prohibit the above expressions of grief:
1. Prophet Muhammad (P.B.U.H) said: "The deceased suffers when someone bewails loudly." (Bukhari & Muslim).

2. Prophet Muhammad (P.B.U.H) said, "Two things in people are Kufr (Ignorance), one is to ridicule someone on his family genealogy, and the other is bewailing loudly the dead" (Muslim).

3. Prophet Muhammad (P.B.U.H) also said,"I detest a woman who cries out very loudly, or shaves her hair, or tears her clothes when a beloved one dies." (Bukhari & Muslim).

4. Prophet Muhammad (P.B.U.H) said "He is not of us who beats his face, tears his clothes and bewails loudly when misfortune happens to him as was done during the days of ignorance." (Bukhari & Muslim).

All the schools of Islamic law disapprove of the deceased’s family preparing food for the people coming to pay their condolences, for it adds to their troubles and further encumbers them unnecessarily. Such a practice would also resemble the custom of the Arabs before Islam. Referring to this practice Jarir says “In those


days, we considered it a part of mourning to assemble at the deceased’s house and prepare food after burial for those gathered there”. Some scholars consider this to be absolutely forbidden (haram). Ibn Qudamah observes “It is permissible, however, when there is genuine need for it, since sometimes people attending the funeral may be from distant places, and they have to stay with the family of the deceased, in which case the family has to host such guests. (Fiqh us-Sunnah)

Mourning the dead
Mourning over the dead is allowed in Islam, but there is a great difference between what is allowed as Islamic and the practice of some Muslims at the present time.

Grief at the death of a beloved person is normal, and weeping for the dead is allowed in Islam.

Some people let their beard grow to show their sadness, then after several days they shave it. Others wear black clothes, or black ties. All of these have no basis in Islam.

It is a Muslim’s duty to advise gently those who do these things to stop doing so, since they are totally prohibited. No loss, however great, should lead a Muslim to sour his faith. They should, however, bear patiently and accept Allah’s destiny.

There is no objection to quiet weeping as Prophet Muhammad (P.B.U.H) did when his son died and said "It is a mercy that Allah made in the hearts of his servants" (Bukhari).

Relatives of a deceased Muslim may mourn him for three days only, but a widow may mourn her husband for four months and ten days. This is due to a Hadith of Prophet Muhammad (P.B.U.H) who said "It is prohibited for a woman who believes in Allah and the day of judgment to mourn any dead person for more than three days except to her husband. The wife should mourn her husband for four months and ten days. " (Bukhari). This period is called the Edda (Waiting period) which is prescribed by Allah in the Quran (2 : 234).

The EDDA (Waiting period) of Muslim widows
Edda is prescribed for widows in order to mourn the death of their husbands, observe their memory, fulfill any obligations toward them and establish whether the widow is pregnant. In the following authentic Hadith, Prophet Muhammad (P.B.U.H) explains the way that she should conduct herself during this time. Um Atiyyah reported that the Messenger of Allah said "A woman should not mourn for any deceased person for more than three days, except in the case of her husband’s death, in which she may mourn for a period of four months and ten days. Such a woman in mourning is not to wear any fancy, bright clothes, but only plain clothes, not to use any adornment or make-up, nor use perfume, nor dye her hands or feet with Henna" (Bukhari & Muslim).

If the widow is pregnant, then her waiting period ends when she delivers her baby, according to Allah’s command in the Quran "And for those who are pregnant, their Edda is until they deliver. (Quran 65:4).

She should accept all that Allah plans for her and her family with sincerity and patience, as Prophet Muhammad (P.B.U.H) said "When a person suffers from some calamity and supplicates ‘Inna lil-la-he wa inna ilay he ra je oon’,‘ to Allah we belong and to Allah shall we return’, O Allah make good the loss in this calamity, and grant me something good, Allah then compensates him/her for the loss, and gives a better substitute" (Muslim).

It is prohibited to express grief by wailing, shrieking, beating the chest or cheeks, tearing hair or clothes, or saying phrases that makes a Muslim lose faith. Um Atiyyah reports "the Messenger of Allah made us pledge that we will not wail over the dead"(Bukhari & Muslim). Prophet Muhammad (P.B.U.H) said "I detest a woman who cries out very loudly, or shaves her hair, or tears her clothes when a beloved one dies"(Bukhari & Muslim).

She may cry, as the Prophet did when his son died. He said "The eyes are shedding tears and the heart is grieved, and we will not say except what pleases our Lord" (Bukhari).

Allah in the Quran prescribed the Edda (Waiting period) for those wives whose husbands die "And those of you who die and leave wives behind them, they (the wives) shall wait for four months and ten days"(Quran 2:234). Prophet Muhammad (P.B.U.H) said in an authentic Hadith : "It is prohibited for a woman who believes in Allah and the day of judgment to mourn a dead person more than three days except her husband, in which case it is four months and ten days" (Bukhari).