Islamic marriage advice and family advice

A woman’s role at the death of a family member

Burial of the Dead

Burial of the Dead, and Islam

What are the responsibilities a female family member can take on following the death of a parent, spouse or sibling, other than of course praying and giving solace to other family members (provided they find the strength to do so)?

Is it any different to the responsibilities and roles of male family members? If there are any differences, what happens when the deceased has left behind only a wife or sister, or a wife and only one or several female children?

What course of action does a wife, sibling or daughter take if the deceased has never discussed where they want to be buried or how?

What happens in case the family lives in a foreign country? Is burial in the home land mandatory even where it is most practical to do it as soon as possible in another country?

I always felt it is considered poor judgment to delay burial, but I have seen sometimes it has to be done for allowing family members to have a last look at their deceased loved one. What is the longest time to wait for family members to arrive before burial must take place?

~ Alif

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9 Responses »

  1. ASSALAMALAIKUM-
    “Restraint is praiseworthy except in three things.” People asked,
    “And
    what are they o Abû Bahr?” He replied,
    1]“Make haste to do the righteous deed,
    2]Hurry to conduct the funeral of your deceased,
    A3]nd marry the girl in your charge to a suitable man [as soon as you find him.]”

    Abû Bakr Al-Daynûrî, Al-Mujâlasah wa Jawâhir Al-’Ilm 6:307.

  2. As Salamu'alaikum,

    What do you mean when you say "Is it any different to the responsibilities and roles of male family members?"
    What do you mean by the roles of the male members?

    The women may console the close relatives of the deceased, just like the men. They may even participate in Salatul Janaazah; they may give the Ghusl to the Janaazah (of a woman); they may do Du'as for the deceased.
    But the men would take the Janaazah to the graveyard and no woman shall go there.

    On the death of a close relative, neither men, nor women shall mourn for over three days, except for the woman whose husband dies. She has the time for four months and ten days.

    A Hadith has it that Allah's Messenger Sallallahu 'Alaihi Wasallam said: “A woman should not mourn for one who has died for more than three days, except for a husband, four months and ten days.”

    Regarding the burial, it is not wise to delay it. Because Allah's Messenger Sallallahu 'Alaihi Wasallam has said: “Hasten to bury your dead….” - narrated by Imam Ahmad, Imam Bukhari and Imam Maalik Rahimahumullah.

    Apart from these, do you want anything else / any other information on this subject?

    Muhammad Waseem
    IslamicAnswers.com Editor

    • Thank you for the information, on asking about the difference in responsibilities and roles from male family members I was talking about what you mentioned about taking the Janaazah to the graveyard or accompanying the family members carrying the dead body to the graveyard.

      You say no women shall go there, and this is what I have also noticed. So i wanted to know why that is.

  3. Brother waseem what is the meaning of mourn? Is it like crying for one who dies? Dose it heal in three days? 🙁

    • No sister, it does not heal in three days. What is meant by mourning is staying disconnected from the normal pace of life, expressing grief, etc.

      It does not involve tearing one's clothes and beating oneself, as a Hadith states thus:

      “He is not one of us who rends his garment and slaps his cheeks and calls out with the call of jaahiliyyah.”

      Another Hadith:

      One of the sons of Um 'Atiyya
      died, and when it was the third day she asked for a yellow perfume and put it over her body, and said, "We were forbidden to mourn for more than three days except for our husbands." (Bukhari)

      We were forbidden to mourn
      for more than three days for a dead person, except for a
      husband, for whom a wife
      should mourn for four months
      and ten days (while in the mourning period) we were not allowed to put kohl in our
      eyes, nor perfume ourselves,
      nor wear dyed clothes, except a garment of 'Asb (special clothes made in Yemen). But it was permissible for us that when one of us became clean from her menses and took a bath, she could use a piece of a certain kind of incense. And it was forbidden for us to follow funeral processions.

      Hadith - Muwatta 29.107 Yahya related to me from Malik from Nafic that Saffiyya bint Abi Ubayd suffered from an eye-complaint while she was in mourning for her husband, Abdullah ibn Umar. She did not apply kohl until her eyes almost had ramas (a dry white secretion in the corners of the eye).

      Crying (what is meant here is shedding some tears) out of rememberance is a Sunnah and does not amount to mourning. Allah's Messenger Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam himself cried or shed tears when he remembered Khadeejah Radiyallahu Anha. So, three days do not alleviate the pain.

      But it was just limited to this (crying) and mourning is the next level, as I mentioned above.

      However, for a woman, there are also some restrictions during the mourning period when her husband dies.

      All this is my opinion, and Allah Knows Best

      Wassalamualaikum
      Muhammad Waseem
      IslamicAnswers.com Editor

  4. Salam, sr. Alif
    The answers which you have not received to your questions as yet:
    "What course of action does a wife, sibling or daughter take if the deceased has never discussed where they want to be buried or how?"
    Islam is very clear - bury at the earliest possible before a night has passed and that means the closest available muslim cemetary

    "What happens in case the family lives in a foreign country? Is burial in the home land mandatory even where it is most practical to do it as soon as possible in another country?"
    Answer as above - Allah created man from dust. The body does not have to be returned to where the person was born. It is NOT mandatory and actually impractical and expensive to transport bodies from place to place. Our bodies are amanahs from Allah and have to be returned to the soil as soon as possible.

    "I always felt it is considered poor judgment to delay burial, but I have seen sometimes it has to be done for allowing family members to have a last look at their deceased loved one. What is the longest time to wait for family members to arrive before burial must take place?"
    You stand absolutely correct sister. I don't understand what comfort is brought by looking at a dead person's face or shrouded dead body while going against what Islam teaches.

    I will keep repeating the basic guiding principle as answer to all your questions: we have to be returned to the earth ASAP, not waiting for anyone to come, not waiting to transport body, not waiting for this that and the other. There are no choices given by Islam when it comes to last rites and burial. Everything is colored by cultural practices - try to keep culture out of what Allah and the Prophet (SAW) have recommended

    • Thank you for your informative reply. Indeed no relationship with the deceased and a grieving loved one can ever take priority over the relationship between the deceased and Allah, and s/he needs to be returned to Him soonest.

  5. Sister/Brother Alif,

    It has been made thus by Allah, and we hear, and we obey.

    Still, here are the reasons for your contentment:

    Prophet (peace be upon him) said: " Allaah has cursed women who frequent graves, " related by Ahmed and Tirmidhi and Ibn Maajah and in one version , " Allaah has cursed women who visit graves and those who build mosques and place lights upon them." (related by Abu Dawood, al-Tirmidhi, al-Nisaa'i and al-Haakim)

    The Ulama cite two reasons for the prohibition:

    Firstly, that women for the most part are emotionally weaker in accepting calamities and perhaps being in sight of her dear one's graves may break into wailing and loud weeping, which would be detrimental to her religious character and harmful for her body as well. Secondly, cemeteries are oftentimes isolated places which may not be safe for someone being alone, possibly exposing a woman to people of corrupt or loose moral .character In summary, the rationale behind this prohibition is that women are often not as strong emotionally in the face of calamities, and not visiting graves prevents them from the trial and from being exposed to unnecessary fitnah.

    Allah is al Hakeem, there is wisdom in everything He does, in everything He rules. So, whatever He rules for us is the Best for us, and there should be no doubt to this.

    Muhammad Waseem
    IslamicAnswers.com Editor

  6. Yes we all should and have to obey Allah's command but unfortunately who dosent have son only daughter and when parents die it's not fortunate for daughters to visit the grave. Still dua is accepted by Allah. I remember my father used to tell me that when his grandfather died my grandmother used to visit grave (she is the only daughter) and hug his grave and cry silently and used to say please Allah do forgive my father make his grave wide and let him rest peacefully. Then her husband my grandfather made her understand about why we women should not go. After that still now I know my grandmother say that every time when she pray and make dua. My grandmother is now70 may Allah bless her.

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