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Tadfeen:  Rites of Burial

Burial [Tadfeen] that is laying the dead body in the grave and filling it with earth is also a fardh-i-kifayah for the believers.  Allah (Ta’ala) has pronounced:

أَلَمْ نَجْعَلْ الأَرْضَ كِفَاتاً (25) أَحْيَاءً ‎وَأَمْوَاتاً (المرسلات : 25-26)

(Translation of meaning) [“Have We not made the earth a receptacle, both for the living and dead?”] (Al-Mursalaat: 25-26).

Burial can take place any time in day or night.  If there is any difficulty in night time and all rites cannot be performed properly, then it is better to arrange it in day time.  It is not proper to bury the dead deliberately at sunrise or at high-noon or at sunset. But if the process of burial started ahead of these times then there can be no objection.  Likewise, if the body was decomposing or any other emergency had arisen, then it is permissible to perform the burial at these points of time as well.

Care should be taken to dig the grave deep so that the corpse remains safe. While laying the body into the grave its legs should be downed first. This is the practice of the Prophet (sallAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam). If it is difficult then any other position can be taken. After placing it in the grave it should be turned on its right side with its face towards the Qiblah.  All knots of the kafan [shroud] should be untied. The person who lays the body in the grave should recite this prayer:

بسم اللہ وعلی ملۃ رسول اللہ

(Translation) [“In the name of Allah and on the faith of the Messenger of Allah”].  Thereafter, everybody present should throw at least three handfuls of earth into the grave from its head. When the burial is complete all present should pray standing for forgiveness and mercy of Allah for the deceased. After this the congregation can disperse. It is narrated through Hadrat Uthman (RadhiAllahu Anhu) that whenever the Messenger of Allah (sallAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) became free of burial he called upon those present:  Pray to Allah (Ta’ala) to forgive your brother and keep him steadfast as right now he will be subjected to interrogation (Abu Dawood).

Sitting upon  graves, walking over them, sleeping over them, pissing and defecating over them, or eating and drinking over them must be avoided as these are reprehensible acts contrary to the sanctity of graves. The Messenger of Allah (sallAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) pronounced: It is better to sit upon a burning log than sitting upon a grave (most of the compilers). If it is believed that the bones of the dead may be intact no old grave should be dug or flattened. If perchance during the digging some bones are found intact they should neither be broken nor thrown away as, according to a saying of the Messenger of Allah (sallAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam), breaking the bones of the living or dead is equally  a sinful act (Abu Dawood, Ahmad, Ibn Majah).

If need be a buried body can be shifted from one grave to another grave.  Likewise, in case of necessity or compulsion more than one corpses can be buried in a common grave. Wailing or grieving of the near kin on the death or burial of a person is but a natural phenomenon. But weeping aloud, crying and wailing aloud, or beating of breasts or heads are all undesirable acts. When the only son of the Prophet (sallAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) namely Hadrat Ibrahim died his eyes were full of tears but he said:  “Eyes are full of tears; hearts are full of sorrow but we stand by the will of our Creator; O Ibrahim we are saddened a lot by your departure” (Al-Bukhari).

About the reprehensible acts of mourning, the Messenger of Allah (sallAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) pronounced: “Anybody who beats his face or tears his clothes or repeats the practices of Jahiliyyah [the Age of Ignorance] is not of us” (Al-Bukhari & Muslim). When a person departs from this world others should keep their patience and submit to the will of Allah and keep on reciting frequently: انا للہ وانا الیہ راجعون “Inna lillah-i-wa-inna-ilaih-i-ra’j’ioun” [“We belong to Allah and to Him shall we return”]. They should recite this prayer on this occasion:

اللھم اجرنی فی مصیبتی واخلف لی خیرا منھا

(Translation) [“O my God please make this calamity a source of compensation for me and grant me in its lieu what is better for me”] (Muslim, Abu Dawood, Tirmizi).

It is binding upon the believers to visit the kin of their deceased brother to offer their condolences and to lighten the burden of their grief. They should preach to them to submit themselves to the will of Allah and pray in these words for the departed soul:

ان للہ ما اخذ،  ولہ ما اعطی،  وکل عندہ باجل مسمی، فلتصبر ولتحتسب

(Translation) [“Verily to Allah belongs what He has taken; and to Him belongs what he grants; and everything has a fixed term before Him; so keep your patience and look for recompensation”] (Al-Bukhari & Muslim). In short, one should do whatever is right and proper to bring comfort to the feelings of the aggrieved and to share their grief.