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Aspects Of Islamic Faith — 76: Weeping For The Dead

Islamic Perspectives - Muslim Journals

Arab News & Information - By Adil Salahi

The Prophet (peace be upon him) had six children by his first wife, Khadijah, but his two sons died in infancy, while all four daughters grew up and were married, but they all died young. In fact three of them died during the Prophet's lifetime, while the youngest, Fatimah, died six months after he had passed away. The Prophet married nine women after his first wife had died, some of whom had given birth to several children, but none of them gave him a son or daughter.

Around three years before the end of his blessed life, the Prophet was sent a gift by the ruler of Egypt which included two slave young women. The Prophet kept one for himself, and she gave him his last son, Ibraheem. However, Ibraheem lived only 18 months. He was taken care of by a couple living on the outskirts of the city, with the woman breast-feeding him. The Prophet used to visit them often and he loved his son dearly. When Ibraheem was ill, the Prophet went with a few of his companions to see him. Anas ibn Malik reports: "We visited Abu Saif, Ibraheem's wet nurse's husband, with the Prophet. The Prophet held Ibraheem, kissed him and smelled him. We entered later when Ibraheem was in his last throes. The Prophet's eyes were very tearful. Abd Al-Rahman ibn Awf said to him: ‘Even you, messenger of God?' The Prophet said: ‘It is a feeling of compassion'. He wept again and then said: ‘The eye is tearful, the heart is in grief, but we say only what pleases God. Ibraheem, we are certainly grieved by your departure.'" (Related by Al-Bukhari).

The Arabic word "buka," which stands for weeping in the broadest sense, is used to denote four situations concerning bereavement. The first is to weep silently, without making any noises. The second is to weep making some noises, such as breathing in and out aloud and making soft cries, but with resignation and acceptance. The third is the same as the second, but with louder noises indicating panic and little resignation. The fourth includes all this but adding lamentations and expressions of despair. We need to know the Islamic rulings on all four situations.

It is universally agreed by Islamic scholars that the first case of silent weeping is perfectly permissible. It is just what the Hadith tells us the Prophet did. Weeping is a form of release of the feelings of sorrow and sadness at the death of a loved one. This is perfectly natural and a case of compassion as the Prophet described his weeping for his son.

The second case of weeping with noises of breathing in and out, making a few sighs and cries that signify sorrow, but without detracting from one's resignation and acceptance of God's will, is also acceptable, but not preferable. It is much better to confine one's sadness to noiseless weeping that expresses sorrow but indicates at the same time one's acceptance of God's will.

The third case in which one makes frequent noises of sorrow that indicate a case of panic and a low degree of accepting what is totally in God's hand is at least reprehensible but could be prohibited, according to the degree of panic and lack of acceptance.

The fourth degree which combines weeping with lamentation and cries, such as when women address the deceased saying, "to whom are you leaving us," or "who will support us now that you have gone," or "alas for the rock that kept our family together," etc. Such cries and lamentations indicating total panic are certainly forbidden.


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