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Aspects Of Islamic Faith - 78: Reward For Joining Funerals

Islamic Perspectives - Muslim Journals

Arab News & Information - By Adil Salahi
God states in the Qur'an that He has honored man, or to use the Qur'anic expression, "the children of Adam", which includes every human being. Indeed, the honor extends after a person dies. Islam establishes certain rights for a deceased person, which the living must fulfill. These include that the deceased should be given a bath, wrapped and embalmed. Relatives, neighbors, friends and anyone else should join the deceased's funeral until the funeral prayer is offered and after that, until the burial is complete. They must also pray to God to grant mercy and forgive the deceased.

The Prophet encouraged us to join funerals. Abdullah ibn Umar was told that Abu Hurayrah quoted the Prophet as saying: "Whoever follows a funeral will have a portion of the reward." Ibn Umar commented: "Abu Hurayrah has stated too many." He, however, sent someone to ask Ayesha if she was aware of such a Hadith. She confirmed what Abu Hurayrah stated, saying: "I heard the Prophet saying it." Ibn Umar said: "We have lost many portions." (Related by Al-Bukhari).

We need first to clarify that Abdullah ibn Umar, who was diligent in trying to follow whatever the Prophet recommended, was keen to join the funeral of anyone who died. He, however, used to join it from the deceased's home up to the mosque and join in the prayer. When he was told of what Abu Hurayrah attributed to the Prophet, he realized that it meant going further and joining the funeral up the graveyard, until the deceased is buried. When he ascertained that Abu Hurayrah was right, he regretted his past practice as it meant he did not earn more reward. We may add that other Hadiths make clear that the reward God gives to those who join a funeral is great indeed.

By urging Muslims to follow funerals, the Prophet aimed to honor the deceased in a way that brings benefit to both the dead and the living. The deceased will thus be attended by a large number of people who will concentrate on remembering his good qualities and pray for his forgiveness. The more people pray for him the better, because God will answer their prayers. The deceased's relatives will appreciate the kindness done to them as they feel that those attending the funeral sympathize with them, feel their loss and are willing to give support. Moreover, it benefits the ones taking part in the funeral as it reminds them of death, which is the inevitable end of everyone. Death means proceeding to a new life for which we should prepare now. Our outcome in this future life depends on our action and attitude in the present life. While walking alongside the deceased who is being taken to the grave, we are bound to reflect on death and how close it is always to us. According to the Qur'anic expression, it is closer to us than our jugular vein. We may be taking a funeral to the graveyard today and will be taken along the same road to the same destination tomorrow. Such reflection is bound to strengthen our faith and add to our resolve to prepare for our future life. Such preparation takes the form of being eager to add to our good deeds and steer away from sin and evil.

It remains to be said that there is reward to be gained by joining the funeral in any way. Those who join it up to the mosque without joining the funeral prayer for the deceased receive some reward, but those who join the prayer receive greater reward. The full reward is granted to those who continue to join it up to the graveyard and pray for the deceased as he or she is being buried.



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