Islamic etiquettes for dealing with a person on their deathbed

Question:

What do the scholars of Islam say about this: When somebody is on the deathbed what should the onlookers read? What do you do after the body is buried in the grave?

Adam Abdal Jabbar Nottingham

Answer

May Allah ﷻ bless the questioner and the reader for their eagerness to know and practise what Rasulullah ﷺ taught us and recommended for us.

Establish if they will recover.

If they will not survive the illness, you must:

  1. Be gentle, encourage them to make Tawbah and write their last will and testament (Wasiya). It is a sunnah to set aside some wealth to a person or masjid or institute in your will and testament.[1]
  2. If there is no sign of recovery, encourage them to seek Allah’s kindness. Allah ﷻ loves to forgive. Remind them of the good they did in their life. Allah says in a Hadith Qudsi “I treat my slave as he thinks of me” [Abu Hurairah in Bukhari, Muslim]. It is permissible to cry for someone who is on their deathbed, but it is better not cry in front of them.
  3. Recite the last three verses of Surat Hashr, Ayat Kursi, Surat Ikhlas, and dua of Sayyiduna Yunus.
  4. Apply perfume to them.
  5. Recite Yasin. Maqil bin Yasar (ra) narrated that the Rasulullah (ﷺ) said: “Recite Yasin, over those who are dying.” (Al Nasai) Imam Ajurri (ra) in his Akhlaq Ahl ul Quran narrated, “When Surat Yasin is recited at deathbed Allah makes dying easy.”

Last Moments

If they are about to pass away:

  1. Help them rest on their back and turn their face toward the Qibla and do Talqin: say la ilaha illallah. Abu Saeed Al Khudri (ra) reported that Rasulullah ﷺ said, “prompt and instruct your dying person “there is no god but Allah.” [Muslim]. Do not tell them “Say,” rather encourage it by saying it yourself.  If they are Muslim “la ilaha ilallah”, but if they are not Muslim include “Muhammad Rasulullah ﷺ”.
  2. Also, if they are not Muslim don’t chant the same way we would, you only want to put the kalima in their mind. [2] Muadh ibn Jabal (ra) reported that Rasulullah ﷺ said, “Whoever’s last words are ‘There is no god but Allah’ will enter the garden.” [Abu Dawud]. Sahl ibn Sad (ra) narrates that Rasulullah ﷺ said, “Deeds are only by the last of them” [Bukhari]. We ask Allah to make our last deeds the best of them.

At the time of Burial

There is another Talqin: once the dead is buried you stand at the head of the grave, call out the name of the dead, instruct them, “Brother/sister [name] the angel will ask you who is your Lord?’ Tell them ‘Allah the Almighty’; they will ask you ‘what is your religion?’ Tell them ‘my religion is Islam’; they will ask ‘What do you say about this person?’ Tell them, ‘This is my beloved Prophet Mohammad ﷺ.’

Abu Umama narrates, “when I die, do with me what Rasulullah ﷺ commanded. He ﷺ said, ‘when one of your brothers die, cover him with soil in his grave. Then one of you stand at the head of the grave and say “So-and-so son of so-and-so, he hears you but does not reply. Then say “So-and-so son of so-and-so” he sits up, then say “So-and-so son of so-and-so Allah guided us, may he be kind and forgiving to you.” then say “You left this world saying “there is no god but Allah, and Muhammad is His slave and His Messenger; I am pleased with Allah as my Lord, Islam as my religion, Muhammad as my prophet, and the Quran as my guide.” Then Munkar and Nakir[3] take each other by the hand and say, ‘let us set out, we do not interrogate when someone does Talqin’. (Tabarani) So, Talqin can benefit the person in the grave by saving them from the interrogation. Furthermore, we learn the disciples practised the Sunnah.

Rasulullah ﷺ said, “when the dead is laid in the grave and his friends come to him, he can hear the clanking of the sandals. Two angels come to him, sit him up, and say to him ‘what did you say about this man? (he is shown Muhammad )’ and if he is a believer he responds, ‘I bear witness he is the slave of Allah and His Messenger.’ Then it is said ‘look at your place in the hell, but Allah has replaced it with paradise for you’ then he sees the two places at once.” (Anas bin Malik in Bukhari).

The time of interrogation is important as it determines the state of the grave. Success means the grave becomes a garden of paradise; and failure means the grave is a pit of fire.

Visiting after the burial

It was impermissible to visit graves, but that command was abrogated with the hadith narrated by Ibn Masud that Rasulullah ﷺ said, “I used to forbid you from visiting graves, now I command you for it weakens your love of dunya and reminds you of the final abode.” [Ibn Majah]. The practice of Rasulullah ﷺ was to visit the graveyard every night. Travelling to visit graves is also a practice of Rasulullah ﷺ when he travelled to visit the grave of his mother Amina.

Visit parents, relatives, and pious people in a state of purity, the best day to visit is Friday. Remember the dua for entering graveyard. Stand at the head of the grave as though looking at the deceased. Do not walk over a grave unless necessary to reach another grave nor sit on a grave, Rasulullah ﷺ said “It would be better that you sit on hot coal and burn your clothes and yourself than to sit on grave.” [Abu Hurairah in Muslim]

Allah ﷻ knows the best.

This Fatwa is written by Dr Musharraf Hussain Al-Azhari and Shaikh Ibrahim

 

[1] عمدة السالك وعدة الناسك للشيخ نقيب المصري

[2] [عمدة السالك وعدة الناسك للشيخ نقيب المصري]

[3] the names of the two angels who question us in the grave.

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