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Fiqh of Funerals and Funeral Prayers

Q:I have a Q about the funeral prayer. Since its always done in congregation, do we stay silent in each rakah like in fard salah or do we recite on our own as well? Could you please tell me what is the position of hands... do they stay on the side or do we fold them? I have seen people doing it both ways but want to know what is the correct position in hanafi madhab?

Walaikum assalam wa rahmatullah,

1. The follower recites the supplications of the funeral prayer: in reality, the funeral prayer is a form of specifically-legislated supplication (du`a) that is in the form of ritual prayer; also, there is no recitation of Qur’an in the funeral prayer.

After the first takbir, the sounder position in the Hanafi school is to recite the thana’ (opening supplication, as in the prayer) and not the Fatiha. This is what Ibn Abidin confirmed as being the relied upon position in the Hanafi school.

The following is from Heavenly Ornaments and is reliable:

The Funeral Prayer

The funeral prayer is in reality a dua unto Allah Most High for the deceased person.

1. All the conditions and prerequisites that have been mentioned for prayer will also apply for the funeral prayer. However, there is one additional condition for the funeral prayer. That is, one must have knowledge of the person's death. The person who is not informed of this will be excused and funeral prayer will not be necessary on him.

2. There are two types of conditions for the validity of funeral prayer: the first type is that which is connected to those offering the funeral prayer. These conditions have been mentioned in the chapters dealing with all the other types of prayer. That is: purity, concealing one's private area, facing the qiblah, intention. However, "time" is not a pre-requisite for this prayer. Furthermore, if one feels that one will miss it, one can make tayammum, e.g. the funeral has commenced and the person feels that if he makes wudu he will miss the prayer. In such a case he can make tayammum, as opposed to other prayers, because if one fears that the time is about to expire, it is not permissible for him to make tayammum.

3. These days, some people offer the funeral prayer with their shoes on. For them it is necessary that the spot on which they are standing is pure, and that their shoes are also pure. If they remove their shoes and stand on them, then it is necessary that only the shoes be pure. If people are not mindful of this, their prayer will not be valid.

The second type of conditions are those that are connected to the deceased. There are six such conditions:

The First Condition: The deceased has to be a Muslim. Prayer over a kaafir or murtad is not valid. Even if a Muslim is an open sinner or a bid'ati, prayer over him will be valid. However, there is an exception for those who rebel against the ruler who is on truth or those who are highway robbers. This is on the condition that they are killed while fighting against the ruler. If they die after the fight or die a natural death, funeral prayer will be offered over them.

Similarly, the person who kills his father or mother and he himself dies while being punished for this, prayer will not be offered over him. Prayer is not offered over these people as a way of punishment. Prayer over a person who commits suicide is valid.

4. If the father or mother of an immature child is a Muslim, this child will also be regarded as a Muslim. Prayer will be offered over him.

5. A mayyit or deceased person is he who is born alive and then dies. If a child is born dead, prayer over him is not valid.

The Second Condition: The body and kafan of the deceased must be pure from najaasat-e-haqiqi and najaasat-e-hukmi. However, if najaasat-e-haqiqi comes out from his body after giving him the ghusl, and his entire body becomes impure, there is no harm in this. The prayer will be valid.

6. Prayer is not valid over a deceased person if he is not pure from najaasat-e-hukmi, i.e. ghusl was not given to him, or in the case where ghusl was not possible he was not given tayammum. However, if it is not possible to purify him, e.g. he was buried without being given ghusl or tayammum and the grave has already been filled with sand, then it will be permissible to offer prayer over his grave. If prayer was offered over a person who was not given ghusl or tayammum and he was buried thereafter, and later it came to be known that ghusl was not given to him, then the prayer will have to be repeated over his grave. This is because the first prayer was not valid. Since it is not possible to give him ghusl, the (second) prayer will be valid.

7. If a Muslim is buried without prayer being offered over him, prayer will be offered over his grave as long as there is no possibility of his corpse disintegrating or decomposing. If one feels that his body has disintegrated, prayer should not be offered over his grave. The time that it takes for a body to disintegrate differs from place to place. It is therefore not possible to specify an exact time - this is the most correct opinion in this regard. However, there are those who have specified 3 days, 10 days and one month.

8. It is not necessary for the spot on which the deceased is placed to be pure. If the deceased is placed on a pure bed, or if the bed is impure, or if the deceased is placed on an impure piece of ground without being placed on a bed, then in all these cases there is difference of opinion. According to some ulama, it is a prerequisite for the spot on which the deceased is placed to be pure. If not, the prayer will not be valid. According to others, this is not a prerequisite. Prayer will therefore be valid.

The Third Condition: Those parts of the body which are wajib to be covered have to be covered. If the deceased is completely naked, prayer over him will not be permissible.

The Fourth Condition: The deceased has to be placed in front of those offering prayer over him. If he is placed behind them, prayer will not be valid.

The Fifth Condition: The deceased or the thing upon which he is placed, has to be placed on the ground. If prayer is being offered over the deceased while he is being carried by some people, or while he is placed on a vehicle or an animal, this prayer will not be valid.

The Sixth Condition: The deceased has to be present at that place. If he is not present, prayer will not be valid.

9. Two things are fard in the funeral prayer: (i) To say Allahu Akbar four times. Here, each takbeer takes the place of one rakaat. (ii) To stand and offer the funeral prayer. Just as it is fard to stand up and offer the fard and wajib prayers if the person has no valid excuse, so is the case over here. The different valid excuses have already been mentioned in the chapters on prayer.

10. There is no ruku, sajdah, qa'dah, etc. in this prayer.

11. Three things are sunnah in the funeral prayer: (i) To praise Allah Most High. (ii) To send salutations to Rasulullah sallallahu alayhi wa sallam. (iii) To make dua for the deceased. Jama'at is not a condition for funeral prayer. Even if one person offers the funeral prayer, this fard duty will be fulfilled. This is irrespective of whether the person offering the prayer is a male, a female, a mature person or an immature person.

12. However, there is a greater need for a jama'at because this is a dua for the deceased. For a few people to get together and ask Allah Most High for a certain thing has a special significance in attracting the mercy and acceptance of Allah Most High.

13. The sunnah and recommended method of funeral prayer is as follows: The deceased should be placed in the front and the imam should stand in line with his chest. Everyone should make the following intention:

"I intend offering the funeral prayer for the pleasure of Allah Most High and as a dua for the deceased."

After making this intention, he should raise both hands upto the ears just as he does for the takbeer-e-tahreemah. When doing this he should say Allahu Akbar and thereafter tie his hands just as he does for any other prayer. He should then recite the thanaa'. Thereafter, he should say Allahu Akbar again but he should not raise his hands. He should then recite the durood. It is preferable to recite the same durood that is recited in prayer. He should again say Allahu Akbar without raising the hands. After this takbeer, he should make dua for the deceased. If the deceased is a mature male or female, the following dua should be made:

({ اللَّهُمَّ اغْفِرْ لِحَيِّنَا وَمَيِّتِنَا وَشَاهِدِنَا وَغَائِبِنَا وَصَغِيرِنَا وَكَبِيرِنَا وَذَكَرِنَا وَأُنْثَانَا . اللَّهُمَّ مَنْ أَحْيَيْته مِنَّا فَأَحْيِهِ عَلَى الْإِسْلَامِ , وَمَنْ تَوَفَّيْته مِنَّا فَتَوَفَّهُ عَلَى الْإِيمَانِ .

Translation: "O Allah! Forgive our living and dead, present and absent, big and small, men and women. O Allah! Whoever among us is kept alive by You, keep him alive on Islam, and whoever You give death, let him die on Imaan."

In some Ahadith, this dua has also been mentioned:

اللَّهُمَّ اغْفِرْ لَهُ وَارْحَمْهُ وَعَافِهِ وَاعْفُ عَنْهُ , وَأَكْرِمْ نُزُلَهُ وَوَسِّعْ مُدْخَلَهُ وَاغْسِلْهُ بِالْمَاءِ وَالثَّلْجِ وَالْبَرَدِ وَنَقِّهِ مِنْ الْخَطَايَا كَمَا يُنَقَّى الثَّوْبُ الْأَبْيَضُ مِنْ الدَّنَسِ , وَأَبْدِلْهُ دَارًا خَيْرًا مِنْ دَارِهِ وَأَهْلًا خَيْرًا مِنْ أَهْلِهِ وَزَوْجًا خَيْرًا مِنْ زَوْجِهِ , وَأَدْخِلْهُ الْجَنَّةَ وَأَعِذْهُ مِنْ عَذَابِ الْقَبْرِ وَعَذَابِ النَّارِ }

It is better if both these duas are recited. In fact, Allamah Shaami rahmatullahi alayh, in his book Radd ul-Muhtaar, has written both these duas as one. Apart from these two, other duas have also been related in the Ahadith. Our jurists have also related these duas. One could therefore choose whichever dua one wishes.


Once this dua has been recited, Allahu Akbar should be said once more without raising the hands. After this takbeer, the salaam should be made just as it is made for any other prayer. There is no at-tahiyyaat nor any recitation of the Quran in this prayer.

14. The funeral prayer is the same for the imam and muqtadi. The only difference is that the imam will make the takbeers and the salaam in a loud voice while the muqtadi will make them softly. The remainder of the things, i.e. the thanaa', durood and dua, will be made softly by the muqtadi as well as the imam.

15. It is recommended to make three lines for the funeral prayer. So much so that if there are seven people, one of them will be made the imam, there will be three people in the first line, two in the second line, and one person in the last line.

16. Funeral prayer becomes invalid by the very things which make other prayers invalid. The only difference is that by laughing aloud, one's wudu will not break. And if a woman stands in line with a man, the prayer will not become invalid.

17. It is prohibitively disliked (disliked tahriman) to offer funeral prayer in a mosque which has been built for the five daily prayers, the jumu'ah prayer or the eid prayers. This is irrespective of whether the funeral is offered inside the mosque or the funeral is placed outside whilst the people are standing inside the mosque . However, funeral prayer will not be disliked in a mosque which has been built specifically for this purpose. [f: Ibn Abidin’s chose the position that it is somewhat disliked (disliked tanzihan) to perform the funeral prayer in a mosque, and his son, Ala’ al-Din Abidin confirmed this.]

18. It is disliked to delay the funeral prayer with the purpose of attracting a larger crowd.

19. It is not permissible to sit down or sit on any vehicle and offer funeral prayer if there is no valid excuse.

20. If there are several funerals to be offered, it is better to offer each one individually. However, it is permissible to offer one funeral prayer for all the funerals. In such a case, a line for all the funerals should be made. A good method of doing this is that each funeral should be placed next to the other in such a way that all their feet are on one side, and their heads the other side. This method is preferable because all their chests will be in line with the imam. And it is sunnah for the imam to stand in this way.

21. If the funerals are of different types, their line should be arranged in this way: the funerals of all the men should be placed near the imam, thereafter the boys', thereafter the mature women's, and thereafter the girls'.

22. If a person joins the funeral at such a time that a few takbeers were made prior to his arrival, he will be regarded as a latecomer for the takbeers which he missed. Upon reaching the funeral prayer, he should not immediately join in as he normally does for other prayers. Instead, he should wait for the takbeer of the imam. When the imam makes the takbeer, he should also do so. This takbeer will be regarded as his takbeer-e-tahreemah. When the imam makes his salaam, this person should complete the takbeers which he missed. There is no need for him to recite anything.

If a person reaches at such a time that the imam has already made the fourth takbeer, then with regard to this fourth takbeer, he will not be regarded as a latecomer. He should immediately make the takbeer and join the prayer before the imam can make salaam. On the completion of the prayer, he should repeat all the takbeers which he missed.

23. If a person was present at the time of takbeer-e-tahreemah or for any of the other takbeers and was even ready to join the prayer, but did not join due to laziness or some other reason, then he should immediately make the takbeer and join the prayer. He should not wait for the next takbeer of the imam. He will not have to repeat the takbeer for which he was present (but did not make) as long as he makes it before the imam can make the next takbeer. He must complete this takbeer even though he did not make it simultaneously with the imam.

24. If the latecomer begins to complete the takbeers which he missed, and he fears that if he will recite the dua he will get delayed and the funeral will be carried away from the front, then he should not recite the dua.

25. If a person becomes a laahiq for a funeral prayer, the same rules as for the other prayers will apply to him.

26. The most worthy person for the imamaat of funeral prayer is the ruler of the time even if there are more pious people than him who are present over there. If he is not present, then his deputy, i.e. the one who is appointed by him, will be the most worthy even if there are others who are more pious than him. If he is not present, then the judge of the city. If he is not present, then his deputy. In the presence of these people, it is not permissible to appoint anyone else as the imam without their permission. It is wajib to appoint these people as the imam. If any of these people are not present, the most worthy will be the imam of the area. This is on the condition that there isn't anyone more qualified than him from among the relatives of the deceased person. Or else, those relatives of the deceased who have the right to succeed him, have the right of becoming imam. Or that person whom they give permission to. If anyone who is not worthy of imamaat, makes imamaat without the permission of the relatives, then they have the right to repeat the prayer. So much so, that if the deceased is already buried, they could offer the prayer over the grave until such time that the body has not started to disintegrate or decompose.

27. If a person who is worthy of imamaat, makes imamaat without the permission of the relatives, then the relatives cannot repeat the prayer. Similarly, if the relative of the deceased performed the prayer in the absence of the ruler or his deputies, then the ruler does not have the right to repeat the prayer. In fact, even if the relatives offer the prayer in the presence of the ruler, the ruler does not have the choice to repeat the prayer. This is despite the relatives getting the sin of not appointing the ruler. Because to appoint the ruler is wajib, as mentioned previously.

In short, it is not permissible to offer one funeral several times. This is only permissible for the relatives if the funeral was offered without their permission by a person who is not eligible to do so.


Faraz Rabbani

Article taken (with Thanks) from


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