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It is an obligation upon the Muslim nation to offer funeral prayer for a deceased Muslim, be he a male or female, a child or adult, as proven in the traditions (hadith) of the holy Prophet. This has been the practice of the holy Prophet (peace be upon him), his companions and the rightly guided predecessors after them, up to our present day. Some of these traditions include the following:


Narrated by Abu Hurairah that the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) said, "The right of a Muslim upon his fellow Muslim are five: 'Replying the salaam (greeting of peace), visitation to the sick, following the funeral, honouring the invitation, and praying for that who sneezes'." (Bukhari and Muslim).




In another tradition narrated by Imran bin Hussain said: Allah’s Messenger (peace be upon him) said, “Your brother has died, so get up and pray for him.”




Salatul-Janaaiz (the Funeral prayer) is an obligation of community (i.e. Fardul-kifayah), which means that it is necessary to perform the funeral prayer over every deceased Muslim, whether one person performs it or some people perform it or a large number of people perform it. If not done, all will be guilty of a serious sin for neglecting the obligation. A lot of reward is also accorded to does who carryout this obligation, and mind you, it does not just start and end with a prayer for the deceased, but transcends that to a series of rites which must be performed on the dead Muslim before he or she is taking to his/her grave, and theses include a ritual bath, clothing with the cafan (a white piece of cloth with which the dead is shrouded totally from head to toes before the funeral prayer and taking him to the grave.




But before giving brief notes on these steps, lets see the benefits derivable from attending the funeral rites. The Prophet of Allah (peace be upon him) said:


Aishah (may Allah be pleased with her) narrated that the Prophet (peace be upon him) said, “No one among the Muslims dies, and Salat is performed for him by a community of Muslims reaching one hundred, and they intercede (supplicate) for him, except that their intercession for him is accepted.” In his narration, Ali bin Hujr said, “One hundred or more than that.” This has to do with the reward accruing to the deceased Muslim, and there a lot other traditions to that effect. (Muslim)




As for the one observing the prayers, Abu Hurairah (may Allah be pleased with him) narrates that Allah’s Messenger (peace be upon him) said, “Whoever attends a funeral procession till he offers funeral prayer for it, will get a reward equal to one Qirat; and whoever accompanies it till burial will get a reward equal to two Qirat.” It was asked, “What are two Qirat?” He replied, “Like two huge mountains.” (Bukhari and Muslim).




1. The deceased is given a ritual bath in such a way as someone in the state of Janabah (major impurity) would do, beginning with cleaning and washing of the private parts, followed by an ablution and then washing his entire body with clean water.




2. The body is then shrouded in two pieces of white sheets of cloth.




3. After this, the Janaaiz prayer (funeral prayer) is observed for the dead with the body placed in front of the Imam, and the congregation make rows behind the Imam, just like the arrangement in a normal daily prayer.




Mind you, the funeral prayer is quite very different from the normal daily prayers, as it is made up of one raka'ah (unit of prayer) with four takbeerats (i.e. saying: Allahu Akbar).




The various steps of funeral prayer (Salatul-Janaaiz) include the following:


1. Standing in well arranged rows behind the Imam and saying the Takbiraats in funeral prayer after the Imam.




There are plenty of narrations that tell us that there are four Takbirs in funeral prayer. Let me quote one of the narrations to support this:




Narrated by Jabir (may Allah be pleased with him): The Prophet (peace be upon him) offered the funeral prayer for Ashama An-Najashi and said four Takbir(s).




Mind you, the funeral prayer is started by saying the first Takbir (Allahu Akbar).




2. Recitation after first Takbir


It was narrated that Abu Umamah said, “The Sunnah when offering the funeral prayer is to recite Umm-al-Qur’an (i.e. Surah Al-Fatiha, Chapter No. 1) quietly in the first Takbir, then to say three (more) Takbiraat, and to say the Taslim after the last one.”




Talhah bin Abdullah bin Awf narrated: Ibn Abbas (may Allah be pleased with him) performed Salat for a funeral and he recited ‘Fatiha-til-Kitab’ (i.e. Surah Al-Fatiha). So I asked him about it and he said, “It is from the Sunnah, or, from completeness of Sunnah.”


Proceed with the prayer as explained ahead by saying the second Takbir.




3. Recitation after second Takbir


All scholars agree that after second Takbir, one should say Salat upon the Prophet (peace be upon him). The wordings of Salat upon the Prophet (peace be upon him) are: "Allahumma salli ala-Muhammad wa ala aali Muhammad, kama sallayta ala Ibrahim wa ala aali Ibrahim innaka Hameed-um-Majeed; Allahumma barik ala Muhammad wa ala aali Muhammad, kama barakta ala Ibrahim wa ala aali Ibrahim innaka Hameed-um-Majeed."


After this, say the third Takbir and continue the prayer as explained ahead.




4. Recitation after third Takbir


After third Takbir, supplication should be made for the deceased. There are various supplications for funeral prayer which the Prophet (peace be upon him) recited. Important thing to remember is that the main purpose of funeral prayer is to ask Allah’s blessings for the deceased.




But, one most widely recited supplications for the deceased from among those said by the Prophet (peace be upon him) in the funeral prayer is in the following hadith:


Abu Ibrahim Al-Ashhali narrated from his father, who said, “When Allah’s Messenger (peace be upon him) would perform the Salat for the funeral, he would say: Allahum-maghfir li-hayyina wa mayyitina wa shahidina wa ghaibina, wa saghirina wa kabirina, wa dhakarina wa unthana." Yahya said, “Abu Salam bin Abdur-Rahman narrated from Abu Hurairah (may Allah be pleased with him), from the Prophet (peace be upon him), what is similar to that but he added: Allahumma man ahyaytahu minna fa ahyihi alal-Islam wa man tawaffaytahu minna fatawaffahu alal-Iman.”




5. The forth Takbir then follows. Mind you, there is no particular recitation after fourth Takbir. The Sunnah way, agreed by all, is to say Taslim immediately after pronouncing the  fourth Takbir.




The Prophet has made it clear that we should try to follow the dead Muslim to his final home in this world where he is finally buried, and anyone who does that will earn two Qirat as seen in the aforementioned traditions of the Prophet (peace be upon him).


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