Janazah prayer: for a deceased person
Janazah prayer is a collective duty. It is performed with the presence of the body of the deceased person in front of the praying people. It consists of standing up, four glorifications, and reciting Al Fatha.
Janazah prayer: for a deceased person
It is very important that everyone should always remember death and the end of one’s life in this world, preparing for this eventuality by doing good works, repenting of sin and rectifying injustice, so as to have the right preparation for one’s future, eternal life.
It is part of the Sunnah, (recommended actions) to visit people who are ill and remind them of the need to repent of sin and to write their wills. When a person is known to be close to death, it is a Sunnah to remind him to say: La ilaha illa Allah, (i.e. there is no deity other than Allah), so that it is the last thing he says. He shoud not be reminded to say it again unless he speaks something else. If it was the last thing he said before dying, he will go to Paradise as our Prophet (peace be upon him) had told us. When a person dies, it is recommended to close his eyes and to take steps to prepare him for burial and bury him without delay.
The prayer for a deceased person is a collective duty,(fard kifaayah), which means that it must be done by some people, and when it is done, those who did not attend it are absolved of the responsibility. The basis of this verdict is the fact that when the body of a deceased person was brought in the mosque and he had some debt outstanding,
:the Prophet (peace be upon him) said to his Companions
‘Pray for your brother.’
Related by al-Bukhari, hadith No. 2,289; Muslim, hadith No. 1,619
Moreover, when the Prophet (peace be upon him) was given the news of the death of Negus,
:he said to his Companions
‘A brother of yours has passed away. Stand up and pray for him.’
Related by Muslim, hadith No. 952.
The conditions for the validity of the janazah prayer are the same as the conditions of prayer mentioned earlier, with the exception that it is not time-bound and that the body of the deceased must be present in front of the people offering the prayer. Moreover, both the deceased and the one offering the prayer should be Muslims, and they should both be in a state of purification, even if it be dry ablution when there is need for it.
The people offering the prayer for the deceased should stand up, as this is a prayer and standing up is required in all prayers. It consists of four takbeer (glorifications), i.e. Allah-u akbar,
‘because the Prophet (peace be upon him) offered it for the Negus with four takbeer.’
Related by al-Bukhari, hadith No. 1,245; Muslim, hadith No. 951.
Other essentials are reciting al-Fatihah, because the hadith that mentions that no prayer is valid without reciting al-Fatihah applies to all prayers;
blessing the Prophet (peace be upon him); supplication for the deceased as the Prophet (peace be upon him) said
‘When you pray for a deceased person, make your supplication sincere.’
Related by Abu Dawud, hadith No. 3,199; Ibn Majah, hadith No. 1,497
finishing with salam, because the hadith that makes salam the end of prayer also applies; and doing these essentials in the right order.
It is recommended to raise the hands with every one of the four takbeer (glorifications) to say A'udhu billahi min al-Shaytan al-Rajim, before reciting al-Fatihah; to include oneself and all Muslims in one’s supplication; and to say all this quietly, not audibly.
The time to offer the janazah prayer starts after having washed the body of the deceased, wrapped and prepared him or her for burial. If one misses the congregational prayer, he can offer it at the cemetery.
:The Prophet (peace be upon him) said
‘Whoever takes part in a funeral until the janazah prayer has been offered shall have a share of the reward, and whoever takes part until the deceased has been buried shall have two shares.People asked: ‘What are these shares?’ The Prophet (peace be upon him) said: They are like two huge mountains.’
Related by al-Bukhari, hadith No. 1,325; Muslim, hadith No. 945
How it is done
1. The imam, or the person who is offering the prayer alone, stands close to the head of the deceased male, or near the middle of the body of the deceased female, as Anas reported the Prophet (peace be upon him) did that.
2. He then says Allah-u akbar to start the prayer, and follows this with a'udhu billahi min al-Shaytan al-Rajim, then recites al-Fatihah silently, even when the prayer is offered at night.
3. Then the imam says the second Allah-u akbar, and follows it with sending the Ibrahimic salutation to the Prophet (peace be upon him) as said at the end of every normal prayer.
4. Then he says the third takbeer and follows it with supplications for the deceased. There are supplications said by the Prophet (peace be upon him) on such occasions, such as:
a. ‘Our Lord, forgive us all: the living and the dead; the present and the absent; the young and the old; the males and the females. Our Lord, whoever of us You keep alive enable them to live as Muslims, and those of us whose souls You gather let them end their lives as believers.’
b. Other supplications for the deceased include:
‘My Lord, forgive him (or her); bestow mercy on him and wipe his sins; bless his place and widen his entrance; wash him with water, snow and hail; clear him of sins as stains are removed from a white robe; place him in a home better than his home, and give him a family better than his family, and a spouse better than his spouse. Admit him into heaven and shelter him from torment in the grave and punishment in hell.’
Related by Muslim, hadith No. 963
c. If the deceased is a child, the supplication includes:
‘My Lord, make him precede his parents (to Paradise) and a cause to give them great reward.’
Related by [Abd al-Razzaq in Al-Musannaf, vol. 3, p. 529, hadith No. 6,589
5. Then he says the last Allahu Akbar and pauses a little. It is good to add a supplication here, such as:
‘Our Lord, do not deprive us of the reward of this funeral and do not give us a hard trial after him.’
Related by Malik in Al-Muwatta’, hadith No. 612; [Abd al-Razzaq in Al-Musannaf, vol. 3, p. 488, hadith No. 6,425
6. He then finishes with salam once only to the right, but if he makes them two salams, to the right and left, this is also valid.
If one joins the prayer after it has started, he completes the prayer after the imam has finished. If one misses the prayer before the deceased is buried, one may go to the grave and pray the janazah prayer there, as the Prophet (peace be upon him) did when he was informed that the cleaner who used to look after the mosque had died. He went to her grave and prayed there.
If the deceased is in a different town, one may offer the janazah prayer on being informed of his death, even if this happens a month or more later. If a woman has a miscarriage, the janazah prayer is offered for the aborted embryo if the pregnancy was more than four months.though some scholars validate the janazah for a fetus as young as forty days, based on more than one statement of the Prophet (peace be upon him).
- Related by Abu Dawud, Book 21, hadith No. 28
- Al-Nadawi, Al-Fiqh al-Muyassar, p. 114.
- Related by al-Bukhari, hadith No. 458; Muslim, hadith No. 956.
- ibn Qudama, al-Mughni, 2:323
- Related by Muslim, Book 46, hadith No. 4