Is the Funeral Prayer On One Who Is Absent (Janazat ul-Ghaib) Valid?

Answered by Sidi Tabraze Azam

Question: I have a quick question. What is the proof that there is no janazatul ghaib? Was the practice abrogated?

Answer: Wa alaikum assalam wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuh,

I pray that you are well, insha’Allah.

According to the Hanafi school, the funeral prayer on the one who is absent (gha’ib) is not valid. [al-Bahr al-Ra’iq, Ibn Nujaym; al-Fatawa al-Hindiyya; Fath al-Qadir, Ibn al-Humam; al-Hadiyya al-`Ala’iyya, `Ala al-Din `Abidin]

The Prophet’s (Allah bless him and give him peace) Praying on Najashi

Imam al-Kamal Ibn al-Humam (Allah be pleased with him) in his magnificent commentary on the Hidaya of al-Marghinani, Fath al-Qadir, says that his (Allah bless him and give him peace) praying over Najashi was because his bier was raised until he was in the presence of the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) and those behind him were praying behind an Imam who could see the deceased person (whilst being in his presence) and the followers could not see him. This is aided by the narration (hadith) of `Imran bin al-Husain in the Sahih of Ibn Hibban.

Moreover, he notes that other similar incidents occurred in which the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) actually prayed upon the person whilst he was brought into his presence, therefore was not absent (gha’ib).

Imam Ibn `Abidin in his al-Radd al-Muhtar notes on the words of Imam Haskafi that the Prophet’s (Allah bless him and give him peace) prayer on Najashi was linguistic or specific:

[1] Linguistic: Referring to only a supplication from afar;

[2] Specific: As mentioned by Imam al-Kamal Ibn al-Humam (above).

Respecting Differences of Opinion

Nevertheless, the funeral prayer on the one who is absent (gha’ib) is permitted in the Hanbali school and recommended in the Shafi`i school. Differences of opinion are a mercy and we deal with them as such, avoiding any kind of disunity, discord and argument. The way of the righteous is having deep respect for differences of opinion and dealing with them with wisdom and discretion.

And Allah knows best.

Wassalaam,

Tabraze Azam

Checked & Approved by Faraz Rabbani