Is It Permissible to Perform the Funeral Prayer (Janaza) Within a Mosque?

Answered by Ustadh Tabraze Azam

Question: Assalam alaykum

Is it permissible to perform the funeral prayer (janaza) within a mosque?

Answer: Assalamu alaikum wa rahmatullah,

According to the Hanafi School, the general ruling is that it is disliked (makruh) to perform the funeral prayer (janaza) within a mosque.

But there are two possible legal reasons for this dislikedness (karaha): (1) the soiling (talwith) of the mosque, and (2) doing something in the mosque for which it wasn’t built.

Note that the discussions of dislikedness occur only when all things are equal. If there is a genuine excuse for praying in the mosque, such as rain, then praying therein would be permitted without dislike. Moreover, and in the case of Islamic Centres, praying in the area that is considered to be the “mosque,” usually the men’s prayer hall, would take this ruling, contrary to the rest of the complex.

And it is also useful to know that the matter is more expansive in other schools, such as the Shafi`i School, in which there is no dislikedness in praying a funeral prayer in a mosque.

Soiling the Mosque

The dislikedness here would be due to the reasonably high possibility of filth exiting from the body of the deceased and onto the mosque area. If there is a genuine fear of this happening, praying therein would be prohibitively disliked (makruh tahriman).

But in the case that the mosque is (a) unlikely to be soiled, or (b) there is simply a fear that it may happen, without reasonable surety, the dislikedness would no longer remain. A narration from Abu Yusuf also complements this explanation. An example of this would be if the body is brought into the mosque within a coffin.

Similarly, if the body is placed outside the mosque area, and the funeral prayer is held within it, this would be fine.

Praying in the Mosque

The basis is that the mosque is built for the obligatory prayers, and secondarily, for voluntary prayers, and gatherings of knowledge (`ilm) and remembrance (dhikr).

Further, the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him and give him peace) said, “Whoever performs a funeral prayer (janaza) in the mosque has no reward.” [Abu Dawud]

Hence, the general ruling is that praying in the mosque would be slightly disliked (makruh tanzihan) as it entails doing something contrary to what the mosque was built for.

Thereafter, there are two positions:

(i) it is disliked whether or not the body is in the mosque, and regardless of whether the imam is praying beside it [outside the mosque] or not; and

(ii) it is disliked when the body, imam and entire congregation is inside the mosque, and not, if otherwise [namely, if the imam and some of the congregants are outside the mosque with the body.]

As for what is suitable in a given context, it would return to whatever a community deems appropriate for their situation, in accordance with the guidance of local scholars.

[Shurunbulali, Maraqi al-Falah with Tahtawi’s Gloss (2.239-241); Lacknawi, Naf` al-Mufti wa al-Sa’il (503-505); Ibn `Abidin, Radd al-Muhtar `ala al-Durr al-Mukhtar (1.593-594)]

Please also see: Performing the Funeral Prayer for Someone Who Committed Suicide and: Is the Funeral Prayer On One Who Is Absent (Janazat ul-Ghaib) Valid? and: How Many Salams Should I Perform at the End of the Funeral Prayer? and: Is the Supplication at the End of the Funeral Prayer Obligatory? and: Is It Permissible to Fly the Dead Body of a Recently Deceased Family Member for Burial Overseas?

And Allah Most High alone knows best.

[Ustadh] Tabraze Azam

Checked and Approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani

Ustadh Tabraze Azam was born and raised in Ipswich, England, a quiet town close to the east coast of England. His journey for seeking sacred knowledge began when he privately memorized the entire Qur’an in his hometown at the age of 16. He also had his first experience in leading the tarawih (nightly-Ramadan) prayers at his local mosque. Year after year he would continue this unique return to reciting the entire Quran in one blessed month both in his homeland, the UK, and also in the blessed lands of Shaam, where he now lives, studies and teaches.

The Realities of Death and Dying – SeekersHub Toronto’s Seminar with Shaykh Faraz Rabbani, Shaykh Ramzey Ajem, and Habib Hussein al Saqqaf

Death. Dying. Bereavement. Afterlife. Not subjects we particularly want to think about. But sometimes, it’s the things we are most avoiding, that are, in reality, the closest to us.

As the first snowflakes of the year fell to the street outside the Hub, burying out the autumn leaves that had fallen just days earlier, I was struck by how death always seems to be a morose subject of discussion despite being manifested all around us. Why, then, I wondered, are we still not ready to acknowledge it?

But in the final of the Living Religion seminar series at SeekersHub Toronto, aptly titled Death and Dying, we literally looked death in the face.

Spiritual Dimensions of Death and The AfterLife – Shaykh Ramzy Ajem

“Who here, by a show of hands, is ready for death?” asked Shaykh Ramzy Ajem, the first speaker of the seminar. No one moved.

“No one? Death isn’t a morbid subject; it shouldn’t be like that for a Muslim.” He said. “Death isn’t an end, it’s a beginning. You have a merciful Lord.”

He encouraged us to look at death in a positive light, and look forward to receiving that mercy. In regards to the afterlife, no one will enter Paradise based on his good actions; Paradise is from the mercy of our Lord. He told us that this life could never be a time for us to “collect” good deeds in a basket to be presented to Allah on the Day of Judgement; it is in our neediness of Him, that we attain a knowledge of Him.

He ended by urging us to examine our lives in perspective. “Our lives aren’t just cooking and cleaning, career, spouse. Love what you like, but you’re going to lose it. If your attachments are unbalanced, dying is going to be painful.”

However, if we see things in perspective, and realize that our purpose in life is to know Allah, and nothing more, death will be a pleasure.


The Importance of Remembering Death – Habib Hussein al Saqqaf

The next lecture was a video broadcast from the UAE, where Habib Hussein al-Saqqaf resides and teaches.

“The traveller,” Habib Hussein reminded us, “will not settle until he reaches his destination.” He emphasized that this worldly life is only one of the many stages that a human soul will pass through; that the stage of life is connected to the body, the stage of the barzakh is connected to the soul, and the stage of the afterlife is a perfect connection of both. He referred to death as a liqaa, a meeting.

That liqaa could be a happy one for you, if you loved Allah, His Messenger, and the noble ones. However, if you were attached to evil in your life, your liqaa would be an evil one.

A theme that is echoed throughout Islamic teaching is the idea of the husn al-khatima, the good ending. Habib Hussein encouraged us to seek that good ending proactively and with direction.

“No one is protected from sin,” he said, “but follow a sin with a good deed without delay.” He especially urged us not to wait; a good deed could be as simple as a smile, a kind word, or the act of giving food to another.

Habib Hussein left us with a practical plan to fortify our hearts, saying, “Whatever is in the hearts of men will spill out at the time of death,” and that constant repetition of the shahada, the testification of faith, la ilaha illa-Allah (there is no deity except Allah) cause it to be contained within our hearts, such that those could be our last words at the time of death.

 Practical Guidance for Preparing for Death – Shaykh Faraz Rabbani

Shaykh Faraz, as is his habit, focused on the practical aspects of preparing for death. “At a spiritual level, you’re dying every moment, because you have no inherent existence. You winked into existence, you would wink out if He didn’t sustain you.”

He shared ten ways:

1. Know your realities—Who is your Creator? Who are you? What is life and its purpose?
“One of the most amazing things about our religion,” he said, “is that we don’t just talk about God in the abstract; we know His attributes.”

2. Reflect on death—“Only a fool would believe that something changing is eternal,” he said.

3. Know the rights of Allah over you—your obligations to Him.

4. Know the rights of creation over you—“You have no right to harm God’s creation,” he warned. That could come in the form of physical harm, or something as simple such as gossiping.

22809255903_67e3137f79_b 5. Sense of urgency—that death could come at you any moment.

6. Use the “Death Test”—by asking yourself before any given action, “Is this what I want to die doing?” and during the action, “Is this the best use of my time?”

7. Having a living will—keeping track of your material and spiritual rights over God and others.

8. Keep a clean slate—through regular repentance.

9. Die beloved—with love and thankfulness, faith and trust, and certitude, pleased to meet your Lord.
And lastly, very practically:

10. Ask for a good ending.

Personal Reflection

Granted, death is a heavy subject, and will be so until the time comes when death is no more. However, the seminar had left me feeling hopeful rather than hopeless.

But the words of the ignorant and inexperienced cannot explain clarity. The only way to explain my feelings are contained in the final chapter of the miraculous poem Al-Burda:

“My Lord! Let not my hope on You be overthrown, nor let my credit with You be void of worth. Deal kindly with Your slave in both worlds, for when terrors call to him, his patience is weak.” (trans. Abdul Hakim Murad)

What little is contained in this world, cannot explain everything. What transpired in this world, cannot be the end of the matter. Therefore, death is a passage, not obliviation.

It took me a seminar to realize that.


Praying for Deceased Muslims Who Were Murderers

Answered by Shaykh Rami Nsour

Question: Is it disliked to pray for Muslims who kill?


Prayer for a Deceased Muslim

The Messenger of Allah (peace and blessing be upon him) taught us to perform the funeral prayer (janazah) for every single person that passed away as a Muslim. He would only ask whether or not a person was Muslim to perform the prayer, which would include asking forgiveness for the deceased.

The Messenger of Allah (peace and blessing be upon him) was also very regular in asking forgiveness for his entire community (umma) as Allah had ordered him to do so [Quran 47:19]. The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) was well aware that would include people who had committed every type of sin.

The Vastness of Mercy

One teaching that we learn from asking for forgiveness of people who have transgressed is a reminder of the vastness of the Mercy of Allah (the majestic) and how He can forgive any sin except for associating partners with Him [Quran 4:48]. We also learn to ask forgiveness for those who oppress us as the Prophet(peace and blessing be upon him) did during the Battle of Uhud when he was hit in the face and injured.

With blood dripping form his face, he said, “O Allah, forgive my people for they know not what they do” [Bukhari]. One of the scholars said that the verse that give us the most hope is, “Say, ‘O my servants who have transgressed against themselves, do not despair of the Mercy of Allah. Indeed Allah forgives all sins” [Quran 39:53].

Prayer for an Oppressor Does Not Preclude Justice

It is important to note that while we pray for the forgiveness of all Muslims, that does not prevent us from establishing justice. Although the Prophet (peace and blessing be upon him) made dua for his enemies at Uhud, he continued in the battle against them until he defeated them. We have compassion for oppressors and criminals, but that does not prevent us from ensuring that justice is fulfilled through the routes of authority and courts.

And Allah knows best

Where is the Soul During the Funeral Prayer and Burial?

Answered by Ustadh Tabraze Azam

Question: Where is the soul in between a person’s demise and their burial? Are they present at their janaza?

Answer: Assalamu alaikum wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuh,

I pray that you are in the best of health and faith, insha’Allah.

Yes, many narrations would seem to indicate that the soul is in fact present at the burial.

The Soul after Death

Abu Sa`id al-Khudri heard the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him and give him peace) say, “The dead man recognizes his washer and those that carry him and lower him into his grave.” [Hakim]

Qurtubi relates that Malik ibn Dinar said, “There is not a person who dies except that his soul is in the hand of an angel while he looks at his body, how it is washed, shrouded, carried and buried.” Munawi adds that this does not negate the narrations which mention of the soul’s rising beyond the seven heavens to their Lord, as it is possible that this happens and the soul returns to witness the burial. [Munawi, Fayd al-Qadir Sharh Jami` al-Saghir]

Returning of the Soul to the Body

Nawawi, in his Bustan al-`Arifin, relates a story in which the jurist Muhammad al-Nawawi confirmed that the soul returns to the body for questioning, after burial. Many prophetic narrations seemingly support this view.

`Uthman ibn `Affan relates that when the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) used to finish burying someone, he would stand by the grave and say, “All of you, ask Allah to forgive your brother and make him steadfast, for he is now being asked.” [Abu Dawud]

And Allah alone gives success.


Tabraze Azam

Checked & Approved by Faraz Rabbani

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.


Tabraze Azam

Checked & Approved by Faraz Rabbani