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Observing Traditions After Death

 Adil Salahi

 

Arab News

Q. People who come from certain countries observe certain traditions after the death of someone in the community. For example, after the burial, a few dozen people assemble in the deceasedís home where they take part in reading the Qurían in full, each reading a part, and having food. Similar observations are made on the third day, and every Thursday for several weeks, and on the 40th day, with food being placed in the middle. Are these observations Islamic?

A. Qureshi

A. Unfortunately such traditions have become common in many Muslim countries, with some variations here or there. They are mixed with Islamic practices, which are simple and straightforward. For example, Islam encourages neighbors to look after the deceasedís family, sparing them the need to cook or buy food, in the immediate period after their bereavement. It also requires neighbors, relatives, friends and the community at large to offer their condolences to the deceasedís family, visiting them in the first three days and when meeting them later. As many people as it is feasible should take part in the funeral, offering prayers for the deceased. Afterward, the family of the deceased should be looked after, with their affairs put on a reasonably sound footing.

Unfortunately, these requirements have come to be associated with observations that may appear to be caring and sympathetic, but are sometimes a burden to the family. There is no requirement or recommendation to read the Qurían in full after the burial, but we may, or indeed should pray God to bestow His mercy on the deceased and forgive him or her their sins. Nothing of the traditional observations you have mentioned on the particular days, whether Thursdays or 3rd, 10th or 40th day, is recommended or encouraged by Islam. They are all deviation from Islamic practice. A relative may wish to gift the reward of a Quríanic recitation to the deceased, or may offer the pilgrimage or the Umrah or a charitable donation, i.e. sadaqah, to the deceased. To do so, he does such an action with the clear intention that he is doing it on the deceasedís behalf and praying God to credit its reward to the deceased. This can be done at any time, and in whatever measure the person doing it finds reasonable. A recitation of the Qurían could be one page, or one surah, or more; it does not have to be the whole of the Qurían. A charity could be very small or generous, according to the personís means. Such actions may be done at any time, not necessarily on particular days or anniversaries.

 

 

 

 
Earth, a planet hungry for peace

 

The Israeli apartheid (security) wall around Palestinian population centers (Ran Cohen, pmc, 5/24/03).

 

The Israeli apartheid (security) wall around Palestinian population centers in the West Bank (Ran Cohen, pmc, 5/24/03).

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