Al Salamu 'Alaykum.
This is the completed translation of the chapter on Funeral Prayer in Absentia from Mawlana Ameen Safdar's (rah), "Tajalliyat-e-Safdar". Thanks to brother MajlisRaipuri again for putting up scans of the book on SF. It is a beautiful clarification of the Hanafi stand on the issue and also simultaneously brings forth the dangers of judging issues with insufficient knowledge and understanding. The Urdu in the original is quite flowery and intricate and as is usual in the Indian subcontinent, titles of respect and honor are added whenever the names of the Salaf are taken. In places, I have dropped them in order to maintain continuity and smoothness of flow. Also, the Shaykh has given detailed references to the sources in the original but I have sufficed with the name of the book. Those who wish to see the detailed reference can view the original book or the scans on SF. Any mistakes in translation are from me. They can be brought to my notice by putting up a comment to the article or on Sunni Forum. May Allah accept. Peace and Blessings upon the Final Prophet and his Companions.
Funeral Prayer in absentia.
In the name of Allah, most Beneficent, most Merciful.
Nowadays people must be wondering at seeing announcements of Funeral prayers in absentia alongside advertisements of religious programs pasted on the building walls of many cities. This word (ghaaibana) has become common in the market-places but even on intensive searching is not to be found in the Qur’an and Hadith literature along with the term “Salat al Janaaza”. Also, the use of this term is not to be found amongst the Companions (Sahaaba-e-Kiraam), the Sub-Companions (Tabi’in-e-‘Azzam or Followers) or the Sub-Followers (Tab-Tabi’in ‘Allam).
‘Allama ibn Qayyim (rah) writes, “Many Muslims passed away when they were far from the Prophet (saws) but he did not offer the Funeral prayer in absentia for any of them.
(Zaad al Ma’ad)
Similarly many recitor (Qaari) Sahaba were martyred while fighting against Musaylima al Kadhhab and the other apostates during the blessed Caliphate of Hadrat Abu Bakr (ra). Many other major Sahaba died in cities other than Madinah but the Caliph of Rasullah(saws) without doubt, Hadrat Abu Bakr Siddiq (ra) and the other Sahaba did not offer Funeral prayers in absentia for them.
The era of the Leader of the Just, the rightly guided Caliph, Hadrat ‘Umar Faruq is known as the Golden Era of Muslim conquests. Many Companions were killed in far flung provinces and countries and many passed away outside the city of the Prophet (saws). But during the entire Farooqi era, not once was Funeral prayer in absentia announced or performed. So, the Funeral prayer in absentia was not read over anyone who died outside Madinah. (And neither during the reign of Hadrat Abu Bakr)
Then came the Caliphate of the Chief of the Faithful, the Possessor of the two lights (Dhu’n Noorayn), our Master ‘Uthman ibn ‘Affan (ra). The borders of the Islamic State were reaching for the stars. Many Companions were martyred and many died but Hadrat ‘Uthman Ghani (ra) did not offer the Funeral prayer in absentia for even one of them. Hadrat ‘Uthman himself was martyred in a state of great oppression and suffering. We searched the pages of the books of Hadith and history to see if Funeral prayers in absentia were held for the oppressed martyr in Makka or Kufa or in Basra. But in this period, even the name of the Funeral prayer in absentia is not to be found.
After this came the Caliphate of the Lion of Allah, the Victorious, our Master Hadrat ‘Ali ibn Abi Talib. In no Islamic book will one find a note that he offered the Funeral prayer in absentia for anyone or that any person in any city offered the same for him after his martyrdom.
We have repeated this challenge in many debates; “Bring evidence that any of the rightly guided Caliphs offered this prayer or such a prayer was offered for any one of them”. Till today, no one has brought forward any evidence for the same and till the dawn of the Final Day no one will be able to do so, Allah willing,
Janaaza-e-Najjashi (Funeral Prayer of Negus):
A man said, “The Holy Prophet (saws) and the Companions offered the Funeral prayer in absentia for Negus (King of Abyssinia at that time). We have not recited the Kalima of the 4 rightly guided Caliphs but of the Prophet (saws). If they did not act on it, then we will act on the Hadith of Nabi (saws).”
I asked him whether he really believed like the Rafidis do that the four Caliphs opposed the Sunnah of the Messenger (saws) or at least were so careless and carefree about it and that the desire and enthusiasm to act upon and establish the Sunna was so deficient in them that even the non conformists (Ghayr Muqallidin) of the 15th Century had more of it?
He said, “I will not fall for your tricks. The two principles of the Ahl Hadith school, ‘Obey Allah and obey his Rasool’.”
I answered, “Allah (swt) says in Surah Noor that the mission of the Caliphs was the same – that they would establish the beloved Deen of Allah firmly on this earth and the Prophet (saws) also declared the Sunnah of the Rightly Guided Caliphs as something binding. (Abu Dawud, Al Nasa’i, Tirmidhi, Ibn Majah) By refusing to follow the Caliphs you have opposed the command of “Obey Allah” and “Obey the Messenger” too.
He said, “When these 4 Caliphs did not act upon the Hadith, then we also do not follow them.”
I said that people used to believe earlier on that you do not follow (any of) the four Imams. Hence you are “smaller Rafidis”. But it seems that you even reject the rightly guided Caliphs now and have graduated to “bigger Rafidis”.
He answered, “We do not follow the Imam of Kufa. We are of Madinah.”
I said, “The Imam of Madina (Imam Malik) has included this Hadith in Muwatta’ Malik in the chapter, “Bab Takbir ‘al al Janaa’iz”. Neither has he included a section on Funeral prayer in absentia nor is he inclined to this opinion.
He responded, “He (Imam Malik) has narrated a Hadith from Hadrat Abu Hurayra (ra) that the Prophet (saws) led the funeral prayer for Al Najjashi and it contained four takbirs.”
I asked him, “When did Hadrat (Najjashi) die?”
He answered, “I do not know.”
I said, “It is written in the super commentary of Muwatta’ that it was on a Thursday in Rajab, 09 H.” Then I further asked, “When did Hadrat Abu Hurayra (ra) pass away?”
He answered, “I do not know.”
I said, “59 H. This shows that Abu Hurayra (ra) lived for 50 years after this incident. Now you prove to me that Hadrat Abu Hurayra offered the Funeral prayer in absentia for even one man in this period.”
I said, “59 H. This shows that Abu Hurayra (ra) lived for 50 years after this incident. Now you prove to me that Hadrat Abu Hurayra offered the Funeral prayer in absentia for even one man in this duration.”
Infuriated, he answered, “If Abu Hurayra (ra) does not act upon a Hadith, then should we also abandon it?”
I responded, “It seems as if your understanding of Hadith and acting upon Hadith, both are superior to Hadrat Abu Hurayra.”
He said, “Imam Bukhari (rah) was such a great Muhaddith. He has written a chapter based on this Hadith on Funeral prayer in absentia.”
I said, “Absolutely untrue. Imam Bukhari has not written a chapter on this.” I presented him with Bukhari Sharif and said, “See! Where is it written?”
He said, “I had heard this from my teachers”. Then he added that this Hadith is also narrated by Hadrat Jabir (ra) besides Abu Hurayra.
I said, “Very true. This Hadith is in Sahih Muslim and Hadrat Jabir passed way in Madina 70 years after this incident in 79H. During this long period of 70 years, can you prove that Hadrat Jabir offered Funeral prayer in absentia for even one person?
He said, “What if he failed to understand the purport of the Hadith?”
I asked, “And no Sahabi explained to him either?”
If Sir (the non conformist) had been around at that time, then he could have taught the meanings of Hadith to the Sahaba.
He said, “This Hadith is narrated by Hadrat ‘Imran ibn Husayn (ra) also.”
I said, “Absolutely true. Hadrat ‘Imran ibn Husayn lived for 43 years after this incident. He was Qadi of Kufa and passed away in 54H in Basra. In those 43 years, even he did not offer Funeral prayers in absentia for anyone.”
He said, “O Allah! How strange that these people who were Companions did not act upon the Hadith.”
I answered, “This way of thinking is leading you astray. The truth is that the Sahaba had a proper understanding of the Hadith because they knew the complete issue at hand.
Hadrat ‘Imran ibn Husayn (ra) clarified the matter:
‘We did not imagine other than that the bier was in front of the Prophet (saws).’ (Ahmad)
In Ibn Hibban, ‘The Sahaba did not imagine except that the bier was in front of the Prophet (saws).’
In Abu ‘Awana the words are as follows: “We did not look except that the bier was in front of us.’
So, we understand that the Sahaba did not offer the funeral prayer of Al Najjashi believing it to be ghaaib, rather they believed that it was in front of Rasulullah (saws) and some Sahaba saw it too. This is because the bier was present and the Companions also considered it so. That is why they never offered Funeral Prayer in absentia.
He asked, “How is it possible that the funeral bier was in Abyssinia and was seen here by the Prophet (saws) and some Companions?”
I answered, “This is Kashf (unveiling) that Allah can show whenever He wishes. The Prophet (saws) was in Madina and was seeing the battle of Mawta by Kashf and saying, ‘The flag was taken by Zaid (ra) and he was martyred. Then Ja’far (ra) took it and he was martyred. Then ‘Abdullah ibn Rawaha (ra) took it and he was also martyred.’ While he was saying this, tears were flowing from his eyes. Then he said, ‘The flag was taken by Khalid ibn al Walid (ra) and victory was ours.’ (Bukhari) And the Prophet (saws) was in Makka Mukarramah and the Bayt al Muqaddas was shown to him and he looked on and answered the questions of the disbelievers. (Bukhari) Abyssinia, Mawta and Bayt al Muqaddas are places on this earth. The Prophet (saws) was (even) shown Heaven and Hell while he was in Madinah. (Bukhari)
The man said, “After all, what was so special after the funeral of Negus that this particular incident took place for him?”
I said, “That is not necessary for us to know. Imam Tirmidhi and Imam Ibn Majah have labeled the chapter with this Hadith as follows: “Bab Salat al Nabi ‘al an-Najjashi” which goes on to show that this prayer over the Negus was specific to the Prophet (saws). The grand-teacher of Imam Bukhari, Imam Muhammad says, “Do they not see that the Prophet led the funeral prayer for Najjashi in Madina? This prayer was full of purity and barakah and was unlike the prayers of others. This is the opinion of Imam Abu Hanifa.” (Muwatta’ Muhammad) However Imam Abu Dawud has named a chapter on this Hadith as follows:
“Chapter on praying for Muslims who have died in the cities (of the people) of Shirk.”
In his commentary on this, ‘Allama Khattabi says, “He (Negus) was a Muslim. He believed in the Prophet (saws) but hid his faith. And when a Muslim dies, then it is compulsory for his fellow Muslims to read his funeral prayer. Since Negus lived in the land of the disbelievers and there was no one to pray over him, it became necessary for the Messenger to do so. This was because he was his Prophet (saws) and held a greater right to offer the prayer than other people. This is the real reason (Allah knows Best) that the Prophet (saws) asked others (also) to offer the Funeral prayer.”
(Ma’alim al Sunan)
And this is why the bier was placed in front of the Prophet (saws) by Kashf.
Now do all the people for whom Salat al Janaza is offered die in Dar al Kufr and no Muslim offers their funeral prayer? And those who offer this Salah, do they get Kashf of the bier everywhere, every time?
He answered, “We have other evidences also for Funeral prayer in absentia. I will research and return.”
He returned after preparing and said, “The Prophet (saws) offered the funeral prayer in absentia of Hadrat Mua’wiya ibn Mua’wiya (ra). This Hadith has been narrated by Ibn Hajar (rah) in Al-Isabah.”
I said, “This incident is in Al-Isabah and its narrator is (the noble Sahabi) Hadrat Anas (ra). Hadrat Mua’wiya ibn Mua’wiya passed away in 09H. He died in Madinah while the Prophet (saws) was in Tabuk as narrated by Hadrat Anas who expired about 85 years after this incident in 93H. In that time, thousands of Companions passed away but Anas (ra) did not offer the funeral prayer in absentia for any of them. Secondly, this Hadith cannot be used as evidence because none of its chains is authentic. Hafiz Ibn Kathir (rah) says that all chains of this narration are da’eef (weak). (Tafsir ibn Kathir) And Imam Ibn `Abdul Barr says that the chains of this tradition are not strong. None of these (chains) can be used as evidence to derive a command.” (Al –Isti’ab). It is obvious that the issue at hand is of Ahkaam (commandments). Then how can this be used as conclusive proof (Hujjah)?”
Now let us look at this Hadith, “Jibril (as) asked Huzur (saws), ‘Would you like to offer the funeral prayer of Mua’wiya ibn Mua’wiya (ra)?’ The Prophet (saws) said, ‘Yes.’
Then Jibril (as) placed his right wing on the hills and they were flattened to such an extent that Madinah became visible for us.”
It follows that if funeral prayer in absentia was allowed then there was no need for Jibril (as) to descend and ask the Prophet (saws) and also to use his wings to show Madinah to him. Obviously, once visible, it is no longer hidden. This is why Hafiz ibn Hajar (rah) states that it is impermissible to use this incident as evidence for funeral prayer in absentia because when the veil is lifted, then the bier is present and no longer hidden. (Al-Isabah)
Then the narration goes on to say that the Prophet (saws) asked Jibril (as) as to why this specific distinction was granted to this Janaaza. Jibril (as) said, “Due to (his) love for Surah al Ikhlas. He used to recite, ‘Qul huwa…’ in every state, walking, standing and sitting.”
I (further) said that funeral prayer in absentia is an ‘amal that is unsupported by the continuous practice of the (Muslims) of the best of times (Khayr al Quroon).
He retorted, “You are a strange man. No Muslim can deny funeral prayer in absentia.”
I asked, “Why?”
He said, “All Muslims recite the words, ‘shahidna wa ghaaibana..’ in funeral prayers. This shows that the funeral prayer of the absent is also allowed as the funeral prayer of the present is allowed.”
I answered, “Before those words, they recite, “hayyina wa mayyitina…’. So do these wordings mean that the funeral prayer for the living is also allowed in the same fashion as the funeral prayer for the dead? Let us announce that your funeral prayer is about to be held so that people collect. Then we can offer it.”
He became very vexed at this.
I said, “When undeserving people like you start giving verdicts, then Qiyama will break over this Deen. That is why the Prophet (saws) said, “When the matter is handed over to the undeserving, then consider that the last Day has broken over you.” Bukhari.
He said, “Truly! The unknowledgeable should not offer verdicts.”
I asked, “When they cannot derive evidence, then how will they act upon the Deen?”
He said, “By asking those who know.”
I answered, “This is that Taqlid that you call Shirk.”
He then said, “We do not offer funeral prayers in absentia for everyone, only for the martyrs.”
I said, “According to you, the Prophet read the funeral prayer (in absentia) for Najjashi and Mua’wiya ibn Mua’wiya (rah). (But) neither of them was a martyr. Strange that the Prophet (saws) never read it for the martyrs and offered it for the non martyrs while you offer it for the martyrs and never for the non martyrs. This is open opposition to the practice of the Prophet (saws).”
In the end, he said, “If Funeral prayer in absentia is not proven from the Qur’an and Hadith, then it is allowed in the school of Imam Shafi’ (rah). Come, we offer it in taqlid of him.”
I asked, “Does taqlid mean to follow or to oppose?”
He said, “To follow”.
I said, “You oppose Imam Shafi’i and call it taqlid!”
He asked, “How so?”
I said, “There is no funeral prayer in Imam Shafi’is school for the martyr unless the body is placed in front of the people. Prove that Imam Shafi’ (rah) ever read the funeral prayer in absentia for any martyr.”
He said, “I will look into this and return.”
After waiting for one week, I went and met him and reminded him that he had promised to return but didn’t.
He said, “One of our scholars passed away in Rawalpindi and I had gone to attend his funeral.”
I asked, “What was the need to go there? Why did you not offer his funeral prayer in absentia from here? You would have saved time, money and effort and moreover the common people would have realized that there is no need to go to another village or town to read the funeral prayer, or even to go to the graveyard because funeral prayer in absentia is allowed.”
He said, “In this way no one will attend the funeral prayer and the entire system will go haywire.”
I said, “Your movement is (designed) to destroy the religion (Islam). Then I asked, “You were supposed to bring evidence that Imam Shafi’ led or offered the funeral prayer of a martyr even once in his life. “
He said, “I could not find evidence of this.”
So I said, “When there is no evidence for this in the Qur’an and Hadith or in the Shafi’e school, then why do you offer the funeral prayer in absentia for the martyrs?”
He answered, “ We who are called the Ahl Hadith are not so named because all of us, the young and old, men and women are aware of the chains of transmission of Hadith and the Sunnahs, rather our opinion is that opposing the Fuqaha’ is the (equivalent) of following the Qur’an and Hadith. We read that according to the Hanafiyya, funeral prayer in absentia is not allowed. Now, we call this as the masa’il of the fuqaha and opposing it is the same as following the Qur’an and Sunnah whether we find an ayat or Hadith supporting (our opinion) or not. Following this opinion (Hanafi) is the name of taqlid for us and opposing it is tahqiq (research) and the fact is that we hate fiqh.”
I said, “From this conversation, it is clear that your understanding of the Qur’an and Hadith is absolutely null and void and your following your Nafs ‘Ammara ( The Nafs that urges one onto evil) is such that leave the 4 Mujtahid Imams aside, you don’t even take the rightly guided Caliphs into consideration. And the fear of Allah and fear of the Hereafter has not even passed by you.”
He said, “Your understanding is 100% right. We call being self-opinionated and following the Nafs as following the Hadith.
I said, “When this realization has struck you, then Allah is All Forgiving & Merciful and the doors of repentance are still open. The delay is from your side. There will be no delay (in acceptance) from that side.”
He said, “I make a heartfelt repentance to Allah and pray that Allah gives me firmness.”