Mourning for the Dead

Among the customs of jahiliyyah which were denounced by Islam was the prof wailing, lamenting, and showing excessive grief for the dead.

Islam's teaching concerning death is that it is not the annihilation of an individual, causing him to become non-exis, but that it is a journey from one world to another and that no amount of mourning will bring the dead back to life or change the decree of Allah Subhanahu wa Ta'ala. The Believer should receive death, as he receives any other calamity which may befall him, with patience and dignity, repeating the ayah, To Allah we belong and to Him do we return. (2:156)

The pre-Islamic manner of mourning for the dead is strictly forbidden to the Muslim. The Prophet (peace be on him) declared, " He who slaps his cheeks, tears his clothes, and cries out in the manner of jahiliyyah is not of us." (Reported by al-Bukhari.)

The Muslim is not permitted to wear a mourning band, discard his adornment, or change his usual attire to express his sorrow and grief. (The wearing of black as a sign of mourning is prohibited in Islam, even in the case of a widow in mourning for her husband. (Trans.))
However, a wife must observe a mourning period ('iddah) of four months and ten days for her deceased husband in loyalty to the sacred ties of marriage; in Islam this period is considered an extension of her previous marriage and she is not allowed to receive any new proposals of marriage during this period. Thus, she is required to refrain from adorning herself during that time both as a sign of mourning and in order to keep the thought of remarriage out of her own mind and that of her potential suitors. However, if the deceased is someone other than her husband, for example, her father, brother or son, it is haram for her to mourn for more the three days. Al-Bukhari reported concerning Umm Habeebah and Zaynab bint Jahsh, both of whom were wives of the Prophet (peace be on him), that at the time of the deaths of Umm Habeebah's father Abu Sufyan bin Harb, and Zaynab's brother, each of them perfumed herself, saying By Allah, I am not in need of perfume, but I heard Allah s Messenger (peace be on him) say, It is haram for a woman who believes in Allah and the Last Day to mourn for a deceased person for more than three nights, except for the husband (for whom the period of mourning is) four months and ten days. (Reported in the Book of "Funerals" in al-Bukhari's Sahih.)

The period of mourning for the deceased husband is obligatory and should not be violated. A woman came to the Prophet (peace be on him) and said, "My daughter's husband has died, and her eye is infected. May she use kohl?" (In addition to being an adornment, kohl also possesses medicinal value for the eye.) The Prophet (peace be on him) said, No, and repeated it twice or thrice. (Reported in the Book of Divorce in al-Bukhari's Sahih. The narration here is that of Umm Habeebah, and Zainab's narrative is similar.) This demonstrates that adorning or beautifying herself during the prescribed period of iddah is prohibited to the widow. As grief and the expression of it are natural, she may mourn and weep but without wailing and shouting. Upon the death of Khalid bin Walleed, 'Umar heard some women weeping. Some people wanted to stop them from it but 'Umar said, "Let them weep for Abu Sulayman (the name by which Khalid was called), as long as they do not throw dust on their heads or start crying out."


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