The Funeral Prayer.

We gratefully acknowledge and thank Islamic
Publications Ltd. for permission to print this
excerpt (Ch. 30) from Everyday Fiqh (vol. 1) 
by Abdul Aziz Kamal

The funeral prayer is an invocation to Allah Almighty for the forgiveness of the dead. When offered in congregation, its effectiveness is greatly enhanced and it is believed to invoke Allah's Mercy and His blessings. Therefore, more and more people should try to join in the funeral congregation, but the prayer should not be delayed on that account.

The funeral prayer is obligatory in nature and this is established both by the Qur'an and the Sunnah. Thus the one who denies it falls outside the pale of Islam.

Fard Parts in the Funeral Prayer

There are two:

(a) To pronounce takbir four times, each takbir representing a rak'ah. There is no ruku or sajdah in this prayer.
(b) Qiyam (the standing position) - the funeral prayer is not allowed to be offered in the sitting position without a genuine reason, nor can it be offered while riding.

Sunnat Parts

There are three:

(a) Glorification of Allah Almighty,
(b) The Invocation of Blessings for the holy Prophet,
(c) Prayer for the Forgiveness of the dead.

The Prescribed Procedure

The dead body (properly washed and shrouded) should be placed north-south or east-west, as the case may be, in front of the Imam who stands in front of its breast facing the Qiblah. The other people stand behind the Imam in straight robes, three or more of an odd number.(1)

The intention is to offer the funeral prayer Fard Kifiyah(2) of four takbirs for the glorification of Allah Almighty, blessings for the holy Prophet and forgiveness of the dead. The prayer is then offered in the following way:

1. The Imam, saying the first takbir, raises the hands to the ears and places them under the navel, and the followers do the same after him. Then Thana is recited:

Subhanak-Allahumma wa bi-hamdika wa tabarak-asmuka wa ta'ala jadduka wa jalla thuna'uku wa la-ilaha ghairuk.

"Glory be to Thee, O Allah, and I praise Thee. Blessed is Thy name and Thou art exalted. Thy praise is glorified, and there is no god other than Thee."

2. After the second takbir by the Imam, which is called out without raising the hands, blessings of Allah Almighty, are invoked upon the holy Prophet:

Allahumma sall-i 'ala Muhammad-in wa 'ala al-i Muhammad-in kama allaita wa sallamta wa barakta wa rahimta wa tarahhamta 'ala Ibrahima wa 'ala al-i Ibrahima Innaka Hamid-um-Majid.(3)
"O Allah! Have Mercy on Muhammad and on those related to Muhammad, just as Thou hast mercy and Thou sendeth peace and blessings and hath Compassion on Abraham and on those related to Abraham. Surely Thou art Praiseworthy, the Great!"
3. After the third takbir by the Imam, which is called out again without raising the hands, the following invocation is made to Allah Almighty:

Allahumm-aghfir li hayyina wa mayyitina

wa shahidina wa gh'ibina wa saghirina wa kabirina

wa zakarina wa unthana
Allahumma man ahyaitahu minna fa-ahyihi 'alal-Islam
wa man tawaffaitahu minna fa-tawaffahu 'alal-Imam
" O Allah! Forgive those of the us who are still living and those who are dead; those of us who are present and those who are absent, and our minors and our elders. O Allah! Let the one whom Thou keepest alive from among us, live his life according to Islam, and let the one Thou causeth to die from among us, die as a believer."
4. After the fourth takbir, the Imam turns his face to the right and then to the left, saying:
As-salaam-u 'alaikum wa rahmat-u 'Allah
"Peace be upon you had Allah's Mercy."
each time, and the followers do the same to bring the prayer to completion.

5. If the dead person is a minor, the funeral invocation is different for the male and female:

(a) For the male child:

Allahumm-aj'alh-u-lana faratan-waj'alh-u-lana ajran wa zukhran waj'alh-u-lana shafi'an-wa mushaffa'an
"Oh Allah! Cause him to become a means of salvation for us, and cause his loss to become a means of reward and recompense for us (in the Hereafter), and make him for us an intercessor whose intercession be granted by Thee."

(b) For the female child:

Allahumma-aj'alha-lana faratan-waj'alha-lana ajran wa zukhran-waj'alha-lana shafi'atan-wa mushaffa'a.
"Oh Allah! Cause her to become a means of salvation for us, and cause her loss to become a means of reward and recompense for us (in the Hereafter), and make her for us an intercessor whose intercession be granted by Thee."
All Muslims must learn these invocation's by heart because one has to attend a funeral prayer sooner or later. However, if someone does not remember them, he may only repeat the four takbirs along with others and recite the following:

Allahumm-aghfir lil-mu'minina wa-mu'minat
"Oh Allah! Grant forgiveness to all the Muslim men and all the Muslim women."
Miscellaneous Regulations

1. The funeral prayer is not conditional upon congregation. It will be valid even if it is performed by only one person either male or female, minor or major. ('Ilm al-Fiqh and Durr al-Mukhtar)

2. It is undesirable to offer the funeral prayer in mosques which are meant for daily prayers or in mosques meant for Friday or Eid prayers, but it should be offered on the grounds or in a mosque especially reserved for this purpose.

3. The if there is more than one dead body, the funeral prayer may preferably be observed separately over each of them, but one and the same prayer can also be observed for all of them together. In this case, the dead bodies should be placed in a row, one after the other, with their heads towards the north and feet towards south, or otherwise, as the case may be and the Imam should stand in front of the breast of the nearest body so that he is in line with the breasts of all of them.

4. The funeral prayer is invalidated by all those factors which invalidate the other prayers (except laughter). It is also not invalidated if a woman stands in front or by the side of a man. (Ilm al-Fiqh)

5. If a latecomer finds that some takbirs have already been pronounced by the Imam, he should not straightaway join in the congregation, but should instead wait till the Imam pronounces the next takbir. He should then join in with a takbir, which will be deemed as his Takbir Tahrimah. Then when the Imam pronounces the salutation, the latecomer should pronounce his missed takbirs and complete the prayer.

6. If a person is in this state of major or minor impurity, and he fears that if he performs wudu or ghusl the prayer would be missed, he is permitted to perform Tayammum and join in the prayer because the prayer cannot be observed later as a missed prayer.

7. The funeral prayer should preferably be led by a Muslim ruler or a deputy appointed by him. If neither is available, it should be led by the Qadi (Judge) of the city or his deputy. If neither of them is available, the Imam of the locality should lead the prayer, unless there is, among the relatives of the deceased, a person who is more virtuous and knowledgeable than the Imam. In this case, the relative or the guardian himself should lead the prayer or a person appointed by him. 

8. As soon is the prayer is over, the dead body should be taken to the graveyard for burial.

9. If the body is a baby, it may be carried by hand to the graveyard by several persons, one by one. If it is of a grown person, it should be carried on a bier by four persons lifting and holding the corners from their shoulders.

10. It is undesirable to carry the body by a conveyance unless there is a genuine reason or necessity for doing so.

11. The bier should be taken rather quickly yet not so hurriedly as to cause jerks and jolts to the body.

12. The people in the funeral procession should follow the bier. Some of them may walk in front, but not the whole procession.

13. The people following the bier should not sit without a genuine reason until the bier has been lowered down into the ground.

14. It is desirable that the people should walk along the bier. If a person has a conveyance, he should follow at the rear.

15. It is undesirable that the people following the bier should make supplications in a loud voice.

16. Women are forbidden to follow the bier.

How to Give a Shoulder to the Bier

The desirable way of lifting and giving a shoulder to the bier is as follows: 

Lift the front foot of the bier, take it on your right shoulder and walk ten steps. Then lift the hind foot on your shoulder and walk ten steps. Then lift the other front foot on your shoulder and walk ten steps. And then lift the other hind foot on the left shoulder and walk ten steps. Thus one will lift and walk with the bier at least forty steps.

Regulations Relating to Burial

1. To bury the dead body is an obligation (Fard Kifayah) just like washing it and offering the funeral prayer over it.

2. The length of the grave should be according to the size of the body and the depth should be half of that. It is preferable to make a niche in the side of the grave for the body, but if the soil is too soft, it may be interred without the niche.

3. The body before burial should be placed on the Qibla side of the grave so that the persons lowering it into the grave would automatically face towards the Qibla.

4. While lowering the body into the grave, one should say:

Bismillah-i w'ala millat-i rasulillah.

In the name of Allah, (we bury) according to the way of the Prophet of Allah.

5. After lowering the body into the grave, it should be turned on its right so that it faces towards the Qibla.

6. The dead body of a woman should be lowered into the grave under a curtain. If it is feared that a portion of it might be exposed, it will be obligatory to have a curtain while placing it down in the grave.

7. Filling the grave with earth should be started from the head side. Each person should help fill the grave using both hands. While putting earth for the first time, one should say:

Minha Khalaqna-kum

"Out of it We created you." 

And on the second time:

wa fi-ha nu'idu-kum

"And into it We deposit you.

And on the third time:

wa min-ha nukhriju-kum laat-an ukhra

"And from it We shall take you out once again."

8. After the burial, the people should stay for a while at the graveside, making invocations  for forgiveness of the deceased and recitation of the Qur'an for the deceased's sake. ('Ilm al-Fiqh)

9. After filling the grave with earth, water should not be sprinkled over it. ('Ilm al-Fiqh)

10. A green twig may be fixed on the grave. According to a Tradition, the holy Prophet once broke a green branch into two and fixed its parts onto grave, then said that the torment of the deceased ones would be reduced as long as the branches remained green.

11. Preferably one body should be buried in one grave, but if necessary, more than one body can also be buried in the same grave.

12. It is forbidden to erect domes or other decorative structures over graves.

13. If a person dies on a sea voyage, and land is so far away that it is feared that the body might decompose, it should be washed, shrouded and lowered into the sea after observing the funeral prayer over it. However if land is near, it should be held back for a proper burial.


The holy Prophet has urged and exhorted Muslims to console a bereaved family, i.e. to console and sympathize with them, to urge them to patience and to pray for the forgiveness of the deceased. According to Hadrat Abdullah ibn Mas'ud, the holy Prophet has said: "He who consoles a bereaved person will have the same reward as is meant for him." (Tirmidhi)

The Holy Prophet's Message of Condolence

Hadrat Mu'az has reported that the holy Prophet sent him the following message of condolence on the death of his son:

"In the name of Allah, the Compassionate, the Merciful.
From Muhammad, the Messenger of Allah, to Mu'az bin Jabal.

Peace be upon you! 

First of all, I glorify Allah besides Whom there is no god. Then I pray that Allah may bestow upon you a great reward for this bereavement, and grant you patience and fortitude, and give you and us the courage to be grateful to Him for His favours. The fact is that our lives and our near and dear ones are sacred gifts to us from Allah Who has given those in our charge only temporarily. He allowed us to benefit from the gifts for as long as He willed and withdrew them as and when He willed. And in return for this (apparent loss), He will bless you with higher rewards of His special favours, Mercy and guidance, provided that you display fortitude for His sake and for the sake of the benefits of the Hereafter. Therefore, I counsel you to have patience. Let not your wailing bring your rewards of the Hereafter to naught and you to remorse. Be assured that no amount of lamentation and wailing has ever brought a dead person back, nor can it help do away with grief and sorrow. Allah's Will is always done, rather has already been done!" (Mu'jam Kabir)


1.  According to a tradition reported in Abu Da'ud, the holy Prophet said: "The deceased for whom the funeral prayer is offered in three rows, is forgiven by Allah."

2. That is, an obligatory duty which, if carried out by some people in a locality, absolves all others of their responsibility, but if observed by no one, involves the whole population in sin.

3. The Salat which is recited in the final sitting position of the prayer is equally is permissible.

Everyday Fiqh (Vol. 1) by Abdul Aziz Kamal ©1986 published by Islamic Publications (Pvt.) Ltd., 13-E Shah Alam Market, Lahore, Pakistan