The dead hear and return the greeting of the living
Fatwa No: 23015

  • Fatwa Date:13-10-2010 - Thul-Qi'dah 6, 1431
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Question

Is it permissible for a woman to supplicate for her father outside the graveyard? What is the virtue of greeting the dead? Is the soul restored to the dead person so he can return the greeting? Does this increase his good deeds? Is it true that a dead person visits his (former) home every Friday to see his family?

Answer

All perfect praise be to Allaah, the Lord of the worlds. I testify that there is none worthy of worship except Allaah, and that Muhammad, sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, is His Slave and Messenger.

1.      Supplicating for the dead is permissible, both in the graveyard and in any other place. The general evidence for its permissibility is a Hadeeth on the authority of Abu Hurayrah  may  Allaah  be  pleased  with  him where the Prophet, sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, mentioned that when a person dies, he will have no reward except for three things: an ongoing charity, useful knowledge that he left behind, and a righteous son or daughter who supplicates for him. [Muslim]

With regards to the evidence of its permissibility at the grave itself, then there is a Hadeeth on the authority of ‘Aa’ishah  may  Allaah  be  pleased  with  her where it was mentioned that Jibreel (Gabriel)  may  Allaah  exalt  his  mention once came to the Prophet, sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, and informed him that Allaah The Almighty commanded him to go to the people of Al-Baqee‘ (the graveyard where the Companions of the Prophet, sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, were buried) and ask Him to forgive them. ‘Aa’ishah  may  Allaah  be  pleased  with  her then asked the Prophet, sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, about what she should say if she were to go there and he ordered her to say the following: “Assalaamu ‘alaykum ahl ad-diyaari minal-mu'mineen wal-muslimeen wayarhamullaahu al-mustaqdimeen minna wal-musta’khireen, wa innaa inshaa Allaahu bikum lalaahiqoon. (Peace be upon you, residents of these houses from amongst the believers and Muslims, and may Allaah have mercy upon those who died first amongst us and those who will die later, and we  shall, Allaah willing, join you (soon).” [Muslim]

Also, for the ruling on women visiting graves, see Fataawa 84400 and 81272.

2.      Ibn Al-Qayyim  may  Allaah  have  mercy  upon  him quoted  Ibn ‘Abd Al-Barr as saying that the Prophet, sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, mentioned that whenever a Muslim passes by the grave of another Muslim whom he used to know and greets him, Allaah The Almighty restores his soul so he can return the greeting. This is a Sharee'ah text that indicates that a dead person can recognize a living person and return their greeting. Also, the command to greet them indicates that they can hear, because greeting occurs in the form of speech and requires a person to be able to hear to receive it. Shaykh Ibn ‘Uthaymeen  may  Allaah  have  mercy  upon  him mentioned that the dead are to be addressed in the same way that the living are addressed, i.e., bearing in mind that they can hear, and not in the way a person would speak to a stone. He supported his opinion with the previous Hadeeth that was cited by Ibn Al-Qayyim  may  Allaah  have  mercy  upon  him on the authority of Ibn ‘Abd Al-Barr  may  Allaah  have  mercy  upon  him.

3.      Shaykh Ibn ‘Uthaymeen  may  Allaah  have  mercy  upon  him mentioned that the dead benefit from this greeting because it alleviates their torment and gives them a sense of safety. Ibn Taymiyyah  may  Allaah  have  mercy  upon  him stated that a dead person can hear in general the speech of the living. However, this hearing is not necessarily continuous, because the dead may hear sometimes and not at other times, like the living who may sometimes hear a person talking to him and other times may not for one reason or another. For further information refer to Fataawa 85320, 14762 and 14369.

4.      The claim that the dead visit the living on Fridays is not proven by the Sharee'ah, it is part of the unseen that cannot be perceived by the mind. As long as there is no Sharee'ah text to prove this, the claim must be overlooked. As for the actions and conditions of the soul in life and after death, they are clarified in Fataawa 83540, 87936 and 89454.

And Allaah Knows best.

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