Is it haram for women to follow a janazah?

Details of the Question

Umm Atiyya said, "We (women) were prohibited from following a janazah." Is the narration above sound? (I do not know its resource.) Is it forbidden for women to visit graves?

The Answer

Dear Brother / Sister,

No. The narration above is not related to women visiting graves, but following the janazah that is being taken to the graveyard.

It is permissible for women to visit graves in a way that is in accordance with Islamic principles and manners.

The narration is as follows:

Umm Atiyya said:

"We (women) were deterred from following a janazah. However, this was not rendered haram for us.” (Bukhari, Janaiz 29, I'tisam 27; Muslim, Janaiz 34, 35; Ibn Majah, Janaiz 50; Ahmad b. Hanbal VI- 408)

This narration is sound.

It is possible that Hz. Prophet himself imposed this prohibition on women or by sending somebody else to the women.

As a matter of fact, the following is stated in a hadith reported by Bayhaqi from Umm Atiyya: "After coming to Madinah, the Messenger of Allah ordered the women to come together and sent Hz. Umar to them to prohibit them from following janazahs."

According to Umm Atiyya, “the prohibition about women from following janazahs“ is not a definite prohibition, but a prohibition stating that it is makruh tanzihi. Although the Messenger of Allah prohibited women from following janazahs, he did not make a clear explanation stating that it is definitely forbidden. In fact, after imposing other prohibitions, the Prophet would make statements to confirm that they were haram.

It is possible that Umm Atiyya perceived that this prohibition of the Prophet meant “haram” from other indications. The prohibitions about which there are no indications showing that they aremakruh tanzihi show that they are definitely haram.

According to Imam Qurtubi, the prohibition in the hadith reported by Umm Atiyya expresses that it is tanzihi, not tahrimi. For, the following hadith reported from Abu Hurayra indicates this: "When Hz. Prophet saw Hz. Umar scolding a woman who was crying after a janazah, he said, ‘O Umar! Leave her. For, the eye sheds tears.’" (Ibn Majah, Janaiz 53).

It is understood from the apparent meaning of the hadith that it is makruh for women to follow a janazah. This is the view of Shafiis. It is also narrated from Ibnul-Mundhir that the following people also hold this view: Ibn Mas'ud, Ibn Umar, Abu Umama, Hz. Aisha, Masruq, Hasan al-Basri, an-Nahai, Awzai, Imam Ahmad, Ishaq and ath-Thawri.

Ibn Hazm, Abud-Darda, Zuhri and Rabia say it is permissible for women to follow janazahs.

According to Hanafis, it is makruh tahrimi for women to follow janazahs. For, the Prophet once addressed the women who followed a janazah as follows: "Return by having committed sins, not having gained thawabs."

We can say the following in conclusion:

The disagreement whether women can follow janazahs or not is about the women living during the time of the Prophet who were dressed in accordance with tasattur (hijab) rules, who did not wear make-up and who followed a janazah without crying or shouting. It is unanimously agreed that it is haram for women who do not care about the issues above to follow a janazah. (see Sünen-i Ebu Davud Terceme ve Şerhi, Şamil Publications: 12/23-24)

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