Is it a sin to cry loudly after a relative who died at home or next to his grave? Does this give pains to the dead person?

Details of the Question

Is it a sin to cry loudly after a relative who died at home or next to his grave? Does this give pains to the dead person?

The Answer

Dear Brother / Sister,

The custom of crying after a dead person has been common among ignorant people for a long time. For instance, when a notable died in ancient Egypt, many women and men put on signs of mourning on their bodies and wandered about the streets by shouting.1 In the crying ceremonies in the former Turks, some people wounded their faces and even cut their ears.2 In the Arabs of the Jahiliyya Era, there were some people who wrote in their will that people should shout, cry and mention his good deeds after his death. A foreign author who wrote about Turkey in 1655-1656 wrote that women gathered in the house of the person who died and lamented, cried and shouted for days.3 This kind of lamenting and crying has been widespread; therefore, we believe it will be useful to mention the decree of Islam regarding the issue.

Death is a great incident. It is normal for a person to feel sad and distressed due to the death of somebody. It is permissible for a Muslim to cry silently and to shed tears due to it. As a matter of fact, the Prophet cried by shedding tears when his son Ibrahim, 4 his daughter 5 and his daughter's son 6 died and when Sad' b. Ubada became ill (d. 15/636); when he was reminded that he had forbidden crying, he said what he did was not the crying style that was forbidden, that Allah would not punish anyone because of shedding tears but that he would punish because of shouting (he pointed to his tongue). He said,  

"The deceased is punished for the wailing of his relatives over him."7

For, shedding tears silently and becoming sad heartily is compassion and mercy rather than crying; Al­lah loves those who are compassionate and merciful.  

Once, the Prophet (pbuh) sat close to the grave in a funeral and cried silently, his tears dropping on the soil; 8 he wiped the tears of Fatima who was crying silently next to him at the death of his daughter Ruqiyya (d. 2/624) 9; he did not prohibit her from crying like that. Once Hz. Umar shouted at a woman crying at a funeral. The Prophet said to Hz. Umar, "Let her cry. The eye definitely sheds tears." 10 Thus, he allowed the woman to cry silently.

The fiqh decree deduced from the hadiths mentioned above is that it is permissible to cry for the dead and all mujtahids agree on this decree.11 According to Hanafis and Malikis, it is haram to cry loudly and by shouting. Shafi'is and Hanbalis regard it permissible to cry loudly after the dead without lamenting; but it is haram, not permissible, to shout and cry by using words like "O my brave man! O my lion! O my breadwinner!" and mentioning some good deeds of the dead like in the Era of Jahiliyya, to pull and tear one's hair, to hit one's head, face or knees and to tear one's clothes. 12

There is consensus among scholars that crying like that is haram. For, the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) said these deeds were customs of Jahiliyya 13 and prohibited them 14; he said that those who did this forbidden deed was not of Ahl as-Sunnah 15, that if they died without repenting, Allah would make them wear a garment of tar and flaming fire 16; thus, he attracted attention to the bigness of the sin of this deed and damned those who did so.17

As for the hadith about'the deceased being punished for the wailing of his relatives over him' reported by several Companions including Hz. Umar18, Hz. Aisha said it would be contrary to the verse

"…no bearer of burdens can bear the burden of another..."19

when she heard the hadith. She said the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) saw some people crying near the grave of a Jew and told them that the person they were crying for was being tortured in his grave 20, and that the wailing of his relatives would increase the torture of unbelievers only. 21

All mujtahids stated that the dead person would not be tortured due to the wailing of his relatives in a way that is forbidden but that he would be tortured if he himself wrote in his will and told his relatives before his death to cry for him by shouting - it is haram to write like this in the will - as the Arabs used to do in the past, or if he knew that they would cry by shouting but did not write or tell them not to do so, he would be tortured due to the wailing of his relatives. 22 Therefore, the wailing itself does not cause the dead person to be tortured; he is tortured due to his own sin. It was a custom to cry after the dead in the Arabs of Jahiliyya; the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) might have stated that it would torture the dead. 

When we look at the Companions, who are the stars of the ummah, we see that they prohibited those who cried loudly for them from crying loudly. As a matter of fact, when Hz. Umar was wounded and fainted, some people cried loudly for him. When he came round, he reminded them of the hadith of the Messenger of Allah and advised them not to do so.23 When Abu Musa'l-Ash'ari became very ill, his wife started to cry loudly. When he got better, he said to his wife, "Do you not know that I am away from everything that the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) was away from? The Messenger of Allah said he was away from those who shouted, who had their hair cut and who tore their clothes when a misfortune hit."24 Thus, he showed that the Messenger of Allah had prohibited it.

To sum up, it is better for those whose relatives or close friends died to show patience and not to cry. If they cannot do so, it is permissible for them to cry silently and to shed tears. However, it is haram and forbidden to cry by mentioning some good deeds of the dead and what they did when they were alive and to lament. It is necessary to avoid definitely crying like this.

Footnotes:

1) Mimarzâde M. Emnülah, ibid p. 26.
2) İnan, Abdulkâdir, Hurafeler ve Menşeleri, p. 12, Ank. 1962.

3) Jean de Thevenot. 1655-1656 da Türkiye, p. 140, İst. 1978.
4) Bukhari, Sahih.Janaiz, 42 Vol. II, p. 84.
5) Bukhari, Janaiz, 32, Vol. II, p. 80; Janaiz, 70 Vol. II.p. 93; A. b. Hanbal.Vol. III.p. 126.
6) Bukhari, Janaiz, 32, Vol. II. p. 80; Ibn Majah, Sunan, Janaiz, 53, Vol. I, p. 506.

7)Buhârî, Sahih, Janaiz 43 Vol.II, p. 85
8) Bukhari, Janaiz, 43, Vol.II, p. 85; Muslim, Sahih, Janaiz, 6, Vol. H, p. 636.
9) Ibn Majah, Sunan, Zuhd, 19, Vol. II. p. 1403.
10) Ahmad b.Hanbal, Musnad. Vol. I, p. 335.
11) Ibn Majah. Sunan, Janaiz, 53, Vol. I. p. 505.

12) al-Jaziri, ibid c I, p. 533.
13) al-Jaziri, ibid. Vol.
I, p. 533; Tahtawi. ibid p. 501.
14) see Muslim, Sahih. Janaiz, 10, Vol.II, p. 644; Ibn Majah.
Sunan, Janaiz, 51, Vol. I. p. 503-504; al-Azizi Ali b.Ahmad, as-Siraju'l-Munir, Vol. I. p. 177. Egypt, 1325.
15) bk. Ibn Majah, Sunan, Janaiz, 51, Vol. I, p. 503; Janaiz. 53, Vol. I, p. 507.
16) bk. Bukhari, Sahih, Janaiz, 34, Vol. II, p. 82; Janaiz,36,37,Vol.II,p.83; Ibn Majah, Sunan, Janaiz, 52, Vol. I, p. 504; Hasan al-Hasan al-Idwi, ibid p. 24, Egypt, 1316 h.
17) Muslim, Sahih.Janaiz, 10, Vol. II, p. 644; Ibn Majah, Sunan, Janaiz, 51, Vol. I, p. 503-504; an-Nahlawi, Halil b. Abdulqadir ash-Shaybani ad-Dureru'l-Mubaha... s 132, Damascus 1966.
18) Ibn Majah, Sunan. Janaiz, 52, I/505; Hasan al-Idwi, age p. 24, Egypt 1316 h.
19) al-An'am, 6/164.

20) bk. Bukhari, Sahih, Janaiz, 33, Vol. II, p. 81-82; Muslim, Sa­hih. Janaiz,9. Vol. II, p. 639; Tirmidhi, Sunan Janaiz, 23 Vol. II, p. 235; Ibn Majah Sunan. Janaiz, 54, Vol. I, p. 508; A b. Hanbal, Musnad, Vol. I, p.47-50; Muhammad b.Ismail, Subulus-Salam. Vol. I. p. 204.
21) Bukhari. Sahih. Janaiz, 32, Vol. II, p. 81; Muslim, Sahih, Janaiz, 9. Vol. II, p. 643; A. b. Hanbal.Musnad Vol. VI. p. 79, 281.
22) Muslim, Sahih, Janaiz, 9, Vol. II, p. 641.
23) al-Jaziri, ibid Vol. I, p. 534; Muslim, Sahih, Vol. II. p. 638, dn
24) Muslim.Sahih.Janaiz, 9 . Vol. II.p. 638-640.

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