Women visiting Graves

Women visiting Graves

bismillah ir-Rahman ir-Raheem

Visitation of the Graves by Women

by Dr. G. F. Haddad

In his recent booklet, Advice to our Brothers the Scholars of Najd, Sayyid Yusuf al-Rifa`i states, addressing present-day Wahhabis: “You forbid women from visiting the noble Baqi` with no agreed-upon, clear and explicit proof from the Law!” The following is a demonstration of the permissibility of visits to al-Baqi` according to the principles of Sacred Law and the proof-texts of the Sunna.

Those who object to the visitation of graves by women adduce chiefly three hadiths as their proof, two of these being the weak-chained narrations, (a) “Allah curses the women who visit the graves”1 (la`ana Allahu zâ’irât al-qubûr) and (b) “Allah curses the women who visit the graves and take them for places of worship and candles,”2 the third one being, (c) “Allah curses the women who frequently visit the graves” 3 (la`ana Allahu zawwârât al-qubûr).

As indicated by Sayyid al-Rifa`i, the above narrations do not constitute “agreed-upon, clear and explicit proof from the Law” for the prohibition of women from visiting graves in Islam. Accordingly, the majority of the Ulema concur that women are permitted to visit the graves if there is no danger of temptation and sin.4 This is established by the following proofs:

1. The Prophet – Allah bless and greet him – said: “I forbade you to visit the graves but [now] do visit them!”5

2. `A’isha – Allah be well-pleased with her – said: “The Prophet – Allah bless and greet him – forbade the visitation of graves then permitted it, and I think he said: `For, truly, they remind you of the hereafter.'”6

3. `A’isha visited came to Mecca after her brother’s death saying, “Where is the grave of my brother?” Then she came to the grave and prayed over him, a month after his death.7 Another version states that Ibn Abi Mulayka said: “`A’isha’s brother died six miles away from Makka, so we carried him until we reached Makka and buried him there. `A’isha came to us after that and reproached us for doing so. Then she said: `Where is the grave of my brother?’ We showed it to her and she alighted in her howdah and prayed at his grave.”8

4. When `Abd Allah ibn Mulayka saw `A’isha visiting the grave of her brother `Abd al-Rahman he said to her: “Did not the Prophet – Allah bless and greet him – forbid this [visitation of graves]?” She replied: “Yes, he had forbidden it. Then he ordered to visit them.”9 Ibn `Abd al-Barr mentions that Imam Ahmad adduces this report as proof that women are permitted to visit the graves.10

 The wording and verb tenses used by the Prophet – Allah bless and greet him – and the Companions in the above narrations show that these narrations explicitly abrogate the narrations that express prohibition. This is confirmed by al-Hakim who narrated the hadith: “Allah curses the women who frequently visit the graves” then said: “Those narrations pertaining to prohibition from visiting the graves are abrogated, the abrogator being the hadith of `Alqama ibn Marthad, from Sulayman ibn Burayda, from his father, from the Prophet – Allah bless and greet him -: `I forbade you to visit the graves but [now] do visit them!'”11

5. Due to her strictness, and perhaps in confirmation of Ibn Abi Mulayka’s remark, `A’isha disliked to visit the grave of her brother as is evident from her remark in al-Tirmidhi’s narration of her visitation to `Abd al-Rahman: “If I had been present at the time of your death I would have never visited you [now].”12 Yet this is another proof that she did not understand the Prophet’s – Allah bless and greet him – prohibition as absolute – were it not abrogated – since she did allow herself the visitation of her brother despite it.

6. The Prophet – Allah bless and greet him – passed by a woman who was weeping next to a grave and said: “Fear Allah and be steadfast!” She replied: “Leave me alone! You were not afflicted with my affliction” – without recognizing him. Then she was told that this was the Prophet – Allah bless and greet him -. She came to see him and did not find anyone at the door [so entered directly] and said: “I did not recognize you!” He replied: “Steadfastness is only at the first shock.”13

7. `A’isha asked: “What should I say, O Messenger of Allah [at al-Baqi`]?” He replied: “Say: `Greeting to you, O people of the abodes among the men and women believers! May Allah grant mercy to those of you and us who went ahead and those who tarried back! Truly we shall – if Allah wills – join up with you.'”14

Al-Bayhaqi, Ibn Hajar and al-Nawawi said that the above narrations show that it is permitted for women to visit the graves in confirmation of `A’isha’s visitation of her brother, as the Prophet – Allah bless and greet him – only admonished the mourning woman to be steadfast without forbidding her from visiting the grave, and he gave instructions to `A’isha on what to say when visiting the graves.15

8. The Prophet – Allah bless and greet him – said: “I had forbidden you to visit the graves but Muhammad has been permitted to visit the grave of his mother, so visit them, for truly, they remind you of the hereafter.”16

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