Women visiting Graves

9. Another version states: “I had forbidden you to visit the graves but do visit them for they truly remind one of the hereafter.”17

10. Another version states: “Whoever wants to visit the graves [may], truly they remind of the hereafter.”18

11. Another version states: “I had forbidden you to visit the graves but do visit them, for they help to renounce the world and they remind of the hereafter.”19

12. Another version states: “I forbade you to visit the graves then it appeared to me that they soften the heart, bring tears to the eyes, and remind one of the hereafter. Therefore, visit them, but do not say reprehensible things!”20

The proof for the visitation of women in the above five narrations is that the positive effects of remembering the hereafter, weeping, and softening the heart are not exclusively limited to men but extend to women as well. Therefore women are also addressed by these narrations which are to be taken in the most general, inclusive sense. This is confirmed by the practice of Fatima – Allah be well-pleased with her! – the daughter of the Prophet – Allah bless and greet him – as shown in the following two narrations:

13. Imam Ja`far al-Sadiq narrated with his chain from al-Hasan ibn `Ali that Fatima the daughter of the Prophet – Allah bless and greet him – - may Allah be well-pleased with all of them! – used to visit the grave of her uncle Hamza ibn `Abd al-Muttalib every Jumu`a21 and she used to pray and weep there.22 Another version adds that she had marked the grave with a rock in order to recognize it.23

14. The women wept over Ruqiyya – Allah be well-pleased with her! – when she died, so `Umar tried to forbid them but the Messenger of Allah – Allah bless and greet him – said, “Wait, O `Umar!” Then he said: “[Women,] beware of the devil’s croaking! As long as it comes from the eye and the heart, it is coming from mercy; and as long as it comes from the tongue and the hand,24 it is coming from Satan.” Whereupon, Fatima began to weep over the grave of Ruqiyya and the Prophet – Allah bless and greet him – was wiping her tears from her face with his hand – or, the narrator said, his sleeve.25

Even if we should consider the first two of the three hadiths adduced by the objectors (a and b) authentic as a handful of scholars did, they do not form proof for prohibition, for two reasons. First, they are abrogated according to the more correct view as demonstrated. Second, they elucidate one another and are elucidated by the third hadith adduced (c), in the sense that the curse does not concern women who visit the graves in absolute terms, but only those women who both (1) visit excessively and (2) commit certain reprehensible acts during visitation as stated by al-Tirmidhi, al-Baghawi, al-Tahawi, al-Qurtubi, and others.26 This qualified prohibition is confirmed by the fact that the soundest version of the prohibition hadith states, “Allah curses the women who *frequently* visit the graves,” in which case the prohibition is patently restrictive, concerning only a specific group of women and not all of them.

Another confirmation is that this qualified prohibition extends to men as well, as stated in the hadith of the Prophet – Allah bless and greet him -: “Allah curse the Jews and Christians! They took the graves of their Prophets as places of worship.”27 This men-inclusive qualified prohibition is further confirmed by the version stating: “I forbade you from visiting the graves and now [allow you to] visit them, but do not utter words that make your Lord angry!”28

The gist of this documentation is not that Muslim women today are indifferently permitted to visit the graves, since temptation and sin abound in our time and there is little or no observance of the obligations of Sacred Law shown by either Muslim men or women who visit the graves. To say the least, as al-Bayhaqi said: “If women keep themselves clear from following funeral processions, going out to cemetaries, and visiting graves, it would be healthier for their Religion – and from Allah comes success.”29 As far as we know, this is the Consensus of the Imams of Ahl al-Sunna.

Yet, the negative situation of contemporary Muslim visitors to city and country cemetaries hardly applies to the women pilgrims who visit al-Baqi` and the Prophet – Allah bless and greet him – in Madina, where the effusion of emotion is somehow counter-balanced by the natural decorum of Madina al-Munawwara. Therefore their status there should be that of allowance together with male Muslims rather than prohibition as confirmed by the fatwa of the Ulema and contrary to the claims of a handful of Wahhabi dissenters such as the late `Abd al-`Aziz ibn Baz, Muhammad ibn Ibrahim ibn `Abd al-Latif, Hammad al-Ansari and his student Bakr Abu Zayd, the late Abu Bakr al-Jaza’iri, and others of the circle who hold sway over the religious jurisdiction of the Two Sanctuaries.

 As for the absolute prohibition, including the Mosque and al-Baqi` in Madina, insisted upon by Bakr Abu Zayd in his epistle titled “Juz’ fi Ziyarat al-Nisa’ li al-Qubur30 and his odd claim that the narrations prohibiting women from following the funeral bier apply to prove the prohibition of visitation, such claims stem from an unreasonable, stubborn rejection of the evidence and a blind following of the familiar founts of misguided originality and nonconformity – Ibn Taymiyya and Ibn al-Qayyim. But truth is more deserving of being followed than eminent figures. And from Allah alone comes all success, and Allah Most High knows best.

 

NOTES

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