Naked Women in Graveyards

Shaykh Gibril Fouad Haddad

salam alaykum:

A. Sheraz wrote in message <7h9u15$r64$>… [I am quoting excerpts only]

>When my grandmother died (it was more traumatic than I thought) we took her to the “qabristan” (persian for graveyard) in the dead of the night  when “no ghair mahram would be around” (a “ghair mahram” is someone who is eligible to marry my grandmother).

The Prophet — Allah bless and greet him — once scolded the Companions for not alerting him of the death of a non-unmarriageable female servant who used to sweep the mosque in Madina, as he had wished to attend her funeral. Then he went and prayed over her grave.

Muslim men may attend the funeral prayer and burial of non-mahram Muslim women, in fact the more men attend, the better for the deceased. In Mecca and Madina hundreds of thousands if not millions of non-Mahrams for hundreds of years have prayed daily — during Hajj — over deceased Muslim men and women, for the greater good of the latter. Whoever declared it forbidden? Man-made superstitious rulings along sexual or other lines are in no way part of Islam.

>I was told that a Muslim woman once she becomes “baligh” (reaches puberty) >should not be seen by “ghair mahram” eyes, hence the veil and the decree >that she confine herself to the four walls and her domestic duties.

`A’isha is an excellent model for Muslim women, and she did not confine herself to four walls and domestic duties. She was a scholar, a jurist, a poet, a medical authority, and led armies.

As for the veil, when the wives of the Prophet — Allah bless and greet him — were on pilgrimage and men happened to pass, they let down their veils to cover their faces. It was the right thing to do. Yet `A’isha also said to some Arab women — as we just discussed in another thread — that if they wished to dress dishonorably, they were free to do so.

A >Muslim woman is not to be looked at even when she is dead hence the >secrecy of my grandmother’s funeral.

A man or woman’s sacrosanctity is the same in death as in life. What is haram for others to look at or touch does not change after the soul parts with the body, regardless of sex or religion.

>When someone suggested that my younger sister be shown the burial of my >grandmother the men refused. Other women were also banned from going to >the funeral. The reason given was “women become naked in the graveyard >because the dead can see them naked”.

X-ray glasses? I don’t think so.

When `Umar was buried in `A’isha’s room next to Abu Bakr and the Prophet — Allah bless and greet him — `A’isha began wearing the veil in her own house. But she did not stop living there.

>Is this a good consolation for all the women who want to attend the burial >of a near and dear one? Is this a good way of dealing with the trauma and >emotional damage caused by a death ? Is this a humane and compassionate >treatment of the hurt felt by the loss of a near and dear one?

Is this the right way to generalize the ignorance and man-made superstitions of one group of people to extend them to the entire Indian subcontinent or male gender or Muslim religion?

>I remember walking through deserted alleys holding torches and walking >hiding behind buildings (to avoid passing vehicles) and stealing my >grandmother’s coffin at three in the morning like theives. I remember >witnessing my father cry for the first time in my life when my grandmother >was lowered into the ground. He cried and wept as he recited verses in a >foreign tongue. > >Did my sister and mother not deserve the same catharsis and release ? Did >my sister and mother not deserve the same sense of closure ? Did the >daughters and sister of my grandmother not deserve the same ?

Of course they did and do. But men tend to fear women’s gatherings at funerals because the latter tend to raise their voices loud, tear their veils, slap their cheeks, wish for death, or even curse Allah — may Allah protect us. When my father died, my mother and grandmother could not control their grief and this was in our own house. At the church and later at the cemetary, I was afraid my mother would pass away then and there. And I need not mention the (paid?) village women who banded around my father’s bed improvising Arabic dirges interspersed with wailings and customary outbursts like “You were the best of us,” “Why did you die before us.”

Al-hamdu lillah for Islam.

There are guidelines for both men and women for Muslim conduct at burials. The Prophet — Allah bless and greet him — wept when he buried his son Ibrahim — upon him peace — and was asked by `Abd al-Rahman ibn `Awf: “O Messenger of Allah, are you weeping? Did you not forbid weeping?” He replied: “No, I only forbade wailing.”

In many other hadiths, included one quoted later, he cursed the women who make loud displays of grief at cemetaries.

>There is nothing scandalous about going to your husband’s funeral – unless >you happen to be in an Islamic country. In the next month’s Vanity Fair >Queen Noor  reveals that – contrary to >press reports – she violated Islam by secretly attending King Husein’s > final rites. > >”I watched my husband laid to rest, but I was not in the group of men,”

When the Prophet — Allah bless and greet him — died, his family went in to pray over him before everyone else, first the men, then the women. This is the Sunna. If what happens today here or there runs counter to the Sunna, then it is only the responsibility of those involved. If you itch to blame, at least do not blame Islam. But it is best to stick to what is of immediate concern rather than search for scapegoats for why everything is so bad.

>”I was a few meters away … the custom here is that women do not attend, >but … it was important to me to go through the entire process.”

Customs have their place in Islam as long as they do not contradict it. When they do, they should be ignored.

>Sources. > >”Allah (or Allah’s Messenger) curses the women who frequent the graves” >Tirmidi, Ibn Majah and others verfied to be authentic.

The complete hadith states: “Allah’s Messenger cursed the women who frequent the graves, taking them as places of worship and lighting them with candles.” Secondly, it refers to the socially binding custom of pre-islamic widows who erected tents near or upon their departed husbands’ grave for unlimited periods of time, mourning them in this harsh fashion. Thirdly, it is abrogated (mansukh) by the hadith that states: “I had forbidden you in the past from visiting graves, but now I am telling you to go and visit them, for they remind you of the hereafter.” Another version states: “For they provide a teaching.” Meaning: to men and women. The abrogating (nasikh) hadith was stated at a time when Islam was no longer in its beginnings and vying with paganism but had taken firm root in daily practice. And Allah knows best.

>There is also a SAHEEH hadeeth recorded by al-Bayhaqi and al-Haakim in >Saheeh al-Jaami in which Ayesha (RA) visited the grave of Abder-Rehman bin >Abi Bakr

May Allah be well-pleased with all of them.

May Allah bring us out of the darkness of illusion into the light of understanding.

GF Haddad