What Is the Funeral Prayer?
The funeral prayer (known in Arabic as janāzah) is the prayer which is performed when a person dies. It is one of the rights of the Muslim upon other Muslims, and is a communal obligation, such that if there are not enough people to perform it, the entire community is sinful.
How Is the Funeral Prayer Performed?
The entire prayer is performed in a standing position, and there is no bowing, prostration, or sitting. It is almost always performed as a group, with an imām who leads the other worshippers in prayer, normally in the presence of the deceased. As is the case in regular prayers, the prayer is performed towards the direction of Makkah (the qiblah). The prayer is divided into four segments, each of them beginning with takbeer (saying “Allahu Akbar“) and raising the hands for each one, in the manner of the regular prayers.
In the first segment of the prayer, you seek refuge with Allah from the accursed devil, by saying: “a‛oodhu billaahi minash-shayṭaanir-rajeem.” Then, recite the opening chapter of the Qur’an: Surah Al-Faatiḥah. If you wish, you can recite another chapter of the Qur’an, in whole or in part. All of the recitation and supplication in this prayer is done quietly, so that only you can hear what you are saying.
At this point, another takbeer is performed to end the first segment of the prayer, in the same manner as the first takbeer, and without changing position.
In the second segment of the prayer, you invoke blessings upon the Prophet (may the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him), exactly as you would in the sitting part of the regular prayer.
Once again, another takbeer is performed to end the second segment of the prayer, and once again, there is no change in position.
In the third segment of the prayer, you supplicate for the dead person. There are a number of authentic supplications on our partner website www.duas.com, including:
A final takbeer is performed to end the third segment of the prayer, and once again, there is no changing of position.
In the fourth segment of the prayer, you simply pause for a little while, without saying anything, and then conclude the prayer, by turning your head to the right hand side and saying the tasleem:
“Assalaamu ‘alaykum wa rahmatullaah.”
This is only said once to the right hand side, and not to the left, as is the case in the regular prayer.
There are many narrations which describe the funeral prayer, and they are listed below:
“The Prophet (may the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) announced the death of an-Najaashi to the people on the day that he died, then he took them out to the prayer place and put them in rows and offered the funeral prayer for him, saying the takbeer four times.” [an-Nasā’ī: 1971]
“The Sunnah, when offering the funeral prayer, is to recite Umm al-Qur’an (i.e. al-Fātiḥah) quietly in the first Takbir, Then to say three (more) takbeer, and to say the tasleem after the last one.” [An-Nasaa’ee: 1989]
‘Abdullāh ibn Abū Awfā (may Allah be pleased with them) reported:
“While offering the funeral prayer of one of his daughters, he recited four takbeer, and after the fourth takbeer, he continued standing for a time equal to an interval between two takbeer, praying for her and seeking Allah’s forgiveness for her.” Then he said: “The Messenger of Allah (may the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) used to do so…” [Ibn Maajah: 1503]
Abū Ibrāhim al-Ash-halī narrated from his father (may Allah be pleased with him) who said:
“When the Messenger of Allah (may the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) would perform the funeral prayer he would say: ‘O Allah! Forgive our living and our deceased, our present and our absent, our young and our old, our male and our female.'” [at-Tirmidhī: 1024]
‘Awf ibn Mālik (may Allah be pleased with him) said: ‘I heard the Messenger of Allah, while he was performing the [funeral] prayer for a deceased person, saying in his prayer:
“O Allah! Forgive him, have mercy upon him, and wash him with (snow or ice) (and wash him) just as a garment is washed.” [at-Tirmidhī: 1025]
The imām should stand at the head of a man and the middle of a woman
Abu Ghālib (may Allah have mercy on him) narrated:
“I prayed the funeral of a man with Anas ibn Mālik, and he stood parallel to his head. Then, they came with the body of a woman from Quraysh. They said: ‘O Abu Hamzah perform the prayer for her.’ So he stood parallel to her waist. al-‘Alaa ibn Ziyād said to him: ‘Is this how you saw the Messenger of Allah (may the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) standing in the place for the funeral as you did for her, and for a place that you stood for the man?’ He said: ‘Yes.’ When he was finished he said: ‘Remember (this).'” [at-Tirmidhī: 1034]
Samurah ibn Jundub (may Allah be pleased with him) narrated:
“The Prophet (may the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) prayed over a woman, so he stood at her middle.” [at-Tirmidhī: 1035]
Rewards of the Funeral Prayer
“No one among the Muslim dies, and prayer is performed for him by a community of Muslims reaching one hundred, and they intercede (supplicate) for him, except that their intercession for him is accepted.” In his narration, ‘Ali ibn Hujr said: “One hundred or more than that.” [at-Tirmidhī: 1029]
“Whoever performs the funeral prayer then he will get a reward equal to a qirāṭ. Whoever follows it until it is buried then he will get a reward equal to two qirāṭ, one of them – or he said: the least of them – is similar to [the mountain of] Uhud.” This was mentioned to Ibn ‘Umar, so he sent a message to ‘Aa’ishah to ask her about that, and she said: “Abu Hurayrah has told the truth.” So Ibn ‘Umar said: “We have missed many qirāṭ.”[at-Tirmidhī: 1040]
‘Abdullāh ibn ‘Abbās reported that his son died in Qudayd or ‘Usfan. He said to Kurayb to see as to how many people had gathered there for his (funeral). He (Kurayb) said:
“So I went out and I informed him about the people who had gathered there. He (Ibn ‘Abbās) said: Do you think they are forty? He (Kurayb) said: Yes. Ibn ‘Abbās then said to them: Bring him (the dead body) out for I have heard Allah’s Messenger (may the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) as saying: If any Muslim dies and forty men who associate nothing with Allah stand over his prayer (they offer prayer over him), Allah will accept them as intercessors for him.” [Muslim: 948]