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Legitimate Visit to Graves

Place : Saudi Arabia / Riyadh / None / None /
Business Category : Tawhid (Oneness of Allaah)
date of publication : 1439/05/30
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Elements speech
1- Visiting the graves and the legal wisdom behind it. 2- The reason why visiting the graves was initially forbidden before permission was later given. 3- The etiquette of visiting the graves. 4- Benefit of the dead from du'a (supplication) and the solace they take in it. 5- Warning not to commit some Islamic legal irregularities during the visit.

First Sermon:


All praise is due and belongs to Allah. We praise Him, seek His help and forgiveness and repent to Him. We seek refuge with Allah from the evils of ourselves and from the wickedness of our own deeds. Whomever that Allah guides, none can mislead him, and whomever He sends astray, none can guide. I bear witness that there is no deity worthy of worship but Allah alone with no partner, and I bear witness that Muhammad is His slave and Messenger.


The truest of words is the Book of Allah and best of guidance is the guidance of Muhammad (May the blessings and peace of Allah be upon him). The worst of things are those that are newly invented; every newly invented thing is an innovation and every innovation is going astray, and every going astray is in the Fire.


( يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُواْ اتَّقُواْ اللّهَ حَقَّ تُقَاتِهِ وَلاَ تَمُوتُنَّ إِلاَّ وَأَنتُم مُّسْلِمُونَ )

(O ye who believe, fear Allah as he should be feared and die not unless you are Muslims) [Al-Imran: 102]


( يَا أَيُّهَا النَّاسُ اتَّقُواْ رَبَّكُمُ الَّذِي خَلَقَكُم مِّن نَّفْسٍ وَاحِدَةٍ وَخَلَقَ مِنْهَا زَوْجَهَا وَبَثَّ مِنْهُمَا رِجَالاً كَثِيرًا وَنِسَاء وَاتَّقُواْ اللّهَ الَّذِي تَسَاءلُونَ بِهِ وَالأَرْحَامَ إِنَّ اللّهَ كَانَ عَلَيْكُمْ رَقِيبًا )

(O people fear your Lord, who created you from a single soul. From it, He created its spouse, and from both of them scattered many men and women. Fear Allah, by whom you ask one another, and (fear) the wombs (lest you sever its relationship). Allah is ever watching over you.) [An-Nisa: 1].


( يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا اتَّقُوا اللَّهَ وَقُولُوا قَوْلًا سَدِيدًا * يُصْلِحْ لَكُمْ أَعْمَالَكُمْ وَيَغْفِرْ لَكُمْ ذُنُوبَكُمْ وَمَن يُطِعْ اللَّهَ وَرَسُولَهُ فَقَدْ فَازَ فَوْزًا عَظِيمًا )

 (O you, who believe, fear Allah and say sound statements. He will mend your deeds for you and forgive your sins. Whosoever obeys Allah and His Messenger shall win a great victory) [Al-Ahzab: 70-71].


O believers! Visiting the graves of Muslims is one of the acts to which Islam called and encouraged the nation. It is not because these graves embody people that lived among us, or because they were built in multiple forms and a variety of different shapes and arrangements, but because of what Prophet Muhammad (May the blessings and peace of Allah be upon him), said on this account, “So visit the graves, for that makes you mindful of death”.


The Messenger of Allah, (May the blessings and peace of Allah be upon him), said, “I had prohibited you from visiting the graves. But Muhammad was permitted to visit the grave of his mother: so visit them, for they will remind you of the Hereafter” [At-Tirmidhi]. So he explained the reason for visiting, which is the remembrance of the afterlife. The first stages of the afterlife begins by when one enters the grave. Furthermore, remembering the afterlife makes the slave of Allah to turn to his Lord, dispense with the people and the show lack of interest in what they own. This is confirmed by another wording of this hadith, “For they will draw your attention away from this world” (Ahmad).


The words of the Prophet (May the blessings and peace of Allah be upon him), ” for they will remind you of the Hereafter ” require that one should not accord the inmates of graves more than what is legally permissible for them, such as saying salaams to them, and praying for them.


This also requires that the graves should not be in the forms that distract people from remembering the afterlife, as it is practised by many of those who do not strive to make the graves as authorized by Islamic Law. They either decorate them or build them in lofty shapes, with luxurious, carved and decorated stones, or decorate them with different types of colors, and rare piece of marble and other stuff.


Making the graves according to the Islamic legal specification is in the first case a response to the call of Shari’ah, and furthermore it helps to remember the Hereafter. It does not distract from that, just as the case may be when the grave calls for pondering over its decorations, inscriptions or the enormity of its structure.


In the beginning, the Prophet (May the blessings and peace of Allah be upon him), forbade visiting graves and that helped in addressing the prevalent practice of being attached to those graves in the pre-Islamic era of ignorance, and holding certain beliefs about their inmates in a manner that distracts from the true Islamic monotheism, which Islam called for. It also involved the discarding of all sorts of attachments that makes the human being withdraw from the Creator, Allah the Almighty, to be attached to the living or dead, among those humans living with them, or the lifeless, deaf and dumb idols, that do not benefit nor harm. Hence, it was necessary to generally ban visiting graves for both men and women, for the relative or non-relative. This is what is stated in the hadith of the Prophet (May the blessings and peace of Allah be upon him), stating the forbiddance and abrogation thereafter: “I had prohibited you from visiting the graves…so you may visit them”.


In the case of (attachment to the graves and their inmates), it appears that women are more affected by it than others are. Both ancient and modern reality testifies that women are more attached to the relative, particularly the lost ones who are in their graves, than men are. Perhaps the secret behind this is that women have a stronger emotion than men do. This is an indication of what used to be the habit of women, and what they used to do regarding committing a number of legal violations on their visit to the graves, especially when faith is weak. This includes invoking doom and destruction upon themselves or others, for the death of someone, as well as seeking the help of the dead, or seeking blessings from the tomb of one believed to possess some benefit at his death. All that has been forbidden by the Islamic Law, because it is a way of appealing to the creature, and a rejection or objection to fate and destiny, thus the Prophet, (May the blessings and peace of Allah be upon him), said, “May the curse of Allah befall those women who frequently visit graves”. (Abu Dawud). Permissibility of visiting the graves can be understood from this tradition but frequenting them is forbidden. Perhaps, it is part of the underlying wisdom not to allow frequenting of the graves a way of consolidating some belief, which some may hold regarding the benefit that can accrue from other than Allah or to accord to the dead a status that is not permissible, but for Allah alone. This is because frequent visiting has a long lasting effect, other than rare or occasional one.


The opinion allowing occasional visit is confirmed by the general permissibility for all people to visit the graves, as indicated by the previous statement of the Prophet, (May the blessings and peace of Allah be upon him), “So visit them, for they will remind you of the Hereafter”, and other words that indicate absolute permissibility.


There are etiquette for visiting the graves, which must be observed and regarded as a part of worship that one hopes to be rewarded by Allah when he does. They include the following:

When a Muslim comes to the grave, he should greet the inmates and supplicate for them. Some narrations regarding how to greet and supplicate include the saying of the Messenger of Allah, (May the blessings and peace of Allah be upon him), “Peace be upon you, inhabitants of the dwellings who are of the community of the believers. You are the former and if Allah wills, we shall join you, and we ask Allah wellness for us and you”. (Abu Dawud).


It is undesirable to walk on the graves according to the correct opinion evidenced by the hadith that “forbade them to be trampled” (At-Tirmidhi).


One should not sit on them, because of the hadith of the Prophet (May the blessings and peace of Allah be upon him), ” It is better that one of you should sit on live coals which would burn his clothing and come in contact with his skin than that he should sit on a grave”. (Sahih Muslim).


One should not pray towards them, as forbidden in the hadith that said, “May the curse of Allah be on the Jews and the Christians, for they took the graves of their Prophets as places of worship”. (Agreed upon).


In addition, all those kinds of etiquettes keep a person busy with (dhikr) the remembrance of Allah, glorifying the Almighty Allah, praying for the dead, and greeting them. He thus combines in that between the glorification of the Lord Almighty without others beside Him, as well as supplication for well-being for the visitor and the visited. It is indeed a tribute to both of them, and a feeling about the inevitable end of every human being on the face of the Earth, which is to depart this world one day. It is further a training of oneself on remembering the Hereafter, withdrawal from the bliss of this world, and compliance with the legitimate show of sadness, which softens the hearts, and does not detract from being satisfied with predestination. Moreover, it entails an increase in faith and nurturing of the soul to surrender, submit and humble to Allah.


Visiting the graves brings some solace to the dead, because du’aa (supplication) and greeting them during such visit make them happy, and increase their joy and hope. Part of the evidence that indicates that the dead feel of what the living does to them, is what was narrated from the Prophet, (May the blessings and peace of Allah be upon him), that he said with regard to being satisfied and saying good words, such as his saying: ” The dead in the grave is being punished while his family is weeping for him “. (Agreed upon).  i.e. it makes him sad.


In another wording he said, “He even hears the stepping sound of their sandals”. (Agreed upon).  This shows that they feel about the good or bad done by the living.


Imam Muslim has cited the story of Amr bin al-Aas – may Allah be pleased with him –when he said to those around him while in the state of agony, “When you have buried me, keep standing near my grave (for the time it takes to) slaughter a camel and its meat is distributed, so that I may feel your nearness” (Muslim).


Ibn al-Qayyim – May Allah have mercy on him – said, “If the inmates of the graves do not feel of the visitor, it would have been wrong to call him a visitor, for if the visitor does not know of the visit of one that paid him visit, it would be wrong to say that he has visited him”.


Hence, visiting entails good for the living and the dead, but it should be according to those recommended etiquette, owing to the legal texts that inducted that in the first case, and because of their positive, good and legitimate effects, on part of the visitor and the visited.


I said what you have heard and I ask for forgiveness from Almighty Allah, for you and me, for all the faults and sins. Therefore, ask for His forgiveness and repent to Him. How great is the victory of those that ask for forgiveness!

Second sermon:


All praise is due and belongs to Allah, the Lord and Cherisher of the worlds. The good end is for the righteous, and there shall be no aggression except upon the oppressors. I bear witness that there is no god worthy of worship but Allah alone with no partner, the Patron of the righteous, and I bear witness that Muhammad is His slave and Messenger, the master of the prophets and messengers.


Slaves of Allah! One of the things that should be pointed out in this matter, is to guard against committing what has not been authorized by Almighty Allah and His Messenger (May the blessings and peace of Allah be upon him), because the consequence of such is painful, (May Allah safeguard against it). Some people have committed such vice and had it not been for the grace of Allah the Almighty, many among those saved by Allah would have fallen guilty of the offence.


Stating the consequence of negligence and lack of obedience, Allah says,

(فَلۡيَحۡذَرِ ٱلَّذِينَ يُخَالِفُونَ عَنۡ أَمۡرِهِۦۤ أَن تُصِيبَہُمۡ فِتۡنَةٌ أَوۡ يُصِيبَہُمۡ عَذَابٌ أَلِيمٌ)

And let those beware who oppose the Messenger’s order, lest (Fitnah) some trial befall them, or a grievous Penalty be inflicted on them [Al-Nur: 63].

Moreover, the offense here in general with respect to all what the human being has been commanded to do concerning belief, words and actions.


With respect to visiting the graves, some irregularities that can be referred to, in addition to the above include the following:

Rubbing hands and body on them, invoking their inmates in desire to achieve some beloved end, or deterring some dreadful calamity, magnifying their structures, and making drawings, writings and inscriptions on them. In the hadith of Jabir, May Allah be pleased with him, said: “The Messenger of Allah, (May the blessings and peace of Allah be upon him) prohibited plastering of graves, writing on them, building over them, and treading on them “At-Tirmidhi.


The irregularities also include traveling and engaging in a long journey to them, for what has not been authorized by the Islamic Law, with respect to mosques other than the three holy mosques, for there are traditions that permit engaging in a long journey to them as reported in the Sahihain (Sahih Al-Bukhari and Sahih Muslim).


All of the foregoing irregularities and others are considered things that distract from taking advantage of the wisdoms underlying visiting the graves, which can be drawn from religious texts, including asceticism in this world, and remembering the afterlife. Those acts render a person to be attached to the tomb and its inmate, and make him preoccupied with the slave instead of the only ONE worthy of worship. They make them busy with falsehood in place of truth, with the form in lieu of the essence, and with heresy as a replacement for the Sunnah.


In the hadith, it is stated, “the grave is the first stage among the stages of the Hereafter” (At-Tirmidhi).


And there are many prophetic traditions in the same sense. Hence, it was very necessary that the grave becomes a station to think about the world and its state, to consider the fact about death, and that it is the end of every human being. There is nothing more nor greater in status than to remember the afterlife and reflect on the fact about the soul, than to visit the graves and consider the state of those that have departed this world, especially by evoking that intention, and commitment to the reported legitimate guidance regarding that visit.


Death involves the liberating and adequate counsel. It is reported in the hadith, “Death suffices as a counsellor” (Ibn Majah). It is the most eloquent of all counsellors and all articulate preachers. It is indeed true that it is being called “the silent preacher”.


We ask Allah to benefit us as by what we have heard, and conclude for us with the Paradise and make the consequence of our affairs to be good.


Invoke the peace and blessings of Allah upon Al-Bashir An-Nadhir (harbinger of glad tidings and a warner), and As-Siraj Al-Munir (the glittering lamp), our Prophet Muhammad bin Abdullah, who was sent by Allah as a mercy to the worlds, and whom Allah the Almighty has commanded you to pray for when He said,

( إِنَّ اللَّهَ وَمَلَائِكَتَهُ يُصَلُّونَ عَلَى النَّبِيِّ يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا صَلُّوا عَلَيْهِ وَسَلِّمُوا تَسْلِيمًا )

Allah sends His Salah (Graces, Honours, Blessings, Mercy, etc.) on the Prophet (Muhammad) and also His angels too (ask Allah to bless and forgive him). O you who believe! Send your Salah on (ask Allah to bless) him (Muhammad), and (you should) greet him with the Islamic way of greeting [Al-Ahzab: 56].