Sending Flowers and Reading Quran during Funerals

It should be noted that many people at the death of a dear person will bring flowers and wreaths and after proceeding with the funeral, will take the flowers and wreaths to the home of the deceased. They buy the best flowers and wreaths to show their deep sympathy and concern. To do this is forbidden – whether presenting it at the funeral, accompanying the funeral with it, or bringing it to the deceased’s house. This is an imitation of non- Muslims, and is an evil innovation which should be strictly avoided. Those who do such a thing will have no reward from Allah. To the contrary, they will be questioned for such meaningless waste.

Another misguided innovation during funerals is that the car that carries the deceased will broadcast, through speakers, a recording of the Holy Qur’an as if announcing the passing away of the deceased. The funeral procession should be characterized by thoughtfulness, humbleness, remembrance, reflection, awareness of Allah, and prayers for mercy. No sad music or religious chant should accompany funerals. These two rules should be followed and spread around to make Muslims aware of the right way.

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Avoid Gluttony

Modesty is the crown (hallmark) of the common people. Keep this crown on your head if invited to a feast or if you are presented with food or drink. Do not be gluttonous devouring food as if you have not eaten for a long time, or as if you have not seen such excellent food before. Do not sample every dish on the table. People, even generous hosts disapprove of greedy eaters. Be reasonable and moderate in enjoying the generosity of your hosts.

{A man burped whilst in the company of the Prophet (saw), so the Prophet (saw) said: Keep your burping away from us! Verily, the ones who fill their stomachs the most in the Dunya (this world) will suffer the most from hunger on the Day of Judgement. (Tirmidhi, Ibn Majah, Al-Hakim)}

GOLD AND SILVER CUTLERY

Do not eat using golden or silver plates or cutlery. This goes against the spirit of Islamic modesty. Pomposity is not an Islamic trait. Bukhari narrated that Huzaifa said the Prophet SAWS said ‘Do not drink in golden or silver cups nor eat in such plates.’ If you were a guest, simply ask your host to replace it with another one.

Drinking

Drinking manners are no less important. To start in the name of Allah is a must. Use your right hand to drink. Abo Dawood and Tirmizi related that Hafsa (RA) said ‘the Prophet SAWS used his right hand for eating and drinking. He used his left for other things [such as personal hygiene].’

Do not pour your drink down your throat in one gulp. Drink it in three sips. Ibn Abbas reported that the Prophet SAWS said ‘Do not drink like a camel. Drink twice or thrice. Say the name of Allah before drinking. Thank Allah after finishing. Do not exhale in your glass. This will irritate others and will smudge the glass or the cup. Ibn Abbas reported that the Prophet SAWS forbade exhaling in a glass or puffing into it. Do not drink directly from the jug or the container. Beside being unhygienic behaviour, others may want to drink after you who could be irritated. Abo Huraira narrated that the Prophet SAWS forbade drinking directly from the mouth of the sheepskin or the flask.

The Manners of Eating

There are certain table manners that are indispensable. Say ‘Bismillah’ when starting, to thank Allah and say ‘Alhamdulilah’ when finished. Eat what is in front of you. Eat using your right hand. A hypocrite was eating with his left hand when the Prophet SAWS saw him and advised him to eat with his right. The man falsely said ‘But I cannot’ The Prophet SAWS said ‘May it be so’ and the hypocrite was not able to lift his right hand again.

The companions of the Prophet SAWS followed his example in stressing the use of the right hand while eating. Omar was Khalifa when he saw a man eating with his left hand and similarly advised him to eat with his right. The man answered ‘My right is busy’ Omar repeated his request and the man repeated his answer. Omar asked him ‘What is it busy with?’ The man answered that it had been severed in one of the battles. Omar blamed himself for neglecting such handicap and ordered the treasurer to provide the man with a servant to help him.

If eating with your hand, use three fingers with small bites, lifting it gently with ease to your mouth. Close your mouth while eating to avoid unnecessary noises. To eat on the floor is nearer to what the Prophet SAWS used to do. However, there is no problem to eat at a table. Imam Ghazali said, ‘To eat at a table is to make eating easier and there is nothing against that.’ Do not start eating ahead of the elders or the nobles. If you are the elder, do not commence eating before everyone is at the table.

It is preferred that eating should not be conducted in silence. It is good manners to talk during meals. Topics should be nice stories suitable for eating. At the end of the meal, if hands are to be washed, the elder or the noble should be asked to proceed first.

At the end of a meal, thank Allah as in the Hadith reported by Abo Dawood and Nasa’i in ‘the deeds of day and night.’ Thank Allah who fed us and provided us with drink. It is very appropriate to make a prayer for your hosts as it is reported by Muslim that Al-Migdad ibn Al-Aswad reported that the Prophet SAWS said, ‘May Allah feed those who have fed us, and provide drinks to those who provided us with it.’

Do not express your disapproval or dislike of certain foods. Either eat it or pass it over quietly. Abu Huraira reported that ‘the Prophet SAWS never expressed his dislike of a food. If he liked it he will eat it. If he disliked it, he will set aside.

Do not put in your plate more than you can eat. Leftovers could be thrown out, it shouldn’t, and wasted. Put smaller portions twice rather than one large portion that you will not eat. The Prophet SAWS did not approve of leaving any food in a plate since as he SAWS said ‘You don’t know which portion is blessed‘. Food is a blessing of Allah, to misuse it is contrary to Islam. Do not forget the poor and the needy who do not have the portion you are throwing away.

Swearing by Allah

To confirm a statement, many resort to swearing by the name of Allah SWT or one of His attribute. This is a bad habit that should be resisted. The name of Allah should not be used so lightly, and to swear by it is very serious matter. Allah SWT in Surah Al-Nahl says “And do not take your oath to practice deception between yourselves, with the result that someone’s foot may slip after it was firmly planted”. Always remember the hadith of the Prophet Sallalaahu alaihi wa sallam reported by Bukhari and Muslim “Whoever believes in Allah and the Last Day should say something good or remain silent.

{Allah’s Messenger (SAWS) said: “The best of people are those of my generation, then those who follow them, then those who follow them, after which there will come a people whose testimonies will precede their oaths and whose oaths will precede their testimonies. (Narrated by Bukhari and Muslim)

This Hadith discourages frequent swearing. People rush hastily into swearing oaths and bearing witness before they are requested to do so, as if these matters are of little moment. This reduces respect for the name of Allah.}

Selecting Suitable Topics

In Surah Al-Hajj, Allah described the believer “And they have been guided to the purest of speeches; and guided to the path of Him who is worthy of all praise.” When you talk during your visit, don’t speak unless you are asked to, or unless you know that your speech and words will be well received and will please the host and other guests. Don’t prolong your speech. Use a proper tone of voice. Anas reported that “the Prophet’s S.A.W.S. talk was clear and concise. Not too much nor too little. He disliked loquacity and ranting.” Bukhari narrated a Hadith in which Aisha said “The Prophet’s S.A.W.S. talk (was so little) that you can count his words”.

If you hear the Azaan you must listen and respond to the call of Allah. Many people, even those with Islamic knowledge continue talking while the Azaan is being called. This is rude, since those hearing the Azaan should listen to it and quit speech, study and even Qur’an recitation. Solemnly they should repeat the words of the Azaan and reflect on the words of the highest call. We should listen to the Azaan, whether we are at home, office, shop, or attending a lesson, even if it’s a religious lesson. Imam al-Kasani in Badaiu Al-Sanaei’ said: “Those hearing the Azaan or Iqama should not talk. Even if reading Qur’an or doing other noble things, everything should be stopped to listen and respond to the Azaan.”

The Azaan is the food of the soul nourishing it with faith and elevation. Do not forgo your share of it. Teach this to your children and friends. Al Bukhari narrated a Hadith by Abu Saeed Al-Khudri that the Prophet S.A.W.S, said “If you heard the call say like what the Muezzin is saying.” In another Hadith reported by Jaber that the Prophet S.A.W.S. said “He serves my help on the day of judgment who said when hearing Azaan: O Allah, the Lord of this perfect call and imminent prayer, please award Muhammad S.A.W.S. the help, nobility, and the desired status you promised him.”

Imam Abdul Razaq narrated in his Musanaf that Ibn Juraig said: “I was told that people used to listen to Azaan like they would listen to recitation of Qur’an. They would repeat after the Muezzin. If he said: Come to prayer, they will say: With the help and power of Allah. If he said: Come to the good deed, they will say: With the will of Allah.”

Cleanliness and washing

The Sunnah is to keep perfume and to use it regularly on oneself. Al-Bukhari narrated that Salman Al-Farsi said: the Prophet S.A.W.S. said

“Allah will forgive the sins of the past week for he who on Friday will take a bath, cleanse himself, put on his (regular) pefrume or any perfume available in house. Then, he goes out (to Jumu’ah prayer) and does not try to separate two friends. The he prays wherever he could and listen to the Imam.”

If the body became odorous a day or two before Friday, one should not wait till Friday to cleanse the body. We should was our bodies as soon as it require washing to keep ourselves clean and fresh.

To take a bath on Friday is specifically required since a large number of people will be gathering at mosques. However, if our body became dirty or we sweat on a particular day, then we should take a bath at the end of day or next morning. This is indicated by a Hadith narrated by Al-Bukhari and Muslim that Abu Huraira said, the Prophet S.A.W.S. said:

“It is the duty of every Muslim to have a bath once every week to wash his head and body.”

Stay In Touch

If you cannot visit your relatives, friends or acquaintances, you should still keep in touch by calling them or sending them a letter. This will leave them with a deep amicable impression and will keep the relationship alive. Al-Fadhl ibn Marwan, the vizier of the Abbasid Khalifah al-Mu’tasim said, “Inquiring about friends is (like) meeting them.”

In this regard, I would like to quote two poems:

If dear friends missed meeting each other
Then, the best meeting is a letter

I will be grateful every day
To a friend sending greetings while far away

Dealing with Non-Muslims

If your neighbors happen to be non-Muslim you must not forget Islamic manners in dealing with neighbors. The recommendation of Islam for good relationship with neighbors is for Muslims and non-Muslims alike.

You as a Muslim should demonstrate to all people the goodness of Islam with your gentle manners and kind behavior, Bukhari and Muslim reported the Hadith of Anas “No one is a believer if he does not like for his brother what he likes for himself.” The report of Muslim said “till he loves for his brother, or neighbour, as he likes for himself.” The scholars said that the word ‘brother’ here is said in the most common context and thus means brothers in humanity includinc Muslims and non-Muslims. A Muslim would love for his non-Muslim brother, as he loves for himself, to become a Muslim to enjoy the benefits of Islam and rewards of Allah.

A Muslim would do very well when he prays for the guidance of his non-Muslim brothers as he likes for his Muslim brothers to remain Muslim and to continue their devotion and adherence to Islam. In Surah Al-Mumtahinah, Allah said:“Allah forbids you not, with regard to those who did not fight you for your faith not drive you out of your homes, to deal kindly and justly with them: For Allah loves those who are just. Allah only forbids with regards to those who fought you for your faith and drove you out of your homes and support others in driving you out, for turning to them for friendship and alliance. Those of you who do that are doing wrong.”

There is nothing to prevent us from being kind, generous and helpful to non-Muslims as long as they do not demonstrate verbal or tangible animosity towards Islam. Hopefully, this will remove barriers to introduce them to join Islam and Muslims.

This positive attitude does not mean going along with non-Muslims and abandoning distinct personality. It means we must be fair, kind and moderate with ourselves and our neighbors in all matters. In interpreting this, Imam Qurtubi said: ‘This constitutes a consent by Allah to maintain amicable relationship with those who did not antagonize Muslim or attack them.

Imam Qurtubi cited the opinion of Abdul Rahman bin Zayed who said that this rule was in the beginning of Islam when fighting was not requires, but later it was annulled. Imam Qurtubi also cite Qatada who said this verse had been annulled by another verse in Surah Al Tawba (9:5) “But when the forbidden months are past, then fight and slay the pagans wherever you find them..”

After citing these two opinions and other similar ones, Imam Qurtubi concluded by saying: The majority of interpreters have said that it is a valid verse that has not been annulled. They cited the story reported by Bukhari and Muslim of Asma’ bint Abi Bakr when she asked the Prophet S.A.W.S. if she could entertain and be kind to her non-Muslim mother who visited her in Madina and the Prophet S.A.W.S. said ‘Yes’.

It was said that this verse was revealed in this incident. Al-Mauardi and Abo Dawood reported that Amer bin Abdullah bin Al-Zubair narrated that his father told him that before Islam, Abu Bakr divorced his wife Qutaila who was the mother of Asma. When the truce was held between the Prophet S.A.W.S. and the pagans of Quraish, the mother visited her daughter in Madina and brought her an ear-ring and other gifts. Asma was reluctant to accept the gifts before asking the Prophet S.A.W.S. In answer to her question Allah revealed this verse. When Allah says ‘to deal kindly and justly with them’ Al-Faraa said that Allah meant those who did not fight you alluding to Khoza tribe who made an agreement with Muslims not to fight them or assist those fighting them. Allah ordered Muslims to be kind and faithful to them as per the terms of agreement.

Al-Kadi Abu Bakr ibn al-Arabi said that the expression of qist is not derived from justice but from share, meaning you may give them a portion of your money to maintain cordial relationship. For justice Is a duty toward all whether they were friends or foes. Imam Bukhari and Imam Ahmad reported that Anas bin Malik said that a Jewish boy used to serve the Prophet S.A.W.S., preparing his ablution and to hand him his shoes. The boy became ill. The Prophet S.A.W.S. went to visit the boy and he was gravely ill with his father sitting at his head. The Prophet S.A.W.S. invited him to Islam by telling him to say: There is no God but Allah. The boy looked at his father who kept silent. The prophet S.A.W.S. repeated his request and the boy looked at his father gain who told him ‘Obey Abu Al-Qasim’. The boy, just before dying, said “I bear witness that there is no God but Allah and that you are His Messenger.’ The prophet S.A.W.S. said “Thank Allah for enabling me to save him.”

Hafiz Ibn Hajar said that this Hadith indicates many rules; that Muslims are allowed to employ non-Muslims, to visit them while sick. It also directs us to maintain cordiality. It allows the employment of youth, to offer them Islam if they were mature to make a choice, and to accept their conversion if they embraced Islam.

Hafiz Al-Badr Al-Aini said this Hadith indicated the consent to visit ill non-Muslims especially if they were neighbors since it demonstrated the kindness of Islam and may encourage them to embrace it. The Hadith also allows the employment of non-Muslims and the cordiality to them. It also consents employing the youth.

You may console non-Muslims on mourning using appropriate expressions. Imam Al-Kadi Abu Yusuf said, in the end of his book Al-Kharaj that he asked Abu Hanifa about how to console a Jew or a Christian who lost a child or relative. Abu Hanifa said to say: “Allah decreed death for all His creations. We ask Allah to make death the best fate to wait for. We all belong to Allah and to Him we all shall return. Be patient and endure this calamity.”

Abu Yusuf said we learned that a Christian who used to attend the lectures of Al-Hasan Al-Basri died. Al-Hasan went to console his brother. He said: “May Allah reward you for this calamity as He reward your fellows. May Allah bless our death and make it the best fate to wait for. Be patient against the misfortunes.” You may say these kinds of words and remind them of death as the inescapable fate with which we can do nothing about but acceptance and patience.

Imam Ibn A’bdin in his book Rad al-Muhtar mentioned that Shaf’ee said: “You may console Muslims when at the death of a non-Muslim relative. On such occasion you may say: “May Allah increase your rewards and patience”. You may console non-Muslims on the loss of a Muslim relative. On such occasions you may say: may Allah for you deceased” and give best condolence.

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