Friday, December 26, 2008

The Virtue of Participating in Funerals

Below is the first part of my notes for Lesson 176 of the Commentary of the Book of Funerals from al Tajrid al Sarih (The Abridged Saheeh al-Bukhari) by Shaykh Abu Yusuf Riyadh ul Haq which was delivered on 7th November 2007. The dars was given at Al Kawthar Academy, Leicester.

In this lesson, the Shaykh, may Allah bless him and allow us to continue to benefit from him, began by mentioning the complexity of the original Saheeh al-Bukhari and that the abridged format by Imam Zain al-Zabedi is much more accessible. The first hadeeth studied in this lesson was Hadeeth 670.

باب: فَضْلُ اتّبَاعِ الجَنَائِز

Ch. 31 - Chapter of the virtue of participating in funerals

670. عن ابن عمر رضي الله عنهما أَنّه قيل له: إِنّ أَبَا هُرَيْرَةَ رَضِيَ اللهُ عَنْهُ يَقُولُ: مَنْ تَبِعَ جَنَازَةً فَلَهُ قِيرَاطٌ. فَقَالَ: أَكْثَرَ أَبُو هُرَيْرَةَ عَلَيْنَا. فَصَدّقَتْ عائِشَةُ رَضِيَ اللهُ عَنْهَا أَبَا هُرَيْرَةَ, وَقَالَتْ: سَمِعْتُ رَسُولَ اللهِ صلى الله عليه وسلم يَقُولُهُ. فَقَالَ ابْنُ عُمَرَ رَضِيَ اللهُ عَنْهُمَا: لَقَدْ فَرّطْنَا في قَرَارِيطَ كَثِيرَةٍ. رواه البخاري: 1323, 1324

670. (Narrated Nâfi'): Ibn 'Umar رضى الله عنهما was told that Abu Huraira said, Whoever accompanies the funeral procession will have a reward equal to one Qiraat. Ibn 'Umar said, Abu Hurairah talks of an enormous reward. A'isha رضى الله عنها attested Abu Huraira's narration and said, I heard Allâh's Messenger صلى الله عليه وسلم saying like that. Ibn 'Umar said, We have lost numerous Qiraat. (2:409O.B.)

The literal translation in this hadeeth is "Abu Hurairah has over done it" or "has gone too far" i.e. ibn Umar (رضى الله عنه) feared that Abu Hurairah (رضى الله عنه) is excessively narrating hadeeth and may have possible made a mistake or have erred. According to one narration, Abdullah ibn Umar met Abu Hurairah (رضى الله عنه) and said to him ‘Oh Abu Hurairah be very careful and watch what you relate from Rasulullah (صلى الله عليه وسلم).’ Abu Hurairah (رضى الله عنه) sent a messenger to Aisha (رضى الله عنها) and told the messenger to ask her if she could corroborate what he is saying i.e. "Whoever accompanies the funeral procession will have a reward equal to one Qiraat". Aisha (رضى الله عنها) said 'Yes, I heard Allah's messenger (صلى الله عليه وسلم) say it himself'. The messenger came back with the reply and in order to drive home the point, Abu Hurairah (رضى الله عنه) took hold of ibn Umar's (رضى الله عنه) hand and took him to Aisha (رضى الله عنها). Abu Hurairah (رضى الله عنه) said to Aisha (رضى الله عنها) ‘Oh Umm ul Mumineen, I plead with you in the name of Allah, did you hear Rasulullah (صلى الله عليه وسلم) say that whoever participated in the funeral will have one qiraat of reward?’. She said ‘Yes’. Ibn Umar (رضى الله عنه) was overwhelmed by this testimony and the truthfulness of Abu Hurairah (رضى الله عنه). Abu Hurairah (رضى الله عنه) then said ‘I was never preoccupied in planting seeds in the farm nor was I preoccupied by trading in the marketplace. But I would remain in the company of Rasulullah (صلى الله عليه وسلم) hoping for one of two things, either that he would give me a morsel of food so that I could eat it, or that he would give me a piece of knowledge so that I could consume it’. When he said this, Abdullah ibn Umar (رضى الله عنه) responded by saying ‘Oh Abu Hurairah (رضى الله عنه) indeed you were the one who was more in the company of Rasulullah (صلى الله عليه وسلم) than any other and you are amongst the knowledgeable of the hadeeth of Rasulullah (صلى الله عليه وسلم)’.

Shaykh proposed the question that what did Abu Hurairah mean by ‘I was never preoccupied in planting seeds in the farm nor was I preoccupied by trading in the markets’? Shaykh stated that he explained this many years ago during his commentary of Kitab-al-Ilm (The Book of Knowledge); in summary, the companions in Madinah were of two distinct groups. The muhajiroon, the smaller group of emigrants from Makkah were mainly traders, and the larger indigenous group, the Ansaar were predominantly farmers. Thus, Abu Hurairah is stating that he did not fit either of these categories. Rather, he would be in the company of Rasulullah (صلى الله عليه وسلم). He suffered a lot to remain in the company of Rasulullah (صلى الله عليه وسلم) and learnt a lot. Due to the barakah of what he learnt, even a prolific narrator such as ibn Umar (رضى الله عنه) had to defer to him and say that Abu Hurairah (رضى الله عنه) is the most knowledgeable of hadeeth amongst the companions. This shows the eagerness of the sahabah to listen to and acquire the hadeeth, as well as to gain knowledge.

From this hadeeth, we learn that the person that participates in a funeral he will enjoy one qiraat of reward. From another hadeeth, we learn that the Prophet stated that a person will gain one qiraat of reward for all the stages of the funeral that the person participates in. For example, there will be a reward of one qiraat for taking part in the burial after the jinazah. There will be another qiraat of reward for taking part in the condolence after the burial. Offering condolences after the burial is actually the main condolence i.e. by visiting the house of the bereaved.

Shaykh explained that a qiraat is actually part of a dinar, similar to how a penny is part of a pound or cents are part of a dollar. One dinar today is equivalent to approximately £55 (according to value of silver). One qiraat is approximately one-twentieth of a dinar. The Prophet only used this measurement to help the companions understand. Imam Ahmad bin Hanbal (رحمة الله عليه) narrates the hadeeth about one qiraat of reward for participating in all of the different stages of the funeral. In this narration, it is stated that someone said ‘Ya Rasulullah! Are you referring to these qiraats of ours?’ The Prophet (صلى الله عليه وسلم) responded by saying no and said that one qiraat that he is referring to is equivalent to Mount Uhud. Abdullah ibn Umar (رضى الله عنه) said after hearing this hadeeth that we have lost out on many qiraats of reward (i.e. if each qiraat is equivalent to Mount Uhud in weight). This hadeeth therefore speaks not only of the right and duty of offering condolences; there is also a great reward for offering such condolences and participating in the funeral and the burial.

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