Ruling on holding funeral ceremonies
According to our customs, when someone dies, people gather outside their house, ornamental light bulbs are hung (like in weddings) and the deceased’s family line up. Condolers pass by each one of them, put their hands on their chests and supplicate to Allah for them saying “May Allah reward you greatly!” Is this gathering and these practices in accordance with Sunnah (whatever is reported from the Prophet)? If they are not, what is the Sunnah in this situation? Please, enlighten us and may Allah reward you with the best.
Your practice is not in accordance with the Sunnah and we do not know of any basis for it in Shari‘ah (Islamic law). The Sunnah is to console the bereaved family in no special way and without holding any gatherings. Moreover, it is permissible for Muslims to console the bereaved family in the house, on the road, at the Masjid (mosque) or in the graveyard, whether before or after the Funeral Prayer. It is also permissible to shake hands with the bereaved and supplicate to Allah for them, saying “May Allah reward you greatly, console and comfort you, and compensate you for your distress!” If the deceased is a Muslim, they ask Allah to forgive them and be merciful to them. Similarly, it is permissible for women to console one another, men to console women and vice versa, provided that consolation does not involve Khulwah (being alone with a member of the opposite sex) or shaking hands if the woman is non-Mahram (not a spouse or permanently unmarriageable relative). May Allah guide Muslims to understanding His Religion and holding fast to it, for He is the Best One to be asked!
Date: Dhul-Hijjah 23, 1441 AH
Source: Majmu' Fatawa wa Maqalat 5/345
Shaykh Ibn Baz