Ruling on the family of the deceased serving food for people and holding ceremonies on certain days

Question:

A few groups of scholars, who call themselves Ahl-us-Sunnah (adherents to the Sunnah), have appeared in our country. They state the following claims:

  1. Serving food in the deceased’s house for three to seven days, during the special days, such as Thursdays and Fridays, and upon the passage of forty days is permissible and authentically recorded in the Sunnah of the Prophet (peace be upon him).
  2. The deceased can hear and respond to Salam (Islamic greeting of peace) and can recognize those visiting them, in the same way that they can be recognized by those who are alive.
  3. Asking the deceased to supplicate to Allah, plastering the graves and building domes over them, are all permissible.
  4. Taking fees for reciting the Noble Qur’an in Tarawih (special supererogatory night Prayer in Ramadan) or for the deceased in the form of food, clothes, or in cash is permissible.

Are these claims true or contrary to the Qur’an and Sunnah?

Answer:

It is Mashru’ (Islamically permissible) to serve sufficient food for the deceased’s family to satisfy their need, since they will be too busy with their calamity to prepare food for themselves. Thus this is a matter of sympathy with them. The Prophet (peace be upon him) commanded some of his family to serve food for Ja’far ibn Abu Talib’s family (may Allah be pleased with him) upon receiving the news of his death in the Levant (the region covering Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, and Palestine), saying: “Prepare food for the family of Ja`far for there came upon them an incident which has engaged them.1

As for the family of the deceased serving food for people and holding ceremonies during certain days, this is a Bid’ah (innovation in religion). Jarir ibn ‘Abdullah (the companion of the Messenger of Allah, peace be upon him) said: “We used to consider gathering at the bereaved family’s house and preparing food after burial among the (forbidden acts of) wailing.” As for building domes and Masjids (mosques) over graves, the Prophet (peace be upon him) cursed whoever does that, because this is one of the means leading to Shirk (associating others with Allah in His Divinity or worship) and one of the practices of the Jews and the Christians. The same applies to plastering graves, which was forbidden by the Messenger (peace be upon him), because this is one of the means leading to Shirk.

It is narrated in the Two Sahih (authentic) Books of Hadith (i.e. Al-Bukhari and Muslim) on the authority of `Aishah (may Allah be pleased with her), that she said: “When the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) was dying, he began pulling his Khamisah (blanket) over his face but when he felt suffocated by it, he removed it from his face and at that point he said: ‘May the curse of Allah be upon the Jews and the Christians who took the graves of their Prophets as places of worship.’2

There is another Hadith related on the authority of Jabir (may Allah be pleased with him), who said: “The Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) forbade plastering graves, erecting structures over them, and sitting on them.” (Related by Ahmad, Muslim and Al-Tirmidhy, and was ranked as Sahih (authentic) by Al-Nasa’y and Ibn Majah). 3

May Allah grant us success. May peace be upon our Prophet Muhammad, his family and Companions!


  1. Al-Tirmidhi, Sunan, Books on funerals, no. 998; Abu Dawud, Sunan, Book on funerals, no. 3132; and Ibn Majah, Book on funerals, no. 1610. 

  2. Al-Bukhari, Sahih, Book on clothing, no. 5816; Muslim, Sahih, Book on Masjids and places for Salah, no. 531; Al-Nasa’i, Sunan, Book on Masjids, no. 703; Ahmad, Musnad, vol. 1, p. 218, and Al-Darimy, Sunan, Book on Salah, no. 1403. 

  3. Muslim, Sahih, Book on funerals, no. 970; Al-Tirmidhy, Sunan, Book on funerals, no. 1052; Al-Nasa’i, Sunan, Book on funerals, no. 2027; Ibn Majah, Sunan, Book on funerals, no. 1562; and Ahmad, Musnad, vol. 3, p. 295. 

  • Date: Muharram 3, 1442 AH
  • Source: Fatawa Al-Lajnah Ad-Daimah no. 17458-2
  • Muftis: Shaykh Ibn Baz , Shaykh Abdul-Aziz Aal Al-Shaykh , Shaykh Salih Fawzan , Shaykh Bakr Abu Zayd