Offering Condolences

Dear brothers and sisters, with the nature of the week just passed both overseas and within our community, there have been times when offering condolences was suitable.

The imam reminded us of ayats 155 to 157 of Sura Baqara as part of this reminder and it is translated to say:

Allah will test people with different types of hardships: some with fear of those who are against them; hunger because of lack of food; lack of money because of losing it or difficulty gaining it; loss of lives due to death from diseases and tragedies that kill people, or being martyred for the sake of Allah; and a lack of resources from the earth. Give good news, O Prophet, to those who are patient in the face of these hardships, of what will make them happy in this world and in the Afterlife.

The patient are those who, when they are struck by one of these hardships, say, in acceptance, that all power belongs to Allah, He deals with us as He wills, and we will return to Him on the Day of Judgement, and it is He Who created us and showers us with many blessings; so, to Him is our return and our end.

Those who possess these virtues are praised by Allah in the highest gathering of angels, and mercy descends on them. They are the ones guided to the path of truth.

Dear brothers and sisters, the first point made by the imam is that the act of giving condolence to the families are close ones to a deceased person is not mandatory or wajib, but instead it is considered a liked action by most of the scholars. Allah knows best.

With that being said, we should still employ the best of manners befitting Muslims and therefore the manner of offering condolences is mentioned in todays reminder.

The imam reminded us of a number of hadith in relation to this reminder. In the first one, the Prophet SAWS is reported to have said:

 ‘There is no believer who consoles for his brother for a calamity, but Allah will clothe him with garments of honor on the Day of Resurrection.’”

And the next one, as narrated by Usama bin Zaid, which is translated to say:

We were with the Prophet (ﷺ) when suddenly there came to him a messenger from one of his daughters who was asking him to come and see her son who was dying. The Prophet (ﷺ) said (to the messenger), “Go back and tell her that whatever Allah takes is His, and whatever He gives is His, and everything with Him has a limited fixed term (in this world). So order her to be patient and hope for Allah’s reward.” But she sent the messenger to the Prophet (ﷺ) again, swearing that he should come to her. So the Prophet got up, and so did Sa`d bin ‘Ubada and Mu`adh bin Jabal (and went to her). When the child was brought to the Prophet (ﷺ) his breath was disturbed in his chest as if it were in a water skin. On that the eyes of the Prophet (ﷺ) became flooded with tears, whereupon Sa`d said to him, “O Allah’s Messenger (ﷺ)! What is this?” The Prophet (ﷺ) said, “This is mercy which Allah has put in the heart of His slaves, and Allah bestows His mercy only on those of His slaves who are merciful (to others).”

And so dear brothers and sisters, this reminder concludes with three points in relation to the manners of giving condolences.

Firstly, the act of giving condolence to someone has no expiry date and so if you hear of a passing much later than others then it is still good manners to offer your condolences to the relatives of the deceased.

Secondly, regarding the act of gathering by the relatives of the deceased in a assigned place such as a masjid or hall so that others can give their condolences. This is an act which is split in terms of the opinion of scholars. There are two opinions and many scholars state that this act is not allowed or makrooh and this includes the Shaafi school of thought’s opinion, other scholars, including the more recent contemporary scholars believe that it is permissible. Allah knows best.

Lastly, there are actions which have no basis in the sunnah of the Prophet SAWS and are regarding as innovation. These are acts which we need to protect ourselves from as they risk bringing something into the deen which has no historical basis. Two examples of this action are reading the Fatiha specifically as part of offering condolences and the other is paying or bringing people specifically to read Quran for the deceased. Allah knows best.

Instead we should offer condolences by offering a dua for the deceased, give charity on behalf of the deceased, and to offer kind words of comfort for the relatives who are grieving. The Prophet SAWS taught his daughter to say a dua when she informed him of the death of her baby. It is translated to say:

“Whatever Allah takes is for Him and whatever He gives, is for Him, and everything with Him has a limited fixed term (in this world) and so she should be patient and hope for Allah’s reward.”

And so, dear brothers and sisters, we should use todays reminder to keep us grounded on the reality of the life that we live. We will be offering condolences throughout our lives as we all have a fixed time and one day others will be offering their condolences for our passing. Let us use todays reminder to ensure that we deliver this aspect with the best of manners.

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