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Miscellaneous

Hadiths which prohibit crying for the dead

Muslim and other historians have recounted that ‘Abd Allah said, “Hafsah cried for ‘Umar.” ‘Umar said to her, “Keep quiet, my little daughter. Don’t you know that the Prophet of Allah said,

    «إنّ الميت يعذّب ببکاء اهله عليه.»

‘The crying of the family tortures the dead person’.”1

It has also been narrated that when ‘Umar was hit by a spear, he fainted. They started yelling and crying for him. When he became conscious again, he said, “Don’t you know that the Prophet of Allah said,

    «إنّ الميت ليعذب ببکاء الحي.»

‘Verily, the dead get tortured by the crying of the living’.”2

Response

Firstly, these traditions contradict all the previously related traditions which prove that crying is not only permissible but also preferred. Secondly, it can be shown by citing other traditions that ‘Umar made a mistake in applying the Prophet’s tradition, because Suhayb says, “After hearing this tradition from ‘Umar, I went to see ‘A’ishah and told her what I had heard from ‘Umar. ‘A’ishah said, ‘No, I swear upon Allah! The Prophet of Allah never said that the crying of a person tortures the dead. On the contrary, he said,

    انّ الکافر يزيده الله ببکاء اهله عذاباً، وانّ الله لهو اضحک وأبکي، ولا تزر وازرة وزر اخري.

‘Verily Allah increases the torture and pain of an unbeliever [kafir] when his family cries for him. Verily it is Allah that makes people laugh and cry. No one bears the burden of another.’’”3

Hisham ibn ‘Urwah narrates from his father that the saying (words) of Aba ‘Abd al-Rahman ibn ‘Umar were repeated to ‘A’ishah, that the dead get tortured by the crying of his family. ‘A’ishah said, “May Allah have mercy on Aba ‘Abd al-Rahman. He heard something but did not commit it to his memory. One day the corpse of a Jew was passed near the Prophet of Allah while his family was crying. The Holy Prophet said,

    انتم تبکون وانّه ليعذب.

‘You are crying while he is getting tortured’.”4

Thirdly, as previously mentioned ‘Umar forbade women from crying in the presence of the Holy Prophet (S). The Noble Prophet (S) said to him,

    دعهنّ يا عمر! فانّ العين دامعة والقلب مصاب والعهد قريب.

“O ‘Umar! Leave them alone, because tearful eyes, grieving hearts and the promise are near.”

Fourthly, this tradition is not compatible with the apparent meanings of many verses of the Holy Qur’an because Allah says,

    ﴿ وَلا تَزِرُ وازِرَةٌ وِزْرَ أُخْري ﴾

“A burdened soul shall not bear the burden of another.”5

Notes:

1. Muslim, Al-Sahih, vol. 2, p. 639; Kitab al-Jana’iz, Bab al-Mayyit Yu‘adhdhabu bi-Buka’i Ahlihi ‘Alayh.

2. Ibid.

3. Sahih Bukhari, Kitab al-Jana’iz, vol. 1, p. 155; Muslim, Al-Sahih, Kitab al-Jana’iz, section [bab] 9, hadith 22-23.

4. Muslim, Al-Sahih, Kitab al-Jana’iz, section [bab] 9, hadith 25; Sahih Bukhari, vol. 1, p. 156.

5. Surat Fatir 35:18.

Adapted from: "The Uprising of Ashura and Responses to Doubts" by: "‘Ali Asghar Ridwani"