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Praises and thanks are due and belong to Allah; who decreed death and made it inevitable reality to which all must succumb. I seek Allah’s special salutations and benedictions upon the Prophet of mercy and guidance, the best to ever live and die; our beloved Prophet Muhammad, his family and all companions.

 

Death is an inevitable ordeal that is decreed on all creations of various kinds. It is a trial that ushers the human being into the purgatory world (Al-Barzakh) in his onward journey to the hereafter. It is one of the most important events of man’s creation which sums up his spiritual and material existence in his life on earth.

 

The beauty of Islam, its comprehensiveness and divine root could clearly be seen in the rights it accorded to humans in their various stages in this world. A child is accorded some rights, the youth has some special rights in their favor, the aged, and the sick all have some unique rights. Does the death also some rights? This is what this article is meant to answer.

 

A scholarly revision of many hadiths  of our beloved Prophet (May the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) revealed that, the dead has some rights which must be observed by the relatives and the Muslim brethren. Some of these rights are observed when the symptoms of the agony of death are felt around a dying person whilst others are observed after the soul is taken. Prior to death, the dying person should be reminded in a gently and softly manner to recite the shahaada without instructing him. This is known in Arabic as Talqeen. The Messenger of Allah (s.a.w) said: "Prompt your dying ones to say 'Laa ilaaha illa-Allah.' Whoever last words at the time of death was Laa ilaaha illa-Allah will enter Jannah (Paradise) one day, irrespective of what happens to him prior to that." The talqeen is necessary only when the dying person is unable to utter the shahaadah. Other rights are follows

 

1-closing the eyes of the dead. After a person's soul leaves his body, a person from amongst those who are present should close the eyes of the dead person if they were open at the time of death. The Prophet (may the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said: "When the soul is taken, the eyesight follows it." Also, the entire body of the deceased should be covered, except for the one who dies in a state of Ihraam  that is, whilst performing Hajj or 'Umrah, in which case the head and face should not be covered.

 

2-hastiness in paying the deceased debts if any. Jabir ibn 'Abdullah reported that once a man died, he was washed, shrouded, embalmed, and placed where the funerals are usually placed for the prayer. The Prophet (may the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) was invited to perform the funeral prayer. He came in, took a few steps, stopped and asked: "Perhaps your friend owes some debt?" He was told: "Yes, two dinars." So he moved back and said: "You pray for your friend." Abu Qatadah (May Allah be please with him) said: "O Messenger of Allah, I will take care of the two dinars."… The Prophet (May the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) prayed the funeral prayer for him. The following day, the Prophet (May the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) met Abu Qatadah and asked him: "What happened with the two dinars?" He replied, "O Allah's Messenger, he only died yesterday." On the next day, he (May the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) asked him the same and was informed that they had been paid off. So the Prophet (s.a.w) said: "It is now only that his skin has cooled down (i.e. from the punishment." This hadith indicates that paying the deceased's debts benefit him after death. In another hadith reported from Abu Hurairah(may Allah be please with him) that the Prophet said: "A believer's soul remains in suspense until all his debts are paid off". Tirmizi consider it a sound Hadith

 

3-hastiness in preparing the body for burial. The Prophet (May the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said: ""A corpse of a Muslim should not be left long within his family's home after his death i.e. should be buried as soon as possible". (Abu Dawood)

 

4-safeguarding the dead person’s body from any sort of mutilation. It is the right of the dead that its body should be honored and kept safe. In no circumstance should the dead body of a Muslim be subjected to any kind of mutilation for the sake of a scientific research as done in many medical institutions. This act is forbidden because; it involves dissecting and breaking the bones of the dead. The prophet (May the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said: ““Breaking the bones of a dead person is like breaking his bones when he is alive in terms of sin. (Ibn Majah ) Al-Teebi said: This indicates that a dead person is not to be treated with disrespect just as a living person is not to be treated with disrespect. End quote from ‘Awn al-Ma‘bood (9/18) . With regard to the need to dissect bodies for scientific research, this need may be met by using the bodies of those who are not protected in Shari'ah. The one who is not protected in Shari'ah is the kaafir who is in a state of war with the Muslims or the one who has apostatized from Islam as is inferred from a verdict of the council of senior scholars of Saudi Arabia.

 

5. Observing the funeral prayer and asking forgiveness of Allah for the dead. Participating in the janaaza prayer is fard kifaaya (collective obligation if done by others, the rest are absolve from blame but if neglected all are sinful and blameworthy).

 

 

The above rights are bounding on both family relatives of the dead and the general Muslim community. There are however some unique rights of the dead over its children if they are any. It is the dead right over them to make dua and ask Allah’s forgiveness for him/her, keep relation with their relatives and be good towards their friends.

 

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