Burial Procedures

By Mufti Ebrahim Desai

Q.) Our question is regarding a burial procedure or even several procedures.

Firstly, when we place the body in the grave, which is more correct; to place it on its back and then put some dirt under the left shoulder so that the face can be towards the Qiblah or placing the whole body on its right side?

After burying the deceased, can it be said that it is sunnah to stand at the head of the grave and recite some verses of Quran and then recite a du'a in congregation? We were of the understanding that the proper method is for everyone to make du'a on their own for the deceased (i.e. that Allah grant him/her thabaat since he/she is being asked in the grave). This we understood for we have the Hadith in which the Prophet, Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam, said this to his companions (RA). Please clarify this point for us. [Y. I. Kathrada]

A.) 1. It is desirable to place the body on the right side. (Shami vol.1 pg. 680; Pakistan)

2. Abdullah ibn Umar, Radi-Allahu anhu, narrates that Rasulullah, Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam, said, "When anyone of you pass away, do not keep him back and take him quickly to the grave and recite by the head side Sura Fatiha and by the feet the ending of Surah Baqarah." (Mishkat vol.1 pg.149; Qadeemi)

Hadhrat Amr ibn Aas, Radi-Allahu anhu, advised his son to stand by his graveside after being buried and make Du'a for him to be steadfast. (Ibid)

In view of the above two quotations, it is clear that it is Sunnah to recite Ayahs of the Noble Qur'an and make Du'a after the burial. Individual as well as collective Du'a is permissible. Anything permissible should not be projected as compulsory by imposing on others or reproaching those who do not participate as that attitude projects the act as compulsory which is distortion in Deen. And Allah Tala Knows Best.