Praising the Deceased

Anas (radi Allahu anhu) reported: Some Companions happened to pass by a funeral procession (bier) and they praised him (the deceased). The Prophet (sal Allahu alaihi wa sallam) said, “He will certainly enter it.” Then they passed by another funeral procession and they spoke ill of the deceased. The Prophet (sal Allahu alaihi wa sallam) said, “He will certainly enter it.” ‘Umar bin Al-Khattab (radi Allahu anhu) said: “(O Messenger of Allah,) what do you mean by ‘He will certainly enter it?” He (sal Allahu alaihi wa sallam) replied, “You praised the first person, so he will enter Jannah; and you spoke ill of the second person, so he will enter Hell. You are Allah’s witnesses on earth.”

[Sahih Al-Bukhari and Muslim]

Commentary:

In a similar narration Abul-Aswad (radi Allahu anhu) reported: I came to Al-Madinah, and while I was sitting beside ‘Umar bin Al-Khattab, a funeral procession passed by. The people praised the deceased, and ‘Umar bin Al-Khattab said: “He will certainly enter it.” Then another funeral procession passed by and the people praised the deceased, ‘Umar bin Al-Khattab (radi Allahu anhu) said: “He will certainly enter it.” A third funeral procession passed by and the people spoke ill of the deceased. He said: “He will certainly enter it.” I (Abul-Aswad) asked: “O Amir Al-Mu’minin (i.e., Leader of the Believers)! What do you mean by ‘He will certainly enter it’?” He replied: “I said the same as was said by the Prophet (sal Allahu alaihi wa sallam). He (sal Allahu alaihi wa sallam) said, ‘If four persons testify the righteousness of a Muslim, Allah will grant him Jannah.’ We asked: ‘If three persons testify his righteousness?’ He (sal Allahu alaihi wa sallam) replied, ‘Even three’. Then we asked: ‘If two?’ He (sal Allahu alaihi wa sallam) replied, ‘Even two.’ We did not ask him (regarding the testimony) of one.”  [Sahih Al-Bukhari]

We benefit from the above ahadith that the remarks of true believers reflect their righteousness and integrity of character. If they bear witness to the purity of heart of a man, he is sure to go to Jannah, and if they comment on the evil-mindedness of somebody, he is likely to be consigned to Hell-fire.

Indeed, a believer never utters anything out of malice or self-conceit. There are some Ahadith which forbid us to speak ill of dead people. This rule applies to the true believers only. The Shari’ah argument is against it. However, we are allowed to talk about the misdeeds of the infidels and people who commit sins openly, disregarding the Shari’ah so that others may abstain from imitating a bad example.

And Allah knows best!

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