SALAT UL JANAZAH (PRAYER FOR THE DECEASED)
Salat ul Janazah is a Fard Kifayah, and its procedure and details follow the sunnah of the Holy Prophet (pbuh). It is strongly recommended that as many members of the Muslim community as possible should join the funeral procession and Salat ul Janazah:
Abu Hurayrah (ra) reported that Allah's Messenger (pbuh) said:
" A Muslim has five rights upon other Muslims: responding to his Salam, answering his invitation (to food), making Tashmeet when he sneezes, visiting him when he is sick, and following his Janazah when he dies."
(Bukhari and Muslim).
The following describes this Salat briefly:
(1) There is no Azan or Iqamah for Salat ul Janazah which is offered with the participants standing and with the body of the deceased placed in front of them. There are no Rukus or Sujud to be performed in Salat ul Janazah.
(2) It is preferable if those offering Salat ul Janazah form an odd number of rows with the Imam standing in the front facing the body of the deceased. He should stand in line with the head of a male deceased and with the midriff of a female deceased.
(3) In the case of multiple deceased persons, the bodies should be placed in a row with those of men nearest to the Imam.
(4) If Salat ul Janazah is being offered in the open, it is not necessary for the participants to take off their shoes so long as they are visibly clean.
(5) The deceased and those offering the Salat must be Muslims, and the body of the deceased and those offering the Salat must be in a state of ceremonial cleanliness (Wudu or Ghusl).
(i) It is not obligatory to offer Salat ul Janazah for children who die before attaining the age of puberty as is clear from the following hadith: Aishah (ra) reported : " Ibraheem (ra), the son of the Prophet (pbuh), died when he was eighteen months old, and Allah's Messenger (pbuh) did not pray (Janazah) for him." (Ahmad and Abu Daud).
However, it is permissible to offer Salat ul Janazah for a child including a miscarried fetus. A Hadith recorded by Imam Ahmad reports the Holy Prophet (pbuh) as saying that: "...As for a fetus, the (Janazah) prayer may be performed for it, and Dua would be made that its parents be granted forgiveness and mercy."
(ii) Salat ul Janazah must be offered even for a Muslim guilty of ignoring the teachings of Islam (e.g, Salat, Zakat, prohibition of alcohol and Zina etc.). However, respected leaders of the community should refrain from participating in the Salat ul Janazah as a demonstration of their disapproval of the conduct of the deceased and as an admonition to others. This is fully in accordance with the Sunnah of the Holy Prophet (pbuh).
Salat ul Janazah al Gha'ib
It is acceptable to offer Salat ul Janazah for someone who may have died in a different land where Muslims may not have been able to perform the salat for the deceased for any reason. The permission is based on the fact that the Holy Prophet (pbuh) himself offered Salat ul Janazah al Gha'ib in Madinah for an-Najashi, the ruler of Abyssinia.
The famous Islamic scholar Imam Ibn ul Qayyim has commented on this issue as follows:
"It was not a part of the Prophet's (pbuh) guidance and Sunnah to pray (Janazah) for everyone who died afar. Large numbers of Muslims died afar, but he did not pray for them. On the other hand, it is authentically reported that he prayed Janazah for an-Najashi. Three opinions resulted from this:
(1) This provides a Sunnah and permission for the Muslim ummah (i.e., community) to pray for everyone who dies afar. This is the opinion of ash-Shafi'i and Ahmad.
(2) This is a special case only applicable to him (pbuh), and no one else. This is the opinion of Abu Hanifah and Malik.
(3) The correct opinion: If the Janazah prayer is not performed for a deceased in the land where he died, it is permissible to pray Salat ul Gha'ib for him, as the Prophet (pbuh) prayed for an-Najashi because the prayer was not performed for him since he died among the disbelievers. But if the prayer is performed for a deceased in the land where he died, Salat ul Gha'ib may not be performed for him, because the obligation has been met by that. The Prophet (pbuh) prayed for the absent (an-Najashi) and left it off (for all other absents); both his doing and refraining are Sunnahs (that must be followed). Allah knows best."
Procedure For Salat ul Janazah
The following is a brief description of Salat ul Janazah:
(1) The Imam should raise his hands, recite the Takbeer, and then tie his hands as in all other Salats. Those offering the Salat should follow, and then recite Sana and Surat ul Fatihah silently.
(2) The Imam should say the Takbeer audibly a second time. He may or may not raise his hands while doing this. Others should follow, and then recite Ibraheemiyah silently.
(3) The Imam should recite the Takbeer a third time while others should follow. Then everyone should offer Dua al Mayyah (a prayer for Allah's mercy to be visited upon the deceased) silently.
(4) The Imam should recite Takbeer a fourth time as above. Everyone should then offer prayers for the Muslim community in general, again silently.
(5) Finally, the Imam should recite Salam as in all other prayers to complete Salat ul Janazah. Salam may be offered once to the right only, or once each to the right and then to the left as in all other prayers.
This would complete the Salat ul Janazah.