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Funeral Procession

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Funeral procession (Arabic: التشییع, tashyīʿ) is a ceremony, usually in the form a procession, in which people carry the corpse of a deceased. It is one of the mustahab practices in Islam, for which a great divine reward is promised.

Literal and Terminological Meanings

The word tashyi' literally means to accompany someone to say goodbye and to attend a funeral. In the terminologies of fiqh (Islamic jurisprudence), it refers to accompanying a corpse until the time it is buried in the grave.

Divine Rewards

According to hadiths, there is a great divine reward for attending a funeral procession. The Prophet (s) said: "if a person accompanies a corpse, each of his steps, from when he goes there until when he goes back home, will be rewarded like 100,000 good deeds, and 100,000 of his sins will be forgiven, and he will be given 100,000 degrees by God, and if he also says prayers on the corpse, 100,000 angels will accompany his corpse when he dies, while asking God to forgive him, and if he also attends the burial of the corpse, God will commission 100,000 angels to ask for his forgiveness until the Dooms Day."

The Prophet (s) told Abu Dhar: "O' Aba Dhar! Whenever you accompany a corpse, your mind should be preoccupied with it with humbleness, and beware that you will also join him or her".

Imam al-Sadiq (a) said: "when you carry a corpse on your shoulders, imagine that it is you who is carried as though you ask your Lord to return you to this world to do some good deeds; how will you then restart your life?" He then added: "I wonder how people the resurrection of whose dead is postponed so that the survivors join them are nonetheless busy with their games and entertainments."

Imam al-Sadiq (a) said: "it is recommended that the mourners let Muslim brothers of their deceased loved one know about his death so that they attend his funeral and say prayers on him; this would yield divine rewards for them and divine forgiveness for the deceased person."

The Prophet (s) said: "the best person who attends a funeral is one who remembers (God and death and afterlife) and who does not sit until the corpse is placed inside the grave, and the best reward will be given to one who pours three handfuls of soil on the grave."

Once Imam 'Ali (a) heard someone laughing in a funeral. He told him: "It is as if only other people are destined to die and the rest have the right to live in this world, and it is as if when we see the dead, we see travelers who will return to us! We put them in their graves and inherit their property as though we will live after them forever. The fact is that we are subjects to any lethal catastrophes."

Jurisprudential Rulings

It is highly recommended to attend the funeral procession of a dead believer. According to some faqihs, it is recommended in cases when burying a corpse requires carrying it. One case in which it is permitted for a mu'takif to leave the mosque is when he or she leaves it to carry the corpse of a believer, without his or her i'tikaf to be invalidated.

Degrees of Virtues

Some faqihs mentioned three degrees of the virtues of accompanying a corpse:

  1. The lowest is to accompany it until when funeral prayer is said for it.
  2. The next degree is to accompany it to its grave and stay after the burial.
  3. And the most virtuous is to accompany it after the burial, asking for his or her forgiveness and asking God to help him or her to be steadfast on his or her beliefs when Munkir and Nakir (the interrogating angels) question him or her.

Some faqihs cast doubt on the first degree to count as a proper case of accompanying a corpse.

Recommended Practices

  • Reciting the supplications recommended for the moments of observing and carrying a corpse
  • Thinking about death and the afterlife
  • Accompanying the corpse on foot
  • Walking behind or on either side of the corpse
  • Carrying the corpse with four people from the four sides with each person carrying it on his shoulder in a particular manner
  • Carrying the corpse on one's shoulder, rather than carrying it on a vehicle, except when the way to the grave is too long
  • The mourner should change his normal clothing, such as removing the robe from his shoulder or walking barefoot.

Makruh Actions

  • Riding a vehicle
  • Laughing
  • Being entertained or busy with pointless activities
  • Carrying the corpse quickly
  • Carrying a fire behind the corpse, except when it occurs at night
  • Removing the robe from one's shoulder, except for the mourner
  • Talking except about God, and sitting before the corpse is buried in the grave
  • Attendance of women, especially young women. Some scholars hold that it is not makruh (reprehensible) for an old woman to attend the funeral.

References

  • The material for writing this article has been mainly taken from تشییع جنازه in Farsi WikiShia.