The prayer for the deceased and visiting the cemetery are fundamental acts of devotion in Islam. The prayer asks God to forgive the deceased and grant them mercy, while visiting the cemetery helps to remember death and prepare for the hereafter. Honoring the memory of our loved ones is a fundamental aspect of the Islamic faith.
Visiting the graves is a form of worship that was recommended by the prophet to his companions. The Prophet ﷺ himself used to visit graves, as did his Companions, [may Allāh be pleased with them].
In the final chapter of his life, the prophet ﷺ chose before his final illness to make, among others, two last important trips. First, he went to visit the graveyard of shuhadāʾ Al-Uhd in the north of Madĩnah. Then his final trip was to the graveyard of Al-Baqīʿ [ ٱلْبَقِيْع], to seek forgiveness and make dua for his deceased companions as he did at Al-Uhd.
Aishah [may God be pleased with her] narrated: The Messenger of Allãh ﷺ went out one night, so I sent Bãrĩrah to follow him and see where he went. She [Bãrĩrah] said, “He went towards Baqĩ al-Gharqad [the cemetery in Al-Madĩnah al-Munawwarah], and he stood at the bottom of al-Baqĩ and raised his hands, then he went away.” Bãrĩrah came back to me and told me, and when morning came, I asked him [the prophet] about it. I said, “O Messenger of Allãh !, Where did you go out to last night?” He said, “I was sent [by Allãh] to the people of Al-Baqĩ to pray for them.” [Musnad Ahmad]
In another hadith, it is reported from Aishah [may God be pleased with her] who said that when it was her night for the Messenger of Allāh ﷺ to stay with her, he would go out during the latter part of the night to [the cemetery of] Al-Baqĩ and say, “Peace be upon you, dwellings of the believing people. There has come to you that which you were promised, and if Allāh wills, we will follow you soon. O Allāh, forgive the people of Al-Baqĩ al-Gharqad. [ بقيع الغرقد]” [Narrated by Muslim]
Such a beautiful testimony to the charater of the prophet ﷺ, and setting an example for us that gave us an insight into how important, how often we should visit our loved ones and how often we should make duʿa for them.
People of pre-Islamic times were full of arrogance and proud of everything, even proud of their graves. So, it was wise at the dawn of Islam that the Prophet ﷺ forbade Muslims from visiting graves, due to the apprehension that the Muslims might relapse into some wrongdoing by harking back to the pre-Islamic memory. It was forbidden to block the pretext of polytheism to God the Almighty, as people were close to worshiping idols.
ut when the Monotheistic Belief took root in their minds and the apprehension of pagan echoing evaporated, when obedience and reverence for the Lord of the Worlds [Glory be to Him] was achieved, the Prophet ﷺ decided to lift the ban and commanded his followers to visit the graves so that they might learn from them.
Allāh in this regard mentioned the disbelievers and said:
أَلۡهَىٰكُمُ ٱلتَّكَاثُرُ حَتَّىٰ زُرۡتُمُ ٱلۡمَقَابِرَ
< The mutual rivalry for piling up [the good things of this world] diverts you [from the more serious things]. Until ye visit the graves”. [Quran 102:1-2]
In summary, the verses emphasize both the importance of visiting graves as a reminder of death and the fact that the disbelievers were distracted by boasting and competing with each other instead of worshiping Allah until death.
On the authority of Suleiman bin Buraidah, on the authority of his father, he said: The Messenger of God ﷺ said: “I had forbidden you from visiting graves. Muhammad was given permission to visit his mother’s grave, so visit them, for they remind you of the hereafter.”
In this narration, his saying: [Muhammad was permitted to visit the grave of his mother] contains evidence of the permissibility of visiting even the grave of a relative who has not embraced Islam.
Buraidah [May Allāh be pleased with him] also reported:
The Messenger of Allāh (ﷺ) said: "[In the past] I forbade you from visiting graves, but visit them now".
كنت نهيتكم عن زيارة القبور فزوروها
This means that in the beginning the ruling was prohibition. Then this ruling was abrogated.
In another narration the Messenger of Allāh ﷺ said:
“Whoever wants to visit a graveyard, let him do so, because it reminds us of the Hereafter."“
فمن أراد أن يزور القبور فليزر؛ فإنها تذكرنا الآخرة
Abu Hurayrah reported that the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) said: "Visit the graves for they will remind you of the hereafter [al-Ākhirah].” Whatever reminds you of the hereafter is a good form of worship.“.
زُورُوا الْقُبُورَ فَإِنَّهَا تُذَكِّرُكُمُ الآخِرَةَ
[ibn Mājah e al-Nasāʾī ]
On the authority of Abi Huraira, it was reported that the prophet ﷺ said:
“When the son of Adam dies, his deeds are cut off except for three: continuous charity, knowledge that will be benefited from, or a righteous child who will pray for him".
This means, after death, these charity remain for the deceased, whereby the prayers [Du’ã] of his children also follow him. Prayers from children for their deceased parents are vital, but from a good child has an advantage and a special feature, if he prays for his father and mother by being kind to him. The prophet ﷺ mentioned the righteous because a righteous child is closer to an answer than an immoral child.
إِذَا مَاتَ ابنُ آدم انْقَطَعَ عَنْهُ عَمَلُهُ إِلَّا مِنْ ثَلَاثٍ: صَدَقَةٍ جَارِيَةٍ، أو عِلْمٍ يُنْتَفَعُ بِهِ، أَوْ وَلَدٍ صَالِحٍ يَدْعُو لَهُ
Graveyard visits which are prescribed in Islam are required therefore for the purpose of remembering death and preparing oneself for the Hereafter, and making Du’ã for the dead, praying for mercy for them. It is important to note that when praying for the deceased, it is from the Sunnah to pray for all those who have passed on; not only for one’s own family member, friend etc..
The Prophet ﷺ in this regard taught the following words as salutation to the people of the graves and a prayer for their forgiveness:
““Peace be upon you oh dwellers of the graves, among the believers, and Muslims, and we shall be joining [you] Allãh willing. I seek well-being from Allãh for you and us"“
السَّلامُ عَلَيْكُمْ أَهْلَ الدِّيَارِ مِنَ الْمُؤْمِنِينَ وَالْمُسْلِمِينَ وَإِنَّا إِنْ شَاءَ اللهُ لَلَاحِقُونَ أَسْأَلُ اللهَ لَنَا وَلَكُمُ الْعَافِيَةَ
“Peace be upon you, the abode of a believing people, and we, God willing, will follow you. May God have mercy on those who come forward from among us and from you and those who remain behind. We ask Allãh for wellness for us and for you. O God, do not deprive us of their reward, and do not test us after them, and forgive us and them.”
السلام عليكم دار قوم مؤمنين وإنا إن شاء الله بكم لاحقون يرحم الله المستقدمين منا ومنكم والمستأخرين، نسأل الله لنا ولكم العافية، اللهم لا تحرمنا أجرهم، ولا تفتنا بعدهم واغفر لنا ولهم
Buraidah [May Allãh be pleased with him] reported: The Prophet ﷺ used to teach them [i.e., the companions] whenever they came out to visit the graveyard to say:
“May you be safe, O inmates of the abodes of the believers and the Muslims, and if Allah pleases, we shall follow you, we pray to Allah for well-being for ourselves and for you].”
Ibn ʿAbbās [May Allãh be pleased with them] reported: The Messenger of Allãh ﷺ passed by the graves at Al-Madĩnah. He turned his face towards them and said, “May you be granted safety, O inmates of the graves. May Allah forgive us and you. You have preceded us, and we are to follow.”
Going to the cemetery is good to refresh one's ʾīmān. However, there is no particular time or day that was recommended by the prophet, and it is not to be considered a habit attached to certain festivals or Eid. If I don't visit my parents' grave, there is no sin at all, as long as you are making Du’ã for them. As long as you're seeking God's forgiveness for them and doing charity on their behalf, you're in the safe.
The etiquettes of visiting the graveyard start with the intention. If you visit the grave to make Du’ã for yourself, this is forbidden. You visit the grave to remind you of your fate, what you will share with them next. Then the Du’ã you perform for the deceased. While performing the Du’ã at the Graveside, it is from the Sunnah for one to stand and raise one’s hands [when supplicating to Allah]. One has to be respectful in the sense that, one must not walk over the graves themselves unless he is barefooted. Otherwise use pathways. It is prohibited to sit on graves.
It was reported from Abū Marthad al-Ghanawi, the Messenger of Allãh ﷺ said: "Do not sit on graves and do not pray facing them". [Narrated by Muslim].
It is prohibited to pray Ṣalāt [farīḍah or ṣalāt al-nafl] in the graveyard. The only Ṣalāt that is allowed is Salat al-Janāzah.
The evidence for the permissibility of praying Ṣalāt al-Janāzah in the graveyard is practice of the prophet ﷺ: It was reported from Abū Hurayrah that a black woman who used to clean the mosque died. The Prophet ﷺ asked about her and they said, "she died." He said, "Why did you not tell me? Show me "her grave." So he went to the grave and prayed for her.