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Carrying the bier

Published: 25/08/2011 11:43:00 AM GMT
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It is a general understanding that the coffin should be carried the shoulders of its bearers. If we look at coffin designs, especially Christians coffins, they have handles. It is much easier to carry it hanging rather than hoisting the coffin upon the shoulders. Is it really necessary to carry the coffin on the shoulders in Islamic Law?


Answered by

Sheikh Râshid Al-Hafîz, presiding judge at the Mikhwât District Higher Court

Abû Hanîfah, al-Shâfi`î and Ahmad b. Hanbal – the founders of the three famous schools of law – decided that the bier on which the body is transported should be carried on the shoulders of those who bear it, who stand on all four sides.

Ibn Mas`ûd said: “Those who bear the body should carry it from all sides of the bier, as this is according to Sunnah. Then the bearer may proceed on or give up.”

This statement is related in Sunan Ibn Mâjah (1478) and Sunan al-Bayhaqî (4/19) from the narration of Abû `Ubaydah b. `Abd Allah through his father. Since Abû `Ubaydah did not hear from his father, there is an interruption in this line of transmission.

Mâlik, the founder of the Mâlikî school of law – held the opinion that there is no special way for carrying the bier, so it can be carried in any way. The same opinion was adopted by the great jurist al-Awzâ`î.

It seems to me that the manner carrying the body is not a major issue and it should be carried in the manner that is easiest for the people concerned.

However, deliberately aping the unbelievers in their particular rituals and their manner of worship is impermissible, as known from numerous lines of evidence.

And Allah knows best.

Source: Islam Today




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