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Using henna on the hands of the deceased

Published: 25/08/2011 11:50:00 AM GMT
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Three days back, my grandmother passed away. One thing about her funeral preparations really disturbed me. There's a tradition here that they decorate the deceased woman's hands with henna, claiming that it is Sunnah. They argue that the Prophet (peace be upon him) used to apply henna to his beard, so it is Sunnah. Then they wash it off while giving the bath to the body. Can you please tell me if this is correct to do? If not, does the deceased incur any sin because her successors are doing what is contrary to the Sunnah? Please let me know what is right.

Answered by

Sheikh Khâlid al-Mushaykih, professor at al-Imâm University, al-Qasîm branch

It seems that, in this case, the application of henna to the hands of the deceased is being carried out as an act of devotion, under the assumption that it is Sunnah to do so.

If this practice is being carried out as an act of devotion or religious observance, then it will be an unlawful innovation that should be avoided. This practice was never established by the Prophet (peace be upon him), so it should not be observed as a religious rite.

All that is related to us from the Prophet (peace be upon him) is what we have from Umm `Atiyyah when she and the other women washed the body of her son. It says: “They washed him three, five, or more times if they saw fit to do so. In the final washing, they added camphor to the water and ordered his hair to be put into three plaits…”

It is not established that the Prophet (peace be upon him) ever ordered henna or other such substances to be used.

As for the deceased, there is no culpability upon her, since Allah says: “No one shall bear the burdens of another.” [Sûrah al-Najm: 38]

And Allah knows best.

Source: Islam Today

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