...so Peace be on him, the day he was born, the day that he dies and the day that he will be raised up to life (again)!" (Q19:15)
A child is a bundle of joy, the comfort of the eyes, and the happiness of the homestead. When one arrives, phenomenal emotions overwhelms the household. To the child, his first cry is a signature tune of the beginning of a new generation and journey through the mortal existence. There is a profound universal reverence for the phenomenon of birth. That reverence has a divine source as Allah says:
"We have enjoined on man, kindness to his parents: in pain did his mother bear him and in pain did she give him birth: .. " (Q46: 15)
A child is born in purity, so the rites and ceremonies that welcome him should equally be pure and divine. The first step in the process of aqiqah is choosing a beautiful name for the child even before his birth. The Prophet (PBUH) said:
"On the day of Resurrection, you will be called by your names and by your father's names, so give yourselves good names" (Abu Dawood).
When the child is born, the adhan (call to prayer) should be recited into his right ear and the iqaamah in his left ear; his name should be mentioned into his ears as well. It is sunnah to perform tahnik, that is, the father or someone of piety chews a date fruit and place a little in the child's mouth. Honey could be used in place of date fruit. On the seventh day of birth, two sheeps for a male and one for a female respectively should be slaughtered. However,
"On no soul does Allah place a burden greater than it can bear. .. " (Q2:286).
Whatever is reasonably convenient should be used when difficulty is encountered in killing an animal for the aqiqah. The child's head should be shaved and the equivalent of the hair in silver should be given out as sadaqa (charity). People should thereafter be invited to a feast without a tendency towards extravagance and the haram (unlawful)! (e.g. partying and alcohol consumption). Delaying aqiqah until enough money is gathered to throw a 'bash' is reprehensible. Some of the unislamic practices that have been added to aqiqah include:
Eighth day: Naming a child on the eight day of birth is unIslamic. Seventh day is the authentic day. The Prophet (pBUH) said:
"A boy is in pledge for his aqiqah, sacrifice is made for him on the seventh day, his head is shaved and he is given name." (Abu Daud)
Commercial Khutbah: The practice among some scholars of reading a khutbah only after they are sufficiently 'settled' is strange to Islam and uncalled for. The father of the child has more right than any other person to conduct the naming of his child. He could however delegate to someone if he is indisposed. Putting money in a bowl for the Alfa to name the child as well as inviting those present to come and name the child as well as pay money for Allah's barakah are not part of the aqiqah in Islam. Traditional rites of birth which include invoking blessing on the child with the use of hot drink, kolanut, bitter kola, palm-oil, salt etc. and other artifacts are haram.
AN-NIKAH (MARRIAGE RITES)
"It is He Who has created man from water: then has He established relationships of lineage and marriage: for thy Lord has power (over all things). " (Q25: 54).
Marriage in Islam is a covenant divinely ordained.
"...He created for you mates from among yourselves, that you may dwell in tranquility with them and He has put between you, love and mercy: .. " (Q30:21).
The Prophet also said:
"you will see nothing conducive to love like marriage" (Bukhari).
Marriage ceremony is simple and clear. Four things are necessary for a marriage to be valid in Islam. Anything beyond them is extraneous and has no bearing on the nikah.
Ijab Wal Qubul (offer and acceptance): A man is required to make an offer of marriage to either the woman or her guardian acting on her behalf. The woman's acceptance is also necessary. If any of this is obtained via duress, the marriage is not valid.
Mahr: This is the gift given by the husband to his wife at wedding. It can be anything or any amount, as agreed by the bride and bride-groom.
"And give the women (on marriage) their Mahr as a free gift" (Q4:4)
and the Prophet (pBUH) added:
"Marry, even with (a Mahr equal to) an iron ring. " (Bukhari)
Waliyy: Guardians in marriage are the parent or delegated guardian who negotiate the marriage contract on behalf of their wards. The consent of the wali of a virgin (single) lady is necessary to make marriage valid. However, if his objection to the marriage lacks merit in Islam, the marriage can still be held with a guardian approved by the ummah.
Witness: Upright individuals must be present to witness the exchange of marital vows between the two parties.
After the aqdu Nikah, the bride is conducted to the husband's house, either on the same day or shortly after. The husband invites people to the marriage feast (walima) which is organised by him. The walima comes after the consumation of the marriage. The simpler the walima, the more the blessing of Allah on the couple. The walima could be attended by drumming and singing. The following are some of the Unlslamic practices introduced into Muslim marriage:
Procreation prior to marriage
Bachelor's eve and spinster's night
Wedding dress that contravenes Islamic modesty
Cutting of cake and couples dance
Free mixing of the sexes, extravagance and waste.
Inviting only the rich and excluding the poor.
Visiting the registry before or after the nikah
Serving and consumption of alcohol
JANAAZAH (FUNERAL RITES)
"Blessed be He in Whose hands is dominion: and He, over all things, has power. He Who created death and life that He may try which of you is best in deed: and He is the Exalted in Might Oft-Forgiving". (Q67: 1-2).
The spectacle of death and dying is a universal phenomenon which all men must go through:
"Every soul shall have a taste of death ... " (Q3:185).
Death and funeral rites assume various features from one place to another but a most unique appreciation of the mystery of death exists in Islam.
Funeral rites in Islam begin long before a man dies. A Muslim's daily life must be in full appreciation of the reality of death. Thus he is required to live in the world like a traveller who is having but a brief stop over. He should busy himself preparing for his ultimate destination. The Prophet (PBUH) was asked about the most intelligent believer and he answered:
"He who most frequently remembers death and prepares himself best for the same as it alights upon him" (Razin).
In the throes: When the final moment of death comes, the man in the throes of death should be laid facing the qiblah while someone around quietly and slowly repeats the Kalimah to his hearing (i.e. La iIIaha ilia Allah). The Prophet (PBUH) said:
"Dictate to your dying man "there is no god, worthy of worship, but Allah" (Muslim)
because "whose last words are "there is not god, worthy of worship, but Allah", he will enter Paradise" (Abu Daud).
He also recommended that Surah Yasin be read to lighten the pangs of death (lbn Majah).
After Death: It is enjoined that the deceased's assets be computed and his liabilities be settled forthwith after death. Burial should be immediate after death as, the Prophet (PBUH) said:
"Hurry the dead to its grave"
and also mentioned burial as one of the three things that must not be delayed. (marriage and reversion to Islam are the other two). It is wrong to delay the burial of a dead Muslim without a compelling reason. The corpse is washed by someone who knows how to perform ghusl janaazah; a male for the male and a female for the female. Thereafter it should be shrouded in white cloth in readiness for burial as the Rasul (PBUH) said:
"Put on your white dresses ...and shroud your dead bodies therewith" (Tirmidhi).
To shroud a corpse in uniform, suit and expensive dresses is a symbol of jahiliyyah (ignorance) and a waste. The Prophet (PBUH) advised:
"Don't spend much on funeral cloth and verily it will be destroyed a hasty destroying" (Abu Daud).
Funeral Prayer (Janaazah): A prayer for the forgiveness of the departed is held. The janazah can be offered for a dead person in absentia before or even after burial. The dead should then be carried to his grave. Women are barred from following a funeral procession to the grave. Silence is enjoined upon the procession and they should not walk in the front of the bier.
Mourning: Wailing over the departed is forbidden in Islam but silent shedding of tears is allowed being only natural to grieve at the loss of a beloved. (Ibn Majah)
The culture of wearing black dress to indicate mournful mood is unIslamic and totally rejected. The Rasul (PBUH) said:
"No woman shall mourn over a dead man beyond three days except over a husband for four months and ten days ..." (Agreed upon).
After the third day, mourning is over for everyone except the wife of the dead.
Prayers: Muslims are enjoined "to pray for the dead as frequently as possible but the idea of eighth day fidau prayers or fortieth day prayer has no basis in the sunnah of Rasulullah (PBUH). These are part of the innovations that have led people astray.
Partying: Funeral party, anniversary ceremonies and slaughtering of animal(s) for same, are totally strange to Islam. It is wrong to serve food to people who have come to commiserate with the bereaved. The exception being only for a traveller. Rather, it is the sympathizers that are required to provide the needs of the deceased's dependants for the period of mourning only.
This article was culled from the publications of Deen Communication Limited