The Funeral Prayer
The performance of the funeral prayer over a Muslim, known in Arabic as Salaat-ul Janaazah, is a communal obligation - Fard Kifaayah. If someone is buried without it being performed, the whole community incurs a sin for not having fulfilled this obligation. A child born dead or aborted dead after four month, or one that dies before puberty, does not have to have a funeral prayer. This is in light with the hadith of Aishah who said: "The Prophet's son Ibraaheem died when he was eighteen months old, and the Prophet (s.a.w) did not make (funeral) salaat for him." Although it is not obligatory in this case, it is still recommended as it was done by the Prophet (s.a.w) on other occasions. Likewise in the case of those killed on the battlefield, such individuals may be buried without the performance of Salat-ul Janazaah, as was the case with the martyrs of the battle of Uhud. However, the funeral prayer may be performed for martyrs, given that the Prophet (s.a.w) did perform it over those who died in battle on other occasions. The funeral prayer should also be held for those known to be corrupt, such as drug addicts, alcoholics, adulterers, and the like.
In their case it is preferred that the scholars and the pious not take part in the funeral prayer as a punishment for them and deterrent for others like them. It was the practice of the Prophet (s.a.w) not to pray for those who committed major sins, allowing others to partake in it.
It is preferable to pray the funeral prayer outside of the mosque, in a place designated for that, known as the Musallah. This was the most common practice of the Prophet (s.a.w). The funeral prayer may be carried out in the mosque, however praying it outside the mosque was the predominant practice of the Prophet (s.a.w). It is permissible to pray Janaazah (but not other prayers) in a graveyard, either away from the graves, or in an area designated for that. It is also permissible to perform the funeral prayer over a grave, after burial, in two situations: If the dead person was buried before performing the prayer; or if he was buried before giving chance to the Muslims to perform the prayer. This was done by the Prophet (s.a.w) over a black woman who used to clean the mosque.
The reward and benefits for offering the funeral prayer is very great for both the deceased and the one who performs it. Allah's Messenger (s.a.w) said: "Whoever follows a funeral procession and offers the prayer for the deceased, will gain one Qeeraat of reward. And whoever follows it and remains with it until the body is buried, will get two Qeeraats of reward, the least of which is equal in weight to Mount Uhud." And he (s.a.w) also said: "Whenever a Muslim man dies, and forty men pray over his janaazah, none of them joining anything with Allah in worship, Allah grants them intercession for him." The only way the Prophet (s.a.w) and his companions offered the funeral prayer was in congregation. It is preferable that those behind the Imaam form at least three rows, even though the rows may not be complete, as this is the Sunnah. The Imaam should stand facing the Qiblah behind the head of the dead man and behind the middle of the dead woman.
The Imaam begins the prayer with takbir. It is possible to do either four, five, six, seven, or even nine takbirs, as all of them have been recorded in authentic hadiths and acts of the companions. With the uttering of takbir, it is permissible to either raise one hands with each takbir, or to do so only for the first takbir based on different sound narrations. After each takbir, the hands should be placed on the chest, as one would do in regular prayer. After the first takbir, Surat al-Faatihah should be recited. It is also permissible to recite another small chapter after it. The recitation should be done in a quiet voice. After the second takbir, the prayer for the Prophet (s.a.w) should be made, similar to that said before one ends their salaat. After each of the remaining two or more takbirs, sincere prayers (du'a) should be made for the dead and their relatives. There are different invocations narrated by the Prophet (s.a.w) found in books of supplication one can choose from to say. After the final takbir comes the tasleem - giving greetings of salaam, as one does in regular prayer (salaat) to conclude their prayer. One may do so by making tasleem to both the right and left sides, or the right side only, as both have been authentically transmitted.
If a Muslim dies in a land where there are no Muslims to pray the funeral prayer over him, then in this case it is permissible to perform the prayer for him in another land. This is known as salat-ul Ghaa-ib - The prayer of an absent person. This is what the Prophet (s.a.w) did when news reached him about the death of an-Najaashi, the ruler of Abyssinia at that time, and a Muslim who concealed his faith. Some scholars took this action of the Prophet (s.a.w) as a sunnah and permission for Muslims to pray for everyone who dies afar. This is the opinion of Shafi and Ahmad. Other scholars took this incident as a special case only applicable to the Prophet (s.a.w) and no one else. This is the opinion of Abu Hanifah and Maalik. The correct opinion and Allah knows best, is that if the funeral prayer was not performed in the land where the person died, it is permissible to pray salat-ul Ghaib. The Prophet (s.a.w) prayed for an-Najaashi because it is appears that the prayer was not performed for him, given that he died amongst the disbelievers.

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