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Chapter 11 – Worshipping the dead

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Chapter 11 – Worshipping the dead. The most abominable act. Throughout much of human history, honouring the dead through elaborate burial rites, ornate tombs and decorated graves, along with festivals of the commemoration and adoration has led to great confusion and misguidance in religion.

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Throughout much of human history, honouring the dead

through elaborate burial rites, ornate tombs and

decorated graves, along with festivals of the

commemoration and adoration has led to great

confusion and misguidance in religion.

The graves of holy or sanity men among Hindus,

Buddhists and Christians, have become shrines where

rites of worship like prayer, sacrifice and pilgrimage

are performed on a large scale

Today ignorant Muslims travel vast distances in order

to perform religious rites of tawafaround these

tombs. Some even pray inside and outside of them,

other ‘piously’ bring sacrificial animals to these cursed

sites in order to perform the rites of dhabh(ritual

sacrifice) there.

The false belief that the righteous among these dead people are so close to Allah that all acts of worship dome in their vicinity will more likely be accepted by Allah than if they were done elsewhere.
  • Prayer to the dead
  • Those who practise grave worship direct to the dead in 2 ways:
  • Some use the dead as intercessors. Catholics confess their sins to their priests and there priests ask Gods forgiveness for them. Thus, the priest acts as middle-men between the people and God.
  • Pre-Islamic Arabs viewed their idols in a similar way. Allah quoted the pagen Arabs as saying,
“… We only worship them so that they may bring us closer to Allah…” (Qur’an 39:3)
  • 2. others pray to the dead directly, begging them forgiveness for their sins. Doing this, gives the dead humans Allah’s attribute of being at-Tawwab
  • As well as that of being al-Ghafoor, the only one cable of forgiving sins.
  • Both methods of grave worship are totally rejected by the teaching of Islam, which hold that one dies enters the dimension called Barzakh, where his deeds come to an end. There is nothing he can do for the living.
Allah’s Messenger (صلى الله عليه و سلم ) as saying, “ when a man dies, his (good) deeds come to an end, except in three ways: charity of continuing benefit, knowledge beneficial to people, and a righteous child who prays for him.”

Prophet (صلى الله عليه و سلم ) also took great pain to explain that he could not benefit anyone in this life, regardless of their closeness to him, states in the Qur'an:

“ I have no power to bring good or avert harm even regarding myself, except as Allah wills. If I had knowledge of the unseen.

would surly have accumulated only good and no evil would have befallen me. But I am only a Warner and a bringer of glad tidings

for those who believe” (Qur’an 7:188)

Another verse states;

“Warn your nearest kin.” (Qur’an 26:214)

the prophet (صلى الله عليه و سلم ) said “o’ people of Quraysh, secure deliverance from Allah, by doing good deeds. I can not avail you at

all against Allah.

One of the prophets companion concluded his statement to the prophet (صلى الله عليه و سلم ) with the phrase,

“It is what Allah wills, and what you will” the prophet (صلى الله عليه و سلم ) immediately corrected him saying,

“ Are you making me equal to Allah? Say: It is what Allah alone wills”

Many Muslim not only give pray to prophet (صلى الله عليه و سلم ) but also pray to a hierarchy of saints. Such un-mistakable pronouncements of Shirk are common even though practising Muslims repeat at least 17 times in there daily prayer the phrase :

“Eeyaaka Na’budu Wa Eeyaaka Nasra’een – You alone do we worship and from You alone we seek help.”

These methods of prayer involves the grave sin of Shirk, which Islam vigilantly oppose. Allah’s ominous statement:

“Most of them (claim) belief in Allah, while committing Shirk.” (Qur’an 12:106)

The prophet’s (صلى الله عليه و سلم ) warning: “You will follow the practises of your predecessors, inch by inch and yard by yard; so much so that I they were to enter a lizards hole, you would also follow them” when asked I he meant the Jews and the Christians, he replied “if not them, who else?”

“The Last Hour will not come until some groups of my nation worship idols” and “The Last Hour will not come until women from the Daws tribe wiggle their buttocks (as they cir-cumambulate) around the temple of the idol. It is therefore essential that Muslims have a clear understanding of religion.

The Evolutionary Model of Religion

The influence of Darwin’s theory of Evolution, most social scientists and anthropologist have concluded that religion began with early man’s pany=theistic deification of the forces of nature.

Early men was amazed by the more cataclysmic and devastating force of nature, like earthquake, thunder, lightening, etc, which they supposedly convinced of as super-natural beings.

Believing that very individuals had a personal set of gods, the polytheistic situation among the Hindus of India, where every family expanded, and thus tribes evolved. Tribal gods, in turn, gradually replaced the old family gods and with each successive generation, tribes got larger and the number of idols got fewer.

Eventually ditheism emerged in which all of the supernatural powers were confined to 2 main gods, a god of good and devil.

So, according to the social scientists and anthropologists, religion has no divine origin. It is merely a by-product of the evolution of early mans superstitions based on his lack of scientific knowledge. Believing that science will eventually unlock all the secrets of nature, where it is assumed religion will disappear.

The Degeneration Model of Religion

The islamic concept of religion and its development is exactly the opposite of the previous view. It is one of a process of degeneration and regeneration and not one of evolution.

Prophets were sent by god to all the nations and tribes of the earth to guide them back to the straight path of monotheism, but with passage of time they went astray and teaching of the prophets were either changed or lost.

The proof of this reality lies in the fact that all the so called primitives tribes which have been found have belief in supreme being.

If you look at the last Prophet Muhammed (صلى الله عليه و سلم ), and compare it with the present day beliefs among many Muslims, we find that degeneration of beliefs and practices has also occurred.

Among the various sects which have arisen, Allah’s attributes have been given to the prophet (صلى الله عليه و سلم ), his descendants, as well as to pious and impious individuals designated as saints among later generation.

The Beginning of Shirk

Prophet Muhammed (صلى الله عليه و سلم ) described in vivid details excatly how polytheism first found its way among mankind after eon’s of monotheism, which began with prophet Aadam. The prophet’s companions related this in their explanation of verse 23 of Surah Nooh;

They said to each other; “do not leave your gods! Do not give up Wadd and Suwaa’, nor Yaghooth, Ya’ooq and Nasr”

Ibn’Abbaas said: “these were idols of Noah’s nation which in time ended up among the Arabs. Wadd became the tribal god o the Kalb tribe god of the Kalb tribe in the religion of Dawmatual-Jandal, Suwaa’ was adopted by the Hudhayl tribe, Yaghooth by the tribe of Ghutayf at Jurf near Saba, Ya’ooq by the Hamdaan tribe and Nasr became the god of the Dhul-Kalaa clan of the Himyar tribe.

This idols were names after some righteous men among Nooh’s people. Then they died, Satan inspired the people to make statues of them and named after them. This was a reminder of righteousness and no one of that generation worshipped them.

However, when that generation died off, the purpose of statutes were forgotten but Satan came to the descendents and told that their predecessors used to worship the statutes, they were fooled and the generation continued to worship idols

The tafseer of the verse given, paints a clear picture of the process by which idolatry and polytheism found its way into the pure monotheistic system of beliefs held by our ancestors.

It also explains why Islam is so firmly opposed to the depiction of human and animal form statutes or paintings. The prohibition of images can be found among the ten commandments given to prophet Moses and in the Old Testament;

“You shall noy make for yourself a graven image, or any likeness of anything that is in the heaven above, or that is in the earth

beneath or that is in the water under the earth. (Exodus 20:4)

Prophet (صلى الله عليه و سلم) warned those who made pictures and statutes, as well as those who kept them hanging on display, that Allah would give them a grave punishment in the next life.

Excessive Praise of the Righteous

Shirk during the time of prophet Noah’s people also indicates that excessive love and praise of the righteous provided a foundation on which idolatry could be established, such as worship o Buddha and Jesus in Christianity and Buddhism, represents clear example of idolatry.

The prophet (صلى الله عليه و سلم) ordered his companions and Muslims in general not to praise him beyond his real worth, he said “Do not praise me excessively as the Christians did to the son of Mary, verily I am merely a slave, so (refer to me) instead as ‘ Abdullaah wa Rasooluh (the slave of Allah and His messenger).

Christians and Jews of that time was in the practise to build places of worship over the graves of the prophets and saints.

Prophet Muhammed (صلى الله عليه و سلم) cursed this practise, he also cursed anyone in the future who did likewise, to make it perfectly clear that Islam was totally opposed to such idolatrous practises and to warn people of the great danger of praising the righteous excessively.

Umm Salamah told the prophet about a church with pictures on its wall, he said:

“If a righteous man dies among those people, they build over his grave a place of worship and paint in it those type of pictures. They are the most eveil of creation in Allah’s sight”. Indicating that their practise are strictly forbidden to Muslims.

The reason why the prophet (صلى الله عليه و سلم) cursed them is due to the combination of 2 major sources of idolatry.

1. Edification of graves and

2. Making images.

Both of the acts invariably lead to shirk as is obvious from the story of the idols from the prophet Noah.

Grave Restriction

Grave worship is among the last things which the prophet (صلى الله عليه و سلم ) warned against before leaving the world indicates that this practise would become serious test for the Ummah.

Prophet (صلى الله عليه و سلم ) had even forbidden his followers from visiting graves and it was not until Tawheed (belief in God’s unity) was firmly established among them as to the ban was lifted, he said : “I use to forbid you from visiting the graves, but now you should visit them, for surly they are reminders of the next life”.

Their was restriction placed by the prophet (صلى الله عليه و سلم ) to avoid its deterioration into grave worship in later generations:
  • Prayer was totally forbidden in the graveyards regardless of the intention. It was said the “All the earth is a masjid (place of worship) except graveyards and toilets.” and “Pray in your houses, do not make them graveyards”
  • Prohibition of purposely praying in the direction of the graves because such an act may later be understood by the ignorant as prayer directed to the dead themselves.
c) Reciting of the Qur’an in graveyards is not allowed as neither the prophet (صلى الله عليه و سلم ) nor his companions were known to do so, giving salaam is appropriate.
  • d) The prophet (صلى الله عليه و سلم ) also forbade the white – washing of graves, the building structures over them, writing on them or raising them above ground level. Any sort structure should be torn down.
  • e) Building masjids over graves was expressly forbidden. The prophets wife Aa’eshah reported that when death was descending upon Allah’s messenger he said: “ May Allah’s curse be on those Jews and Christians for taking the graves of their prophets as places of worship.”
f) In order to prevent grave worship, the prophet (صلى الله عليه و سلم) also forbade annual or seasonal gathering even around his own grave. He said “Do not make my grave an ‘Eed (place of celebration), nor make your houses graveyard, and ask (Allah’s) blessing for me wherever you may be, because it will reach me”
  • g) Setting out on journeys to visit graves was also forbidden by the prophet صلى الله عليه و سلم () this practise forms the basis o idolatrous pilgrimages in other religion. Allah’s messenger said “Do not travel except to three masjids. Masjid Haraam (the Ka’bah in Makkah(, the masjid of the messenger, and al-Aqsaa masjid.
Taking Graves as Place of Worship

The prophet (صلى الله عليه و سلم ) said “The most evil of mankind are those who will be alive when the Last day arrives and those who take graves as place of worship.”

Five days before the prophet died he said “Those before you took the graves as place of their prophets as places of worship. Do not take graves as place of worship for verily I forbid you to do so.”

It is necessary to define what is meant by the phrase “taking graves as place of worship” there are 3 possible meanings:

1. Making prayer or sujood (prostration) on or towards a Grave Praying on the grave is forbidden explicitly.

2. Building a Masjid over a grave or putting a grave in a Masjid

3. Praying in a Masjid containing a Grave.

Masjids with Grave

Such masjids are 2 types in regards to its origin:

a. A masjid built over a Grave, and

b. A masjid in which a grave has been put, sometime after its construction

The method to correct this such masjibs varies according to their origin:

A masjid built over a grave should be demolished and the grave levelled if it has a structure over it, as such masjid was originally a grave, it should be returned to its original state.
  • A masjid in which a grave has been places should be left intact, but the grave should be removed, in this case the masjid was originally a masjid and not a grave.
  • The Prophets Grave
  • The prophets grave in his masjid in Medeenah can neither be used to justify the placing of bodies in other masjid nor the building of masjid over graves.
The prophet (صلى الله عليه و سلم ) did not order that he be buried in his masjid, nor did his companions put his grave into the masjid. The companions of the prophet () wisely avoided burying the prophet (صلى الله عليه و سلم ) in the local graveyard for fear that later generations would become overly attached to his grave.

The sahaabah gathered to decide on the prophets (صلى الله عليه و سلم ) burial, one said “let us bury him in the place where used to pray” Abu Bakr replied “May Allah protect us from making him an idol to be worshipped.” others said “Let us bury him in al-Baqee’ (graveyard in Madeenah) where his brothers among the Muhaajireen (migrants from Makkah) are buried.

”. Abu Bakr replied “verily burying the prophet in al-Baqee’ is detestable because some people may try to seek refuge in him which is a right belonging only to Allah.”

Abu Bakr then said: “ I heard the Messenger of Allah say ‘Allah has not taken the life of any of his prophet except that they are buried where they died”

So he was buried where he died in Aa’eshahs house, then the house was separated from the masjid by a wall and it had a door through which the prophet() used to enter to lead salaah, which was sealed off so the masjid and the prophets grave was separated.

Salaah in the Prophets Masjid

The prohibition of Salaah in masjids with graves in them is applicable to all masjids except that of the prophet () this is due to the many special virtues attributed to prayer in it, not found in any other masjid containing a grave. The prophet () himself pointed out this special feature saying “Do not journey except to three masjids: al-Masjid al- Haraam, al-Aqsaa, and this masjid of mine”

He aslo stated: “A single salaah in this masjid of mine, is better than 1,000 salaahs elsewhere, except al-Masjid al-Haraam. Stating the special significance to a part of his masjid saying “The area between my house and my pulpit is a garden from the gardens of paradise”. If salaah has considered Makrooh (disliked), the virtues of his Masjid would be negated and would be equal with all other masjid.