Is it permissible for women to go visiting the graves?
First of all, let us have a look at the hadiths (saying or tradition of the Prophet Muhammad) about the subject:
According to the relation of Abu Hurayra, the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) stated as follows:
“Visit the graves because it reminds you of the hereafter.”1
According to the relation of Ibn Mas’ud, the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) stated as follows:
“I had forbidden you to visit the graves. Visit the graves from now on. It is because visiting the graves makes you consider the world unimportant and reminds you of the hereafter.”2
In the first years of Islam, the Prophet had banned visiting the graves because, in those times, people were not able to refrain themselves from the customs of jahiliyya (ignorance) completely yet and they could not get rid of some of their old habits. They committed some deeds which did not belong to Islam such as inappropriate talking, declamations and boasting with their famous relatives which had died.
That issue is mentioned in a hadith related by Nasai as follows:
“Whoever desires to visit the graves can do it now; do not say a bad word (to that person)”.
However, as people become adapted to Islamic rules and conducts in time, those kinds of concerns had diminished by themselves. Thereupon, the Prophet abolished the prohibition and allowed visiting the graves and he even encouraged it for the reasons such as “reducing the passion for the world, and breaking the apron strings and reminding the death and the hereafter.”
As for the issue whether women are permissible to visit the gravers or not, there are some hadiths that prohibit it and even become proof that it is haram (act or deed which is prohibited by Allah). For example, according to the relation of Abu Hurayra, the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) cursed the women visiting the graves.3
The following expressions attract out attention in the explanation of that hadith:
When women go visiting the graves, they mostly cry out, tear their clothes, hit themselves, do not respect to their husbands’ rights, and do not obey the Islamic veiling and they even go there by dolling themselves up. Because of those unfavorable behaviors, they were subjected to the curse of the Prophet (pbuh) to be kept away from the Divine mercy.
Some Shafi’i, Maliki and Hanafi scholars who used the hadith that we have mentioned above as a proof believe that visiting the graves by women is haram.
However, according to most of the Hanafi scholars primarily, and some Maliki and Hanbali scholars, women are permissible to visit the graves. The prohibition of women’s visiting the graves was in the time when visiting the graves was prohibited. The permission given later implicates not only men but also women at the same time.
Moreover, the Hanafi scholars use the following hadith which was related by Abd Allah Abu Mulaika as a proof for that issue:
“One day Aisha (may Allah be pleased with her) was returning from the graveyard.
“I asked her: ‘O, the mother of the believers! Where are you coming from?’
‘I am coming from a visit to the grave of my brother Abdurrahman.’, she answered.
I asked: ‘Did the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) not ban visiting the graves?’
She stated: ‘Yes, he banned visiting the graves, but he ordered it later.’”4
The hadith commentators call attention to these points in those hadiths: the permission the hadith gives is for the women who go out in veil, consider the hereafter, take lessons from the states of the people in the graves and leave hue and cry, beating their faces, tearing the collar of their clothes and saying bad words. And the ban put is for only the women who set unfavorable behaviors forth.
In conclusion, it can be said that women, especially the young ones can go visiting the graves on condition that they are accompanied by old women such as their mothers or aunts or by men who are their relatives. Such a precaution is generally important in big residential areas more. Otherwise, while trying to perform a meritorious action, it will be unavoidable to commit sins and meet some undesirable situations. In fact, women do not repeat such visits all the time. It is possible and more favorable for them to send the prayers they will bestow to their dead relatives by reciting them at home. If those dead persons have faith, the spiritual presents, no matter where they are sent from, reach their spirits. The closeness or remoteness of the distance does not matter.
1 Ibn Majah, Janaiz: 47.
2 Ibn Majah, Janaiz: 47.
3 Ibn Majah, Janaiz: 49.
4 The Translation and Explanation of Sunan Ibn Majah, 4: 439
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