Offering the funeral prayer for the deceased several years after the burial

Question

My grandmother died and I did not offer the funeral prayer for her, although I live in the same city, because they buried her before I could get there. Now it is three years since she died. Do I have to do anything?.

Praise be to Allah.

It seems
from your question that you feel that you let your grandmother down. If you
were in the same city and were able to attend the funeral prayer and burial,
why did you not do that? What kept you from being present for the best thing
that you could do to honour your grandmother when she died, and offer the
funeral prayer and make du’aa’ for her and pray for forgiveness for her? 

Grandfathers
and grandmothers must be honoured and treated kindly, just like parents. 

It says in
al-Mawsoo’ah al-Fiqhiyyah (16/133): 

Grandfathers
and grandmothers are like parents in terms of honour. End quote. 

But you have
an opportunity to make up for what you missed, in sha Allaah. You can go and
offer the funeral prayer over her grave. Imam al-Shaafa’i and others are of
the view that it is permissible to offer the funeral prayer over the grave
of the deceased. The evidence for that is: 

The report
narrated by al-Bukhaari (458) and Muslim (956) that the Messenger
(peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) offered the funeral prayer for a
woman at her grave. She used to clean the mosque, and the Sahaabah had
buried her without informing the Messenger (peace and blessings of
Allaah be upon him) of her death. 

It was
narrated from Ibn ‘Abbaas (may Allaah be pleased with him) that the
Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) passed
by a grave where the burial had taken place at night and said: “When was
this one buried?’ They said: Last night. He said: “Why didn’t you tell me?”
They said: We buried him in the dark of night and we did not want to wake
you up. He stood up and we stood in rows behind him. Ibn ‘Abbaas said: And I
was among them, and he offered the funeral prayer for him. Narrated by
al-Bukhaari (1321). 

It was
narrated from Yazeed ibn Thaabit (may Allaah be pleased with him) that they
went out with the Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be
upon him) one day and he saw a new grave. He said: “What is this?” They
said: It is So and so, the freed slave woman of Banu So and so – and the
Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him)
recognized her name – She died at noon when you were taking a nap, and we
did not want to wake you up for her. The Messenger of Allaah (peace and
blessings of Allaah be upon him) stood and the people formed rows behind
him, and he said takbeer four times (i.e., offered the funeral prayer). Then
he said: “No one should die when I am still among you without you telling
me, for my prayer for him will be a mercy.” Narrated by al-Nasaa’i (2022);
classed as hasan by Ibn ‘Abd al-Barr in al-Tamheed (6/271). Classed
as saheeh by al-Albaani in Saheeh al-Nasaa’i. 

Ibn Abi
Shaybah narrated in al-Musannaf (3/239) a number of reports from the
Sahaabah and Taabi’een who offered the funeral prayer over graves after the
burial, including ‘Aa’ishah (may Allaah be pleased with her), who offered
the funeral prayer at the grave of her brother ‘Abd al-Rahmaan; and Ibn
‘Umar who offered the funeral prayer at the grave of his brother ‘Aasim; and
Sulaymaan ibn Rabee’ah and Ibn Sireen and others. This was also narrated by
Ibn Hazm in al-Muhalla (3/366) from Anas, ‘Ali and Ibn Mas’ood (may
Allaah be pleased with them all). 

Some fuqaha’
did not allow offering the funeral prayer over graves at all, and some of
them limited it to one month or three days, but there is no evidence for
this restriction. 

Ibn Hazm
(may Allaah have mercy on him) said in al-Muhalla (3/366): 

With regard
to restricting the funeral prayer to within one month or three days, it is
clearly wrong because it is restricting it with no evidence. End quote. 

Shaykh Ibn
‘Uthaymeen (may Allaah have mercy on him) said in al-Sharh
al-Mumti’ (5/436): 

The correct
view is that we may offer the funeral prayer over graves even after one
month, but some of the scholars imposed an interesting restriction, and
said: That is subject to the condition that the person who is buried died at
a time when the one who is praying was able to pray. 

For example:
If a man died twenty years ago, and a man who is thirty years old goes out
to pray for him, that is valid, because when he died the one who is praying
was only ten years old, so he could have offered the prayer for the dead
man. 

Another
example: If a man died thirty years ago, and a man who is twenty years old
goes out to pray for him, that is not valid, because the one who is praying
did not exist at the time when the man died, so he could not have prayed for
him. 

So it is not
prescribed for us to offer the funeral prayer at the grave of the Prophet
(peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him), and we do not know of
anyone who said that it is prescribed to offer the funeral prayer at the
grave of the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) or at
the graves of the Sahaabah, rather we should just stand and say du’aa’. End
quote. 

For more
information please see al-Umm (1/425), al-Majmoo’ (5/208-210),
al-Mughni (2/194-195), Badaa’i’ al-Sanaa’i’ (1/315) and
al-Mawsoo’ah al-Fiqhiyyah (16/35). 

Honouring
parents or grandparents does not stop when their life ends, rather it
continues after their death, and the greatest way in which a person can
honour his parents is by making du’aa’ for them and praying for forgiveness
for them. 

It was
narrated that Abu Usayd Maalik ibn Rabee’ah al-Saa’idi said: Whilst we were
with the Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon
him), a man from Banu Salamah came to him and said: O Messenger of Allaah,
is there anything left that I can do to honour my parents after they die? He
said: “Yes. Pray for them, ask for forgiveness for them, carry out their
last wishes, uphold the ties of kinship that you would not have were it not
for them, and honour their friends.” Narrated by Abu Dawood (5142); classed
as hasan by Ibn al-‘Arabi in ‘Aaridah al-Ahwadhi (4/307); classed as
saheeh by Shaykh Ibn Baaz in Majmoo’ al-Fataawa (9/295). 

The author
of ‘Awn al-Ma’bood (14/36) said: “Pray for them” means making du’aa’,
and it includes the funeral prayer. This was the view of al-Qaari’. And in
Fath al-Wudood it says: What is meant is praying for mercy for them.
End quote. 

And Allaah
knows best.

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