You have stated in answer to a question which appeared in the daily Jang on the 12th of December that to place flowers on a grave is contrary to the Sunnat. In the 19th December issue a person by the name of Shah Turaabul Haq Qaadri has labelled you a Jaahil (ignoramus) and has stated that you are ignorant of Qur`aan Majeed and Sunnah and he has stated this act (placing flowers on the grave) as a Sunnah. This has placed many people in trepidation. You could kindly remove the doubt.
The Shar`i definition of Sunnat is described as those actions which have come to us since the inception of the Deen. Hence, that action which was the practice of our Nabi (sallAllaahu alaihi wasallam) is regarded as a Sunnat. Similarly those actions of the Khulafaa-e-Raashideen, the Sahaabah (radhiAllaahu anhum) and the Taabieen (rahmatullahi alaihim) also fall under the definition of Sunnat.
It has to be established regarding any action whether it is a Sunnat or not. A simple method of doing this is to ascertain whether this act was common during the Khairul Quroon (Best of Eras). Those actions which were prevalent since the time of the initial stages of Islaam will undoubtedly be a Sunnat. Those who carry out such acts will be classified as Ahle Sunnat or Sunnis. On the other hand, those actions which were innovated subsequent to this blessed era (initial stages of Islaam), if it is regarded as a good action and worthy of reward then it will be classified as a Bid`ah. Those people who carry out such acts will be termed as Ahle Bid`ah or Bid`atees.
Our Nabi (sallAllaahu alaihi wasallam) buried numerous Sahaabah (radhiAllaahu anhum). Alhamdulillah there is no shortage of flowers in Madinah Tayyibah. Did Nabi (sallAllaahu alaihi wasallam) placed flowers on any grave? After the demise of Nabi (sallAllaahu alaihi wasallam) did the Khulafaa-e-Raashideen place flowers on his blessed grave? Have the Sahaabah (radhiAllaahu anhum) placed flowers on the blessed graves of the Khulafaa-e-Raashideen or the Taabieen on the graves of the Sahaabah (radhiAllaahu anhum)? In the entire treasure of Ahaadith one will not find a single narration which states that Nabi (sallAllaahu alaihi wasallam), the Sahaabah (radhiAllaahu anhum) or the Tabieen (rahmatullahi alaihim) ever placed flowers on a grave.
Therefore how can any action be classified as a Sunnah when it was never established from Nabi (sallAllaahu alaihi wasallam) right upto the lowest Tabiee?
If a certain thing was not present during the era of Nabi (sallAllaahu alaihi wasallam) or the Sahaabah (radhiAllaahu anhum) or the Taabieen (rahmatullahi alaihim), in fact it came into existence after all of them and a certain Imaam of Ijtihaad has classified it as being permissible and virtuous, then although we will not say that this thing is Sunnah but since it is a Qiyaas (analogy) of the Imaam of Ijtihaad which is also a proof of the Shariah, hence this act cannot be classified as being contrary to the Shariah. In fact, this act is understood as being established from the Sunnah.
This (method of proving validity) cannot be established for the mas`alah under discussion. The reason for this is that flowers and graves are not such thing which were non-existent during the era of the Khairul Quroon. It is obvious that during the time of our Nabi (sallAllaahu alaihi wasallam) there were graves and flowers. It would have been a simple matter to place flowers on the grave. If this was a commendable act then our Nabi (sallAllaahu alaihi wasallam) would have made it a common practice and advocated it either by word or action.
The compilation of Hanafi Fiqh commenced during the time of Imaam A`zam (rahmatullahi alaih). Since the second century upto the 10th century, without exaggeration, thousands of Fiqhi Kitaabs were compiled. Our Fuqahaa have enumerated in great detail even the smallest of Mustahibbaat (meritorious acts) and Sunan and etiquettes regarding kafan dafan (burial rites). But, ten centuries of Fiqhi literature is completely void of stating that the act of placing flowers on the grave is Sunnat. Now, if this act was a Sunnat then how come the Hanafi Aimmah of ten centuries were unaware of it? How can this act ever find place in the Sunnat when it was not found during the era of Khairul Quroon neither in the treasure of Ahaadith nor the treasure of a decade of Fiqh nor did Nabi (sallAllaahu alaihi wasallam) practice it nor the Khulafaa-e-Raashideen (radhiAllaahu anhum), nor the Sahaabah (radhiAllaahu anhum) nor the Taabieen (rahmatullahi alaihim), nor the Aimmah-e-Mujtahiddeen nor ten centuries of Ulama?
It is necessary to state here also that how is it ever possible to declare as “Sunnat” the approval of those who came in the eras that followed? The permissibility of it cannot also be established. Imaam Rabbaani Alfe Thaani (rahmatullahi alaih) states quoting from Fataawa Ghayaathia: “Sheikh Imaam Shaheed (rahmatullahi alaih) says that we do not accept the approvals of the Mashaaikh of Balkh. We only accept the statements of our companions who are from the predecessors. The reason being that a custom of any particular place is not a proof for its permissibility. Those practices which have come to us from the initial eras are a proof for its permissibility. That is, those actions which are established as having been found in Nabi (sallAllaahu alaihi wasallam) and the Sahaabah (radhiAllaahu anhum). This implies that it has been consented to by Nabi (sallAllaahu alaihi wasallam). But if is not like this then the actions of people cannot be construed as being a proof. An exception would be such an action which is practiced by all nations in
every country, in which case it would be regarded as Ijma`. Ijma` is a proof in the Shariah. See here, if people become commonly involved in the sale of alcohol and in dealing in interest then (such acts) can never be granted a ruling of permissibility.” [Maktoob 54, part 2]
The explanation of that Hadith quoted by Shah Saheb remains, wherein Nabi (sallAllaahu alaihi wasallam) broke up one twig into two parts and placed it on the graves of two persons who were being punished, saying that as long as the twigs do not get dry there is hope that the punishment of the inmates of those graves will be alleviated. In this regard we need to consider a few points:
Firstly, that this narration was reported by various Sahaabah (radhiAllaahu anhum). It is the opinion of Imaam Nawawi and Qurtubi (rahmatullahi alaihima) that all these narrations point to one incident. However Hafiz Ibn Hajar and Allaamah Aini (rahmatullahi alaihima) are of the opinion that these are three separate incidents. It is difficult for us to establish with certainty whether this refers to one particular incident or a few. However a common feature in all these narrations is this that it was not a common practice of Nabi (sallAllaahu alaihi wasallam) to plant twigs in the graves. In fact, one or two such incidents occurred where twigs were planted on the graves of persons who were being punished.
Secondly, there is also a question as to whether the inmates of these graves were Muslim or Kaafir. Abu Moosa Madeeni states that the inmates of these graves were Kaafir, whereas other personalities aver that they were Muslim. Hafiz (rahmatullahi alaih) states that the Hadith of Jaabir (radhiAllaahu anhu) clearly indicates that the inmates of the graves were Kaafir whilst the Hadith of Ibn Abbaas (radhiAllaahu anhu) indicate that they were Muslim. [Fathul Baari, page 256, vol. 1]
Were these the graves of Muslims or Kaafirs? This much is certain that the Hadith is explicit that the action of planting the twigs upon the graves were done for those who were being punished and this was made known to Nabi (sallAllaahu alaihi wasallam) by means of absolute Wahi or authentic Kashf. Nabi (sallAllaahu alaihi wasallam) did not plant twigs on the graves of common Muslims, neither was this a common practice during the time of Nabi (sallAllaahu alaihi wasallam), the Sahaabah (radhiAllaahu anhum) or the Tabieen (rahmatullahi alaih), it is apparent from this that to plant twigs on the graves is not a common or desired Sunnat practice of our Nabi (sallAllaahu alaihi wasallam).
Thirdly, the blessed words of Nabi (sallAllaahu alaihi wasallam) were: “There is hope that as long as these twigs do not get dry the punishment in these graves will be alleviated.” The commentators have discussed at length the reasons and possibilities of this. It is appropriate that we mention here the words of Hadhrat Shah Abdul Haqq Muhaddith Dehlwi (rahmatullahi alaih):
“There is a difference of opinion amongst the Ulama in this Hadith as to what the basis is for Nabi (sallAllaahu alaihi wasallam) stating that he has hope that as long as the twigs remain fresh the punishment in the graves will be lessened.
Some people opine that it is based upon this fact that plants make the Tasbeeh of Allaah Ta`ala as long as they are fresh. The Aayat: „And there is nothing except that it hymns the Tasbeeh and praise of its Rabb‟, refers to living things. The life of a twig remains as long as it does not get dry. The life of a stone remains as long as it does not break up. Or a special Tasbeeh is attributed to the living and that Tasbeeh which is common to everything indicates towards the existence of The Creator and towards His Oneness and perfect Qualities. This group prove the placing of greenery and flowers upon graves based on this Hadith.
Imaam Khattaabi (rahmatullahi alaih), who is from amongst the Aimmah of Ahle Ilm and the notable commentators of Hadith, has refuted this view. He has refuted the act of placing greenery and flowers on graves by those who hold on to this Hadith. He states that this act has no basis and it was not practiced during the initial eras.
Some aver that this limit of lessening of the punishment was owing to the intercession of Nabi (sallAllaahu alaihi wasallam). Hence, the intercession of Nabi (sallAllaahu alaihi wasallam) was accepted to last as long as the twigs remained fresh. The words „la`alla‟ in the Hadith indicate towards this. And Allaah Ta`ala knows best.
Allaamah Kirmani states that there is no speciality to prevent punishment which is inherent in twigs. In fact the lessening of the punishment was owing to the blessed hand and miracle of Nabi (sallAllaahu alaihi wasallam). Some personalities state that the knowledge and secret of this is confined to Nubuwwat. It is stated in Jaami`ul Usool that Hadhrat Buraidah (radhiAllaahu anhu) made a bequest for two twigs to be placed on his grave since it is possible that there is a secret therein and it becomes a means of his success”.
This discussion of Sheikh makes clear that the reason for the lessening of the punishment in these graves was the intercession of Nabi (sallAllaahu alaihi wasallam) or owing to the blessedness of his Mubarak hands or his miracle. Otherwise there is no speciality in twigs which can ward off punishment. This much is also established that the Ijtihaad and proof of those who aver that the Tasbeeh of fresh twigs is the reason for the alleviation of punishment in the graves and their attribution of this on all greenery and flowers, has no validity and status. This view of theirs carries no weight or value in the eyes of the Ahle Ilm. In fact the Aimmah of the Ahle I lm and the notable commentators of Hadith have refuted this claim saying that it is completely baseless and it is contrary to the practice of the initial era.
Hadhrat Sheikh Abdul Haqq Muhaddith Dehlwi (rahmatullahi alaih) states in the Arabic commentary of Mishkaat, Lam`aatul Tanqee`, quoting the famous Hanafi Faqeeh and Muhaddith Imaam Fadhlullah Turpishty (rahmatullahi alaih):
“Turpishty says that the reason for this limit (of alleviation of punishment) is that Nabi (sallAllaahu alaihi wasallam) interceded for the lessening of punishment in the graves for as long as the twigs remained fresh. This view of some people remains, who claim that the reason (for the alleviation of punishment) is the Tasbeeh made by the twigs as long as they are fresh. Therefore (they claim) this is the thing which lessens the punishment in the grave. This view is completely baseless and worthless. According to the Ahle Ilm this view has no credence or credibility.” [Page 44 vol. 2]
It is apparent from the explanation of Hadhrat Sheikh (rahmatullahi alaih) that alien custom innovated by the people based on this Hadith where they place greenery and flowers on the graves is baseless and without any substance or worth. This act is also contrary to the practice of the initial eras.
Fourthly, if we assume that this view and substantiation of these people, which the Ahle Ilm have discounted as being without substance and worth, is correct and has some validity, even then it can only be said that placing twigs on graves would be Sunnat and not flowers. Hence, Allaamah Aini (rahmatullahi alaih), who accepts this reasoning states:
“And similarly, that action of most people, that is of placing greenery and flowers on the graves, is worthless. The Sunnat act is to only pace twigs.” [Umdatul Qaari, page 879, vol.1]
Fifthly, also, if we assume this reasoning of these people to be correct, then too, this would establish the placing of twigs only on the graves of Kuffaar, Fussaaq and Fujjaar and not on the graves of the Auliyaa. As has been mentioned previously, Nabi (sallAllaahu alaihi wasallam) did not place twigs except upon the graves of those who were being punished. Neither did he encourage this act nor was this the practice of the Sahaabah (radhiAllaahu anhum) or the Taabieen (rahmatullahi alaihim). Hence, this reasoning does not validate placing of flowers on the graves of pious personalities, even though it is called a Sunnat or Mustahab. How strange it is that the act which Nabi (sallAllaahu alaihi wasallam) practiced for the graves of kuffaar and sinners is being done upon the graves of pious personalities.
It is possible, Allaah Ta`ala knows best, that the wisdom of Nabi‟s (sallAllaahu alaihi wasallam) not placing twigs on the graves of the common Muslimeen is that the placing of twigs is a bad omen implying that the inmate of the grave is being punished. The Shariah discourages and dislikes any such act wherein there is evil thought or omen for other believers. Hence, using this Hadith as a basis for placing flowers on the graves of pious personalities is an act of disrespect.
In reality, the act that is common nowadays of placing flowers and sheets upon the graves in not in imitation of this Hadith at all. In fact, it is done as a mark of respect for the grave and as a means of gaining proximity to the inmate of the grave. Our Nabi (sallAllaahu alaihi wasallam) has definitely never sanctioned or allowed placing of flowers on graves as a mark of respect for the grave or as a means of gaining proximity to its inmate. Not even the slightest prospect of permissibility can ever be found in this Hadith. Therefore, the customary act of placing flowers and chadars on the graves of pious personalities and leaders in the name of respect etc. is an act which was never found amongst or sanctioned by our pious predecessors or latter Ulama. This is the reason why there is absolutely no doubt that such an act is an evil Bid`ah. This is a custom which has permeated into the Muslims through the Christians, Jews and Hindus.
One of the specialities of Bid`ah is that as it penetrates into a community, then slowly, slowly it permeates into the minds of the Ulama who are also eventually affected with it, which results in the hatred and dislike for Bid`ah leaving them (i.e. they begin to like and accept it). This is the reason why these Ulama will, by hook or by crook, find some permissibility and even virtue for such acts. In this way they become instrumental in promoting and advocating Bid`ah instead of bringing alive the Sunnah.
After this brief explanation of the Hadith of Jareedah, I will now examine the references of Shah Turaabul Haqq Saheb.
Amongst them the first is that from Hadhrat Sheikh Abdul Haqq Muhaddith Dehlwi (rahmatullahi alaih) from Ash`atul Lam`aat. The complete text of this has been quoted previously. Upon proper perusal of this, any sane and rational person can, for himself, discern whether Hadhrat Sheikh (rahmatullahi alaih) is sanctioning the act of placing flowers on the graves or whether he condemns this act as being a Bid`ah without any substance or base. As for those who practice this act, does Hadhrat Sheikh (rahmatullahi alaih) accept their view or does he regard it as being an act without any worth or consideration?
Shah Saheb cites this as his second reference:
“Mullah Ali Qaari has stated, in commenting on this Hadith in Mirqaat, that it is Sunnat to place flowers on the graves.”
Sheikh Ali Qaari (rahmatullahi alaih), whilst commenting on this Hadith first quotes Imaam Nawawi (rahmatullahi alaih). An extract of this is:
“This act which some people carry out of placing date-palm leaves on the graves has been refuted by Imaam Khattaabi. He has stated that it is without any substantiation or basis.”
Sheikh Ali Qaari (rahmatullahi alaih), states under this extract:
“There is discussion regarding this refutation of Khattaabi and his averring that it is without any substance, because this Hadith does have the capability of forming a basis for this act. I have noted that Ibn Hajar has explained this point, saying: „The statement of Khattaabi that this has no basis is objectionable. In fact, this Hadith is the base of basis. Based upon this, our latter-day companions and some Ulama have given the ruling that the practice of some people who place flowers and twigs on the graves is a Sunnat based upon this Hadith.‟”
Sheikh Ali Qaari (rahmatullahi alaih), after citing this statement of Ibn Hajar (rahmatullahi alaih) states:
“It is possible that the reason for this statement of Khattaabi is that this Hadith is restricted to one pa rticular incident and does not apply generally. Reflect, this is a matter of careful consideration.” [Mirqaat, page 351, vol.1]
The following can be gleaned from the statements of Sheikh Ali Qaari (rahmatullahi alaih):
1. He has not ruled the placing of flowers on the graves as a Sunnat, in fact, he has cited the view of Ibn Hajar (rahmatullahi alaih) that this is the Fatwa of some latter-day Shaafi Ulama.
2. Sheikh Ali Qaari (rahmatullahi alaih) could not find any ruling of permissibility for this act amongst the Hanafi Ulama which declares it as a Sunnah. It is not known that any of our Hanafi Ulama, former or latter, gave such a ruling.
3. It has to be noted that this view quoted by Ibn Hajar (rahmatullahi alaih) of some latter-day Shaafi Ulama holds no real worth, since these proponents of this view are neither Mujtahids, nor are they comparable to Imaam Khattaabi or Nawawi (rahmatullahi alaihima). The latter-day Shaafis cannot compare to Khattaabi or Nawawi (rahmatullahi alaihima) who are second to none amongst the Shaafi Aimmah in so far as their knowledge, virtue, piety and Taqwa are concerned.
4. Sheikh Ali Qaari (rahmatullahi alaih) authenticates the view of Khattaabi (rahmatullahi alaih). He refers to this Mas`alah as being worthy of reflection. Whatever he has written on this subject is not in the category of a Fatwa. In fact, it is merely a discussion.
Keeping all this in mind, for one to aver that Sheikh Ali Qaari (rahmatullahi alaih) has stated that the placing of flowers on graves is a Sunnat constitutes a deficiency in understanding and knowledge. His third reference is the footnote of Tahtaawi from Miraaqiul Falaah: “Some of our latter-day companions have given the ruling based on this Hadith that the custom of placing fragrant flowers on the graves is a Sunnat.”
It appears that Shah Saheb has not viewed this footnote of Tahtaawi with his own eyes, otherwise he would have noted that that this is not the text in Tahtaawi. In fast he has cited this from Sheikh Ali Qaari‟s (rahmatullahi alaih) commentary of Mishkaat. In the commentary of Mishkaat (the discussion regarding which has passed above), the ruling of our Hanafi Ulama has not been quoted. Reference was quoted from Ibn Hajar Shaafi (rahmatullahi alaih).
Shah Saheb has quoted a reference from Allaamah Shaami (rahmatullahi alaih): “They have said that it is Mustahab.”
This quotation is also unfortunately misleading and deceptive. The details on this matter is that Allaamah Shaami (rahmatullahi alaih) states this Mas`alah from Bahrur Raa`iq, etc. that it is Makrooh to uproot the fresh grass in a graveyard. As long as it remains fresh it hymns the Tasbeeh of Allaah Ta`ala. This is a form of solace for the deceased and they attain mercy thereby. Quoting the Hadith of Jareedah as a proof, Allaamah Shaami (rahmatullahi alaih) states:
“The placing of twigs on a grave may be construed as a Mustahab based on this Mas`alah and Hadith, provided it is done as an imitation. Qiyaas is made on this for the placing of certain twigs, which is customary in our time. One group amongst the Shaafis have expounded upon this. This is preferred to the view of some Maalikis that the alleviation of punishment in the graves was owing to the blessed hand and dua of Nabi (sallAllaahu alaihi wasallam). Qiyaas cannot be made upon this.”
This text of Allaamah Shaami (rahmatullahi alaih) does not imply that it is Mustahab to place flowers on the grave. In fact, it is stated that if twigs are planted on the graves in imitation to Nabi‟s (sallAllaahu alaihi wasallam) act, then it can be construed as a Mustahab. This reasoning is as has been quoted from Imaam Turpishty (rahmatullahi alaih) previously, where he clearly mentions this to be worthless and of no consideration according to the Ahle Ilm. Any person can ascertain the validity of making Qiyaas on an act which is regarded as worthless and baseless. The statement of Allaamah Shaami (rahmatullahi alaih) that this reasoning is preferred to that of some Maalikis that the lessening of the punishment in the graves is not due to the twigs of the tree, rather owing to the blessed hand and dua of Nabi (sallAllaahu alaihi wasallam). Firstly, for him to attribute this view to some Maalikis is strange. You have noted from our previous discussion that is the view of the Shaafi Aimmah, like Khattaabi, Nawawi, Saazri (rahmatullahi alaihim) and other Ulama. Imaam Turpishty (rahmatullahi alaih) has clearly stated this to be the view of the Ahle Ilm. We understand from the statement of Imaam Turpishty (rahmatullahi alaih) that the Ahle Ilm from the four Mathaaib have unanimously slated this reasoning (which is stated by Shaami as being preferred) as worthless and not worthy of any consideration.
Also, the Hadith of Hadhrat Jaabir (radhiAllaahu anhu) clearly gives the view of Nabi (sallAllaahu alaihi wasallam) in his own words regarding what Allaamah Shaami (rahmatullahi alaih) has regarded as being not preferred – the view he attributes to some Maalikis – where he prefers the view which is “Not worthy of any consideration according to the Ahle Ilm”. The words of Nabi (sallAllaahu alaihi wasallam) are:
“I desire that through my intercession their punishment is lessened as long as these two twigs remain fresh.” [Saheeh Muslim, page 418, vol. 2]
Therefore the reasoning of Tasbeeh when pitted against the clear Nass is rejected. Regardless of how noteworthy any view may be, it can never be preferred to that of Nabi (sallAllaahu alaihi wasallam).
If we assume that this was not reported in the Hadith, rather it is the view of some Maalikis, even then it would be unpalatable to any lover of Nabi (sallAllaahu alaihi wasallam) to prefer the reasoning that the punishment was alleviated because of the Tasbeeh of plants as compared to the blessed hand and dua of Nabi (sallAllaahu alaihi wasallam).
In conclusion, Allaamah Shaami (rahmatullahi alaih) has not stated that it is Mustahab to place flowers on a grave, in fact, he stated that planting twigs can be construed as Mustahab. And then too, this reasoning is refuted by the Ahle Ilm as being without any basis and worthless.
Shah Saheb has cited a reference from Kashf Noor of Sheikh Abdul Ghaniy Naabulusi (rahmatullahi alaih). This booklet has not come to the attention of this humble servant so that I may place it in proper context. Nevertheless, this much is clear that whether it may be Allaamah Shaami (rahmatullahi alaih) or Sheikh Abdul Ghaniy Naabulusi (rahmatullahi alaih), they are all followers (Muqallids) of Imaam Abu Hanifah (rahmatullahi alaih), just like us. The meaning and import of Taqleed is that we follow the view of the Mujtahiddeen, without making use of personal opinion. in this regard we will quote the words of Imaam Rabbaani Mujaddid Alfe Thaani (rahmatullahi alaih):
“Here we consider the view of Imaam Abu Hanifah, Imaam Abu Yusuf or Imaam Muhammed and not the action of Abu Bakr Shibli or Abul Hasan Noori.” [Maktoob 265]
Nowadays whatever takes place at the shrines of the saints is not the Sunnat of our Nabi (sallAllaahu alaihi wasallam), neither did it find its niche in the best of eras. In fact this is all the invention of the Sharrul Quroon (worst of eras).
Hadhrat Sheikh Abdul Haqq Dehlwi (rahmatullahi alaih) states:
“Many actions deeds and ways which were Makrooh and detestable during the age of the Salf-e-Saaliheen has become desired and acceptable in the last of eras. Wherever the ignoramuses and masses carry out any act, then there is certainty that the souls of the pious are not pleased. They (the pious) are free from (blame for) all this.” [Sharhe Safar-e-Sa`aadat, page 272]
It is sad that Shah Saheb has attempted to establish the customs and innovations of the masses as being from the Sunnat of Nabi (sallAllaahu alaihi wasallam). The initiation of this was not to be found amongst the pious predecessors neither in ten centuries of Fiqhi literature. Hadhrat Imaam Rabbaani Mujaddid Alfe Thaani (rahmatullahi alaih) has clearly stated:
“As long as a person does not abstain from Bid`ah-e-Hasana as he would from Bid`ah-e-Sayyia, he will not even smell the fragrance of this treasure (following the Sunnat). This is extremely difficult nowadays, because the ocean of Bid`ah is all over wherein people are drowned. They cling onto the darkness of Bid`ah. Who dares to oppose Bid`ah? Or bring alive a Sunnat?
In this era the Ulama are the ones who initiate the Bid`ah customs and destroy the Sunnat. Those Bid`ahs which have penetrated on all fronts, are not only given consent, in fact, they are even granted the Fatwa of being virtuous. People are even guided towards Bid`ahs.” [Maktoob 54, part 2]