The Mas`alah of visiting the graves and having all sorts of rituals there is also a matter of contention. Regarding this, I would like to present a few points in order to make my opinion clear.
(1). In order to save this Ummat from the ignorant practices of grave-worship etc. our Nabi (sallAllaahu alaihi wasallam) initially forbade the visiting of graves. After these evil practices were eradicated from the people, Nabi (sallAllaahu alaihi wasallam) gave consent for the visiting of the graves, and said:
“I used to forbid you from visiting the graves. (Now that this prohibition has been lifted) Visit them now, because it lessens the desire for this world and reminds one of the hereafter.” [Mishkaat, page 154]
This is the reason why it is permissible to visit the graveyard. However, there are differences regarding two Mas`alahs. Firstly, is this permission for men and women or only for men? Many Akaabireen have this opinion that women do not have the consent to visit the graveyard, because Nabi (sallAllaahu alaihi wasallam) said specifically regarding women:
“Allaah Ta`ala has cursed the female visitors to the graves.” [Mishkaat, page 154]
Some aver that this prohibition was before the consent, and now just as for men, women also may go to the graveyard. The actual reason for the prohibition of females from the graveyard is that women are prone to weakness and impatience and they will go there and initiate all sorts of innovations and commotions. Since their attendance at the graveyard will give rise to many Fitnahs, they have been prohibited from going. If women go to the graveyard and do not get involved in any Bid`ah, evil action or reaction and give way to their sentiments, then they may go, but his consent applies only to old ladies and not young women. [Fataawa Shaami, page 242]
(2). Our Nabi (sallAllaahu alaihi wasallam) taught us the following method of visiting the graveyard, that when one enters the graveyard he should recite the following dua:
“As-Salaam upon you O abode of a believing nation. You are our predecessors and we are your descendants. Indeed, if Allaah Ta`ala wills, we will be joining you. We beseech Allaah Ta`ala to grant us and you contentment.” [Mishkaat, page 154]
Thereafter one should make some dua for the deceased and recite some Tilaawat etc. as Isaal-e-Thawaab for them. There have been a few Surahs that have been mentioned in the Ahaadith Shareef which have specific benefits. Similarly, the virtue and benefit of Durood Shareef has also been narrated. However, one may recite, Durood Shareef, Surah Faatihah, Aayatul Kursi, Surah Ikhlaas, etc. and pass the Thawaab onto the deceased. Dua can be made with the hands kept down, or one may lift hands, but (if the hands are lifted) one‟s back should be towards the grave and one should face the Qiblah. [Fataawa Aalimgiri, page 350, vol. 5]
(3). The object and main aim of visiting the graveyard is as Nabi (sallAllaahu alaihi wasallam) had mentioned, that is, so it (the sight of the graves) creates in one the reality of the briefness of the world. A man should take lesson from here. He remembers his own pending death and thinks of the grave. He prepares his soul for the Hereafter. The second object is to fulfil the rights of one‟s close (deceased) relatives, by making dua for them and passing on Isaal-e-Thawaab for them, thereby benefiting them. The visiting of the graves by the Ahlullaah (pious people) increases their stages and makes their traversing the path to Allaah Ta`ala more accessible.
(4). The Shariah has not allowed excesses to occur at the gravesides. Hence, we are prohibited from being disrespectful at the graveside and also from granting excessive respect, thereby transgressing the bounds of the Shariah. Hadhrat Jaabir (radhiAllaahu anhu) has reported that Nabi (sallAllaahu alaihi wasallam) has prohibited fortifying the graves (i.e. building a solid wall around it), from constructing tombs and domes upon it, and also from sitting upon them. [Mishkaat, page 148]
A prohibition from sitting on the graves and performing Salaat in their direction has been reported in one Hadith. It is reported in a Hadith that it will be better if one sits upon the burning coals of a fire and that the fire reaches and burns his body rather than sitting on a grave.
It is reported in one Hadith that Nabi (sallAllaahu alaihi wasallam) has forbidden the building of (walls around) graves, from writing upon them and from walking upon them. It has been reported in one Hadith that when Nabi (sallAllaahu alaihi wasallam) saw a Sahaabi, Hadhrat Amr Bin Hazam (radhiAllaahu anhu) „fixing‟ up and neatening a grave, he said: “Do not case difficulty to the inmates of the grave.” [Mishkaat Shareef, page 148/9]
It is very evident and apparent from these pure Ahaadith that Nabi (sallAllaahu alaihi wasallam) neither allowed disrespect to the graves nor did he allow excessive reverence. However, if anyone executes any act at the grave
which is contrary to the Shariah then it is necessary to prevent and eradicate it. Hadhrat Ali (radhiAllaahu anhu)
narrates that Nabi (sallAllaahu alaihi wasallam) deputed him with the important duty of destroying any (animate)
picture or figure that he saw and flattening any grave that he saw which was (unusually) high. [Mishkaat, page
From these Ahaadith it is clear that it is forbidden to make any grave solid or to make a tomb or dome on it. The very grave of Nabi (sallAllaahu alaihi wasallam) and his two companions Hadhrat Abu Bakr (radhiAllaahu anhu) and Hadhrat Umar (radhiAllaahu anhu) do not have solid walls around them. In fact, they are plain. [Mishkaat, page 149]
(5). Now, let us take a stock of what the ignorant people are doing at the gravesides nowadays. For example, the placing of a chadar (cloth) on the grave, to light lamps thereupon, to make Sajdah at the gravesides, to circumambulate (make Tawaaf) around the graves, to kiss the graves, to touch the eyes and forehead on the graves, to stand at the gravesides with hands folded in the same way as when performing Salaat, to bend at the gravesides as one would for Ruku, to make offerings at the graves, etc., etc. If you happen to go to the grave of any pious personality, you will witness for yourself all such sorts of scenes. Whereas, all such actions are clearly forbidden in all the Kitaabs of the Ahnaaf and the Ahle Sunnat Wal Jamaa`ah.