Permissible visitation of graves

Ibn Taymiyyah, (may Allaah’s Mercy be upon him) said, ‘… and there are two types of visiting graves, one being permissible and the other being an innovation. There are reports recommending performing the permissible visiting,

“Visit the graves because it will remind you of the Hereafter!” (Ibn Maajah 1569)

There is also,

“I used to prohibit you from visiting graves, but now, visit them!” (Muslim 977)

No doubt, visiting, seeing and reflecting upon and the state and fate of the dwellers of the grave, incites the heart to repent and fear Allaah  and encourages the person to carry out righteous deeds and desist from evil deeds. This is the principle for a heart which is alive. However, unfortunately, we have experienced this and we have seen others and found their seriousness to be very weak. Al-Qurttuby, the scholar of Qur’aan explanation, mentioned when explaining Allaah ‘s and Words,

{أَلْهَىٰكُمُ ٱلتَّكَاثُرُ ١ حَتَّىٰ زُرْتُمُ ٱلْمَقَابِر}
“Competition [worldly] increase diverts you, until you visit the graveyards…” (AT-Takaathur 1-2)

Some of the life of the predecessors has been mentioned regarding this subject, and if we were to relate our situation with it, we would find we are nothing in comparison to them. No doubt, in the beginning, if it is alive, the heart will be affected, then after, it will either increase or decrease in being affected, according to how alive or dead it is. The more some people visit such graves, they are more affected and reflective, while the more other people visit, the affair becomes an easy matter. Some people tell us, ‘I do not make a difference between a grave and the pit for changing car oil!,’ that is, whether it is said or not, this is the reality. Unfortunately, we find this among ourselves. No doubt, the heart needs revival and giving life to its deceased state. Hasan Al-Bassry would say, ‘Look at your heart in three situations: when reciting the Qur’aan, in prayer, and in supplication. If you found it attendant, that is good; otherwise, know that the door of your action being accepted is closed!’ This is our situation. We ask Allaah  to revive our hearts. There is a difference between the state of people now and 30 or more years ago. The meaning is that after the world and all that it has, has opened up for people, they changed tremendously. The prophetic Companions (may Allaah’s Pleasure be upon them) were wary about the state of their hearts as soon as they had got up from burying the Prophet ﷺ. Why? This is because they are affected by what they observe and experience in life. Yes, they are affected by what the Prophet ﷺ left of Allaah’s Book and His Prophet ﷺ’s Sunnah. However, a report is unlike an observation! This is something we have experienced: 30 years ago, if some people saw a funeral, he would experience a vision about this in sleep for a period of time. Others would not go out that day and would be affected to quite an extent. Now, there is no difference regarding before and after witnessing a funeral! With great sorrow, it is noteworthy that, indeed, you would find a worker in a mortuary place his goods, of food, drink or other item, with the deceased in the morgue refrigerator to keep them cool. Where are the hearts?! We seek Reliance from Allaah! The permissible visitation of graves which is recommended is intended to benefit the deceased and visitor. Ibn Taymiyyah says, ‘The permissible type is the one of sending salutations upon and supplicating for, the deceased, similar to the intention behind a funeral prayer, for visiting the deceased is of the same type of action of performing a funeral prayer for him.’. This benefits the deceased. Also, the visitor benefits through the change of his situation when he sees the grave. Whenever ‘Uthmaan (may Allaah’s Pleasure be upon him) saw the grave, he wept heavily. He was asked, ‘Do you see something greater than this?’ He replied, “This is the first stage and it is the definitive, final stage, and this is the split in the path! It is either on the right or left with no other path. Al-Qurttuby (may Allaah ‘s Mercy be upon him) used to say, ‘If visiting graves has no effect on you, make an effort to visit the dying, for their situation affects a person, and even a sick heart! However, what about a person who is not even affected by this?! They pass by accidents and sees people’s souls leaving their bodies and they breathe their last words, and of this is as if nothing happened. The world and what it contains has opened up for people, and has entered the hearts, and this is something witnessed. A person may say, ‘There is good in people, and there is much knowledge and students of knowledge, as well as those who go to mosques.’ However, this is an apparent phenomenon, but Allaah  does not look at apparent phenomena. Indeed, He looks at the heart and actions. No doubt, the hearts have been affected, and the Messenger ﷺ said,

“By Allaah! I do not fear poverty for you, but I fear that the temptations of the world become available for you!” (Bukhaary 3185)

This is the result for those for whom the world and its contents have opened. Yes, the bodies come forward to do actions, and Praise be to Allaah, but it all depends on the hearts.