What is the ruling on what many people do nowadays: if a family member dies the family gathers in his house and people come to offer them condolences, or that may be done in a large hall that is prepared for such occasions, or they may set up large tents for that?.
The custom of people staying in the house to receive condolences was not known at the time of the righteous salaf, hence some of the scholars have stated that it is an innovation (bid’ah).
It says in al-Iqnaa’ wa Sharhahu: It is makrooh to sit and wait for condolences, i.e., when the bereaved sits in a place to receive condolences. When discussing the ruling on making food for the family of the deceased he said: That should be intended for the family of the deceased, not for those who gather at their house. That is makrooh because it is helping to do something that is makrooh, namely gathering at the house of the bereaved family. Al-Marwazi narrated from Ahmad that this was one of the actions of the Jaahiliyyah, and he denounced it strictly. Then he mentioned the hadeeth of Jareer ibn ‘Abd-Allaah (may Allaah be pleased with him) who said: We used to regard gathering with the family of the deceased and making food after the burial as (equivalent to) wailing for the deceased. Al-Nawawi said in Sharh al-Muhadhdhab: With regard to sitting for condolences, al-Shaafa’i, al-Musannaf and all our companions stated that it is makrooh. This was quoted by Abu Haamid in al-Ta’leeq and by others from the text of al-Shaafa’i. They said: That means when the family of the deceased gather in a house and those who want to offer condolences come to them. They said: Rather they should go about their business and whoever happens to meet them should offer condolences to them.
Moreover, if the family of the deceased open the door for people to come and offer their condolences, it is as if they are saying to the people: We have been bereaved so come and offer us condolences. Placing an announcement in the newspaper, stating the place where condolences are to be offered is the same as verbally inviting everyone to come and offer condolences.