Is it permissible for a scholar to attend condolence gatherings to encourage the family of the deceased to be patient, remind them of the transience of this world, explain to them the benefits of patience, and console them so that the condolence gathering will become like one of the gardens of Paradise?.
It is not Sunnah to attend condolence gatherings and exhort the family of the deceased so that others present can hear it too. Rather, gathering to offer condolences is makrooh as has been stated by many of the scholars. Some of them have even stated that it is bid’ah. Hence we encourage our Muslim brothers not to do that, i.e., not to sit and receive people’s condolences.
Firstly – because that was not the way of the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) or of the Sahaabah.
Secondly – because it is as if this person who is sitting at home and expecting people to come to him, is saying, ‘O people, I have been stricken with a calamity so come and console me,’ and this is something that is not befitting for a wise man. Rather the one who has been stricken with a calamity should be patient and bear it without telling people, either implicitly or explicitly, come and console me.
Thirdly – Some people may go to extremes with regard to these gatherings, so that they become like wedding parties. You pass some through some neighbourhoods and see a house lit up with electric lights with the doors open, and chairs and canopies set out, and people coming and going, as if they are at a wedding party. Undoubtedly this is not Sunnah, rather it is definitely contrary to the Sunnah, and it makes people try to console themselves with these activities and not by hoping for reward or bearing it with patience, because this is no more than physical activities. Rather the house should remain as it was and the people should remain as they were, and they should bear it with patience amongst themselves and encourage one another to be patient. This is the Sunnah. Hence when news of the death of Ja’far ibn Abi Taalib (may Allaah be pleased with him) came, the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: “Make food for the family of Ja’far, for there has come to them something that is distracting them.” He did not say: go to them, gather with them and eat with them, rather he said: “Make food for the family of Ja’far, for there has come to them something that is distracting them,” i.e., from making food. Because no matter how much faith people have, they will still be upset, especially if the calamity is great. But if the people gather and food is offered and send to them, or they make it themselves, in this case the Sahaabah regarded making food and people gathering to eat it as a kind of niyaahah (wailing for the deceased).
Hence we say to our brothers: Be kind to yourselves and do not burden yourselves with these actions which will only increase you in bid’ah which was not known at the time of the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him), or at the time of his companions. We say these words, and we say to the one who hears them: If you know of anything from the Sunnah of the Messenger (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) that supports this, then tell us, and we will appreciate that and follow it. But if you do not have any proof, then why are you introducing something that was not done by the Messenger (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) or his companions? Have you not heard that the Messenger (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: “I urge you to adhere to my Sunnah and the way of the Rightly-Guided Caliphs who come after me. Adhere to it and cling firmly to it, and beware of newly-invented matters.”
So we say: do not invite a scholar to attend the gathering of the family of the deceased to preach to them, rather if we see that someone is taking his grief to extremes, we should go to him, along with a family member or a seeker of knowledge who is known to him, to speak to him and say some regular words such as: Fear Allaah, be patient, seek reward, to Allaah belongs that which He has taken and to Him belongs that which He has left, everything has an appointed time with Him, this is something that was decreed fifty thousand years before the creation of the heavens and the earth, that which is decreed will inevitably come to pass; the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: “You should realize that that which has befallen you could never have missed you, and that which has missed you could never have befallen you”; your grieving and weeping so much will not change anything, rather it only makes things worse; do you not know that the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: “The deceased suffers because of his family’s weeping for him”. An ordinary person should come in an ordinary manner and talk to this one who has been overwhelmed by calamity and make it easier for him. But gathering and bringing a preacher to exhort the people etc is all innovation. End quote.