581. buraidah (may allah be pleased with him) reported: messenger of allah (pbuh) said, "(in the past) i forbade you from visiting graves, but visit them now.''
in another narration messenger of allah (pbuh) said, "whoever wants to visit a graveyard, let him do so, because it reminds us of the hereafter.''
commentary: the visit to the graves is not only recommendable from a theological point of view but, in the light of the prophetic saying, it is also compulsory and binding. however, at the dawn of islam it was forbidden due to the apprehension that the muslims might relapse into some wrongdoing by harking back to the pre-islamic memory. but when the monotheistic belief took root in their minds and the apprehension of pagan echoings evaporated, the ban on visiting the graves was lifted. rather an emphasis was laid on such a visit, so that an overpowering thought of death might penetrate a believer's mind as a deterrent force against the promptings of his animal self. the believers must remember death and remember that they will be dead sooner or later. it has been reported that `umar bin al-khattab(may allah be pleased with him) used to address himself thus: "death suffices to serve as an admonitor, o `umar!''
582. `aishah (may allah be pleased with her): reported whenever it was her turn to spend with messenger of allah (pbuh), he used to go to the baqi` (graveyard in al-madinah) at the last part of night and say, "may you be safe, o abode of the believing people. what you have been promised has come to you. you are tarried till tomorrow and certainly we shall follow you if allah wills. o allah, forgive the inmates of the baqi`-al-gharqad.''
commentary: the example of messenger of allah (pbuh) shows that it is right to visit the graves even at night. but the visitor is required to pray the prophetic prayer there as it invokes divine blessing on and pardon to the dead. it may be emphasized here that to greet the dead is a prayer for them. it is not necessary that they should hear it and also respond to it. allah has the power to make them hear it, too. but ours should not be the belief that the dead do hear and reply. the exact position is known to allah alone. we are only supposed to follow the example of messenger of allah (pbuh) and say the greeting and prayer as mentioned above.
583. buraidah (may allah be pleased with him) reported: the prophet (pbuh) used to teach them (i.e., the companions) whenever they came out to visit the graveyard to say: "as-salamu `alaikum ahlad-diyyari minal-mu'minina wal-muslimina, wa inna in sha' allahu bikum lahiqun. as'alul-laha lana wa-lakumul- `afiyyah (may you be safe, o inmates of the abodes of the believers and the muslims, and if allah pleases, we shall follow you, we pray to allah for well-being for ourselves and for you).''
commentary: this hadith has a provision for a believer to visit the graveyard and to pray for his dead relatives, because the prayer of the living benefits the departed souls.
584. ibn `abbas (may allah be pleased with them) reported: messenger of allah (pbuh) passed by the graves at al-madinah. he turned his face towards them and said, "may you be granted safety, o inmates of the graves. may allah forgive us and you. you have preceded us, and we are to follow.''
commentary: imam at-tirmidhi considers it as a credible hadith and imam an-nawawi has also reduced it to writing without `ifs' and `buts'. however, shaikh al-albani calls it undependable from the viewpoint of the chain of reporters. for a detailed study, one may refer to ahkam al-jana'iz by al-albani, page 197.