Is it permitted to cry when a person dies?

ⓘ Supported by Al Medina 313.



Islamic Text

It is certainly permitted to cry when a person dies. However, it is prohibited to wail, tear one’s clothes, hit oneself or to exaggerate in other ways.

عَنْ عَبْدِ اللَّهِ رَضِيَ اللَّهُ عَنْهُ، عَنِ النَّبِيِّ صَلَّى اللهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ قَالَ: لَيْسَ مِنَّا مَنْ ضَرَبَ الخُدُودَ، وَشَقَّ الجُيُوبَ، وَدَعَا بِدَعْوَى الجَاهِلِيَّةِ

(Sayidina) Abdullah (bin Masood, May Allah be pleased with him) said, the Messenger of Allah ﷺ said, ‘He who slaps his cheeks, tears his clothes and wails the wailing of ignorance is not from us.’ (Sahih al-Bukhari, 1297).

It is certainly permitted to cry when a loved one dies, as mentioned in Sahih al-Bukhari, 1303 (see link below for details). However there is a strict prohibition on exaggeration, which includes wailing, striking oneself, tearing clothes or any other form of exaggeration.

Behaving in such an unacceptable manner comes with a serious warning. The beloved Prophet ﷺ said such a person is not from us, and he ﷺ also stated that such a person has nothing to do with him ﷺ. Subhan Allah! A Muslim works his or her entire life to be close to Allah (Most High) and his Messenger ﷺ and then potentially destroys it all in a moment, due to misguided cultural influences.

أَبُو بُرْدَةَ بْنُ أَبِي مُوسَى، قَالَ: وَجِعَ أَبُو مُوسَى وَجَعًا فَغُشِيَ عَلَيْهِ، وَرَأْسُهُ فِي حِجْرِ امْرَأَةٍ مِنْ أَهْلِهِ فَصَاحَتِ امْرَأَةٌ مِنْ أَهْلِهِ، فَلَمْ يَسْتَطِعْ أَنْ يَرُدَّ عَلَيْهَا شَيْئًا، فَلَمَّا أَفَاقَ قَالَ: أَنَا بَرِيءٌ مِمَّا بَرِئَ مِنْهُ رَسُولُ اللهِ صَلَّى اللهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ، «فَإِنَّ رَسُولَ اللهِ صَلَّى اللهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ بَرِئَ مِنَ الصَّالِقَةِ، وَالْحَالِقَةِ، وَالشَّاقَّةِ»

Abu Burdah bin Abi Musa (May Allah be pleased with them) said (My father) Abu Musa became seriously ill and lost consciousness. His head was in the lap of a woman from his family. She began to wail. He was unable to respond to her. When he regained consciousness, he said, ‘I am free of those from whom the Messenger of Allah ﷺ has declared severance.’ Indeed, the Messenger of Allah ﷺ declared himself disconnected from a woman who wails, shaves her head, or tears her clothes. (Sahih Muslim, 104 – 167).

This Hadith is also in Sahih al-Bukhari (1296). However, the narration (above) in Sahih Muslim is slightly more detailed and thus clearer. It is important to recognise that true patience is at the initial shock of a calamity occurring. Many people will react to a calamity in an unacceptable or even prohibited manner, and then claim patience later.

سَمِعْتُ أَنَسًا رَضِيَ اللَّهُ عَنْهُ، عَنِ النَّبِيِّ صَلَّى اللهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ قَالَ: الصَّبْرُ عِنْدَ الصَّدْمَةِ الأُولَى

(Sayidina) Anas (May Allah Most High be pleased with him) narrated that the Prophet ﷺ said, ‘(True) patience is at the initial shock of calamity.’ (Sahih al-Bukhari, 1302).

People who engage in wailing or other unacceptable behaviour make many excuses. The most common is that they cannot control themselves. This is a terrible excuse. Such people do not realise that by saying such things they are accusing the Sharia of being unjust. Allah Most High does not prohibit something that a person has no control over.

The very fact that wailing is prohibited, is a proof that people can control themselves. There may be a rare occasion were a person genuinely does temporarily lose his or her mind, and therefore will be excused. However, claiming that this is a norm in society undermines the law of Allah Most High.

And Allah Most High Knows Best.

-Answered by Shaykh Noorud-deen Rashid (07.06.2022)

See also:
Did the Prophet cry at the passing of his son?
What should you say when a person dies?

See also video: