How long should we mourn the dead?

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Should we mourn the dead at all? Is it Sunnah? Is it Bidah (innovation)?

How long should we mourn them?

These are some of the questions on mourning the dead.


Examples from history prove that mourning is from the established Sunnah of the Prophet (s.a.w.a.). Muslims in general mourned the dead, at times for very long periods of time.

When the Prophet (s.a.w.a.) declared mournig for a full year

It is recorded by Aslami and others – Abu Talib (a.s.) passed away…and Khadijah (s.a.) passed away afterwards. The grief over their demise made the Prophet (s.a.w.a.) declare that year as the ‘Year of Grief’.

  • Tabaqaat v 1 p 106
  • Tarikh of Ibn Kathir v 3 p 134
  • Al-Seerah al-Halabiyyah v 1 p 373
  • Asna al-Matalib p 11

When Muawiyah enforced a full year of mourning

Muawiyah hung the blood-stained shirt and severed fingers of Usman Ibn Affan on the pulpit and the Syrians mourned him for one year. Over this period, they vowed that they would not rest on their beds till they kill or are killed to avenge Usman’s killing.

  • Tarikh al-Tabari v 3 p 70
  • Al-Kamil fi al-Tarikh v 3 p 161

Mourning for three days or three centuries?!

Skeptics grudgingly accept that mourning is permissible so long as it is for a maximum of three days.

However, as we have already seen, mourning periods have stretched into months.

And in Hazrat Hamza’s (a.s.) case, mourning was prolonged by the Muslims for as much as three centuries, as this report indicates:

Ibn Athir, among the famous scholars of Ahle Tasannun, records that from that day till now (third century Hijri) women before weeping on their relatives first mourn Hazrat Hamza (a.s.) (as instructed by the Prophet (s.a.w.a.) on Hamza’s martyrdom)

  • Usud al-Ghabah v 2 p 68

Ibn Saad, another reliable authority of the Ahle Tasannun, narrates likewise in Al-Tabaqat al-Kubra v 2 p 44

Ibn Kathir, student of Ibn Taymiyyah, has also recorded this fact in Al-Bidayah wa al-Nihayah v 4 p 47. He declares the report to be authentic on the principles laid by Muslim Nishapuri (author of Saheeh Muslim).

Evidently, mourning the dead is nothing new in Islam. Muslims have been mourning the dead from the beginning as ordered by the Prophet (s.a.w.a.) himself in case of Abu Talib, Khadija and Hamza (peace be on them).

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