Concerning the viewing of the mayyit by anyone who wishes, is it haram? Did mahram and ghair mahram see the prophet when he died? Can we say since this happened it is permissible?
The laws regarding not looking at a ghair Mahram is equal to ‘when one is alive’ and ‘when one has passed away’. This means that just as it is not allowed for a male to look at a ghair Mahram female while she was alive, in a similar manner, he would not be allowed to view her face after she has passed away. Similarly, just as it is not allowed for a female to look at a ghair Mahram male while he was alive, so too it is not permissible for her to view his face after he has passed away. (The allowance which is given to look at the face of a ghair Mahram while one is alive is based on necessity).
There are traditions which have spoken about ‘not looking at a ghair Mahram’ and the Holy Quran in Sura An Nur, has also spoken about it. Books on Islamic Jurisprudence have also dealt with this subject at length under the chapter of Karahiyah (disliked things).
According to what is evident to us, it is not established that ghair Mahram women looked at the facae of the Prophet (SAS) after he passed away. It is established that they all performed Salaatul Janaza. Even if they saw his face, then this was allowed for them even while he was alive since they were from his Ummah and followers and would come to him regularly to ask questions etc. The Prophet (S.A) accommodated them and he spoke to them whenever they came. In this regard, the Prophet (S.A) cannot be judged as another person, since he was Allah’s greatest Prophet who was totally free from ill thoughts that may come into another person’s heart.
So, even if it is evident that the ghair Mahram women saw his blessed face, then this would be treated as a separate case due to the fact that he was their Prophet. This cannot be extended to others of the Ummah as ruled by the scholars of Ahlus Sunnah Wal Jamaah.
The ruling therefore, is that it is not permissible for a woman who is a ghair Mahram to the deceased male to look at his face, nor will it be permissible for a male to look at the face of a deceased ghair Mahram female. (Fatawa Rahimiya vol.3 pg.92)
And Allah knows best.
Mufti Waseem Khan
This answer was collected from DarulUloomTT.net, which is operated under the supervision of Mufti Waseem Khan from Darul Uloom Trinidad and Tobago.