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The Shafi’i View on Women Visiting the Graves

Answered as per Shafi'i Fiqh by Shafiifiqh.com

The Shafi’i author and jurist Abu Is-haq Ash-Shirāzī stated,

“It is not permitted for women to visit the graves due to what is reported from Abu Hurayrah (radhiya Allahu ‘Anhu) from the Prophet (sallallāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam) that he stated, “The curse of Allah is upon women who visit the graves.”1

However, Imam An-Nawawi disagrees.

Imam An-Nawawi (rahimahullah) stated in his Al-Majmu’ Sharh Al-Muhadhab commenting upon the fact that this is the apparent meaning of the hadith:

“…however, this [verdict] is irregular [shādh] in the madh-hab (of Imam Ash-Shāfi’ī). The majority (jumhūr) of the scholars deemed it to be makruh (disliked) for women – suggestively disliked (كراهة تنزيه). [Imam] Ar-Ruyānī mentioned in his “Al-Bahr” two views. The first being that it is makrūh, as stated by the majority. The second view is that it is not makruh, saying, “And this is what is more correct when she will safe from being tried.” The author of Al-Mustath-harī [i.e Ghazzali] stated, “My view is that if the women go to the graves seeking to renew grief, cry, wail (etc), as is the custom of women, then it is forbidden. Upon them is the meaning carried by the hadith, “The curse of Allah is upon women who visit the graves.” If the women are going for a purpose other than wailing and the likes then it is disliked (makruh), unless it is an old woman where there is no worry of such, then it is not makruh. […]

An Nawawi continues,

“The scholars have disagreement (may Allah have mercy on them) regarding the women entering the graveyards due to what the Prophet (sallallāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam) said,

نهيتكم عن زيارة القبور فزوروها

“I used to forbid you to visit the graves, [now] you can visit them.”2

And the chosen view (mukhtār) according to our Shafi’ī comrades is that they are not to enter amongst men. What proves that it is not forbidden for women to visit the graves is the hadīth of Anas (ibn Mālik radiya allāhu ‘anhu) that the Prophet Muhammad (sallallāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam) came upon a woman and she was weeping at the grave and he said to her, اتق الله واصبري “Be aware of Allāh and be patient!”3

The proof in this report being that he did not forbid from continuing to visit the grave. Also what is reported by ‘Ā’ishah (radiya allāhu ‘anhā) who asked the Prophet, “What do I say when I visit the graves?” Whereupon he instructed her to send salams upon the inhabitants etc.4

Conclusion: The strongest opinion in the school is that it is generally Makruh for women to visit the graves. If they do visit the graves, they should do so patiently, so as not to wail and do actions of jahaliyyah. If she can guarantee that she will not behave irrationally and commit forbidden acts, then there is a reported opinion that it is permitted. Also, women are not to  intermingle with the men when visiting the graves.

Allah Knows Best!

  1. Reported by Imam At-Tirmidhī in his Sunan saying afterwards, “Hasan Sahīh” []
  2. Sahih Muslim []
  3. Reported by Al Bukhārī and Muslim []
  4. reported by Muslim in his Sahih []

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