The Talqeen

– What is the Talqeen?

The Talqeen is exhorting, encouraging, or gently reminding the dying person to say ‘Laa ilaaha ill-Allaah’ (there is no Deity worthy of worship except Allaah) so that his last words in this world may be ‘Laa ilaaha ill-Allaah’. The benefit in this is found in a ḥadeeth that was narrated by Mu’aadh ibn Jabal (may Allaah be pleased with him) who said: I heard the Messenger of Allaah (ﷺ) say: “If a person’s last words are Laa ilaaha ill-Allaah, Paradise will be guaranteed for him.” [Narrated by Aḥmad (21529), Abu Dawood (3116). Classed as Ṣaḥiḥ by Albaani in Irwa’ ul-Ghaleel (687)]

– Is the Talqeen a part of the Shari’ah?

Yes, doing the Talqeen is recommended according to most scholars, while other scholars opined that it is obligatory. The proof is found in the ḥadeeth that was narrated by Abu Sa’eed al-Khudri (may Allaah be pleased with him) that the Messenger of Allaah (ﷺ) said: “Exhort your dying ones to say ‘Laa ilaaha ill-Allaah’.” [Narrated by Muslim (916)]

– How many times is it done?

The dying person should not be overburdened by being told repeatedly to say ‘Laa ilaaha ill-Allaah’. If he says it once, then that is sufficient. If he speaks after saying it, he can then be reminded gently again, so that ‘Laa ilaaha ill-Allaah’ is his final words before he dies.

– When is the Talqeen performed?

The Talqeen is performed upon the dying person, and NOT after the person has died. The intention behind the Talqeen is to remind the dying person to say ‘Laa ilaaha ill-Allaah’ before he dies as his last words. A common practice these days is that the Talqeen is performed at the gravesite after the person has died. This practice is incorrect for a number of reasons:

1. This was not the teaching of our beloved Prophet Muḥammad (ﷺ), as nothing authentic has been reported from him instructing this practice. Rather we learn from an authentic ḥadeeth, narrated by ‘Uthmaan bin ‘Affaan (may Allaah be pleased with him), “Whenever the Prophet (ﷺ) became free from burying the dead, he used to stay at him (i.e. his grave) and say: ‘Seek forgiveness for your brother, and beg steadfastness for him, for he will be questioned now.’” [Narrated by Abu Dawood (3221). Classed as Ṣaḥiḥ by Albaani in Ṣaḥiḥ Abu Dawood]

Therefore, the Sunnah is for each person to remain at the grave, and to ask Allaah to forgive the deceased and grant him steadfastness as he is about to be questioned.

2. Doing the Talqeen at the gravesite after the deceased has been buried also contradicts a number of other teachings found in the Shari’ah.

a. The dead person cannot hear. Allaah says:
and behind them is a barrier (Barzakh) until the Day they are resurrected.” [23:100]
“Al-Barzakh is what is between this world and the Hereafter, neither are they the people of this world, eating and drinking, nor are they with the people of the Hereafter, being rewarded or punished for their deeds.” [1]
Likewise Allaah says, “Indeed, you will not make the dead hear, nor will you make the deaf hear the call when they have turned their backs retreating.” [27:80]. Allaah (ﷻ) also says, ““but you cannot make those in the graves hear.” [35:22]
The general rule, therefore, is that the dead cannot hear, except that which Allaah allows them to hear. For example, the questions in the grave will be heard and answered. In addition, the Prophet (ﷺ) addressed the slain kuffaar (disbelievers) after the Battle of Badr. Allaah caused them to hear his words, although they were at the bottom of the well in which they had been buried. This was a special case, as the scholars, may Allaah have mercy on them, have stated. Likewise, the Prophet (ﷺ) mentioned, “When a servant (of Allaah) is placed in his grave, and his Companions depart from him, he hears the stepping sound of their shoes.” [Narrated by Abu Dawood (3231). Authenticated by Albaani in Ṣaḥiḥ Abu Dawood]. This too is a specific case, which is an exception to the general rule.

b. The moment a person passes away, his deeds are cut off and come to an end. Even if it is argued that he can or might hear the Talqeen done at the gravesite, the reality is that it will not benefit him then. He will not be able to say ‘Laa ilaaha ill-Allaah’ at that moment. His repentance and seeking forgiveness stops the moment his soul is taken, as the Qur’an and Sunnah made clear. The Prophet (ﷺ) said, “When the human being dies, his deeds end except for three: ongoing charity, beneficial knowledge, or a righteous child who prays for him.” [Narrated by Muslim (1613)]

c. Mentioning to the deceased person (as part of the Talqeen) the answers to the questions in the grave also will be of no benefit, even if they could possibly hear it. The reason for this is that answering in the grave is dependent on the way the person lived. If the person lived as if Allaah was His Lord, Islam as his religion, and the Prophet Muhammad (ﷺ) as his messenger, then he will, by Allah’s Permission, answer those questions correctly. If the deceased person was a disbeliever or a major sinner who failed to live according to those three things – Allaah being His Lord, Islam his religion, and the Prophet Muhammad (ﷺ) his Prophet – then nobody mentioning the answers to him while he is in the grave is going to help him. Every Muslim knows the answers to the questions of the grave while he is alive, but when he enters the grave, only those who sincerely lived accordingly will know the answers. We ask Allaah to aid and assist us at all times!

3. The ḥadeeth of Abu Umaamah (may Allaah be pleased with him) which is narrated by aṭ-Ṭabaraani in his Mu’jam al-Kabeer (7979) which is used to prove that the Talqeen should be done at the gravesite, is inauthentic. Imam ibn al-Qayyim (may Allaah have mercy on him said), “The weakness of this ḥadeeth is agreed upon”. [2]. Imam ibn Ḥajr al-‘Asqalani (may Allaah have mercy on him) said, “This ḥadeeth is Ghareeb. The chain of narration of the ḥadeeth from both its paths is very weak”.[3] The ḥadeeth was also classed as inauthentic by ibn aṣ-Ṣalaaḥ, an-Nawawi, al-Haythami, al-‘Iraaqi, aṣ-Ṣan’aani and many others. Al-Haythami said, “In its chain of narration are men that I do not know.”[4] In fact, some scholars, like Imams ash-Shawkaani, al-Albaani, ibn Baaz and others regarded the ḥadeeth as fabricated. Ibn al-Qayyim said, “The ḥadeeth of the Talqeen, the scholars who are knowledgeable of ḥadeeth have no doubt over this ḥadeeth being fabricated”.[5] Shaykh al-Albani gathered the speech of many of the Imams of ḥadeeth and concluded that the ḥadeeth is Munkar or rejected.[6]
Aḥadeeth that are Munkar, very weak or fabricated are not to be acted upon, even according to those who allow acting upon weak aḥadeeth.

4. Any act of worship that was not taught by the Prophet (ﷺ), or any of the Rightly Guided Caliphs of Islam, is not permissible in the Shari’ah of Allaah (ﷻ), and is regarded as a religious innovation (a Bid’ah). The Prophet (ﷺ) said, “Whoever innovates something into this affair of ours which does not belong to it will have it rejected” [Narrated by Bukhari (2550)] He also said, “Whoever performs a deed that is not in accordance with our matter will have it rejected.” [Narrated by Muslim (1718)]

‘Abdullah Ibn Mas’ud (may Allaah be pleased with him) said: “Follow and do not innovate, for verily you have been sufficed!” [7]

Hudhayfah ibn al-Yamaan (may Allaah be pleased with him) said, “Every act of worship which the companions of the Messenger of Allaah (ﷺ) did not do, do not do it.” [8]

5. The Prophet (ﷺ) taught his Ummah the du’aa to recite for the deceased person, and what is to be done at the gravesite. No teaching has been omitted from this perfect religion. Thus, had the Talqeen at the gravesite been permissible or part of this religion, he would have taught it to his Ummah.

For the reasons mentioned above, we say that doing the Talqeen at the gravesite is not permissible. Imam al-‘Izz ibn ‘Abdis-Salaam (may Allaah have mercy on him) said, “Nothing is proven regarding Talqeen (at the gravesite). This is Bid’ah (Innovation) and the saying of the Prophet (ﷺ), ‘Exhort your dying ones to say Laa ilaaha ill-Allaah’, is for the person who is close to dying and hope for his life is lost.”[9] Imam al-‘Izz ibn ‘Abdis-Salaam also said, “This was not the practice of (Imam) Maalik to perform the Talqeen after the burial.”[10]
Imam Aḥmad ibn Ḥanbal (may Allaah have mercy on him) said regarding the Talqeen at the gravesite, “I have not seen anyone doing that except for the people of Shaam when Abu Mughirah passed on.”[11] The point here is that this action was not done except by a few people from Shaam. As believers, we follow the Qur’an and Sunnah, and not the actions of some people from any particular place.
Imam aṣ-Ṣan’aani mentioned on the ḥadeeth of Abu Umaamah (may Allaah be pleased with him) mentioned above, “What is achieved by the Imams of Taḥqeeq (verification), is that the ḥadeeth is weak, acting by it is a Bid’ah, and one should not be deceived by the masses that are doing it (i.e. the Talqeen at the gravesite)”.[12]
Imam Ibn al-Qayyim said, “(The Prophet ﷺ) did not sit at the grave and recite (Qur’an), nor did he do the Talqeen the way the people do it today.”[13]
Imam as-Suyuṭi (may Allaah have mercy on him) said, “The Talqeen is not proven from Ṣaḥiḥ or Ḥasan ḥadeeth, in fact, the ḥadeeth is weak by consensus of the Muḥadditheen. That is why the majority of the scholars say that the Talqeen is a Bid’ah. Another whose verdict was the same was Shaykh ‘Izz ud-Din ibn Abdis Salaam. It was although regarded as something good by ibn aṣ-Ṣalaaḥ and he was followed by an-Nawawi in that since they allowed following weak Ḥadeeth in virtuous actions.”[14]
This view that the Talqeen at the gravesite is a Bid’ah was also held by the likes of al-Albani, ibn Baaz, ibn ‘Uthaymin, The Standing Committee for Scholarly Research and Issuing Fatwas in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, and many others.

We acknowledge that a group of scholars said that the Talqeen at the gravesites is permissible. However, as believers our duty is always to return to the Book of Allaah and the Sunnah of our Messenger (ﷺ) in all matters, as well as in matters of dispute. Allaah (ﷻ) says: “O you who have believed, obey Allaah and obey the Messenger and those in authority among you. And if you disagree over anything, refer it to Allaah (the Qur’an) and the Messenger (the Sunnah), if you should believe in Allaah and the Last Day. That is the best [way] and best in result.” [04:59]

What we find from the two sources of Islamic Law is that the Talqeen at the gravesite is something not legislated, and therefore should be abandoned. Sadly today, if a person stands by this viewpoint and does not do the Talqeen in this manner, he is rebuked and regarded as intolerant or extreme, and unto Allaah do we complain. How can he be extreme when he is following that which is closer to what the Messenger of Allaah (ﷺ) did? Yet the Prophet (ﷺ) so beautifully said, “The best of guidance is the guidance of Muḥammad (ﷺ)”. [Narrated by Muslim (867)]

In conclusion:

1. The Talqeen is a Sunnah that is performed upon the dying person, reminding him to say ‘Laa ilaaha ill-Allaah’, hoping that this will be his final words before he departs from this world. May Allaah allow us to pass away in this manner.
2. Nothing authentic has been narrated regarding the Talqeen at the gravesite or after one has passed away. Hence, it is regarded as an innovation in the religion, and all innovation is misguidance.
3. Those who do not recite the Talqeen at the gravesite are not extremists, nor are they being disrespectful to the deceased. They are only trying to follow the Sunnah of the Prophet Muḥammad (ﷺ).
The teachings of the Ṣaḥabah, the great Imams of the Tabi’een, and the great Imams of Ahlus-Sunnah who followed them were to restrict oneself upon the Sunnah, and not to go beyond it. Imam al-Awzaa’i (may Allaah have mercy on him said):
“Patiently restrict yourself upon the sunnah, stop where the people (i.e. the companions) stopped, say what they say and refrain from that which they refrained. Traverse upon the path of your Salaf uṣ-Ṣaliḥ (righteous predecessors), for indeed what was sufficient for them is sufficient for you.”[15]

Allaah the Exalted knows best. May Allaah send peace and blessings upon our beloved Prophet Muḥammad, his family, companions and all those who follow them, Aameen.

Written by Imraan Mollagee.


[1] Tafsir ibn Kathir

[2] Tahdheeb Mukhtaṣar us-Sunan: (7/250)

[3] See: al-Futooḥaat ur-Rabaaniyah: (4/196)

[4] Majma’ uz-Zawaa`id (2/324) and (3/45)

[5] al-Manaar: (1/278)

[6] Silsilat uḍ-Ḍa’eefah (2/64, no. 599)

[7] Reported by ibn Baṭṭah in al-Ibaanah al-Kubraa (182). See: aḍ-Ḍa’eefah of al-Albani (533) who graded it as authentic.

[8] Reported by Lalakaa`i in Sharḥ Usool ul-I’tiqaad (1/90).

[9] Fatawa al-‘Izz ibn ‘Abdis-Salaam, p 96

[10] al-Fawaakih ud-Dawaani (1/284)

[11] Zaad ul-Ma’aad (1/536) and al-Mughni of ibn Qudaamah (1/191)

[12] Subul us-Salaam (3/319)

[13] Zaad ul-Ma’aad (1/535)

[14] Ṭuloo’ uth-Tharaayaa (2/377)

[15] Reported by Aajurri in ash-Shari’ah (pg. 58)