Fiqh-us-Sunnah Volume 4, Funerals and Dhikr, Fiqh 4.080B.

Section : The Wording of Condolence.

Condolences may be offered in any words so long as they lighten the distress, induce patience, and bring solace to the bereaved. It is preferable, however, to use the wording as transmitted in hadith.

Usamah ibn Zaid reported, “A daughter of the Prophet, peace be upon him, sent him a message to come to her house, because a son of hers had died. In response he sent her a message with his regards saying: ‘Verily, to Allah belongs what He has taken, and to Him belongs what He has given. For everything He has set a term. So be patient and be content’.” (Bukhari. In Comment An-Nawawi said: “This is a very comprehensive hadith. It contains a number of essential principles of Islam. It encourages one to be patient in the face of catastrophe and hard times. The meaning of ‘what Allah takes’ is that everything belongs to Allah. Therefore what he takes also belongs to Him and not to others. He takes what He owns. Whatever we have is on trust. Thus, we should be patient and content with whatever befalls us.”)

At-Tabarani, Al-Hakim, and Ibn Mardawayh reported – with a chain that has an unreliable narrator – from Mu’azh ibn Jabal that when a son of his slied, Mu’azh received a letter from the Prophet, peace be upon him, offering him condolences. The Prophet wrote to him: “In the name of Allah, the most Beneficent, the Most Merciful. From Muhammad, the Messenger of Allah, to Mu’azh bin Jabal. Peace be upon you. I praise Allah, there is no god but He. May Allah increase your reward, grant you patience, and give us and you the power to offer our thanks, for verily, our lives, our wealth, and our families are gifts of Allah entrusted to us only for awhile. May Allah grant you joy and bless you with a large reward, mercy, and guidance. If you are content with Him, you should be patient. Do not let your grief destroy your reward, so that you may regret it later on. Remember grieving over the deceased will not restore him to life, nor remove grief. Whatever is destined to happen, it is as if it has already occurred. Peace be on you’.” (This hadith is weak. Mu’azh’s son reportedly died two years after the death of the Prophet, peace be upon him)

Ash-Shafi’i has reported the following in his Musnad from Ja’far ibn Muhammad, who reported from his father and from his grandfather, both of whom said: “When the Prophet, peace be upon him, died and condolences were offered, they heard someone saying. ‘In Allah is the best consolation against every catastrophe, a substitute for every loss, and a replacement for anything that is missed. Trust Allah, seek His aid, and be hopeful of His mercy. The one really afflicted is the one who is deprived of the reward for his misfortune.” The chain of narrators of this hadith is weak. Muslim scholars say that if a Muslim offers condolences to another Muslim he should say: “May Allah increase your reward, give you the best consolation, and forgive your deceased beloved.” And if one gives condolences to a Muslim for a disbelieving relative, one should say: “May Allah increase your reward, and grant you the best of consolation.”

If one gives condolences to a disbeliever for a Muslim relative, one should say: “May Allah give you the best of condolences and grant forgiveness to your deceased beloved.”

If both the deceased and the one to whom condolences are given are disbelievers, then one should say: “May Allah grant you a substitute.” As for the response to condolences, the receiver should respond, “Amin” and “May Allah reward you.”

According to Ahmad, one may or may not shake hands with the bereaved when offering condolences. If one sees a person who has torn his or her clothes because of a misfortune, one should comfort the person, and should not refuse to do what is good because of his or her vain act, but it is good if one bids such a person to refrain from doing so.