The sunnah concerning this is that one should offer condolences to the bereaved family and leave. Neither the consoler nor the consoled should sit down. This is the lesson we learn from the example of our righteous predecessors. Ash-Shafi’i in his Al-Umm said, “I dislike gathering in groups together to give condolences even if those gathered do not cry. Such a gathering revives sorrow and adds to the grief and burden of the bereaved family. An-Nawawi said, “Ash-Shafi’i and his companions disliked sitting for condolences, whereby members of the family stay in their homes to receive anyone coming to give their condolences. Instead, they should go about their usual tasks and needs. This applies both to men and women. Al-Muhamili states this explicitly and transmits it in reference to a text from Ash-Shafi’i. This is makruh tanzihi (Makruh tanzihl signifies something which is undesirable yet is closer to the lawful) unless it is coupled with some other innovation. If it is accompanied with another forbidden innovation (bid’ah), as is generally the case, then it is regarded as one of the strongly forbidden acts. All such acts are an innovation, and as a sound hadith says, “All novel acts are an innovation and every innovation is error.”
Ahmad and many other Hanafi scholars also hold this opinion. Early Hanafi scholars, however, held the view that there is nothing wrong in holding a gathering at places other than mosques for three days of condolence, so long as one does nothing prohibited. The practices of some people nowadays, such as gathering for condolences, setting up tents, spreading carpets, and incurring a lot of expenses out of arrogance and show off are all despicable innovations that are forbidden and must be avoided, especially when most of these acts are contradictory to the teachings of the Qur’an and sunnah and are vestiges of pre-Islamic customs of jahiliyyah. Some of these innovations are reciting the Qur’an in a melodic fashion and disregarding the rules of proper recitation, or not keeping silent when listening to the Qur’an or indulging in smoking or such other activities. And this is not all. Some of these slaves of their desires indulge in extreme innovation. They are not satisfied with the days originally prescribed by Islam, but designate Wednesday as the day to renew these abominations and to indulge in these innovations. They celebrate the anniversary of death on the first day and observe remembrance on the second day, and do other such other things without any justification by either text or reason.