Praying the funeral prayer in absentia for one who has already been prayed on is not legislated, but rather an innovation.
Imam al-Albani (may Allah have mercy upon him) said, “Whoever dies in a land in which there is no one who can pray upon him while present, then this person is prayed on by a group of Muslims with a prayer of absentia due to the Prophet (ﷺ) praying for Najaashi. It was reported by a group of the Companions with some of them having additions in [the wording of their hadith] over others. I have gather the Ahaadith regarding it, then placed them into one wording in order to bring the benefit nearer. The wording of the Hadith is from Abu Hurairah (may Allah be pleased with him), ‘
إن رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم صلى الله عليه وسلم نعى للناس [وهو بالمدينة] النجاشي [أصحمه] [صاحب الحبشة] في اليوم الذي مات فيه: [قال: إن أخا قد مات (وفي رواية: مات اليوم عبد لله صالح) [بغير أرضكم] [فقوموا فصلوا عليه]، [قالوا: من هو؟ قال النجاشي] [وقال: استغفروا لأخيكم]، قال: فخرج بهم إلى المصلى (وفي رواية: البقيع) [ثم تقدم فصفوا خلفه] [صفين]، [قال: فصففنا خلفه كما يصف على الميت وصلينا عليه كما يصلى على الميت] [وما تحسب الجنازة إلا موضوعة بين يديه] [قال: فأمنا وصلى عليه]، وكبر (عليه) أربع تكبيرات
The Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) announced to the people [and he was in Madinah] that Najashi [Ashama] [the companion of Habasha] died, in the day which he died in. He said, “a brother has died (in one version, ‘today a righteous servant passed away)’ [‘in other than your land’] [‘so stand and pray over him’]. [They said, ‘who is he?’ He said, ‘Najashi’] [and he said, ‘seek forgiveness for your brother’] He said, ‘so he came out to the Mussalah (in one version: al-Baqi) [Then he (ﷺ) came forward and made those behind him into rows [two rows] [He said, ‘we made rows behind him as we made rows for the deceased and we prayed over him like we prayed for the deceased] [and it was not considered a funeral except with a [body] placed in front of him] [He said’ He (ﷺ) led us and prayed over him’] and he made Takbir (over him) with four Takbeeraat“. Reported by al-Bukhari (3/90, 145, 155, 157,) Muslim (3/54) and the wording is his, Abu Dawood (2/68,69), Nasaai (1/265,280), Ibn Majah (1/467), Bayhaqi (4/49), Tayalisi (230), Ahmad (2/241, 280, 289, 348, 458, 479, 529) from the routes from Abu Hurairah”
” End translation. Then the Shaikh quotes Shaikhul-Islam Ibn Taymiyyah (may Allah have mercy upon him) saying,
“What is correct is that if a person who is absent dies in a land which he is not prayed over in, then he is prayed for in absentia as the Prophet (ﷺ) prayed for the Najaashi because he died among disbelievers and he was not prayed over. If he is prayed over where he died, then he is not prayed over in absentia because the obligation for praying over him from the Muslims is dropped. The Prophet (ﷺ) prayed in absenia [at times] and he left it [at times]. So his action of doing so and leaving it off are Sunnah. This has [its own] topic, and Allah knows best. [From] the three statements in the mathab of Ahmad, the most correct of them in this [issue] is [the need for] detail and elaboration” End translation. [See: Zaad al-Ma’ad (1/520-521)] [Ahkaam al-Janaaiz (pg. 116-118)].
Also Imam Ibn ul-Qayyim (may Allah have mercy upon) said, “And it was not from his (ﷺ) guidance to pray for every deceased who passed away in absentia for many people passed away who were absent and he (ﷺ) did not pray for them” End translation. [Zaad al-Ma’aad (1/519)].
Shaikh al-Albani (may Allah have mercy upon him) spoke the truth when he wrote,
“Then compare this with what many Muslims are upon today of prayer upon every absent deceased individual, especially if he has high reputation, even if it is only from a political aspect and he is not known for righteousness or for serving Islam. Even if he dies in the Haram Makki where thousands joined to pray upon him in the Hajj season while the body is present for the prayer. Compare [this] to what we mentioned regarding the likes of this prayer and you will know with certainty that it [this action of praying in absentia] is an innovation which is not doubted by a scholar of his (ﷺ) Sunnah and the mathab of the Salaf may Allah be pleased with them” End translation. [Ahkaam al-Janaaiz (pg. 120)].
And Allah Knows Best
Faisal bin Abdul Qaadir bin Hassan
The Hadith of Abu Hurairah (may Allah be pleased with him) about the woman who used to clean the masjid (may Allah be pleased with her) – in some narrations it is mentioned it was a male – is reported in al-Bukhari and Muslim. It is not proof for praying the funeral prayer in absentia because the Prophet (ﷺ) prayed over the body of this Companion at their grave while the body was present.
The full Hadith:
عَنْ أَبِي، هُرَيْرَةَ أَنَّ امْرَأَةً، سَوْدَاءَ كَانَتْ تَقُمُّ الْمَسْجِدَ – أَوْ شَابًّا – فَفَقَدَهَا رَسُولُ اللَّهِ صلى الله عليه وسلم فَسَأَلَ عَنْهَا – أَوْ عَنْهُ – فَقَالُوا مَاتَ . قَالَ ” أَفَلاَ كُنْتُمْ آذَنْتُمُونِي ” . قَالَ فَكَأَنَّهُمْ صَغَّرُوا أَمْرَهَا – أَوْ أَمْرَهُ – فَقَالَ ” دُلُّونِي عَلَى قَبْرِهِ ” . فَدَلُّوهُ فَصَلَّى عَلَيْهَا ثُمَّ قَالَ ” إِنَّ هَذِهِ الْقُبُورَ مَمْلُوءَةٌ ظُلْمَةً عَلَى أَهْلِهَا وَإِنَّ اللَّهَ عَزَّ وَجَلَّ يُنَوِّرُهَا لَهُمْ بِصَلاَتِي عَلَيْهِمْ
It is narrated on the authority of Abu Huraira that a dark-complexioned woman (or a youth) used to sweep the mosque. The Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) missed her (or him) and inquired about her (or him). The people told him that she (or he) had died. He asked why they did not inform him, and it appears as if they had treated her (or him) or her (or his) affairs as of little account. He (the Holy Prophet) (ﷺ) said: Lead me to her (or his) grave. They led him to that place and he said prayer over her (or him) and then remarked: Verily, these graves are full of darkness for their dwellers. Verily, the Mighty and Glorious Allah illuminates them for their occupants by reason of my prayer over them [Muslim (no. 956)]
This Hadith is used as proof by some Scholars that it is permissible to prayer janazah at the grave of a person who has already been prayed on provided that the person did not die many years ago [See: Sharh Riydad us-Saliheen of Shaikh Ibn ul-‘Uthaymeen]
However it is not proof for praying Janazah in absentia. Hafidh Ibn Hajar (may Allah have mercy upon him) said in commentary of this Hadith:”In this Hadith is the recommendation to pray over the deceased who is present (i.e. their body is present in front of the one who is praying) at his grave for the one who did not pray upon him already” End translation. [Fath ul-Bari (1/659)]
So this Hadith is proof for the funeral prayer over the deceased who is present (الميت الحاضر) and not the deceased who is absent (الميت الغائب).
And Allah knows best
Faisal bin Abdul Qaadir bin Hassan