The Lajnah (Permanent Committee For Scholarly Research And Ifta’) was asked:
Q 3: Some people say that it is permissible for those who attend the funeral procession to participate in burying the dead person, even by throwing three handfuls of dust over the dead person’s head . What is the ruling on that?
A 3: It is permissible for those who attend a funeral to participate in burying the dead person and to throw three handfuls of dust in the direction of their head. The Prophet (peace be upon him) offered the Janazah (funeral) Prayer then he went to the grave and stood at the head of the deceased and took three handfuls of dust and threw them into the grave.(Related by Ibn Majah). Moreover, `Amir ibn Rabi`ah narrated that the Prophet (peace be upon him) offered the Janazah Prayer over `Uthman ibn Mazh`un then he made Takbir (saying: “Allahu Akbar [Allah is the Greatest]”) for him four times and went to his grave and threw three handfuls of dust while standing at his head. (Related by Al-Daraqutny). This was also the practice of the Companions (may Allah be pleased with them) as it was authentically reported from Ibn `Abbas (may Allah be pleased with him and his father) when he buried Zayd ibn Thabit that the former threw three handfuls of dust over the latter’s grave and said: “Knowledge disappears this way.” This was mentioned by Ibn Qudamah in his book Al-Mughny.
The Permanent Committee for Scholarly Research and Ifta’
Ash-Shaykh Muhammad bin Saalih al-Uthaymeen, rahimahullah, said:
… وأما الحثيات فهي للمشاركة في الدفن، وقد استحبها كثير من العلماء، وورد فيها حديث عن النبي -صلى الله عليه وعلى آله وسلم-، لكن من العلماء من ضعفه، وهذه لا ينكر على من فعلها؛ لأنها من مسائل الاجتهاد، وما زال علماؤنا يفعلون ذلك بناءً على ما ذهب إليه بعض العلماء من استحباب الحثيات الثلاث.
“As for throwing three handfuls of sand [upon the grave], then it is for the sake of partaking in the burial. And a number of scholars have recommended it and it has come a narration on the Prophet, sallahu alayhi wa salam, concerning it. However, some of the scholars declare it to be weak. Thus, he who performs it isn’t to be criticized since it is from the matters of ijtihaad. And our scholars don’t cease to implement it based upon the opinion of some of the Ulema in recommending throwing three handfuls of sand [upon the grave]… “
Ash-Shaykh Attiyah Saalim, rahimahullah, commented on the aforementioned hadeeth by saying:
الغرفة بالكف، ولكن هنا بيديه؛ فالرسول صلى الله عليه وسلم شارك في الدفن بأن أخذ ثلاث حثيات من تراب القبر ووضعها عليه، كأنه شارك فيمن يهيل التراب عليه بالمسحاة ونحوها
“It is a scoop of the hand. However, in this case it is with two hands. So the Messenger sallahu alayhi wa salam, partook in the burial by scooping three handfuls of sand from the grave and placing it on it which is similar to if he partook in throwing sand on the grave with a shovel or its likes… ”
A Side Note: This act should be done with the hands and not with the shovel. Therefore those using the shovel shouldn’t restrict themselves to three scoops of sand.
AbdulFattaah Bin Uthman