Translation: Ishaaq bn AbdirRaheem Aboo Aamir
Question: What is the basis for fortieth day remembrance (of the dead person); is there any proof for the permissibility of dead commemoration?
Answer: Firstly, the basis for that was in the practice of the Pharaohs before Islam, from them the practice spread and became known with other than them. However, the act is a reprehensible innovation that is baseless in Islam. What has been reported authentically from the Prophet (sallallâhu ’alayhi wa sallam) rebuffs it, and that is his statement: ‘Whoever introduces in this matter of ours what is not part of it will have it rejected.’
Secondly, commemorating the dead and singing elegies in praise of him as it is done today whereby people gather over it. So also is going to the extreme when praising the dead person. All these acts are not permissible due to what Ahmad and Ibn Maajah reported which Al-Haakim authenticated, that is the hadith of Abdullah bn Ubayy Aufa (may Allah be pleased with him) who said the Messenger of Allaah (sallallâhu ’alayhi wa sallam) prohibited that elegies be sung over a dead person, this is due to the fact that mentioning the good quality of the dead person often involves taking pride in him, and it renews anguish (on part of the relatives of the dead) and causes more grief.
But a mere act of praising him when one mentions him or walks pass his remains, or one mentions his excellent deed for identification reason, or what is similar to all those which resemble the praise some of the Companions, may Allaah be pleased with them, made of those killed in the Battle of Uhud, and the praise they made of other than those. Thus it makes the act (in this form) permissible due to what has been reported from Anas bn Maalik (may Allah be pleased with him) that he said: ‘They (the Prophet and the Companions) walked by a corpse whom they said good about. Thereafter the Prophet (sallallâhu ’alayhi wa sallam) said: ‘It becomes imperative...’ Then they walked by another corpse whom they said evil about. To that, the Prophet (sallallâhu ’alayhi wa sallam) said, ‘It becomes imperative...’ Then Umar (may Allah be pleased with him) said: ‘What becomes imperative?’ he said (sallallâhu ’alayhi wa sallam): ‘You said good things about the first so the Jannah becomes imperative upon him, and the other, you said evil about him so hell becomes imperative upon him; you are witnesses of Allaah on earth.’
(Fatawa Islamiyyah, 2/56), Fatwa rendered by the Permanent Committee.