Answered by Shaykh Muhammad ibn Adam al-Kawthari
In the name of Allah, Most Compassionate, Most Merciful,
The funeral prayer (salat al-Janazah) of the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him & give him peace) was offered by the Sahaba (Allah be pleased with them all).
Ibn Hisham relates from Ibn Ishaq in his renowned biography of the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him & give him peace), al-Sirah al-Nabawiyya:
“When the Companions (Allah be pleased with them all) finished bathing and shrouding the body of the blessed Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him & give him peace) on the Tuesday, they placed his body on his bed in his house. The Muslims differed as to where he (Allah bless him & give him peace) should be laid to rest. Some were of the opinion that he should be buried in the Masjid, whilst others said that he should be buried with the other Companions. Sayyiduna Abu Bakr (Allah be pleased with him) said: “I heard the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him & give him peace) say: “A Prophet does not pass away except that he is laid to rest where he passes away”. Thus, the bedding of the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him & give him peace) on which he passed away was raised, and the grave was dug on that spot. Thereafter, people began to enter into the room and offered prayers in groups. First the men entered, and when they had finished praying, women entered, and upon them completing their prayers, children entered. Everyone prayed individually and no one individual lead the prayer.” (See: Ibn Hisham, al-Sirat al-Nabawiyya, 3/233).
Imam al-Tirmizi (Allah have mercy on him) also narrates this incident in his ‘al-Shama’il’ on the authority of Salim ibn Ubaid in a long Hadith:
“…….The Companions then asked Sayyiduna Abu Bakr (Allah be pleased with him) whether prayer should be performed on the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him & give him peace)? He said: “yes”. They asked: “How the prayer should be offered?” He said: “A group should enter, recite Takbir, supplicate, and offer their prayers then leave. Thereafter another group should enter, recite Takbir, supplicate, and offer their prayers then leave.” (Shama’il al-Nabi, no. 396).
The above and other excerpts clearly indicate that the funeral prayer for the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him & give him peace) was offered by the Companions (Allah be pleased with them all). However, it was performed individually without an Imam leading the prayer. Groups of people would come into the room, offer their prayers and then leave. There are many other narrations describing the details of this event recorded by scholars, such as Ibn Hajar al-Asqalani in his Fath al-Bari, al-Ayni in his Umdat al-Qari, al-Zabidi in his commentary of Imam Ghazali’s Ihya and others.
And Allah knows best
Muhammad ibn Adam al-Kawthari
Darul Iftaa, Leicester, UK
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