What is the ruling for a person performing the janazah prayer (prayer for the deceased) alone? Is it valid? Hope for an explanation.
Waalaikumussalam wrm. wbt.,
Alhamdulillah, praise and thanks to Allah for the countless blessings He has blessed us all with. Blessings and salutations to the Prophet Muhammad PBUH, his wives, his family, companions and all those that follow his teachings to the day of judgement.
Janazah prayer (prayer for the deceased) is one of the fardhu kifayah upon every Muslim towards his brother who has passed away. There are numerous evidences that mentioned the sanctioning of janazah prayer. Among them is a hadith narrated by Ibn Abbas R.Anhuma who said, the Prophet PBUH said:
مَا مِنْ رَجُلٍ مُسْلِمٍ يَمُوتُ فَيَقُومُ عَلَى جَنَازَتِهِ أَرْبَعُونَ رَجُلاً لاَ يُشْرِكُونَ بِاللَّهِ شَيْئًا إِلاَّ شَفَّعَهُمُ اللَّهُ فِيهِ
"If a Muslim man dies and a group of forty people, who do not associate any one with Allah, pray for him, Allah will accept their intercession for him (by way of their du’a for him.”
Sahih Muslim (948)
Coming back to the above question presented, we cite the opinion of Imam al-Nawawi who stated:
تَجُوزُ صَلَاةُ الْجِنَازَةِ فُرَادَى بِلَا خِلَافٍ وَالسُّنَّةُ أَنْ يُصَلَّى جَمَاعَةً
“It is permissible to perform the janazah prayer alone without khilaf (difference of opinions among scholars) and it is sunnah to be performed in congregation.”
Refer Al Majmu’ Syarah Al-Muhazzab, Al-Nawawi (5/214)
Among the evidences that show that the janazah prayer is encouraged to be performed in congregation is the above hadith narrated by Ibn Abbas. The same is stated in another hadith by Malik bin Hubayrah, where he said the Prophet PBUH said:
مَا مِنْ مُسْلِمٍ يَمُوتُ فَيُصَلِّي عَلَيْهِ ثَلاَثَةُ صُفُوفٍ مِنَ الْمُسْلِمِينَ إِلاَّ أَوْجَبَ
“If any Muslim dies and three rows of Muslims pray over him, it will assure him (of Paradise).”
Sunan Abu Daud (3166)
Likewise, in another hadith narrated by A’isyah R.Anha, she said the Prophet PBUH said:
مَا مِنْ مَيِّتٍ يُصَلِّي عَلَيْهِ أُمَّةٌ مِنَ الْمُسْلِمِينَ يَبْلُغُونَ مِائَةً كُلُّهُمْ يَشْفَعُونَ لَهُ إِلاَّ شُفِّعُوا فِيهِ
“If a company of Muslims numbering one hundred pray over a dead person, all of them interceding for him, their intercession for him will be accepted.”
Sahih Muslim (947)
According to the above hadiths, it is clear to us that the more the number of people who pray for the deceased the greater the rewards are for the deceased. However, the jurists stated that congregational prayer for the deceased is just sunnah. Hence, it can be performed alone.
To conclude, we would like to state that the ruling of perform the prayer for the deceased alone is permissible and valid. However, for it to be performed in congregation is prioritized and following the sunnah according to several hadiths that we shared above.
Lastly, we pray to Allah SWT to give us all the right understanding in practising the religion. Amin.