Question

Reference number: 241433 | Foods and Drinks | Jan. 16, 2020

What is the ruling of serving coffee and dates to those who come to pay condolences?

Answer

Praise Be to Allah and Peace Be Upon His Messenger.

The rule of things in Islam is permissibility as long as there is no evidence which states the opposite and prohibits Muslims from doing them or states that they are Haram. Thus, what happens in the house of the dead where their families serve coffee, water or dates is a tradition and not acts of worship. Such traditions are followed as long as they do not contradict with Islamic rules. On the contrary, this deed means respecting those who come to pay condolences and show sympathy to the family of the dead. However, what is prohibited is to serve food which is prepared by the family of the dead to those who come. Such an action is considered like wailing.

There is still a condition which has to be taken into account. What is served from the family of the dead such as coffee or dates should not be a financial burden on the family. In other words, if their financial status does not allow them to serve dates for example, they can leave this tradition aside.

Regarding considering what is distributed as charity, I have to state that charity is given to the poor and needy; it is not necessarily that all those who come to pay condoences are poor and needy; there could be some rich also. Thus, it cannot be considered as charity. The prophet states in his hadith that charity is given to the poor and needy but not to any rich. He says: “Charity is not permissible for a rich person or for one who is strong and healthy.”

To conclude: serving coffee or dates is not wrong and there is no objection in Islam to doing so as long as the family is financially able to do so. It should not also be a required practice in funerals.

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