It is generally thought that Islam prohibits women from visiting graveyards. This is not true. In the days of the Prophet (sws), women were initially stopped from visiting the graves because they used to vociferously wail and cry – a practice which was rampant among women in Arabia at the advent of Islam. Once women had learnt to restrain themselves at such places, they were allowed to visit the graveyards. This directive, it must be understood, is not part of the sharī‘ah. It was a directive given by the Prophet (sws) to deal with a particular situation and was withdrawn once the required end was achieved.

The initial directive of prohibition is mentioned thus:

 

عن أبي هُرَيْرَةَ أَنَّ رَسُولَ اللَّهِ صلى الله عليه وسلم لَعَنَ زَوَّارَاتِ الْقُبُورِ

Abū Hurayrah reports that the Messenger of God has cursed women who visit the graves.[1]

 

The final directive in which this prohibition was repealed is mentioned thus:

 

عن بن بُرَيْدَةَ عن أبيه قال قال رسول اللَّهِ صلى الله عليه وسلم نَهَيْتُكُمْ عن زِيَارَةِ الْقُبُورِ فَزُورُوهَا فإن في زِيَارَتِهَا تَذْكِرَةً

Ibn Buraydah reports from his father who reports from the Prophet: “I had stopped you from visiting the graves; you can now visit them, for this reminds [us of death].”[2]

 

ابن أبي مُلَيْكَةَ عن عَائِشَةَ أَنَّ رَسُولَ اللَّهِ صلى الله عليه وسلم رَخَّصَ في زِيَارَةِ الْقُبُورِ

Ibn Abī Mulaykah reports from ‘Ā’ishah that the Prophet (sws) gave concession in visiting the graves.[3]

 

Thus women today can visit the graves of their dead relatives. They should try not to create a scene there. Of course this does not mean that they cannot cry; it only means that they should not exceed the limit in this regard.