Pointing Index Finger to Say Shahadah in Deathbed: Necessary?

29 January, 2017
Q As-Salamu alaykum. The reason I am asking this question about extending ones index finger during death is because it means the same thing as declaring the Kalimah. During salah one says Ashhadu an la ilaha illa Allah (I bear witness there is none worthy of worship but Allah). Then one extends ones index finger to mirror what one has declared with one's voice, that Allah is One. That is the meaning behind extending ones index finger during salah. Here are few reasons why I think one should do so. 1. During death sometimes the believer doesn't have the strength to declare the Kalimah with their voice. 2. It is a form of dhikr that the sick believer can still perform. 3. Death is very confusing and painful. Raising one index finger is simple and when the sick believer dies they will still be declaring that Allah's is one with their index finger.

Answer

Wa `alaykum As-Salamu waRahmatullahi wa Barakatuh.

In the Name of Allah, Most Gracious, Most Merciful. 

All praise and thanks are due to Allah, and peace and blessings be upon His Messenger.

Dear questioner, we would like to thank you for the great confidence you place in us, and we implore Allah Almighty to help us serve His cause and render our work for His Sake.

Answering your question, Dr. Mohammad S. Alrahawan, Associate Professor at the department of Islamic Studies in English, Al-Azhar University, Egypt, states:

Extending finger during prayer is not agreed upon by all scholars. Shafi`i scholars, for example, recommend that one raises his finger when he mentions the name of Allah. Other scholars recommended that one keeps moving them.

They have also disagreed on the wisdom behind raising one finger whether it is in reference to Allah or it is to show that one is engaged in prayer so that people do not pass in front of him.

Anyhow, if raising your hand in the presence of a sick person is for reminding him of reciting the testimony of faith, there is no problem. We have been commanded by the Prophet (peace be upon him) to “Exhort our dying men to recite: ‘La ilahaillallah‘ (There is no true god except Allah).” (Muslim)

First, a person may recite it in his presence so that he is encouraged to repeat it after him. In certain cases, a sick person may not be able to hear but he can watch people around him. He may also feel angry when people insist on exhorting him to say shahadah.

Imam An-Nawawi stated that a sick person may be persuaded to say shahadah several times. He may, in this case, dislike this practice and may utter inappropriate words while being on the verge of death. Therefore, people may give him implicit indications in order to remind him to recite the shahadah (An-Nawawi, Sharh Sahih Muslim, vol. 7, p. 219)

Therefore, there is no problem to pay a person’s attention by raising your finger to the heavens to remind him of Allah or to encourage him to recite the shahadah immediately before his death.

Allah Almighty knows best.