Offering condolence is permissible and it involves cooperation in endurance of misfortunes. (Part No. 9; Page No. 138) However, sitting to accept people's condolences in the way mentioned and making it a habit has not been done by the Prophet (peace be upon him) nor his Companions. It is a habit that many people follow as if it were a religious ritual. Some may spend much money on this. This money may be the inheritance of some orphans in which case the money of the orphans is wasted. Some may blame whoever abstains from participating in such habits as if he has abstained from offering an Islamic ritual. It is one of the Bid`ahs (rejected innovation in religion) which is embodied in the saying of the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him):
Anyone who introduces anything into this matter of ours (Islam) that is not part of it will have it rejected.
And in his Hadith:
You must then follow my Sunnah and that of the rightly-guided caliphs. Hold to them and stick fast to them. Avoid novelties, for every novelty is an innovation, and every innovation is an error.
He (peace be upon him) ordered Muslims to adhere to his Sunnah (whatever is reported from the Prophet) and that of the rightly-guided caliphs coming after him as they would not violate his Sunnah. He also warned against Bid`ahs and explained that it leads to error. So, Muslims should cooperate to change such habits and put an end to them. They should do this out of adherence to the Sunnah and in order to save time and money, to avoid rumination, and to avoid boasting by offering animals, and receiving numerous people offering condolences and the duration of sittings. People should follow in the footsteps of the Companions and Salaf (righteous predecessors) who used to offer condolences to the bereaved family, console them, offer charity on behalf of the dead and ask Allah's Forgiveness and Mercy for him. (Part No. 9; Page No. 139) May Allah grant us success. May peace and blessings be upon our Prophet Muhammad, his family, and Companions.