What is the origin of the fortieth-day memory? Is there any evidence that makes this commemoration a lawful practice in Islam?
the origin of this custom is Pharaonic. It was practiced by the Pharaohs before Islam, then it spread from them to other nations. It is a reprehensible Bid`ah (innovation in religion) which has no basis in Islam, and it is to be rejected as the Prophet (peace be upon him) said:
Whoever innovates anything in this matter of ours (Islam) which is not a part of it, will have it rejected.
commemorating and eulogizing the deceased in the manner that is done nowadays, as people gather for that purpose and exaggerate in praising the deceased is not permitted. This is based on the
Ibn Majah and classified as Sahih (a Hadith that has been transmitted by people known for their uprightness and exactitude; free from eccentricity and blemish) by
`Abdullah ibn Abu Awfa said,
The Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) forbade eulogies.
Moreover, it is not permitted because mentioning the attributes of the deceased usually involves boasting and agitates sorrow and grief. However, simply speaking well of the deceased when he is mentioned or when his funeral passes by, or mentioning his good deeds and so on, in a manner that is similar to the way in which the Sahabah (the Prophet's companions) eulogized those who were killed at Uhud and others, is permissible. It was narrated that
Anas ibn Malik (may Allah be pleased with him) said:
A funeral passed by and they spoke well (Part No. 9; Page No. 155) of the deceased. The Prophet (peace be upon him) said: ‘The deceased deserved it.’ Then another funeral passed by and they spoke ill of the deceased. The Prophet (peace be upon him) said, ‘The deceased deserved it.’
`Umar (may Allah be pleased with him) said: What did they deserve?’ He (peace be upon him) said: The first one you spoke well of deserved Paradise, and the second one you spoke ill of deserved Hell. You are the witnesses of Allah on earth.