Narrated Muhammad bin Sirin:
One of the sons of Um ‘Atiyya died, and when it was the third day she asked for a yellow perfume and put it over her body, and said, “We were forbidden to mourn for more than three days except for our husbands.”
Narrated Zainab bint Abi Salama:
When the news of the death of Abu Sufyan reached from Sham, Um Habiba on the third day, asked for a yellow perfume and scented her cheeks and forearms and said, “No doubt, I would not have been in need of this, had I not heard the Prophet saying: “It is not legal for a woman who believes in Allah and the Last Day to mourn for more than three days for any dead person except her husband, for whom she should mourn for four months and ten days.”
Narrated Zainab bint Abi Salama:
I went to Um Habiba, the wife of Prophet, who said, “I heard the Prophets saying, ‘It is not legal for a woman who believes in Allah and the Last Day to mourn for any dead person for more than three days except for her husband, (for whom she should mourn) for four months and ten days’.” Later I went to Zainab bint Jahsh when her brother died; she asked for some scent, and after using it she said, “I am not in need of scent but I heard Allah’s Apostle saying, ‘It is not legal for a woman who believes in Allah and the Last Day to mourn for more than three days for any dead person except her husband, (for whom she should mourn) for four months and ten days.’ “
So obviously the endless mourning ceremonies we hold after someone dies are all bid`aat (innovations). Mourn for three days, and then get back to normality. Islam offers a balanced way of life. It gives you time to grieve, but doesn’t let you hold on to it for long.
For the three-day mourning period, there are some rules one must abide by. Some of them are mentioned below:
With regard to reciting Qur’aan over the grave of the deceased, this is not permissible, and none of the Salaf did this. If it were good to do this, they would have done it before us. It has been reported that Soorat Yaa-Seen should be recited for the person who is dying, before his soul departs, but after he has died and when he is being buried and after the burial, there is nothing that should be recited, and one should not tell him to say “Laa ilaaha ill-Allaah” and so on.
Offering condolences is Sunnah, but it need not be during the mourning ceremonies. Condolences may be offered to the family of the deceased in all places. There is nothing wrong with all the relatives of the deceased gathering together in one place so that people may come and offer their condolences, but they should not gather for the purpose of food. Food should be prepared only for the immediate family of the deceased; it is makrooh for them to offer food to others.
Raising one’s voice in wailing and lamenting, striking the cheeks and eulogizing the deceased are all bid’ah and actions of the jaahiliyyah. It was reported in a hadeeth: “He is not one of us who strikes his cheeks, rends his garments and calls with the call of the jaahiliyyah.” (Narrated by al-Bukhaari, 1294, Fath 3/163; Muslim, 103; Ahmad, 1/244).
Wearing black as a sign of mourning for the deceased is bid’ah; but the wives of the deceased should avoid wearing fancy or adorned clothes, jewellery, makeup and perfume during their period of mourning.
It is bid’ah for women to avoid their usual work and activities; the newly-widowed woman can still prepare food, clean the house, wash the dishes, do laundry, etc. There is nothing wrong with her doing that.
[Taken from Shaykh Abdullah al-Jibreen’s fataawa]
And there are some special rulings for the widow who’s going through her `iddah (mourning period). They’re listed here.