Wednesday, 30 April 2014

Building Over Graves and the Ruling for Demolishing Them

A translation of this fatwa from Naseem al-Sham

قبة الامام الشافعي

Building Over Graves and the Ruling for Demolishing Them


My question is for Sheikh Muammad Saʿīd Ramaḍān al-Būī. Praise be to Allah, Lord of all creation, and blessings and peace be upon the one whom was sent as a mercy to all of creation as well as all of his family and his Companions, āmīn. To proceed: Indeed there are youths who have been secretly propagating their ideas under the shade of darkness, and they have been declaring those who visit the graves of the righteous[1] to be heretics.[2] It has reached me (and I am asking this question from Libya) that they may even call these people disbelievers.[3] Today, after the collapse of the regime, the country has witnessed what it has witnessed, and they have come out against us showing a different face, which is to purify the country of the idolatry[4] that is embodied in mausoleums and domes. They began by removing them, demolishing them and flattening them to ground level using heavy equipment, and maybe explosives and bombs. Likewise, they dig up graves based on the pretext that it is obligatory to be buried in a Muslim graveyard. The problem has spread extensively. For example, in the city of Misrata, which is where I live, they have demolished thirteen domes, each containing a righteous friend of Allah,[5] virtuous scholar[6] or sheikh from the household of the Messenger of Allah. Indeed, it has reached me that they have even demolished the dome of the revered Companion Abū Sajīf[7] and dug up his grave. My question is: what is the ruling for building mausoleums and domes over graves and what is the ruling for demolishing them after they have been built? And what are we obliged to do in the face of this campaign? Please, ya Sayyidī, provide the relevant evidences. I ask Allah to grant you well-being, to increase you from the abundance of His favour and to reward you with the best of rewards on behalf of this Ummah. We also ask you for your supplications.

Answer ( from the Great Scholar and Martyr, Muammad Saʿīd Ramaḍān al-Būī):

What is agreed upon is that the best graves are the smoothed down ones, and it is disliked (makrūh) to raise a grave. Rather, it is preferred to flatten it and there is no harm in it being a hand span or so above the ground. There is also no harm in it being raised above the ground with a stone or something similar. As for placing a building over the grave, if the grave is in open country or a place that is exposed to damage, i.e. outside the boundaries of a graveyard, then there is no harm in placing a building or an iron fence in order to protect it. As for a grave within a graveyard that has been dedicated as an endowment (waqf) for the deceased to be buried in, it would be unlawful to place a building over it because that would necessitate restricting the space around the grave from being used for the purpose that it was dedicated for. However, if a building would not necessitate such then there is no harm, such as placing a building around a number of graves belonging to the same family, as all the land within the building will be occupied by graves.
Furthermore, as for digging up a grave, it is not permissible unless it is to wash the deceased if they were buried without being washed. As for any other reason, it is not permissible by consensus, even if the deceased were buried without being prayed over, in which case the situation is rectified by praying over the person while they are buried in their grave. As for buildings and domes, it is not permissible to demolish any part of them, with the exception of a building that takes up land from a graveyard dedicated as an endowment and thus restricts its use by other people, for such a building is unlawful and must be demolished.

[This translation is also available from the English Naseem al-Sham site.]

[1] Ar. al-ṣāliḥīn
[2] Ar. tabdīʿ, i.e. they accuse such people of reprehensible innovation
[3] Ar. takfīr
[4] Ar. shirk
[5] Ar. walīālīḥ
[6] Ar. ʿālim fāḍil
[7] (tn): i.e. Abū Sajīf ibn Qays ibn al-Ḥārith ibn ʿAbbas, may Allah be pleased with him, who witnessed the Battle of Yarmouk during the khilāfah of Abū Bakr al-Ṣiḍdīq, may Allah be pleased with him and, and died in Tripoli in what is now modern-day Libya. Please see Imam Ibn ajr al-ʿAsqalānī’s Iṣābah fi Tamyīz al-Ṣaḥābah (Beirut: Dār al-Jayl, 1412/1992), v.7, p.198 for further details.


mujahid7ia said...

Jazakum Allahu khayra, I always find your posts and translations interesting.

Anonymous said...

Jazakallah khair. The fatwa of Sheikh Ramadan al Buti rahimahullah shows his expert knowledge of shafi fiqh.

Would you be writing any article on the subject of various ancient monuments built by non-muslims which include statues carved, which have existed in Muslims lands for 1000 of years but are now being put on target for destruction by Salafis on the reasoning that they are idols. For example this guy talking about destroying the Pyramids:

A comprehensive fatwa on this issue ?

Mahdi Lock said...

Sheikh Ramadan al-Bouti gave this fatwa less than two years ago:

In brief, the questioner is asking about visiting historical sites in Indonesia that contain old Buddhist statues and drawings; is it permissible to visit these places as a tourist?

The Sheikh's response was:

رؤية التماثيل التاريخية ونحوها والمرور بها، والجلوس على مقربة منها ليس محرّماً، ألا ترى إلى الآثار الفرعونية القائمة منذ أيام الفتح الإسلامي. لقد كان المسلمون ولا يزالون يمرون بها وينظرون إليها، ولم يقل بحرمة ذلك أحد.

"Looking at historical statues and the like, passing by them and sitting by one of their graves is not unlawful. Have you not seen the Pharaonic relics that have remained [i.e. in Egypt] since the days of the Islamic conquest? The Muslims still visit them, pass by them and look at them, and no one has ever declared it unlawful."

To take the point further, if it were an obligation to destroy the pyramids, the sphinx and so forth, as the man in the video claims, then the Companions who brought Islam to Egypt, may Allah be pleased with them, would have done so. They didn't, and neither did any of the major figures who lived or ruled in Egypt afterwards, such as Imam ash-Shafi'i, Imam Salah ad-Deen al-Ayubi, Imam Ibn Hajar al-Haytami, Imam Shams ad-Deen ar-Ramli, Imam al-Khateeb ash-Shirbini, Imam Jalal ad-Deen as-Suyuti and so on and so forth, may Allah have mercy on all of them.

With people like this it's always important to a) keep an eye on history and b) follow their arguments to their logical conclusion. If we follow this man's argument to its logical conclusion then it means the Companions who took over Egypt failed to fulfill an obligation and were thus sinful, and the same applies to the generations that followed.

We seek refuge in Allah from such blatant folly.

Anonymous said...

Jazakallah khair. That explains from a historical perspective as well as the perspective of Salaf. But the mindset of these extreme salafis (like the ISIS in Syria) is still the type where they say "we should follow the Quran and sunnah" "no one is free of error except the Prophet" (peace be upon him) to dismiss any historical reality, and its possible they might take some exceptions as example from some part of history and show it as precedent and valid. There is also the other argument they make (like in the video) by connecting these monuments to idolatrous origin or connections and thereby argue for its destruction on the basis of "blocking the means to shirk". Im not clear on how is the best way to go about tackling these arguments although the historical argument is clear enough for most. Wondering whether the scholars of the past when discuss the ruling regarding idols and the narrations that mention Ali radiallahu sending a group to destroy idols at graves in land that has been conquered, has been explained in detail where they differentiate between historical sites and monuments from those which are being used for worship in specific. Or if they differentiate between idols that are being actively used for worship from those which were in the past but not anymore. etc etc Or even more, do we have any ruling with regards to importance of preserving such relics of the past, for example the Quran asks us to travel and look at the state of these once great destroyed cities of the past for which wrath of Allah has fallen, and one could argue that such command from Allah requires that such relics of the past exist and thereby its preservation so the future generation take lesson from it. While what these salafis are doing are destroying the means to carry out what Allah has commanded, similar to destroying the Kaaba, Safa and Marwa and eliminating the means to perform Hajj.

Anonymous said...

Here is link to a website, by a prominent salafi leader whose fatwas are read widely by salafis, encouraging the destruction of ancient relics:

and another salafi on a forum trying to bypass the argument that salaf did not destroy these monuments:

"it's not about "knowing more." There is such a thing as ruling with wisdom(hikmah). The early righteous Muslims didn't go around destroying the country's architecture and historical monuments as a sign of goodwill for the inhabitants. That way they are more inclined to Islam and opening themselves up to becoming part of the Ummah.
That takes precedence over the obligation to destroy these idolatrous sites since at that time there was not even a Muslim majority in the population.
However once the country has become Muslim majority, and please do inform me brother, what use is there in keeping relics of kufr around?"

Just mentioned it here so that in case someone aims to write a comprehensive article on this, would address these sorts of arguments. Yes its a hair pulling wild reasoning they come up with, but only problem is that there is a group of people who are receptible to such wild reasoning or are confused by it and being silent against such acts of destruction.

Mahdi Lock said...

This is why I mentioned some of the numerous Imams and leaders who lived and ruled in Egypt after the Companions. Long after Egypt had become a Muslim-majority country, none of them saw the need to destroy the pyramids and other ancient relics.

But this goes back to the paranoia that these people have about shirk. Their default position is that any Muslim not on their manhaj has a ridiculously strong predisposition towards committing idolatry and therefore the various temptations to commit idolatry, as they see it, need to be eliminated, such as the various historical sites in Makkah and Madinah. One of their major figures, Abu Bakr al-Jaza'iri, says in his tafseer that the shirk of the Quraysh is lighter, i.e. not as bad, as the shirk of this Ummah.

This is despite the fact that the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, said in a hadith narrated by Imam Muslim (2296):

اني لست أخشى عليكم ان تشركوا بعدي و لكتي أخشى عليكم الدنيا أن تنافسوا فيها

"I don't fear that you will commit idolatry after me but I fear the dunya for, that you will compete for it."

Imam al-Nawawi explains it mean that the Ummah will not apostate altogether, i.e. by committing idolatry. The clear implication here is major shirk, not minor shirk, i.e. showing off, which does not take one out of the religion.

However, the theology of this group allows for someone to be both a mushrik and a muwahhid at the same time, because, according to them, someone can have tawheed rububiyyah but not tawheed uluhiyyah. Therefore, they can watch Muslims in Makkah and Madinah (yes, obviously Muslims because they let them in. If they weren't Muslims they wouldn't be allowed in) visiting graves and say, 'Look at those mushriks!'

For further details, please read the appendices to "A Guide for New Believers" and "The Difference between Tawassul and Shirk".

Anonymous said...

Ulema don't address these issue in mainstream public in detailed manner. This is what continues one year since i commented with you about this matter: