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.