Date : 23-01-2019

Question :

While on deathbed, my father requested that he is buried on a plot of land owned by his wife, so we did as he willed. After some time, we sold that land and the new owner constructed a residential building in it, so the grave drew closer to that building. Is it permissible that we move it to the Islamic Graveyard?

The Answer :

Praise be to Allah, the Lord of the Worlds.

Sharia doesn`t permit exhuming or removing graves so long as they contain bones because the sanctity of their dwellers is similar to that of the living. In Jordan, the bones of the dead need hundreds of years to fully disintegrate. About the sanctity of the dead, Prophet Mohammad (PBUH) said: "Breaking a deceased body’s bones is exactly like breaking them when he is alive.” {Related by Abu Dawud}." He (PBUH) added: "It is much better for one of you to sit on a live coal, which will burn his clothes and get to his skin than to sit on a grave."{Related by Muslim}.

These narrations highlight the sanctity of the dead. They also regard preserving their graves against harm an obligation, because Allah, The Almighty, said: "We have honoured the sons of Adam"{Al-Isra`/70}; Therefore, not exhuming graves and not violating their sanctity is actually honoring their dwellers.

The spot where a person is buried takes the rulings of Waqf (Endowment). Therefore, it is neither permissible to sell it nor dispose of it. As long as the burial was conducted with the consent of the land`s owner (Wife), then that spot becomes a Waqf of the deceased`s, and thus it isn`t permissible to move his grave. The same ruling applies if the buyer was told that there is a grave on that land before his buying it. If this is the case, he has no right to make any objection, because concluding that sale contract while having been told about that grave is an act of consent. However, if the latter wasn`t told about the grave, then he has the right to terminate that contract. In addition, if the burial was conducted without having informed or sought the permission of that land`s owner (Wife), then it is permissible to move that grave, because in that case it is considered a usurped land. "If they buried him in his property/land, then the buyer has no right to move him, because he was buried before that land was sold…However, the buyer has the right to terminate the sale contract if he wasn`t told about that grave."{Asna al-Matalib, 1/324}.

We suggest putting a fence around that grave and selling the remaining part of that plot of land, even if that cuts down on its price. In conclusion, it isn`t permissible to exhume graves until the deceased has fully disintegrated and no trace of them is left, and we recommend preserving the sanctity of that grave and building a wall around it. And Allah knows best.