Date : 03-01-2010

Question :

Three relatives of mine are buried in my land and their graves are thirty five years old or even more. I wanted to sell this land, but buyers would back down because of the graves. Is it permissible for me to exhume the graves and remove them? If this isn`t permissible, what is the solution?


The Answer :

All perfect praise be to Allah, The Lord of The Worlds. May His blessings and peace be upon our Prophet Mohammad and upon all his family and companions.


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, it is well known that the bones of the dead need a very long time to turn into dust. About the sanctity of the dead, Prophet Mohammad (Peace and blessings be upon him) said: "Breaking a deceased body’s bones is exactly like breaking them when he is alive.” {Related by Abu Dawud}." He (Peace and blessings be upon him) also said: "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 and show that preserving their graves against harm is an obligation because Allah, The Almighty, said {What means}: "We have honoured the sons of Adam"{Al-Isra`/70}. Therefore, not exhuming graves and not violating their sanctity is honoring their dwellers.


In conclusion, we suggest that you (Asker) isolate these graves with a barrier and sell the rest of the land, even if this would decrease its value, because respecting the sanctity of the dead takes precedence over making a lot of money. And Allah the Almighty knows best.