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Burying People from Other Faith Communities in Muslims’ Graveyards

Questioner

Anonymous

Reply Date

Mar 18, 2019

Question

Currently in my country where it’s majority muslim population, there are conflicts / disputes happening between muslims and non muslims about where the non muslims body should be buried when they die, because, they claimed, it is taught in Islam that it is haram for muslim grave and non muslim grave to be in one graveyard area. There are even occurences where the muslims demand that some of the previously buried non muslim in muslim graveyard area (sometimes public graveyard area) to be evicted and moved to other graveyard, and they also ban other religion to held ritual prayer if the body is buried in muslim (or majority muslim) graveyard area. They claimed that all of these are taught in Islam.So we the non muslims have some concerns over this issue and want to know the truth from a reputable source. Is it true that this is taught in Islam? And if it is, how is the best way we non muslims should approach this?

Consultant

Answer


Graveyards

Short Answer: If the graveyard of the people of other faith communities is separate from the Muslim graveyard, that is fine and there is no room for conflicts with Muslims. What is not allowed is to bury a non-Muslim next to a Muslim unless there is a necessity for that according to the legal maxim that states: ‘Necessity renders prohibited things permissible.’ Likewise, Muslims in non-Muslim countries are allowed to bury their dead in non-Muslim cemeteries as long as there are no cemeteries for Muslims. Asking people from other faith communities to remove the bodies of the deceased is an extreme opinion.

………….

Dear questioner,

Thank you for your question and your concern about your relation with Muslims in your country.

Specific Rituals for Muslim Funerals

There are specific rituals for Muslim funerals. When a Muslim dies, he should be washed in a certain way and put in the shroud. After that, funeral prayer should be offered before burying the body.

The dead body should be placed in a hole that protects it from tampering.

The one who places the deceased in the grave is recommended to say:

“In the name of Allah and according to the Sunnah of the Messenger of Allah.”

Those who attend the burial rituals are recommended to pray for forgiveness for the deceased and pray for him to remain steadfast.

The First Stage of the Hereafter

Muslims believe that when one dies and his soul departs his body, he is in the first stage of the Hereafter.

Belief in the Hereafter is one of the six articles of the Muslim faith. It means that this life will come to an end one day and there is another life in the Hereafter in which everyone will be held accountable for what he did in this life.

It was narrated that Hani’ the freed slave of Uthman ibn Affan said: when Uthman ibn Affan stood by a grave he would weep until his beard became wet. It was said to him, “You remember Paradise and Hell and you do not weep, but you weep because of this?” He said, “The Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) said:

‘The grave is the first of the stages of the Hereafter; whoever is saved from it, whatever comes afterwards will be easier  for him, but if he is not saved from it, what comes afterwards will be worse for him.’” And the Prophet said: “I have never seen any scene but the grave is more frightening than it.” (At-Tirmidhi and Ibn Majah)

Muslims believe that there are two angels who are charged with questioning them in the grave. They will ask everyone about what he used to believe in this worldly life, who was his Lord, what was his religion and who was his Prophet.

If one gives a good answer, that is good. But if he does not answer the two angels, they inflict a severe and painful beating on him. 

Muslims have the custom of visiting graves from time to time. The Prophet was reported to have said,

“I have previously prohibited you from visiting graves, now visit them.“ (Muslim)

Muslims visit the grave to pray for the deceased and ask for their forgiveness

Muslims and Non Muslims at the Graveyard

All these rituals should be done by Muslims only. But if the deceased had relatives or friends from other faith communities, they can attend these rituals.

Also, if the cemetery workers are from other faith communities, there is nothing wrong if they dig the grave, prepare it for burial and close it.

On the other hand, Muslims are permitted to attend the funeral of their friends from other faith communities, but they cannot participate in the funeral prayer.

What is preferable in your case is that people from other faith communities should work to have a specific and exclusive spot within the cemetery of Muslims where they can bury their dead.

If the graveyard of the people of other faith communities is separate from the Muslim graveyard, that is fine and there is no room for conflicts with Muslims.

What is not allowed is to bury a non-Muslim next to a Muslim unless there is a necessity for that according to the legal maxim that states: ‘Necessity renders prohibited things permissible.’

Likewise, Muslims in non-Muslim countries are allowed to bury their dead in non-Muslim cemeteries as long as there are no cemeteries for Muslims.

Asking people from other faith communities to remove the bodies of the deceased is an extreme opinion.

Muslims believe that what benefits the dead is the good deeds he did during his lifetime not the place where he is buried. We read in the Quran, which Muslims believe to be the final and authentic word of God, what means:

*{And man can have nothing but what he strives for…*} (Quran 53:39)

We hope this answers your query. If you have questions about Islam, do not hesitate to contact us.

And Allah knows best.

I hope this helps.

Salam and please keep in touch.

Please continue feeding your curiosity, and find more info in the following links:

A Basic Introduction to Islam (Special Folder)

The Muslim Leader Who Protected Christians

The Last Powerful Advice From the Prophet

 

 




About Dr. Mohsen Haredy

Dr. Mohsen Haredy: Former Executive Manager and Editor-in-Chief of E-Da`wah Committee in Kuwait

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