- We should abstain from visiting shrines. This is because of what the Prophet has warned us about very clearly. He warned that taking a grave as a place of worship warrants the curse of Allah. This is because doing this involves shirk, i.e. associating partners with Allah.
- As for visiting the normal graves in graveyards, you may do so, sparingly. Please make sure, however, that you follow the etiquette prescribed in the sunnah, for women visiting graves.
Asalaamu alaykum, and thank you for sending in your question to our website.
Certainly, you have done well, sister, to be conscious of the laws and limits of Islam. In particular, a Muslim should abstain from the sin that is considered the greatest in Islam: shirk. This sin has many levels, starting from the belief in the heart. Who do we take as a deity that is worthy of our worship? Who can listen to our supplications and respond to them? Who can grant us provision? Who can relieve us from calamities and illnesses? Who can avert from us future difficulties?
Secondly, any action that is taken as a righteous deed, must be proven from the sunnah of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him). If it is not found in his sunnah, it can classify as an innovation. A Muslim must also be wary of steering near any innovations.
The prohibition in Islam of making constructions and shrines upon graves
Abu Hurairah reported that the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) said,
“Let there be the curse of Allah upon the Jews and the Christians, for they have taken the graves of their apostles as places of worship.” [Sahih Muslim]
It is a fact that our Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) forbade constructing shrines upon the graves of Prophets. This included his own grave as well.
Yahya related to me from Malik, from Zayd ibn Aslam, from Ata ibn Yasar, that the Messenger of Allah said,
“O Allah! Do not make my grave an idol that is worshiped. The anger on those who took the graves of their Prophets as places of prostration, was terrible.” [Muwatta Imam Malik]
Please take a close look at the words of Allah’s Prophet. He mentions how a grave was taken as an idol that is worshiped. The Arabic word he uses for such a grave is “wathan“. This is the same word that Allah uses in the Quran [22:30] to mention idols that are worshiped. Allah commands us, in the same verse, to stay away from their “uncleanliness”.
It was not the practice of the Prophet to raise the graves above ground level
Furthermore, it has been narrated from Ibn Al-Qayyim (may Allah have mercy upon him) that it was not the practice of the Prophet to raise the graves above ground level. Neither did he build [over] them with bricks, in a plastered or domed manner. Ibn Al-Qayyim also quoted the narration of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) that mentions that he dispatched ‘Ali ibn Abi Talib to Yemen. The Prophet ordered him to:
“…destroy every statue and level every elevated burial place“. [Sahih Muslim]
It, therefore, goes without saying, sister, that we should abstain from visiting shrines. This is because of what the Prophet has warned us about very clearly. He warned that taking a grave as a place of worship warrants the curse of Allah. This is because doing this involves shirk, i.e. associating partners with Allah.
People begin to believe that the dead saint in the grave can hear and respond to their prayers. They begin to worship the dead saint. This is extremely detrimental to their belief in Islam. Our belief in tauheed (oneness of Allah) is the first pillar of our faith.
Indeed, people get misled gradually, not overnight. It is well-known that many impermissible actions happen at shrines. These shrines over graves transform, over time, into places of worship. People congregate there to engage in many questionable activities. At the least, they are not proven from the Prophet’s sunnah, and at worst, they classify as clear shirk.
Abstain from all actions involving shirk and innovation
The Prophetic guidelines regarding the construction of shrines upon graves cannot be ignored. Without undermining the piety of deceased saints, we should obey Prophet Muhammad above all other people. No one can be more upon the truth than him. He cautioned us and warned us during his life, to not fall into misguidance after his death. So we should be extremely careful.
And Allah knows best.
I hope this helps.
Salam and please keep in touch.
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