BUILDING DOMES AND SHRINES OVER THE DECEASED

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BUILDING DOMES AND SHRINES OVER THE DECEASED

It is permissible in the Islamic law to build over the graves of the friends of Allah [Ar. Awliya’] and scholars in order to mark them, maintain their upkeep and visit them as well as seek blessings. This is based on the hadith narrated by Kathir ibn Zayed al-Madani from Al-Muttalib who said:

“When ‘Uthman ibn Maz’un died, he was brought out on and buried. The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) ordered a man to bring him a stone, but he was unable to carry it. The Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings be upon him) went and rolled up his sleeves [to carry the stone]. The narrator Kathir told that al-Muttalib remarked: The one who told me about the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings be upon him) said: I still seem to see the whiteness of the forearms of the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessing be upon him) when he rolled up his sleeves. He then carried the stone and placed it at the head of the deceased saying: “I am marking my brother’s grave with it and I shall bury those of my family who die beside him” [Abu Dawoud; and Al-Hafidh ibn Hajar declared that it has a fair chain of transmission).

Imam al-‘Ayni said in Sharh al-Sunan (6/157): “the hadith implies rulings on: permissibility of marking graves with stones and the like; permissibility to gather one’s deceased people in one grave . It is also a proof for using sign boards, nowadays, at the head of graves to mark them”.

Al-Bukhari reported from Sufyan al-Tammar that he had seen the grave of the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) elevated and convex.

In his Musanaf, ibn Abu Shaybah reported through Imran Ibn Abu ‘Ataa who said: I have witnessed the funeral procession of Ibn ‘Abbass. Ibn Al-Hanafiyya has pitched a tent over his grave [to receive consolation for three days).

He also reported through Muhammad ibn al-Munkadir that ‘Umar (may Allah be pleased with him) constructed a tent over the grave of the mother of the believers Zainab bint Jahsh (may Allah be pleased with her).

Actions of the (Salaf) ancestors

The pious predecessors of the Muslim community and their followers have observed [building over grave] until it became unanimously approved. Domes and mosques have been built over the graves of the four imams—Abu Hanifa, Malik, al-Shafi’i and Ahmed (may Allah be pleased with them) as well as other scholars and righteous people of different times and places.

The Rulings on Building over Graves and the Conditions therein:
Jurists maintain that if building over a grave is done out of mere extravagance, it is then disliked to do so. If the grave was endowed for the cause of Allah, it is then unlawful to build over it, because it may incur restrictions upon people. However, it should be noted that it is only permissible to build over the grave with the purpose of marking and recognizing it or if the grave was a private property.

The Shafi’ scholar, imam al-‘Umrani said in al-Bayan: “If the grave was a private property, then it is permissible to build over it whatever one wishes, because it does not incur restriction upon others. If otherwise—i.e. the grave was endowed for the cause of Allah, it is not permissible to build over it.”
The Hanbali scholar ibn Muflih said in al-Fru’: “the author of al-Mustaw’ib and al-Muharar stated: “If the grave is a private property, there is no objection to having a dome, house or a sitting place over it—because it is permissible to conduct burials in this way.

He said in al-wasila: it is disliked to have a luxurious building over a grave—such as a dome—i.e. there is no objection to have an adjunct building in order to always mark the grave and keep it in shape, since it takes the same ruling of putting stones [at the head of a grave to mark it).

He said in al-Fusul: if the grave is a private property, it is then permissible to have building over it. However, if the grave is endowed for the cause of Allah, it is then disliked to have buildings over it. It will incur restrictions and divert the grave from the job for which it was constructed.” 

Relieving Some Contentions
The hadith that Imam Muslim and others reported from Jabir ibn Abdullah (may Allah be pleased them) in which he said: “The Messenger of Allah (PBUH) forbade that the graves should be plastered (made into permanent structures), used as sitting places (for the people) or building over them” is directed to whoever constructs something over the grave out of mere extravagance and not for marking it.

In addition, the hadith that Muslim reported from Abu al-Hayaj al-Assdi that ‘Ali ibn Abu Talib (may Allah be pleased with him) said to him: “Shall I not send you on a mission on which I was sent by Allah’s Messenger (peace and blessings be upon him) “Do not leave any image without erasing it, nor any elevated grave without leveling it to the ground” refers to the graves of the disbelievers as he combined between images and the disbelievers graves. However, the graves of Muslims can be left elevated and should not be leveled to the ground as it had previously mentioned with the case of the grave of the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) and the act of many righteous predecessors.

Based on this and in reference to the question, it is permissible in Islamic law to build over graves—as long as the grave was not made for the cause of Allah or the building is made for the purpose of extreme extravagance.

Evidence from the Qur`an

Allah the Almighty says,
They dispute among themselves as to their affair. (Some) said, “Construct a building over them”: Their Lord knows best about them.” Those who prevailed over their affair said, “Let us surely build a place of worship over them.” [Al-Kahf, 21]

The context of the verse indicates that the words in the first quotation were uttered by the disbelievers while those in the second were uttered by the believers. Allah the Almighty relates the two statements without repudiation, demonstrating the permissibility of both opinions. But contrary to the words of the believers which were marked with indecision, the words of the believers imply commendation and resoluteness in their desire to erect a mosque and not a mere structure.

Scholarly opinions

Imam Al-Razi’s interpretation of “Let us surely build a place of worship over them” means a place in which ‘to worship Allah and keep the remains of the people of the cave in it.’
 In his meta-commentary on Al-Baidawi’s exegesis, al-Shihab al-Khafaji wrote: “This is evidence on the permissibility of building mosques over the [graves of the] righteous.”

Evidence from the sunnah

Urwa Ibn al-Zubair narrated through al-Musawer Ibn Makhrama and Marawan Ibn al-Hakam (may Allah be pleased with them) that when Abu Basir died, Abu Jandal Ibn Suhail Ibn Amr buried him and constructed a mosque over his grave at Saif al-Bahr in the presence of three hundred of the Companions.[1] The ascription of this hadith is sound and includes trustworthy scholars. Such an action could not have been concealed from the Prophet ; in spite of this it was not reported that the Prophet ordered that the grave be removed or exhumed.

• It was confirmed that the Prophet said, “The graves of seventy prophets can be found in the mosque of Al-Khayf.”[2]

• Non-prophetic narrations confirm that prophet Ismai’il and his mother Hajar (may Allah be pleased with her) were both buried in Al-Hijr in the Sacred Precinct. This was mentioned by trustworthy historians and acknowledged by Islamic historians such as Ibn Is-haq in Al-Sira, Ibn Jarir al-Tabari in Tarikhu, al-Suhaili in Al-Rawd Al-Unuf, Ibn al-Jawzi in Muntadhim, Ibn al-Athir in Al-Kamel, al-Dhahabi in Tarikh Al-Islam and Ibn Kathir in Al-Bidaya wa Al- Nihaya among others. The Prophet acknowledged both the fact that prophets are buried in Khayf Mosque and that Ismai’il and his mother are buried in al-Hijr and did not order that their graves be removed.

Practice of the Companions

Imam Malik recorded the Companions’ disagreement over the Prophet’s burial place in his Muwatta`. He cited that some people favored that the Prophet be buried at the pulpit while others wanted to bury him at al-Baqi’. Abu Bakr then came forward and said, ‘I heard the Prophet say, “Whenever a Prophet died, he was buried in the same place where he died’; therefore, the Prophet was buried in a grave in the same room where he died.
None of the Companions renounced the suggestion to bury the Prophet at the pulpit which is definitely part of the mosque. Abu Bakr (may Allah be pleased with him) only refrained from acting upon this suggestion to conform to the Prophet’s order to be buried in the place where he died. Consequently, the Prophet was buried in ‘A`isha’s room which was adjoined to the Prophet’s Mosque where Muslims pray. In our time, this corresponds to the scenario of mosques adjoining rooms containing the shrines of the friends of Allah.

The claim that adjoining a shrine or a grave to a mosque is a privilege of the Prophet is invalid since it is unsubstantiated by any evidence and is, furthermore, completely nullified by the burial of Abu Bakr and `Umar in the same room in which ‘Ai`sha (may Allah be pleased with her) lived and performed both her obligatory and voluntary prayers. The Companions’ acknowledgment of this is proof of their unanimous agreement on its permissibility.

The practical consensus of the community and scholarly acknowledgement

• The righteous predecessors and later generations offered their prayers in the Prophet’s Mosque and others containing shrines without anyone raising objections.
• In the year 88 A.H., Al-Walid Ibn Abd al-Malik issued orders to the governor of Medina at that time, ‘Umar Ibn Abd al-‘Aziz, to include the room where the Prophet was buried within the premises of the mosque itself. Scholars from among the seven scholars of Medina approved of this and none of them objected except Sa’id Ibn al-Musaib. He only protested because he wanted to preserve the Prophet’s quarters to serve as an example for Muslims to become acquainted with the living conditions of the Prophet and thereby renounce worldly pleasures not because he maintained the prohibition of praying in a mosque containing a grave.

The pious predecessors of the Muslim community and their followers have observed [building over grave] until it became unanimously approved. Domes and mosques have been built over the graves of the four imams—Abu Hanifa, Malik, al-Shafi’i and Ahmed (may Allah be pleased with them) as well as other scholars and righteous people of different times and places.

In Musanaf, ibn Abu Shaybah reported through Imran Ibn Abu ‘Ataa who said: I have witnessed the funeral procession of Ibn ‘Abbass. Ibn Al-Hanafiyya has pitched a tent over his grave [to receive consolation for three days).

He also reported through Muhammad ibn al-Munkadir that ‘Umar (may Allah be pleased with him) constructed a tent over the grave of the mother of the believers Zainab bint Jahsh (may Allah be pleased with her).

The Shafi’ scholar, imam al-‘Umrani said in al-Bayan: “If the grave was a private property, then it is permissible to build over it whatever one wishes, because it does not incur restriction upon others. If otherwise—i.e. the grave was endowed for the cause of Allah, it is not permissible to build over it.”
The Hanbali scholar ibn Muflih said in al-Fru’: “the author of al-Mustaw’ib and al-Muharar stated: “If the grave is a private property, there is no objection to having a dome, house or a sitting place over it—because it is permissible to conduct burials in this way.

He said in al-wasila: it is disliked to have a luxurious building over a grave—such as a dome—i.e. there is no objection to have an adjunct building in order to always mark the grave and keep it in shape, since it takes the same ruling of putting stones [at the head of a grave to mark it).

He said in al-Fusul: if the grave is a private property, it is then permissible to have building over it. However, if the grave is endowed for the cause of Allah, it is then disliked to have buildings over it. It will incur restrictions and divert the grave from the job for which it was constructed.” 

Mullah Ali Qari (Rehmatullah Alaih) also said:

The early Muslims (Salaf) have considered it Mubah (i.e. allowed) to build over the graves of famous Mashaikh and Ulama so that people can visit them and sit there (easily) [Mirqaat Sharh al Misshqaat, Volume No. 4, Page No. 69]

So Indeed the Prophets, Mashaikh and Saliheen do not come under the prohibition because the grave of Prophet (Peace be upon him), Abu Bakr (Radhi’Allah anho), Umar (Radhi’Allah anho) and many other Prophets and Saliheen have remained “BUILT OVER

Imam Ibn Hajr al Asqalani (rah) writes in his magnificent Fath ul Bari:

In view of the fact that the Jews and Christians were taking the graves of their Prophets as their qibla for the purpose of respect, and were paying attention towards them at the time of their prayers, their graves took the position of idols. For this reason the Muslims have been forbidden from this action. However, if someone constructs a mosque near the grave of a pious person for the purpose of seeking tabarruk and not for prostration or paying attention towards them, he will never be included in this prohibition. ( Ibn Hajr al-‘Asqalani, Fath al-bari, vol. 3, p. 208)

 

 

A`isha’s hadith

‘A`isha narrated that the Prophet said, “Allah cursed the Jews and the Christiansfortaking thegraves of their prophets as masjids” [Recorded in the Sahih of Bukhari and the Sahih of Muslim]. The word ‘masjids’ here refers to places of worship i.e. they prostrated before the graves in glorification and worship like the disbelievers who worshipped statues and idols. This is further elucidated in an authentic hadith mentioned by Ibn As’ad in Tabaqat Kubra through Abu Huraira (may Allah be pleased with him) who narrated that the Prophet said, “O, Allah do not make my grave an object of worship; Allah cursed those who took the graves of their prophets as masjids.” The words “Allah cursed those…” indicate that taking the grave as an object of worship and therefore the hadith is interpreted as: ‘O Allah! Do not let [people take] my grave as an object of worship before which people prostrate and worship as others did with the graves of their prophets.’

Imam Al-Baidawi said: “Allah cursed the Jews and the Christians because they prostrated in glorification before the shrines of their prophets, took the graves as their qibla towards which they turned for prayer and as objects of worship. Allah forbade Muslims from imitating them. However, there is no objection to building a mosque around the grave of a righteous person or to praying inside his shrine, by way of seeking blessings and not veneration to its inhabitant. Do you not see that the grave of Ismai’il in the Holy Mosque and the graves at Hatim are the best places in which to pray? The prohibition only concerns exhumed graves containing filth.”

It is established in Islamic law that a grave must have been either owned by its inhabitant before his death or endowed to him after his death. Conditions laid down by the endower are tantamount to rulings laid down by the Legislator and so it is impermissible to use the grave for any other purpose.

The sanctity of the deceased

Islam forbids violating the sanctity of the dead and renders it impermissible to exhume their graves, since the sanctity of the dead is tantamount to the sanctity of the living. If the inhabitant of a grave is one of the pious friends of Allah, then it is even more prohibited and a greater crime to disinter or remove his grave. This is because they are of great importance in the eyes of Allah and consequently whoever violates their graves will be subject to Allah’s punishment. Concerning this issue, Abu Huraira narrated the following hadith Qudsi, “I will declare war against whoever is hostile to a friend of Mine” [Recorded by Bukhari].

The ruling

It is impermissible to disinter the two shrines mentioned in the question and violate the sanctity of their inhabitants with the excuse of building a single mosque instead of the two present ones. It is better to join the two mosques and leave the shrines where they are since the performance of a righteous act through unlawful means is permissible. It is likewise impermissible for those in charge of the mosque to agree to removing the shrines as a condition of building the mosque.

Furthermore, it is better to keep the mosques separate until Allah the Almighty sends righteous people who know the status of the pious friends of Allah and who will preserve their sanctity by replacing the two mosques with a single structure containing the two shrines and therefore establishing the mosques on the basis of piety and devoutness.

NOTE:

[1]This hadith was related by Abd al-Raziq through Mu’amir, Abu Is-haq in Al-Sira and by Musa Ibn ‘Uqba in Maghaziyah.
[2]Included by Al-Bazar and by al-Tabarani in his Al-Mu’jam Al-Kabir. The hadith scholar, Ibn-Hajar, mentioned in Mukhtasr Zawa`id Al-Bazar that itsascription is sound.

Relieving Some Contentions

The hadith that Imam Muslim and others reported from Jabir ibn Abdullah (may Allah be pleased them) in which he said: “The Messenger of Allah (PBUH) forbade that the graves should be plastered (made into permanent structures), used as sitting places (for the people) or building over them” is directed to whoever constructs something over the grave out of mere extravagance and not for marking it.

In addition, the hadith that Muslim reported from Abu al-Hayaj al-Assdi that ‘Ali ibn Abu Talib (may Allah be pleased with him) said to him: “Shall I not send you on a mission on which I was sent by Allah’s Messenger (peace and blessings be upon him) “Do not leave any image without erasing it, nor any elevated grave without leveling it to the ground” refers to the graves of the disbelievers as he combined between images and the disbelievers graves. However, the graves of Muslims can be left elevated and should not be leveled to the ground as it had previously mentioned with the case of the grave of the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) and the act of many righteous predecessors.

Based on this and in reference to the question, it is permissible in Islamic law to build over graves—as long as the grave was not made for the cause of Allah or the building is made for the purpose of extreme extravagance.

Interpretation of traditions that prohibit building of graves

It is clear from the Holy Quran and the Prophet’s (s.a.w.a.) Sunnah and actions of the righteous ancestors that building of graves is permitted and even recommended in case of esteemed personalities. Then, how does one reconcile the apparent prohibition in some traditions?

The answer is simple for those who understand the tone and tenor of such traditions. Many scholars have explained it in their works – only if these so-called Muslims would have referred to these books. Perhaps, they have referred but chose to hide the truth!

Both the Ibne Hajars (Haythami and Asqalaani) among other scholars have advanced a rationale for such traditions.

Ibn Hajar al-Haythami, who had no love lost for the Shias, in his al-Zawaajir an Iqtiraf al-Kabaair elaborates on the tradition under question that the prohibition for building graves is if the prayer is performed towards or on the grave and this is only if one prays so close to it that if while praying the prayer of those attentive (looking down), the grave would be within one’s sight. (Al-Zawaajir an Iqtiraf al-Kabaair)

This was the method of the prayers of Jews and Christians and hence the prohibition. No one in the history of Islam took this tradition as proof of prohibition for the building of tombs/shrines over righteous Muslims as Muslims do not worship in this manner.

Likewise, Ibn Hajar al-Asqalaani states: In view of the fact that the Jews and Christians were taking the graves of their Prophets (a.s.) as their Qiblah for the purpose of respect, and were paying attention towards them at the time of their prayers, their graves took the position of idols. Hence, Muslims have been forbidden from this action. However, if someone constructs a mosque near the grave of a pious person for the purpose of seeking blessing (tabarruk) and not for prostration or paying attention towards them, he will never be included in this prohibition (as mentioned in Surah Kahf (18): Verse 21) (Ibn Hajr al-Asqalani, Fath al-Baari vol. 3 pg 208)

For instance, Abdullah b. Umar narrated from the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.) – Inside the Mosque of al-Khayf (Masjidul Khayf in Mina) are graves of 70 Prophets (together).

According to al-Haythami the narrators of this tradition are reliable (theqah), thereby indicating that the tradition is Sahih (authentic and reliable). (Majma’ al-Zawaaid, vol. 3 pg 640 Baab fi Masjid al-Khayf, tradition 5,769)

• According Mullah Ali Qaari graves of Prophets (a.s.) are present inside Masjid al-Haraam: …Don’t you see that grave of Prophet Ismail (a.s.) is inside the Masjid al-Haraam near the hateem and to pray there is superior than in other places. However, to pray near the graves is only forbidden when the soil becomes dirty due to impurity of the deceased. In the hateem near Hajr al-Aswad and drain pipe (mizaab), there are graves of 70 Prophets (a.s.). (Al-Mirqaat fi Sharh al-Mishqaat, vol. 2 pg 202)

• Abu Hanifa narrates from Salim al-Aftas – There is no Prophet who has not fled from his people towards the Kaabah to worship Allah, and around it there are graves of 300 Prophets (a.s.). (Kitaab al-Asar of al-Shaybani, pg 150 published by Turath Publications, London)

Prophet Ismail (a.s.), due to their patience in the way of Allah and tolerance of loneliness, attained such a position that the marks of their steps became the place of worship i.e. the distance between the hills of Safaa and Marwah. (Jalaa al-Afhaam fi al-Salaah wa al-Salaam Alaa Khair al-Anaam by Ibn al-Qaiyyim Jauziyyah)

 

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