Answered by Eunus Ali
May Allah reward you greatly for your efforts and time for the ummah, Ameen.
In the UK and more specifically London we are facing great difficulties in securing further burial spaces for our Muslim community.
Up to now our community has used a mix of council run cemeteries with dedicated areas for Muslims and in recent years we have had a two dedicated purpose built Muslim cemeteries.
The problem we face in London is that the majority of council run cemeteries have now run out of space or are on the brink of running out of space. The result is that in parts of London the cost of a burial is around £5000 and rising yearly which is unaffordable to most.
As well as that, within the current climate of major property developments in London, rising land costs, and the current climate with Muslims in the UK it is becoming extremely difficult upon those current Muslim cemeteries to purchase further land.
Our cemetery launched recently and after discussing with the local Ulama we concluded on providing “double depth burials” to ensure we extend the life of the cemetery as much as possible for future generations which will also assist in maintaining a
lower price on burials.
We are currently able to provide a burial for £2500 and by offering the option of double burials can extend the life of the cemetery by almost double. We have also been able to offer additional support for La-Warith cases due to this method.
However, our community is majorly concerned with the validity of such an offering and are extremely reluctant to accept this solution at this moment until further approval.
For this reason, we are reaching out to Ulama across the UK and across the globe to review this and respond as our personal experience with Ulama who have verified this are confident in its permissibility all and see it as a sensible approach to overcoming the challenge we are facing.
This method has actually already been implemented in other parts of the UK but as it has not been documented as a fatwa we and other new facilities will face difficulties in being able to convince the community. We hope that this response from the Ulama at large will provide our community with ease and also be used by further cemeteries in this situation.
Please could you review our method below and provide you conclusion on this matter.
Double interment Burials:
• A 6 ft. grave is purchased by an owner in agreement that it will be used in the future by a second individual.
• The first person is buried as normal at the bottom of the grave 7 ft down in a shiq method with wooden planks laying flat upon a ridge to cover the body.
• The soil is replaced
• Later on when the second person passes away only 4.5 ft is re dug from the top of the same grave and the second person is buried above the interment of the first.
* This method ensures that a barrier of wooden planks and at least a foot of soil separates the two interments.
* Under no circumstance is the first interment exposed or disturbed during this procedure as our digging team are aware of stopping at least one foot before they reach the soil of the first grave.
* The second person is buried with at least 3 foot of soil above to ensure no animals or the smell of decay does not reach the surface.
* The second person is offset from the first person’s body as the first body is in a shiq so placed in the centre and the second body is placed to one side.
Jazakallahu Khairan Wa ahsan al jazaa
If there is a genuinenecessityfor burying more than one person in one grave such as shortage of space etc, it willbepermissible to bury two bodies in one grave, after exhausting all other avenues in trying to locate an empty space. (Raddul Muhtar, Volume 3, Page 138, DarulKutubulIlmiyyah&Badai’ As-Sanai, Volume 2, Page 357, DarulKutubulIlmiyyah)
It is notnecessary to bury the body of the deceased in the closest or local cemetery where there may be no spaces available, ratherother cemeteries within a radius 1 or 2 miles of the deceased can also be used where there are spaces available.(Raddul Muhtar, Volume 3, Page 146, DarulKutubulIlmiyyah)
It will also notbepermissible to dig up a grave in order to bury another body in that grave until one is convinced that the body of the first person in the grave has decomposed and has turned in to soil.(Raddul Muhtar, Volume 3, Page 138, DarulKutubulIlmiyyah)
Abarrier will need to be made between the two bodies using the soil etc. if they are buried in the same grave. (ibid)
Inconclusion, the above mentioned method of ‘doubledepthburials’ will be permissible when there is an absolute need to do so and no other alternatives are available.
Only Allah knows best
Written by Eunus Ali
Checked and approved by Mufti Mohammed Tosir Miah
Darul Ifta Birmingham