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We wish to get involved in the development of private cemeteries. We will not be involved directly in burials but only in purchasing and developing it to the required standards for Council to allow burials on it. Most of the burials done here will be for non-muslims. The norm now in South Africa is for individual burial plots to be leased to the family of the deceased for approximately 10 years or so and thereafter the plots are recycled. We wish to humbly enquire whether it is permissible for us to lease the plots and then after 10 years or so, lease it again to a different family. It must be known that the Municipality has stressed that due to the large shortage of burial sites, all burial plots must be recycled after 7 to 10 years. Each individual plot will be surveyed and marked out and will be leased to burial homes in order for them to facilitate burials. Which of the following would be permissible for us to do:  Re-lease the plots after every 10 years Lease it for 10 years and thereafter sell the cemetery outright Sell the plots in perpetuity to the families of the deceased or the burial homes

Answered according to Hanafi Fiqh by Muftionline.co.za

Q: We wish to get involved in the development of private cemeteries. We will not be involved directly in burials but only in purchasing and developing it to the required standards for Council to allow burials on it. Most of the burials done here will be for non-muslims. The norm now in South Africa is for individual burial plots to be leased to the family of the deceased for approximately 10 years or so and thereafter the plots are recycled. We wish to humbly enquire whether it is permissible for us to lease the plots and then after 10 years or so, lease it again to a different family. It must be known that the Municipality has stressed that due to the large shortage of burial sites, all burial plots must be recycled after 7 to 10 years. Each individual plot will be surveyed and marked out and will be leased to burial homes in order for them to facilitate burials. Which of the following would be permissible for us to do: 

  1. Re-lease the plots after every 10 years
  2. Lease it for 10 years and thereafter sell the cemetery outright
  3. Sell the plots in perpetuity to the families of the deceased or the burial homes

We wish to get involved in the development of private cemeteries. We will not be involved directly in burials but only in purchasing and developing it to the required standards for Council to allow burials on it. Most of the burials done here will be for non-muslims. The norm now in South Africa is for individual burial plots to be leased to the family of the deceased for approximately 10 years or so and thereafter the plots are recycled. We wish to humbly enquire whether it is permissible for us to lease the plots and then after 10 years or so, lease it again to a different family. It must be known that the Municipality has stressed that due to the large shortage of burial sites, all burial plots must be recycled after 7 to 10 years. Each individual plot will be surveyed and marked out and will be leased to burial homes in order for them to facilitate burials. Which of the following would be permissible for us to do:  Re-lease the plots after every 10 years Lease it for 10 years and thereafter sell the cemetery outright Sell the plots in perpetuity to the families of the deceased or the burial homes

A: The graves could be recycled and re-leased. Yes, they could also be sold.

عن أنس بن مالك قال قدم رسول الله -صلى الله عليه وسلم- المدينة فنزل فى علو المدينة فى حى يقال لهم بنو عمرو بن عوف فأقام فيهم أربع عشرة ليلة ثم أرسل إلى بنى النجار فجاءوا متقلدين سيوفهم – فقال أنس – فكأنى أنظر إلى رسول الله -صلى الله عليه وسلم- على راحلته وأبو بكر ردفه وملأ بنى النجار حوله حتى ألقى بفناء أبى أيوب وكان رسول الله -صلى الله عليه وسلم- يصلى حيث أدركته الصلاة ويصلى فى مرابض الغنم وإنه أمر ببناء المسجد فأرسل إلى بنى النجار فقال « يا بنى النجار ثامنونى بحائطكم هذا ». فقالوا والله لا نطلب ثمنه إلا إلى الله عز وجل. قال أنس وكان فيه ما أقول لكم كانت فيه قبور المشركين وكانت فيه خرب وكان فيه نخل فأمر رسول الله -صلى الله عليه وسلم- بقبور المشركين فنبشت وبالخرب فسويت وبالنخل فقطع فصفوا النخل قبلة المسجد وجعلوا عضادتيه حجارة وجعلوا ينقلون الصخر وهم يرتجزون والنبى -صلى الله عليه وسلم- معهم وهو يقول اللهم لا خير إلا خير الآخره فانصر الأنصار والمهاجره (سنن أبي داود 1/65) قال ووقف المشاع جائز عند أبي يوسف لأن القسمة من تمام القبض والقبض عنده ليس بشرط فكذا تتمته وقال محمد رحمه الله لا يجوز لأن أصل القبض عنده شرط فكذا ما يتم به وهذا فيما يحتمل القسمة وأما فيما لا يحتمل القسمة فيجوز مع الشيوع عند محمد رحمه الله أيضا لأنه يعتبر بالهبه والصدقة المنفذة إلا في المسجد والمقبرة فإنه لا يتم مع الشيوع فيما لا يحتمل القسمة أيضا عند أبي يوسف لأن بقاء الشركة يمنع الخلوص لله تعالى ولأن المهايأة فيهما في غاية القبح بأن يقبر فيه الموتى سنة ويزرع سنة ويصلى فيه في وقت ويتخذ أصطبلا في وقت بخلاف الوقف لإمكان الاستغلال وقسمة الغلة (الهداية 2/638-639)

Answered by:

Mufti Ebrahim Salejee (Isipingo Beach)

This answer was collected from MuftiOnline.co.za, where the questions have been answered by Mufti Zakaria Makada (Hafizahullah), who is currently a senior lecturer in the science of Hadith and Fiqh at Madrasah Ta’leemuddeen, Isipingo Beach, South Africa.

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