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Should a Muslim honor wish of cremation of a non-Muslim relative? No!

Answered according to Hanafi Fiqh by Qibla.com

Answered by Shaykh Gibril F Haddad

My grandmother is not Muslim. She wants to be cremated when she dies. Should I honor her wishes?

Answer:
In the Name of Allah, Most Gracious, Most Merciful

  No.

It is forbidden to burn the dead regardless of creed and even if they should so stipulate or instruct regarding their own funeral disposal because it is a sinful act and to carry it out for them or witness it with approval places one under its onus.

Allah Most High said {Truly We have honored human beings} and burning a human being is a blatant disregard of the honor owed them as per the Divine will.

It is forbidden to burn anything endowed with a soul including green vegetation in Islam and human beings enjoy that sacrosanctity in absolute terms and retain it even after the parting of the soul from them.

Further, with regard to human beings, burning is a punishment and in Islam it is considered the exclusive prerogative of the Creator to be able to punish with the fire as the Prophet said, upon him blessings and peace.

The Prophet, upon him blessings and peace, also said:

“Breaking the bone of the dead [human being] is like breaking it while s/he is alive.” Malik, Ahmad, Abu Dawud, and Ibn Majah narrated it from `A’isha, Allah be well-pleased with her.

Meaning: in degree of sin because of the respect due to a human being (hurmat al-adami).

Imam Ahmad specifically stipulated that the above hadith applies to non-Muslims also. Al-Khallal, Ahkam Ahl al-Milal min al-Jami` li-Masa’il al-Imam Ahmad (p. 214 ch. 106 no. 607).

Thus, from the Muslim perspective it is forbidden to mutilate the body of the dead or crush or break their bones regardless of their creed, a fortiori (min babin awla) to burn them.

Further, it is agreed upon among the three Abrahamic dispensations (Muslims, Orthodox Christians, traditional Catholics, and Jews) that cremation is an abhorrent act, a pagan act and the act of an unbeliever in the resurrection of the dead regardless of the outlandish justifications of newfangled theologians that claim “cremation is indifferent because it is distinct and separate from resurrection”! The premise is true insofar as one’s incineration in no way alters the certainty of the future resurrection of that person, but then neither would one’s carcass being compacted, quartered, or fed to the birds. None of this, however, is ethically indifferent but it is all abominable in the extreme except to idolatrous minds.

The sudden popularity of cremation in the West after the 60’s concurs with the rise of atheism and can neither be accepted nor encouraged in the least by a Muslim. The Prophet said, upon him blessings and peace, that one may attend the funeral procession of a non-Muslim relative but should precede it rather than follow it. Narrated from Qays ibn Shammas (concerning his Christian mother) by al-Daraqutni in the Sunan (2:76) cf. al-Zayla`i, Nasb al-Raya (2:292). Then, upon arrival at the final resting-place (or crematorium), leave without further ado or else attend from a distance cf. Imam Ahmad per al-Khallal’s narration in Ahkam Ahl al-Milal (p. 218-220 ch. 112, Nos. 619-628 “Attending the funeral of a non-Muslim relative”).

Even from the crassest materialistic perspective, Muslim burial is by far the simplest, cleanest, cheapest, most practical, most ecological, most expedient, natural, accommodating, humane, dignified, efficient, civilized, unsuperstitious, and simply the most perfect of all funeral ethics.

Hajj Gibril

This answer was indexed from Qibla.com, which used to have a repository of Islamic Q&A answered by various scholars. The website is no longer in existence. It has now been transformed into a learning portal with paid Islamic course offering under the brand of Kiflayn.

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