Is It Permissible to Fly the Dead Body of a Recently Deceased Family Member for Burial Overseas?

Answered according to Hanafi Fiqh by Seekersguidance.org

Answered by Ustadh Salman Younas

Question: Assalamu’alaikum,

It is common practice for families to fly the dead body of a recently deceased family member for burial overseas, typically “back home” in countries like India, Pakistan and Bangladesh. What is the ruling on this, particularly if embalming is required by the airline?

Answer: Wa alaikum assalam wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuh,

I pray that you are in the best of health and faith, insha’Allah.

There are three issues here:

[1] Transferring the dead body to another state or country,

[2] Embalming it, and

[3] Delaying it’s burial.

As for transferring a dead body to another land is prohibitively disliked (makruh tahriman) as stated by Imam Shurunbulali in his Nur al Idah, Ibn `Abidin in his Hashiya, Tahtawi in his, and others. Imam Tahtawi states, “(tranferring [the dead body] from one land to another) it is prohibitively disliked because transferring a mile or two is out of need and there is no such need in transferring to another land (s: or city).” This is the relied-upon position within the school.

Further, embalming the dead would not be permitted mainly because it involves procedures that the law clearly prohibits or considers disliked, such as the usage of impure substances on the body, incissions, and so forth.

As far as delaying the burial is concerned, it is disliked and contrary to the prophetic stipulations of hastening to bury the dead. Abu Hurayra narrates that the Prophet (Allah bless him and grant him peace) said, “Hasten the burial rites” (Bukhari and Muslim) and elsewhere “Make haste with your dead…” as narrated by Ibn `Umar and others. In the Fath al Qadir it states, “It is recommended to hurry the [funeral] preparations when one dies.” (kitab al salat, bab al janaza; Bahr al Ra’iq; Radd al Muhtar) Delaying the burial and other funeral rites could be sinful if the delay is excessive. However, it has no effect on the dead in terms of suffering or reward.

And Allah alone gives success.

wassalam,

Salman

Checked & Approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani

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