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Ruling on Building over a Private Graveyard after Transfer of the Remains

Answered as per Shafi'i Fiqh by Darul Iftaa Jordan
What is the ruling of Sharia on building over my family`s graveyard which is located in Um Al-Hiran, Amman, knowing that the latest grave is twenty five years old and the cemetery is in bad shape? It is worth pointing that this will done after collecting the remains and placing them in one grave.


All perfect praise be to Allah, The Lord of The Worlds. May His blessings and peace be upon our Prophet Mohammad and upon all his family and companions.

Sharia doesn`t permit exhuming or removing graves so long as they contain bones because the sanctity of their dwellers is similar to that of the living. In Jordan, it is well known that the bones of the dead need a very long time to turn into dust. About the sanctity of the dead, Prophet Mohammad (Peace and blessings be upon him) said: "Breaking a deceased body’s bones is exactly like breaking them when he is alive.” {Related by Abu Dawud}." He (Peace and blessings be upon him) also said: "It is much better for one of you to sit on a live coal, which will burn his clothes and get to his skin than to sit on a grave."{Related by Muslim}.

These narrations highlight the sanctity of the dead and show that preserving their graves against harm is an obligation because Allah, The Almighty, said {What means}: "We have honoured the sons of Adam"{Al-Isra`/70}. Therefore, not exhuming graves and not violating their sanctity is honoring their dwellers.

We remind, here, that burying the dead in public graveyards is better and takes precedence over burying them in private graveyards. This is the best course of action in case it was feared that the private graveyard could be exhumed, its dwellers disrespected or that the graves could become a source of trial and glorification. And Allah the Almighty knows best.

This answer was collected from the official government Iftaa Department of Jordan.

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