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Ruling on Exhuming the Grave if the Deceased wasn`t Facing the Qibla

Answered according to Shafi'i Fiqh by Darul Iftaa Jordan
Should the grave of the deceased, who wasn`t placed towards the Qibla, be exhumed to turn him towards it?

Answer:
All perfect praise be to Allah, The Lord of The Worlds, and may His blessings and peace be upon our Prophet Mohammad and upon all his family and companions. In principle, the deceased should be facing the Qibla when placed in his grave, as indicated in the book, "As-Sunnan" by Al-Bayhakhi who reported that the Prophet(PBUH) said, when describing Al-Bait Al-Haraam(The Sacred House), " The sacred House is your Qiblah (direction of prayer), in your life and after death." However, if the deceased was buried in a direction other than the Qibla, then scholars have disagreed as regards exhuming his grave: The Hanafites are of the view that it is impermissible to exhume the grave if the deceased was covered with earth, since they consider it a Sunnah, not an obligation. The Shafites are of the view that digging the grave out and turning the deceased`s body towards the Qibla is obligatory, provided that his body hasn`t changed. If it has, then it is impermissible to exhume the grave. Please refer to "Moghni Al-Mohtajj 2/38." As far as the Hanbalite Jurists are concerned, they permit exhuming the grave and turning the deceased towards the Qibla so long as his body hasn`t reached the stage of putrefaction. We, The Iftaa` Department, rule that it is permissible to turn the body of the deceased to make it face the Qibla if it wasn`t covered with earth. If it was, then it shouldn`t be turned and the grave shouldn`t be exhumed, according to the opinion of the Hanafites and the Malikites, in order not to violate the sanctity of the deceased. And Allah knows best.

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

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