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Is it permissible to build on graves?

Answered as per Shafi'i Fiqh by Qibla.com

Answered by Shaykh Amjad Rasheed
Translated by Shaykh Hamza Karamali, SunniPath Academy Teacher

You mentioned in a previous answer that it is permissible to build over graves. Isnโ€™t there a hadith in which the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) ordered the leveling of every elevated structure that is constructed over graves? And didnโ€™t Imam Shafi`i give a fatwa forbidding people from building over graves?

In the Name of Allah, Most Gracious, Most Merciful

The Position of the Four Schools

I do not recall mentioning in any of my answers simply that it is โ€œpermissible to build over gravesโ€. Rather, I went into great detail in my answer and mentioned the ruling of building over graves both in the Shafi`i school and in other schools. I mentioned that the relied-upon position in the Shafi`i school (i.e. the position of both Imam Nawawi and Imam Rafi`i) is that if the grave is built in an area that is endowed as a graveyard [1], it is unlawful to build over the grave because it blocks others from burying someone else in that area in the future. The ruling in this case does not change, regardless of whether the grave belongs to a righteous person, a scholar, or anyone else. If, however, the grave is dug in a privately-owned area, then it is offensive to build over the grave, but not unlawful.

Understanding the Hadith of the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace)

As for the Prophetโ€™s (Allah bless him and give him peace) command that every elevated structure over graves be demolished, it is, in fact, rigorously authenticated from him. Imam Muslim narrated in his Sahih via Abu al-Hayyaj al-Asadi (Allah be pleased with him) that he said,

โ€œ`Ali b. Abi Talib asked me, โ€œShall I not send you to do what the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him and give him peace) sent me to do?โ€”That you leave no figure except that you erase it, nor an elevated grave except that you level it.โ€

Imam Muslim also narrated via Jabir that he said, โ€œThe Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him and give him peace) forbade the plastering of graves, sitting on them, or building over them.โ€

Imam Nawawi explained this hadith in his commentary on Sahih Muslim:

โ€œAs for building upon [a grave], then if (a) [the earth on which the grave is built] belongs to the one who builds over it, [building over it] it is offensive, whereas if (b) it is in a public graveyard, then it is unlawful. Imam Shafi`i and the early scholars of his school have explicitly said this. Shafi`i said in his book, al-Umm, โ€œI have seen the scholars of Mecca command the demolition of [graves] that are built over. Such demolition is supported by the hadith, โ€œโ€ฆ nor an elevated grave except that you level it โ€ฆโ€โ€

Imam Nawawiโ€™s quoting from Imam Shafi`iย  (Allah be pleased with him) explains the answer to the last part of the question above. [h: i.e., that his words have been understood by the scholars of his school to refer to public graveyards]

Other Positions

This is the relied-upon position of our school. There are, however, three other scholarly positions on the issue which have their own scholarly proofs. Among these positions is what is related by Imam Badr al-Din al-Zarkashi in the book, al-Khadim, from the great scholar and imam, Sharaf al-Din al-Ansari about the Qarafa graveyard [which is a famous graveyard in Cairo]. Among the things that Shaykh Sharaf al-Din al-Ansari mentioned is that the early Muslims (Allah be pleased with them) witnessed what happened in the Qarafa graveyard [โ€ฆ] in previous ages; grave-visitation areas (turab) and places of residence (dur) were built [over graves] in it, and none of the scholars of the times condemned it, neither by word, nor by deed. He then said, โ€œThey built inside it the dome of Imam Shafi`i along with his school, and the same was done with all the other graves that are now sites of visitation.โ€

One of the late Shafi`i scholars has said that these words of Sharaf al-Din al-Ansari indicate that building over graves in a public graveyard is not unlawful, and if it is not unlawful in public graveyards, then it is a fortiori not unlawful in un-owned land (mawat) or land that belongs to someone who permits building over the grave. All of the above is taken from the Fatawa of Ibn Hajar al-Haytami.

Ibn Hajar also mentions in his Fatawa that [the great hadith scholar] Imam Hakim said in his Mustadrak after mentioning hadiths that prohibit building or writing on graves, โ€œScholars have not acted upon these hadiths, for the great scholars of the Muslimsโ€”east and westโ€”have all had their graves built over, which is something that has been passed on from generation to generation.โ€

Translatorโ€™s Notes

[1] In other words, a public graveyard that is for general use. All Muslims have the right to use such graveyards and the ground that is used to bury one person is usually re-used to bury other people after the body disintegrates. Building over graves in such a graveyard prevents others from re-using that space in the future and is hence unlawful.

Related Answer: Is it permissible to build structures on graves?

ุงู„ุณุคุงู„: ุฐูƒุฑุชู… ููŠ ูุชูˆู‰ ุณุงุจู‚ุฉ ุฃู†ู‡ ูŠุฌูˆุฒ ุงู„ุจู†ุงุก ุนู„ู‰ ุงู„ู‚ุจูˆุฑุŸ ู‡ู„ ูŠูˆุฌุฏ ุญุฏูŠุซูŒ ุฃู…ุฑ ุงู„ู†ุจูŠ ุตู„ู‰ ุงู„ู„ู‡ ุนู„ูŠู‡ ูˆุณู„ู… ููŠู‡ ุฃู† ูŠู‡ุฏู… ูƒู„ ุจู†ุงุก ู…ุฑุชูุน ุนู„ู‰ ุงู„ู‚ุจูˆุฑุŸ ูˆู‡ู„ ุฃูุชู‰ ุงู„ุฅู…ุงู… ุงู„ุดุงูุนูŠ ุจุงู„ู†ู‘ูŽู‡ู’ูŠ ุนู† ุงู„ุจู†ุงุก ุนู„ู‰ ุงู„ู‚ุจูˆุฑุŸ

ุงู„ุฌูˆุงุจ: ู„ู… ุฃุฐูƒุฑู’ ููŠ ุฌูˆุงุจู ู„ูŠ ุฌูˆุงุฒูŽ ุงู„ุจู†ุงุก ุนู„ู‰ ุงู„ู‚ุจุฑ ู‡ูƒุฐุง ู…ุทู„ู‚ุงู‹ุŒ ูˆุฅู†ู…ุง ูุตู‘ูŽู„ุชู ููŠ ุงู„ุฌูˆุงุจ ูุฐูƒุฑุชู ุฃู† ููŠ ุญูƒู… ุงู„ุจู†ุงุก ุนู„ู‰ ุงู„ู‚ุจุฑ ุณูˆุงุก ุนู†ุฏู†ุง ูˆุนู†ุฏ ุบูŠุฑู†ุง ู…ู† ุนู„ู…ุงุก ุงู„ู…ุฐุงู‡ุจ ุฃุฑุจุนุฉูŽ ุฃู‚ูˆุงู„ูุŒ ูˆุฃู† ุงู„ู…ุนุชู…ุฏูŽ ุนู†ุฏู†ุง -ูˆู‡ูˆ ู…ุง ุนู„ูŠู‡ ุดูŠุฎุง ุงู„ู…ุฐู‡ุจ ุงู„ู†ูˆูˆูŠ ูˆุงู„ุฑุงูุนูŠ-: ุฃู† ุงู„ู‚ุจุฑ ุฅู† ูƒุงู† ููŠ ู…ูƒุงู† ู…ูˆู‚ูˆู ุฃูˆ ู…ุณุจู‘ูŽู„ ู„ู„ุฏูู† ุญูŽุฑูู…ูŽ ุงู„ุจู†ุงุกู ุนู„ูŠู‡ุ› ู„ุฃู† ููŠู‡ ุชุญุฌูŠุฑุงู‹ ุนู„ู‰ ุงู„ุบูŠุฑ ููŠ ุงู„ุฏูู† ููŠ ุชู„ูƒ ุงู„ุจู‚ุนุฉุŒ ูˆุณูˆุงุกูŒ ููŠ ู‡ุฐุง ูƒุงู† ุงู„ู‚ุจุฑู ู„ุตุงู„ุญ ุฃูˆ ุนุงู„ู… ุฃูˆ ุบูŠุฑู‡ู…ุง. ุฃู…ุง ุฅู† ูƒุงู† ุงู„ู‚ุจุฑู ููŠ ู…ูƒุงู†ู ู…ู…ู„ูˆูƒู ููŠูƒุฑู‡ู ุงู„ุจู†ุงุก ุนู„ู‰ ุงู„ู‚ุจุฑ ูˆู„ุง ูŠุญุฑู…ู.

ย ย ย ย ย ย ย ย ย ย ย  ุฃู…ุง ุจุฎุตูˆุต ุฃู…ุฑู‡ ุตู„ู‰ ุงู„ู„ู‡ ุนู„ูŠู‡ ูˆุณู„ู… ุจู‡ุฏู… ูƒู„ู‘ู ุจู†ุงุก ู…ุฑุชูุนู ุนู„ู‰ ุงู„ู‚ุจูˆุฑุ› ูู‡ูˆ ุตุญูŠุญูŒ ุฑูˆุงู‡ ู…ุณู„ู… ููŠ “ุตุญูŠุญู‡” ูุนู† ุฃุจูŠ ุงู„ู‡ูŠุงุฌ ุงู„ุฃุณุฏูŠ ู‚ุงู„: ู‚ุงู„ ู„ูŠ ุนู„ูŠู‘ู ุจู†ู ุฃุจูŠ ุทุงู„ุจ:” ุฃู„ุง ุฃุจู’ุนูŽุซููƒูŽ ุนู„ู‰ ู…ุง ุจูŽุนูŽุซูŽู†ูŠ ุนู„ูŠู‡ ุฑุณูˆู„ู ุงู„ู„ู‡ ุตู„ู‰ ุงู„ู„ู‡ ุนู„ูŠู‡ ูˆุณู„ู…ุ› ุฃู† ู„ุง ุชุฏุนูŽ ุชู…ุซุงู„ุงู‹ ุฅู„ุง ุทู…ุณุชูŽู‡ูุŒ ูˆู„ุง ู‚ุจุฑุงู‹ ู…ูุดู’ุฑููุงู‹ ุฅู„ุง ุณูŽูˆู‘ูŽูŠู’ุชูŽู‡ “. ูˆููŠ ู…ุณู„ู… ุฃูŠุถุงู‹ ุนู† ุฌุงุจุฑู ู‚ุงู„:

” ู†ู‡ู‰ ุฑุณูˆู„ู ุงู„ู„ู‡ ุตู„ู‰ ุงู„ู„ู‡ ุนู„ูŠู‡ ูˆุณู„ู… ุฃู† ูŠุฌุตู‘ูŽุตูŽ ุงู„ู‚ุจุฑูุŒ ูˆุฃู† ูŠูู‚ู’ุนูŽุฏูŽ ุนู„ูŠู‡ุŒ ูˆุฃู† ูŠูุจู’ู†ูŽู‰ ุนู„ูŠู‡ “.

ย ย ย ย ย ย ย ย ย ย ย  ู‚ุงู„ ุงู„ุฅู…ุงู… ุงู„ู†ูˆูˆูŠ ููŠ “ุดุฑุญ ู…ุณู„ู…”:”: ูˆุฃู…ุง ุงู„ุจู†ุงุกู ุนู„ูŠู‡ุ› ูุฅู† ูƒุงู† ููŠ ู…ู„ูƒู ุงู„ุจุงู†ูŠ ูู…ูƒุฑูˆู‡ุŒ ูˆุฅู† ูƒุงู† ููŠ ู…ู‚ุจุฑุฉู ู…ูุณูŽุจู‘ูŽู„ุฉู ูุญุฑุงู…ุŒ ู†ุตู‘ูŽ ุนู„ูŠู‡ ุงู„ุดุงูุนูŠู‘ู ูˆุงู„ุฃุตุญุงุจ. ู‚ุงู„ ุงู„ุดุงูุนูŠ ููŠ “ุงู„ุฃู…”: ูˆุฑุฃูŠุชู ุงู„ุฃุฆู…ุฉูŽ ุจู…ูƒุฉูŽ ูŠุฃู…ุฑูˆู† ุจู‡ูŽุฏู’ู…ู ู…ุง ูŠูุจู’ู†ูŽู‰ุŒ ูˆูŠุคูŠู‘ูุฏู ุงู„ู‡ุฏู…ูŽ ู‚ูˆู„ูู‡ (ูˆู„ุง ู‚ุจุฑุงู‹ ู…ูุดู’ุฑููุงู‹ ุฅู„ุง ุณูŽูˆู‘ูŽูŠุชูŽู‡) “. ุงู†ุชู‡ู‰ ูˆุจู…ุง ู†ู‚ู„ู‡ ุงู„ู†ูˆูˆูŠู‘ู ุนู† ุงู„ุฅู…ุงู… ุงู„ุดุงูุนูŠ ุฑุถูŠ ุงู„ู„ู‡ ุนู†ู‡ ูˆุฑุญู…ู‡ ูŠูุนู’ู„ูŽู…ู ุฌูˆุงุจู ุงู„ุดู‚ู‘ู ุงู„ุฃุฎูŠุฑ ู…ู† ุงู„ุณุคุงู„.

ย ย ย ย ย ย ย ย ย ย ย  ู‡ุฐุง ู…ุฐู‡ุจู†ุง ุงู„ู…ุนุชู…ุฏุŒ ูˆููŠ ุงู„ู…ุณุฃู„ุฉ ุซู„ุงุซุฉู ุฃู‚ูˆุงู„ู ุฃุฎุฑู‰ ู„ู‡ุง ุฃุฏู„ุชูู‡ุง ูˆุชูˆุฌูŠู‡ุงุชูู‡ุงุŒ ูู…ู† ุชู„ูƒ: ู…ุง ู†ู‚ู„ู‡ ุงู„ุฅู…ุงู…ู ุจุฏุฑู ุงู„ุฏูŠู† ุงู„ุฒู‘ูŽุฑู’ูƒูŽุดูŠู‘ู ููŠ “ุงู„ุฎุงุฏู…” ุนู† ุงู„ุดูŠุฎ ุงู„ุฅู…ุงู… ุดุฑู ุงู„ุฏูŠู† ุงู„ุฃู†ุตุงุฑูŠ ููŠ ุงู„ูƒู„ุงู… ุนู„ู‰ ุงู„ู‚ุฑุงูุฉ -ุฃูŠ: ุงู„ุชูŠ ุจู…ุตุฑ-ุŒ ูˆุฐูŽูƒูŽุฑูŽ ููŠ ุฃุซู†ุงุฆู‡ ุฃู† ุงู„ุณู„ููŽ ุฑุถูŠ ุงู„ู„ู‡ ุนู†ู‡ู… ุดุงู‡ุฏูˆุง ู‡ุฐู‡ ุงู„ู‚ุฑุงูุฉูŽ ุงู„ูƒุจุฑู‰ ูˆุงู„ุตุบุฑู‰ ู…ู† ุงู„ุฒู…ุงู† ุงู„ู…ุชู‚ุฏู…ุŒ ูˆุจูู†ููŠูŽ ููŠู‡ุง ุงู„ุชุฑุจู ูˆุงู„ุฏู‘ููˆุฑ ูˆู„ู… ูŠู†ูƒุฑู’ู‡ู ุฃุญุฏูŒ ู…ู† ุนู„ู…ุงุก ุงู„ุฃุนุตุงุฑ ู„ุง ุจู‚ูˆู„ ูˆู„ุง ูุนู„. ู‚ุงู„: ูˆู‚ุฏ ุจูŽู†ูŽูˆุง ููŠู‡ ู‚ุจุฉูŽ ุงู„ุฅู…ุงู… ุงู„ุดุงูุนูŠ ุฑุถูŠ ุงู„ู„ู‡ ุนู†ู‡ ูˆู…ุฏุฑุณุชูŽู‡ุŒ ูˆู‡ูƒุฐุง ุณุงุฆุฑู ุงู„ู…ุฒุงุฑุงุชุŒ ุฅู„ู‰ ุขุฎุฑ ูƒู„ุงู… ุงู„ุดุฑู ุงู„ุฃู†ุตุงุฑูŠ. ู‚ุงู„ ุจุนุถู ุงู„ู…ุชุฃุฎุฑูŠู†: ูˆุงู‚ุชุถู‰ ูƒู„ุงู…ูู‡ ุนุฏู…ูŽ ุชุญุฑูŠู… ุงู„ุจู†ุงุก ููŠ ุงู„ู…ุณุจู„ุฉ. ู‚ุงู„: ูˆุฅุฐุง ู„ู… ูŠุญุฑู… ููŠ ู…ุณุจู„ุฉ ู„ู… ูŠุญุฑู… ููŠ ู…ูˆุงุช ูˆู…ู…ู„ูˆูƒ ุจุฅุฐู† ู…ุงู„ูƒู‡ ู…ู† ุจุงุจ ุฃูˆู„ู‰. ุงู‡ู€ ู…ู† “ูุชุงูˆู‰ ุงู„ูƒุจุฑู‰” ู„ู„ุดู‡ุงุจ ุงุจู† ุญุฌุฑ ุงู„ู‡ูŠุชู…ูŠ.

ย ย ย ย ย ย ย ย ย ย ย  ูˆููŠู‡ุง ุฃูŠุถุงู‹: ุฃู† ุงู„ุญุงูƒู… ู‚ุงู„ ููŠ “ู…ุณุชุฏุฑูƒู‡” ุฅูุซู’ุฑูŽ ุชุตุญูŠุญ ุฃุญุงุฏูŠุซ ุงู„ู†ู‡ูŠ ุนู† ุงู„ุจู†ุงุก ูˆุงู„ูƒุชุจ ุนู„ู‰ ุงู„ู‚ุจูˆุฑ:” ู„ูŠุณ ุงู„ุนู…ู„ู ุนู„ูŠู‡ุงุ› ูุฅู† ุฃุฆู…ุฉูŽ ุงู„ู…ุณู„ู…ูŠู† ุดุฑู‚ุงู‹ ูˆุบุฑุจุงู‹ ุงู„ุจู†ุงุก ุนู„ู‰ ู‚ุจูˆุฑู‡ู…ุŒ ูˆู‡ูˆ ุฃู…ุฑูŒ ุฃุฎุฐู‡ ุงู„ุฎู„ูู ุนู† ุงู„ุณู„ู “. ู‚ุงู„ ุงู„ุจุฑุฒู„ูŠ: ููŠูƒูˆู† ุฅุฌู…ุงุนุงู‹.ย ย 

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