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Building Structures over Graves

Answered as per Shafi'i Fiqh by Shafiifiqh.com


Is it allowed to make the buildings on the buried place of Auliya. Need some proof from Quraan, Imams, or Sahabah.

Country: India


Wa alaykum salam wa rahmatuLlahi wa barakatuHu,

In Sahih Muslim v. 7, p. 1178, the Prophet Muhammad (sallaAllahu alayhie wa sallam), “Prohibited…building upon them [graves]….”

In Sharh Sahih Muslim v. 7, p. 1179 and Sharh al-Muhadhdhab v. 5, p. 296, Imam Nawawi discussed the issue. Without any difference of opinion, building upon graves is makruh. The Shafi’is do not differentiate regarding what is built over the grave, be it a house or a dome or any other structure. Also, the issue of if a grave-site is privately owned or provided for the public’s use is considered. If the latter, then it is unlawful, and the grave should be demolished; while if the grave-site is private, then it is makruh, the demolishing is not demanded from the owner.

It may be noted that while the Shafi’is agree on the ruling in consideration of who owns the grave-site, not all other ‘ulama’ uphold this differentiation. And additionally, the occupant of the grave being a pious personality does not necessarily change the ruling. In fact, in Fayd al-Qadir v. 6, p. 402, Hafiz Munawi and Ibn Hajar in his Fatawa v. 2, p. 25, related that some of the Shafiyyah ruled that the structures built over Imam Shafi’s grave and the other graves in Qarrafah (Egypt) must be demolished, pursuant to the mentioned opinion.

The initiative to demolish the structures built over graves found in a public graveyard would also not be undertaken by individuals, but rather at the level of the wulat al-amr. In Kitab al-Umm (as related by Imam Nawawi, see previous reference), Imam Shafi’i mentioned that the Imams of Makkah commanded that what was built as such be leveled, and did so. In his Fatawa v. 2, p. 25, Ibn Hajar said,

ووجب على ولاة الأمر هدم الأبنية التي في المقابر المسبلة

“Demolishing the structures which are in the public graveyards is obligatory on the wulat al-amr [those in charge, the government].”

And Allah knows best.

Shafiifiqh.com Fatwa Dept.

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