Burial of Muslims in Non-Muslim Graveyards
There are 3 views on the burial of Muslims in non-Muslim graveyards in non- Muslim countries. The first permits it as a matter of necessity, the 2nd is against, and the 3rd permits it in a special section for Muslims.
Burial of Muslims in Non-Muslim Graveyards
· Burial in other people’s graveyards.
· Burial in the graveyards of Christians and Jews.
There are religious rulings that apply to a deceased Muslim, such as bathing, wrapping, burial and facing in the direction of prayer, etc. There are graveyards for Muslims, and others for Jews and Christians. In most cases in non-Muslim countries with minority Muslim communities there are no graveyards for Muslims. Is it permissible to bury a deceased Muslim in non-Muslim graveyards?
Contemporary scholars have three different views on this question:
The first view permits burying Muslims in non-Muslim graveyards as a matter of necessity. This is the view of the Islamic Fiqh Academy and the European Council for Fatwa and Research. The relevant decision of the Academy states that Muslims should collaborate and endeavour to have their own graveyards. If they cannot manage this, then they should at least have their own section at the side of a graveyard where they can bury their own deceased. If they cannot achieve this, they may bury their dead wherever they can, even if this means burial in non-Muslim graveyards.
1. What benefits a Muslim after death is his good deeds, not the place where he or she is buried.
Man will only have what he strives for
2. What sanctifies a person is his deeds, not the land.
Salman al-Farisi said: ‘The earth does not sanctify anyone, but it is a person’s deeds that may sanctify him.’ (Related by Malik in Al-Muwatta’, hadith No. 2,232)
3. Necessity, if the Muslim community cannot have its own graveyard or a section in other people’s graveyards.
4. The normal requirement is to ensure burial takes place soon after death and that a Muslim is buried in the town where he dies.
5. Prayer for the deceased is granted to him wherever he is buried.
The second view prohibits burying a Muslim in non-Muslim graveyards. This is the view of the Permanent Committee for Research and Fatwa in Saudi Arabia. It is expressed in several places:
1. Fatwa No. 1,841, vol. 8, pp. 453–4 states: ‘It is not permissible for Muslims to bury a deceased Muslim in a graveyard belonging to non-Muslims.
2. Fatwa No. 9,024, vol. 8, pp. 353–4 states: ‘It is not permissible to bury a Muslim in the graveyards of Christians or other communities, such as Jews, Communists or idolaters.
3. On the website of the General Presidency for Research and Fatwa, the rulings of the Permanent Committee state: A deceased Muslim may not be buried within the fenced area of a non-Muslim graveyard, and not even in a section of it allocated to Muslims, because all the area within the fence is part of the graveyard.
4. Fatwa 3,081 states: It is not permissible to bury a Muslim in Christian graveyards because he is troubled by their suffering. Graves of Muslims must be in a place that is separate from Christian graveyards.
5. If a Muslim community cannot have its own graveyard, then when a Muslim dies he must not be buried in non-Muslim graveyard. A place in the desert may be dug to bury him there, and then the area should be levelled with the ground so that no one could dig up the grave. If it is possible to remove the body to a country where there are graveyards for Muslims, without excessive cost, then this is preferable.Fatwa No. 5,377, vol. 8, p. 455; and fatwa No. 10,508, vol. 9, p. 7.
6. Burial in non-Muslim graveyards is not permissible. If a Muslim is buried there, his body should be dug up and removed to Muslim graveyards if there are any, or else it should be buried in a place where there are no graves of unbelievers, however possible. Fatwa No. 16,057, vol. 7, p. 392.
1. The standard practice during the Prophet’s lifetime and in the generations of the Prophet’s companions and their successors.
2. The Muslims are troubled by the unbelievers.
The third view provides details as follows:
1. A deceased Muslim should be buried in Muslim graveyards in Western countries.
2. If a Muslim community does not have its own graveyard, the deceased must be removed to a Muslim country, if i) this is financially possible; ii) the country’s authorities allow this; and iii) it can be done without affecting the body.
3. If neither of the above is possible, the deceased may be buried in a non-Muslim graveyard, in a section dedicated for Muslims.
4. If even this last option is not possible, it is permissible to bury the deceased in a non-Muslim graveyard, as a matter of necessity.
5. If burial in a non-Muslim graveyard is the only option, priority is given to Christian graveyards, then Jewish ones, then others.
· Fatawa by The Permanent Committee for Research and Fatwa.
· The website of the European Council for Fatwa and Research: www.e-rfc.org.
· Fatawa by the International Islamic Fiqh Academy at its third conference.
· Khalid Abd al-Qadir, Min Fiqh al-Aqaliyyat, Kitab al-Ummah, No. 61.
- This decision was adopted by the International Islamic Fiqh Academy in its third conference held in Amman, Jordan, 8–13/2/1407 AH, 11–16 October 1986. The decision, No. 23, 11:3 was adopted in answer to the questions raised by the International Institute of Islamic Thought.