What’s the Basis or Proof from the Sunna for Removing Shoes in the Cemetery?

Answered by Shaykh Yusuf Weltch


I have been told before that we should remove our shoes when in the cemetery for burial or visiting, what is the basis of this or its proof from the Sunna?


In the Name of Allah, the Most Merciful and Compassionate

Removing one’s shoes before entering the cemetery is an opinion held by some scholars, such as Imam Ahmad bin Hanbal (Allah have mercy on him). Imam Ahmad opined that it is recommended (mustahabb) to remove one’s sandals when entering the graveyard. Thus, wearing shoes in the graveyard will be disliked and reprehensible unless there is a legitimate excuse. He lists amongst such excuses sharp thorns the like that one may be harmed by stepping on or the presence of impurities. [Ibn Qudama, al-Mughni]

His opinion was based on the following narration:

Bashir bin M’abad (Allah be pleased with him narrates, “While I was walking with the Messenger of Allah (may Allah bless him and give him peace), he passed by the graves of the polytheist and said (three times): “They have missed out on much good.”  Then he passed by the graves of Muslims and said, “They have reached much good.” At that moment, the Messenger of Allah noticed a man walking amongst the graves wearing sandals; he said, “O you who are wearing sandals! Woe to you. Take the sandals off.” The man looked and saw that it was the Messenger of Allah, so he removed the sandals and threw them.” [Abu Dawud]

The Hanafi Opinion

Regarding the above narration, Imam al-Tahawi mentioned that it is likely that the Messenger of Allah (may Allah bless him and give him peace) commanded the man to take off his sandals due to impurities on their bottoms. Additionally, (he says) it is affirmed in another Prophetic narration that the Messenger of Allah (may Allah bless him and give him peace) said, “Indeed when the (deceased) servant is placed in their grave, and the people turn and leave, they hear the steps of their sandals.” [Abu Dawud] [Ali Qari, Mirqat al-Mafatih]

Imam al-Tahawi then goes on to say, “This is evidence of the permissibility of wearing sandals in the graveyard. It is also established in the narration of Anas bin Malik (Allah be pleased with him) that the Prophet prayed in his sandals. If it is permissible to enter the mosque with sandals, entering the graveyard with them is even more deserving of being permissible. [Ali Qari, Mirqat al-Mafatih]


That said, if one is in a place that follows an opinion contrary to the Hanafi opinion or a place that culturally considers wearing shoes in the graveyard bad etiquette, it is befitting for one to conform to the people so as not to be a contrarian.

Preservation of the unity of the Muslims is given precedence especially when there is no prohibition for taking off one’s shoes when entering the graveyard. The above discussion merely centers around whether doing so is a Sunna or merely recommended.

Hope this helps

Allah knows best

[Shaykh] Yusuf Weltch
Checked and Approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani

Shaykh Yusuf Weltch teaches Arabic, Islamic law, and spirituality. After accepting Islam in 2008, he completed four years at the Darul Uloom Seminary in New York, where he studied Arabic and the traditional sciences. He then traveled to Tarim, Yemen, where he stayed for three years studying in Dar Al-Mustafa under some of the greatest scholars of our time, including Habib Umar Bin Hafiz, Habib Kadhim al-Saqqaf, and Shaykh Umar al-Khatib. In Tarim, Shaykh Yusuf completed the memorization of the Qur’an and studied beliefs, legal methodology, hadith methodology, Qur’anic exegesis, Islamic history, and several texts on spirituality. He joined the SeekersGuidance faculty in the summer of 2019.