Is It Permissible to Build around a Grave?

Shafi'i Fiqh

Answered by Shaykh Irshaad Sedick

Question

I need clarity on a matter concerning the grave. My dad passed on a few weeks ago. Four slabs were placed around it with sand in the middle. Is it permissible in Islam?

Answer

In the Name of Allah, the Most Merciful and Compassionate. May Allah guide every dimension of our lives to that which pleases Him.

May Allah forgive your father and all our deceased brothers and sisters and raise them to the highest abode in Paradise.

The following rulings are the teachings of the Shafi‘i School on finishing graves, and Allah knows best.

Finishing the Grave

One should raise the grave’s surface to 1 span (about 23 cm.) above the ground so that it can be known, visited, and respected, except in countries at war with the Muslims (where it is not raised but rather concealed, so as not to be meddled with), and to make its top flat is better than mounding it). No earth should be added, when leveling it, to what was excavated from it. It is recommended to sprinkle water over the grave and put pebbles on it. [Misri, ‘Umdat al-Salik]

It is offensive (makruh):

  • whiten the grave with plaster
  • to build (for example, a cupola or house) over it. (unless one fears that the grave may be damaged somehow or tampered with) [Ramli, Nihayat al-Muhtaj]
  • to put khaluq (a perfume) on the grave (as it is of no benefit and wastes money) or rose water.
  • to place an inscription on it (whether it is the name of the deceased or something other, on a board at the head of the grave or something else, unless it is feared that one may not recognize the grave or the deceased is a friend of Allah or religious scholar, in which case his name is written so that he may be visited and honored, it then not being offensive to the degree required).
  • or to put a pillow or mattress under the deceased. [ibid]

I pray this is of benefit and that Allah guides us all.

[Shaykh] Irshaad Sedick
Checked and Approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani

Shaykh Irshaad Sedick was raised in South Africa in a traditional Muslim family. He graduated from Dar al-Ulum al-Arabiyyah al-Islamiyyah in Strand, Western Cape, under the guidance of the late world-renowned scholar, Shaykh Taha Karaan. 

Shaykh Irshaad received Ijaza from many luminaries of the Islamic world, including Shaykh Taha Karaan, Mawlana Yusuf Karaan, and Mawlana Abdul Hafeez Makki, among others.

He is the author of the text “The Musnad of Ahmad ibn Hanbal: A Hujjah or not?” He has served as the Director of the Discover Islam Centre and Al Jeem Foundation. For the last five years till present, he has served as the Khatib of Masjid Ar-Rashideen, Mowbray, Cape Town.

Shaykh Irshaad has thirteen years of teaching experience at some of the leading Islamic institutes in Cape Town). He is currently building an Islamic online learning and media platform called ‘Isnad Academy’ and pursuing his Master’s degree in the study of Islam at the University of Johannesburg. He has a keen interest in healthy living and fitness.