Warning against building Masjids over graves
Fatwas of Ibn Baz :
I was asked: Is it permissible to build a Masjid over the site of the People of the Cave?
In the Name of Allah, all praise be to Allah, and peace and blessings be upon the Messenger of Allah.
I have read the article published in the third edition of the Islamic Sciences League magazine in the “Muslim News in a Month” section.
The Islamic Sciences League, in The Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, intends to build a Masjid over the site of the cave recently discovered in the village of Al-Rahib, which is said to be the cave where the People of the Cave mentioned in the Qur’an slept. End Quote.
As it is my duty to advise for the sake of Allah and His servants, I thought it would be beneficial to say a word in the same magazine of the Islamic Sciences League published in the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan. I must admonish the league to give up the intention of building a Masjid over the site of this cave, mainly and solely for the reason that building Masjids over the graves and remains of the Prophets and righteous people is utterly forbidden by the Shari`ah (Islamic law) and that those who do so are cursed. This is because such an act may lead to Shirk (associating others with Allah in His Divinity or worship) and excessive veneration and over praising of the prophets and pious people.
The reality bears witness to the validity of the texts of the Shari`ah and proves that it is revealed from Allah (Glorified and Exalted be He), and provides decisive proof of the truthfulness of the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) and the message sent down to him which he conveyed to the Ummah (nation). Whoever is aware of the conditions that exist in the Islamic world and the acts of Shirk, excessive reverence of prophets and the pious that prevail due to establishing Masjids over shrines and glorifying them by means of lavish structures and the presence of custodians to collect money from people unlawfully, will certainly know that they are avenues leading to Shirk. One of the outstanding virtues of Shari`ah is to forbid building of Masjids over graves and to warn sternly against it.
The Two Shaykhs, Al-Bukhari and Muslim (may Allah be merciful to them), narrated some Hadiths to this effect on the authority of `Aishah (may Allah be pleased with her) that the Prophet (peace be upon him) said: May Allah curse the Jews and the Christians; they have taken the graves of their prophets as places of worship
`Aishah (may Allah be pleased with her) said: “He warned against what they did and had it not been for this, his grave would have been raised above the ground but he feared that it would be taken as a Masjid.”
It is also related by Al-Bukhari and Muslim that Um Salamah and Um Habibah (may Allah be pleased with them) mentioned a church they had seen in Abyssinia (Ethiopia) in which there were pictures. When they told the Prophet (peace be upon him) of this, he said, ‘When a pious person among these people died they built a place of worship over his grave and painted these pictures therein. They will be the worst of creation in the Sight of Allah
There are many Hadiths in this regard. Imams of Muslim scholars from the four Madh-habs (Schools of Jurisprudence) and others have stated the prohibition of building Masjids over graves. They issued the sternest warning against doing so, urging Muslims to observe the Sunnah of the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) and advising this Ummah lest it should fall into the same excessiveness and veneration of the prophets and pious people the way its predecessors from the extremist Jews and Christians and their like who deviated from the straight path.
Thus, it is incumbent upon the Islamic Sciences League in Jordan and Muslims to adhere to the Sunnah and the way of the righteous Imams, and to be cautious not to commit what Allah and His Messenger warned against. It is the only way that leads to people’s uprightness and happiness in this world and in the Hereafter. It should be noted that some people formed their opinions based on the misinterpretation of Allah’s Statement in the story of the People of the Cave: (then) those who won their point said (most probably the disbelievers): “We verily shall build a place of worship over them.”
The answer to this is that Allah (Praised and Exalted be He) informed us about the rulers and prominent people who announced this statement. He told their story not by of expressing content and agreement with what they said, but rather as a kind of dispraise and expressing abhorrence of their action. This is even indicated by the Messenger (peace be upon him) to whom this Ayah (Qur’anic verse) was revealed and was the most knowledgeable of its interpretation, for he forbade his Ummah from building Masjids over the graves and cursed and dispraised those who do so.
If this had been permissible, the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) would not have strongly affirmed its prohibition to the extent of cursing those who did it, or describing them as the worst creatures in the Sight of Allah (Glorified and Exalted be He). This should be sufficient in pointing out the gravity implied in the matter and providing a convincing answer to those who seek the truth.
Even if we supposed that building Masjids over graves was permissible for those who preceded us, still we are not permitted to follow their example because the Shari`ah (Islamic law) abrogates all previous laws, and our Prophet (peace be upon him) is the Last of the Messengers and the Shari`ah revealed to him is comprehensive. He (peace be upon him) forbade building Masjids over graves, and as such, we are not permitted to disobey him. We must follow his example and adhere to his Sunnah and abandon what contradicts it regarding the previous Shari`ahs (Divine laws) and favorable customs followed by some people, because Allah’s Shari`ah is perfect and comprehensive and no guidance is better than that of the Prophet (peace be upon him).
Allah is the One Whom we invoke to grant all Muslims and us success and to keep us firm on the truth and help us adhere to the Sunnah of His Messenger, Muhammad (peace be upon him) in words and deeds, whether manifested or hidden, and in all our daily affairs until we meet Allah (Glorified and Exalted be He). Allah is the All-Hearer, Ever-Near and Responsive. May peace and blessings be upon our Prophet Muhammad, his family, and Companions and those who follow his guidance until the Day of Resurrection.
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