Permissibility of Visiting the Grave

بِسۡمِ ٱللهِ ٱلرَّحۡمَـٰنِ ٱلرَّحِيمِ

Some people in this present era believe that if somebody visits the graves of the pious and take them as a means to Allah (s.w.t.) or seeks blessing through their relics, has either committed shirk or bid’ah.  Some even claim that this act was not done by the aswhab, the salaf or in past centuries.  The following is evidence from the Qur’an and ahadits.

Thus did We Make their case known to the people, that they might know that the Promise of Allah is true, and that there can be no doubt about the Hour of Judgment.  Behold, they dispute among themselves as to their affair.  (Some) said, “Construct a building over them”: their Lord Knows best about them: those who prevailed over their affair said, “Let us surely build a place of worship over them.” (Surah al-Kahf:21)

Imam ibn Jarir ath-Thabari (r.a.) wrote in his Tafsir ath-Thabari, that the mushrikin said. “We will build a building over it and worship Allah in it,” but the Muslims said, “We have more right over them and we will surely build a mosque so that we can pray there and worship Allah.”

In Mirqat Sharh al-Mishqat, Mulla ‘Ali Qari (r.a.) wrote in detail with perfect clarification that anyone who builds a mosque near the grave of an upright person or prays in the tomb or intends to ask for help through the ruh of that upright person or intends to seek barakah from his leftovers; if he does all that without the intention of giving him tazhim, aggrandisement or facing him in swalah, “Then there is nothing wrong in that; dot you not see that grave of Isma’il (a.s.) is inside Masjid al-Haram and to pray there is superior to anywhere else?”  However, to perform swalah near the graves is only forbidden when the soil becomes dirty because of the najasah of deceased.  In Masjid al-Haram, near Hajr al-Aswad, there are graves of seventy prophets.

Imam Abu Hayyan al-Andalusi (r.a.) wrote in Tafsir Bahr al-Muhith that the person who suggested a place of worship over them was a non-Muslim.  She suggested they build a church over them.  However, the Muslims stopped her and built a masjid over them instead.  Imam al-Qurthubi (r.a.) had also mentioned this in his Tafsir.  However, in Tafsir Zad al-Maswir, it is written that Imam ibn al-Jawzi (r.a.) stated in his Tafsir that Imam ibn Qutaybah (r.a.) said that the mufassirin agree that the people who built masjid were the Muslim ruler and his companions.  ‘Muslim’ here refers to monotheists, since this event occurred before the advent of Islam.

It is narrated by ibn ‘Umar (r.a.) from the Prophet (s.a.w.) who said, “In the mosque of al-Khayf, there is qabr of seventy prophets.”  Imam al-Haytsami (r.a.) said in Majma’ az-Zawa’id, Bab fi Masjid al-Khayf, that it is narrated by Imam al-Bazzar (r.a.) and all its narrators are trustworthy.

These proofs establish from the nasw of Qur’an and ahadits that to build tombs over the graves of the prophets and swalihin is a righteous act.  The Wahhabi heretics declared a vast majority of Muslims as mushrik by saying that tombs are houses of idolatry and that the graves of righteous, even of the Prophet (s.a.w.) should be destroyed or flattened.  They have done this heinous act to the graves of many aswhab who are buried in Jannat al-Baqi’ and Mu’ala.  They have tried with the maqam of the Prophet (s.a.w.) but Allah (s.w.t.) Protects His Beloved.

With regards the shape of the grave, the Hanafi muhadits, Imam Muhammad ibn al-Hasan ash-Shaybani (r.a.) allocated an entire chapter to this entitled, ‘Building a Mound over the Grave.’  Under it, he brought the hadits, Imam Abu Hanifah (r.a.) informed from Imam Hammad (r.a.) that Ibrahim (r.a.) said, “Someone informed me that they had seen the grave of Prophet (s.a.w.), the grave of Abu Bakr (r.a.), and the grave of ‘Umar (r.a.) with mounds on top of them protruding prominently from the ground and on them pieces of white clay.”

Imam ash-Shaybani (r.a.) wrote in Kitab al-Atsar, “We adhere to this, the grave is marked with a prominent mound, but it is not to be made in the form of a square and that is the verdict of Abu Hanifah.”  The Wahhabi sect claims that all graves should be flattened or destroyed.  This is directly in opposition to sunnah.  The hadits which they misuse refers to flattening the graves of mushrikin, not Muslims because the graves of Prophet (s.a.w.), Abu Bakr (r.a.), ‘Umar (r.a.) and other aswhab is proven to have mounds.

The Hanafi scholar, Mulla ‘Ali Qari (r.a.) wrote in Mirqat Sharh al-Mishqat, “The Salaf have considered it mubah to build over the graves of famous mashaykh and ‘ulama so that people can visit them and sit there.”

The Shafi’i scholar, Imam ‘Abd al-Wahhab ash-Sha’rani (r.a.) wrote in Anwar al-Qudsiyyah, “My teacher, ‘Ali and brother, Afdhal ad-Din (r.a.) used to forbid that domes should be build over graves of ordinary people, that the deceased be out in coffins and that sheets be put over their graves.  They used to say that only prophets and great awliya’ deserve domes and sheets, whereas we should be buried at the feet of such people.”

The commentator of Swahih al-Bukhari, Imam ibn Hajr al-’Asqalani (r.a.) wrote in Fath al-Bari, “In view of the fact that the Jews and Christians were taking the graves of their prophets as their qiblah for the purpose of respect, and were paying attention towards them at the time of their prayers, their graves took the position of idols.  For this reason, the Muslims have been forbidden from this action.  However, if someone constructs a mosque near the grave of a pious person for the purpose of seeking tabarruk and not for worshipping or paying attention towards them, he will never be included in this prohibition.”

It is narrated from Dawud ibn Abu Swalih (r.a.) from al-Mustadrak of Imam Hakim an-Nishaburi (r.a.), that one day, Marwan saw a man was lying down with his mouth turned close to the Prophet’s (s.a.w.) grave.  Marwan asked him, “Do you know what are you doing?” When he moved towards him, he saw that it was Abu Ayyub al-Answari (r.a.).

In reply, Abu Ayyub al-Answari (r.a.) said, “Yes.  I have come to the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w.) and not to a stone.  I have heard it from the Messenger of God (s.a.w.) not to cry over religion when its guardian is competent.  Yes, shed tears over religion when its guardian is incompetent.”

Imam Hakim an-Nishaburi (r.a.) and Imam adz-Dzahabi (r.a.) both declared it swahih.  Imam Ahmad ibn Hanbal (r.a.) also included it with a sound chain of transmission in his Musnad.

Hafizh ibn Katsir (r.a.) wrote in Tafsir ibn Katsir, that Imam ibn ‘Asakir (r.a.) narrated in his biography of Amr ibn Jam’ah (r.a.), a young person used to come to the mosque for his prayers.  One day, a woman with bad intentions invited him to her house.  When he was in her house, he recited a verse from the Qur’an loudly:

Those who fear Allah, when a thought of evil from Satan assaults them, bring Allah to remembrance, when lo!  They see (aright)! (Surah al-A’araf:201)

He then collapsed and died from the fear of Allah (s.w.t.).  The people prayed the funeral prayer and buried him.  'Umar (r.a.) later asked, “Where is that young individual who used to come to the mosque for his prayers?”

They replied, “He passed away and we have buried him.”

‘Umar (r.a.) went to his grave and called out to him and recited a verse from the Holy Qur’an:

But for such as fear the time when they will stand before (the Judgment Seat of) their Lord, there will be two Gardens ― (Surah ar-Rahman:46)

The young man replied from his grave, “Indeed Allah has Given me two Paradises.”

As recorded in Swahih al-Bukhari, it is narrated on the authority of Abu Hurayrah (r.a.) that the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w.) said, “I found myself in Hijr and the Quraysh were asking me about my Night Journey.  I was asked about things pertaining to Bayt al-Maqdis which I could not preserve.  I was very much vexed, so vexed as I had never been before.  Then Allah Raised it before my eyes.  I looked towards it, and I gave them the information about whatever they questioned me.  I also saw myself among the group of apostles.  I saw Musa saying his prayer and found him to be a well-built man as if he was a man of the tribe of Shanu’ah.  I saw ‘Isa son of Maryam offering prayer, of all of men he had the closest resemblance with ‘Urwah ibn Mas’ud ats-Tsaqafi.  I saw Ibrahim offering prayer; he had the closest resemblance with your companion [the Prophet himself] amongst people.  When the time of prayer came, I led them.  When I completed the prayer, someone said, ‘Here is Malik, the keeper of the Hell; pay him salutations.  I turned to him, but he preceded me in salutation.’”

Musa (a.s.) and all the prophets are alive in their graves.  As recorded in Swahih Muslim, Anas ibn Malik (r.a.) reported Allah's Messenger (s.a.w.) as saying, “I happened to pass by Moses on the occasion of the Night Journey near the red mound and found him saying his prayer in his grave.”

Imam Jalal ad-Din as-Suyuthi (r.a.) wrote in al-Hawi li al-Fatawi, with regards to Hayat al-Anbiya’ in their graves, “The life of the Prophet (s.a.w.) in his grave, and also that of other prophets is known to us as definitive knowledge, ‘ilman qath`iyyan, the proofs regarding it are in tawatur.”

Imam al-Bayhaqi (r.a.) also wrote a chapter in Hayat al-Anbiya’.  The proofs regarding it included the following.  It is narrated in Swahih Muslim by Anas ibn Malik (r.a.) that the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w.) said, “I happened to pass by Musa on the occasion of the Night Journey near the red mound and found him saying his prayer in his grave.”

It is narrated by Shaykh Abu Nu’aym (r.a.) in his Hilyat al-Awliya’ from ibn ‘Abbas (r.a.) who heard the Prophet (s.a.w.) say, “I passed by Musa and saw him standing in prayer.”

It is narrated in the Musnad of Imam Abu Ya’la (r.a.) and by Imam al-Bayhaqi (r.a.) in his Hayat al-Anbiya’ from Anas (r.a.) that the Prophet (s.a.w.) said, “The prophets are alive in their graves and praying.”  Imam al-Haytsami (r.a.) said this hadits was also narrated by Imam al-Bazzar (r.a.) and all the narrators of Imam Abu Ya’la (r.a.) are trustworthy.  Imam ibn Hajr al-‘Asqalani (r.a.) also authenticated it in his Fath al-Bari.

Imam al-Qurthubi (r.a.) wrote in Tafsir al-Qurthubi, al-Jami li Ahkam al-Quran, that it was related from Abu Swadiq (r.a.) that ‘Ali (k.w.) said, “Three days after burying the Prophet (s.a.w.), an Arab came and threw himself upon the grave of the Prophet (s.a.w.), took the earth and threw it on his head.  He said, ‘Ya Rasulullah!  You did speak and we did hear, you learned from Allah and we did learn from you.  Between those things which Allah did Send you, is following:

… If they had only, when they were unjust to themselves come unto thee and asked Allahs Forgiveness and the Messenger had asked Forgiveness for them, they would have found Allah indeed Oft-Returning, Most Merciful. (Surah an-Nisa’:64)

I am the one who is a sinner and now I do come to you, so that you may ask for me.’

After that a call from the grave did come: ‘There is no doubt, you are Forgiven.’”

Imam ad-Darimi (r.a.) wrote in his Sunan that it is related from Abu al-Jawza’ Aws bin ‘Abdullah (r.a.), “The people of Madina were in the grip of a severe famine.  They complained to ‘Aishah.  She told them to go towards the Prophet’s (s.a.w.) grave and open a window in the direction of the sky so that there is no curtain between the sky and the grave.  The narrator says they did so.  Then it started raining heavily; lush green grass sprang up and the camels had grown so fat, it seemed they would burst out due to the over piling of blubber.  So the year was named as the year of greenery and plenty.”

Shaykh Muhammad ibn ‘Alawi al-Maliki (r.a.) wrote in Shifa’ al-Fu’ad bi Ziyarat Khayr al-‘Ibad, “This tradition has a good chain of transmission; rather, in my opinion, it is sound.  The scholars have also acknowledged its soundness and have established its genuineness on the basis of almost equally credible evidence.”

It is also mentioned by Imam ibn al-Jawzi (r.a.) in al-Wafa’ bi Ahwal al-Muswthafa, by Imam as-Subki (r.a.) in Shifa’ as-Siqam fi Ziyarat Khayr al-Anam, by Imam al-Qasthalani (r.a.) in al-Mawahib al-Laduniyyah and Imam az-Zurqani (r.a.) in Sharh al-Mawahib al-Laduniyyah.

In Musnad Ahmad bin Hanbal, ‘Aishah (r.a.) narrated, “Whenever I entered the house in which the Prophet (s.a.w.) and my father are buried, I used to take off my veil thinking that it is only my father and husband, however, by Allah!  When ‘Umar was buried with them, I never went inside without being fully covered.”  Even after the passing of ‘Umar (r.a.), ‘Aishah (r.a.) covered herself as if he was alive.

As recorded by Imam Abu Dawud (r.a.), Abu Hurayrah (r.a.) narrated that the Prophet (s.a.w.) said, “If any one of you greets me, Allah Returns my soul to me and I respond to the greeting.”  Imam an-Nawawi (r.a.) wrote in Riyadh asw-Swalihin that Imam Abu Dawud (r.a.) recorded it with a swahih chain.  Imam ash-Shawkani (r.a.) said in Nayl al-Awtar that Imam ibn Hanbal (r.a.) narrated it from Abu Hurayrah (r.a.) from a swahih chain, while Imam Abu Dawud (r.a.) from a marfu’ chain.

As recorded by Imam at-Tirmidzi (r.a.), Imam ibn Majah (r.a.) and Imam Abu Dawud (r.a.), Abu Darda (r.a.) narrated, “Allah's Messenger (s.a.w.) said, ‘Invoke many blessings on me on Friday for it is witnessed.  The angels are present on it, and no one will invoke a blessing on me without his blessing being submitted to me until he stops.’  I asked whether that applied also after his death, and he replied, ‘Allah has Prohibited the earth from consuming the bodies of the prophets; so Allah’s prophet is alive and given provision.’”

Imam adz-Dzahabi (r.a.) wrote in Siyar al-A'alam an-Nubala' that once there was a drought in Samarqand.  People tried their best to supplicate.  Some performed swalah al-istisqa’ but it still did not rain.  A pious man known as Swalih (q.s.) said to the qadhi, “In my opinion. you should visit the grave of Imam al-Bukhari (r.a.).  His grave is located in Khartank.  We should ask for rain.  Allah might Give us rain then.”  The qadhi agreed.  They, along with the people, visited the grave and made du’a.  People cried as they asked from Allah (s.w.t.) by the wasilah if Imam al-Bukhari (r.a.).  Allah (s.w.t.) immediately Sent rainclouds.  All the people stayed in Khartank for about seven days.  None of them wanted to go back to Samarqand although the distance between Samarqand and Khartank was only three miles.  Imam al-Bulqini (r.a.) declared this tradition sound in his Fatawa.  Imam as-Subki (r.a.) confirmed Imam Hakim’s (r.a.) authentication in Shifa’ as-Siqam fi Ziyarat Khayr al-Anam.

Imam ibn al-Hajj (r.a.) stated in his al-Madkhal, “It is recommended to visit graves of swalihin in order to obtain barakah from them because the benefit which is obtained by them during their lives is also obtained after their deaths.  It has been a norm of ‘ulama and muhaqiqun to make ud’iyyah near the graves of righteous people and also to ask through their intercession.  Anyone who has some need should go to the graves and make them wasilah.  This reasoning should not be given that Prophet (s.a.w.) told not to travel except for three mosques - Masjid al-Haram, his mosque and Masjid al-‘Aqswa.  The great Imam Abu Hamid al-Ghazali (r.a.) mentioned in the chapter of Adab as-Safr of his Ihya’ that traveling should be done for ‘ibadah like for hajj or jihad, after this he said, ‘It includes traveling to visit graves of prophets, aswhab, tabi’un including all ‘ulama and awliya’.  Every person whose ziyarah to obtain blessing is permissible in his life is also permissible after his death.’”

Imam Abu ‘Abdullah ibn al-Hajj al-Maliki (r.a.) also wrote a complete chapter in al-Madkhal on visiting awliya’ and swalihin.  He wrote, “Students should visit awliya’ and swalihin as seeing them makes the heart alive just as the earth becomes alive due to rain.  By seeing them, the hearts which are stones are turned soft, because they remain present in the Bargah of Allah Who is Merciful.  He never rejects their worship or intentions, and of those who attend their forums, those who identity with them and those who love them.  This is because they are mercy after Allah and His Prophet (s.a.w.) which remains open for men so anyone who has these qualities, people should be quick to receive blessing from such people.  People who meet these personalities get the blessing, knowledge and memory which cannot be explained.  You will know that due to same ma’ani that one can see in a lot of people who got perfection in knowledge and ecstasy.  Anyone who respects these blessings, never gets fat from mercy and barakah, but the condition is that the person who visits should obey the sunnah, protect it and show it from his actions.”

‘Abdullah ibn ‘Umar (r.a.) narrated that Allah’s Messenger (s.a.w.) said, “Whoever visits my grave after my death, it is same he has visited me in my life.”  It is recorded by Imam ath-Thabarani (r.a.) and Imam al-Bayhaqi (r.a.) but the chain of narrators is totally different, making the hadits hasan.

Imam ibn Qudamah (r.a.) wrote in al-Mughni, “It is recommended to do ziyarah of Prophet’s (s.a.w.) grave as it is narrated by Daraquthni with his isnad from ibn ‘Umar (r.a.) that the Prophet (s.a.w.) said, ‘Whosoever performs the hajj after my death, then he should visit my grave because it is as if he has visited me during my life.’  And he also narrated, ‘Whosoever visits my grave then my intercession becomes wajib for him.’”  Imam al-Bahuti al-Hanbali (r.a.) also mentioned this in his al-Kashf al-Qannah and so did Qadhi ‘Iyadh (r.a.) in his ash-Shifa’.  It should be known that visiting the grave of the Prophet (s.a.w.) is almost incumbent for all Muslims and there is ijma’ on it.  It has such a virtue that the hadits of ibn ‘Umar (r.a.) affirms that the Prophet’s (s.a.w.) intercession becomes wajib for the visitor.

It is attributed to ‘Abdullah ibn Mas‘ud that the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.) is reported to have said, “My life is blissful for you because you hear traditions from people and relate them to others and my death is also blissful for you because your deeds will be presented to me.  If I see the virtues prevail, I will be grateful to Allah, and if I see the vices prevail, I will pray for your Forgiveness from Allah.”  Imam al-Haytsami (r.a.) transmitted it in his Majma‘ az-Zawa’id and said that that tradition had been reported by Imam ibn al-Bazzar (r.a.) in his Musnad and its sub-narrators are all of swahih hadits.  Imam al-‘Iraqi (r.a.) confirmed the soundness of its transmission in Tarh at-Tatsrib fi Sharh at-Taqrib.  Imam ibn Sa‘ad (r.a.) recorded it in ath-Thabaqat al-Kubra and Qadhi ‘Iyadh (r.a.) in ash-Shifa’.

Imam as-Suyuthi (r.a.) recorded it in al-Khaswa’isw al-Kubra’ and Manahil asw-Swifa’ fi Takhrij Ahadits ash-Shifa’.  He commented that Shaykh ibn Abu Usamah (r.a.) in his Musnad, reproduced it through Imam Bakr bin ‘Abdullah al-Muzani (r.a.) and Imam al-Bazzar (r.a.) in his Musnad.  They relied on a narration by ‘Abdullah ibn Mas‘ud (r.a.) with a sound chain of transmission.  It has been endorsed by Imam al-Khafaji (r.a.) and Mulla ‘Ali Qari in their respective commentaries on ash-Shifa’, Nasim ar-Riyadh and Sharh ash-Shifa’.

As narrated in ash-Shifa’ of Qadhi ‘Iyadh (r.a.), Imam Nafi (r.a.) said, “I saw that ibn ‘Umar used to come to the grave a hundred times or more.  He would say, ‘Peace be upon the Prophet (s.a.w.). Peace be upon Abu Bakr.’  Then he would leave.”  ibn ‘Umar (r.a.) was also seen to put his hand on the seat of the Prophet (r.a.) at the minbar and then place his hand on his face.

Imam al-Ghazali (r.a.) said, “Whenever anyone is in some difficulty, then he should ask the people of tombs for help, who are of souls but have passed away.  There is no doubt in it that any person visiting gets spiritual help plus benefit from them and many times when their wasilah is presented in the Court of Allah, the difficulties are removed.”  This is found in Tafsir Ruh al-Ma’ani.


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