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Fatwa on Exhumation 1970 - English

ADMINISTRATION OF MUSLIM LAW ACT

(CHAPTER 3, SECTION 32)

FATWA ISSUED BY

FATWA COMMITTEE, ISLAMIC RELIGIOUS COUNCIL OF SINGAPORE

Question:

Is it permitted for Muslim graves on government, wakaf or other types of land to be exhumed and the deceased’s remains to be reinterred?

Answer:

1.       A detailed explanation of the query above is given below:

  1. Muslim graves on government land can be exhumed and the deceased’s remains reinterred if the land holds a Temporary Occupation License (T.O.L) and if the request is put forth by the government. If the government land is not licensed as such, and it has been used to bury a deceased over a long period, then the grave cannot be exhumed, and the deceased’s remains cannot be reinterred.

  2. Muslim graves on wakaf land are not allowed to be exhumed and the deceased’s remains moved to another burial site unless their bodies have completely decayed. It can be done if there is a general benefit for the Muslim community and the graves are located in a Muslim country. With these exceptions, only then can the grave be exhumed, and the deceased’s remains reinterred. However, this is on the condition that the dignity of the deceased is protected, and the remains are wrapped in a clean cloth and reburied in another burial ground.

  3. As for the graves of Muslims who are buried in lands other than the lands mentioned above, if the land belongs to a person who is not willing or does not allow the deceased to be buried in his land, then the grave can be exhumed, and the body moved to another burial ground even if it has not yet decayed completely. But if the owner allows Muslim bodies to be buried in his land by making it a temporary wakaf land such as when he says, “I endow this land as a wakaf land with the purpose of allowing Muslim bodies to be buried here for a year”, then he is not permitted to exhume the graves and move the bodies as his land is considered a wakaf land in perpetuity and the period of one year which he stated is nulled.

Fatwa Decision 5 March 1970

HJ MOHAMED SANUSI BIN MAHMOOD
CHAIRMAN, FATWA (LEGAL) COMMITTEE
MUFTI OF THE REPUBLIC OF SINGAPORE
ISLAMIC RELIGIOUS COUNCIL OF SINGAPORE (MUIS)