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Fatwa on Exhumation 1973 - English

ADMINISTRATION OF MUSLIM LAW ACT

(CHAPTER 3, SECTION 32)

FATWA ISSUED BY

FATWA COMMITTEE, ISLAMIC RELIGIOUS COUNCIL OF SINGAPORE

Question:

What is the Islamic ruling if a Muslim cemetery that has not been used for 50 years is taken for a construction project and the graves are excavated, and the remains reburied in another Muslim cemetery?

Answer:

1.       It is recommended on the condition that it is done for the welfare of the deceased and the living. The religious basis can be found in 2 Hadith that permit the exhumation of Muslim graves.

  1. Jabir r.a. narrated: The Prophet s.a.w. came to (the grave of) `Abdullah bin Ubai after his body was buried. He ordered the body to be brought out and the body was put on his lap. The Prophet s.a.w. then put his saliva over the body and clothed it in his shirt. The body was then reburied. (Fathul Bari, Vol 3 page 457 and 457)

  2. Narrated Jabir r.a.: During the war of Uhud, my father called me one night and said: “I believe that I’ll be among the first to be killed from the Companions in this war and I will not leave someone so loved like you except the Prophet s.a.w. – and you shall pay off my debt, and take care of your sisters.The next day I found out that he was among the martyred and his body was buried with another martyr in one grave. I did not wish to leave him in a grave with another deceased and so after six months I exhumed the grave and ordered my father's remains to be reburied elsewhere.

2.       Thus, the religious basis that permits the exhumation of Muslim graves after the bodies are buried, is clear from these 2 hadith.

3.       The Fatwa committee allows the exhumation of Muslim graves and the reinternment of the deceased on the condition that it is done for the welfare of the deceased and the living.

Fatwa Decision 28 April 1973

SYED ISA BIN MOHAMMED BIN SMITH
CHAIRMAN, FATWA (LEGAL) COMMITTEE
MUFTI OF THE REPUBLIC OF SINGAPORE
ISLAMIC RELIGIOUS COUNCIL OF SINGAPORE (MUIS)