A Singapore Government Agency Website

Office of the Mufti

Fatwa on Exhumation 2001 - English

ADMINISTRATION OF MUSLIM LAW ACT

(CHAPTER 3, SECTION 32)

FATWA ISSUED BY

FATWA COMMITTEE, ISLAMIC RELIGIOUS COUNCIL OF SINGAPORE

The modular system as a new system of burial

The modular system uses rectangular concrete stones. Once the ground is excavated, the concrete beams are laid close to each other as the foundation of the grave. Panels are then lowered into the ground to form the walls. A grass-covered concrete lid will then be used to seal the grave. Each grave compartment will be of the same size.

If a deceased is to be buried, a device called a "hydraulic tractor" is used to lift the grass-covered concrete lid. The coffin is then lowered into the grave and covered with a mixture of soil and other materials that will aid in the decomposition process. The concrete lid is then put back in its original place to seal the grave.

The MUIS Administration Department has announced that the ENV Environment Ministry will conduct a visit to Rockhampton in March 2001 to study the extent of the effectiveness of this system for it to be implemented in Muslim cemeteries.

Answer:

1 After watching the video on this burial system, the Fatwa Committee has discussed several matters related to it, among them are:

  1. The appropriate depth measurement of the grave
  2. Tombstones as grave markers.
  3. Suggestions for graves to be excavated beside each other
  4. The area of the burial pit
  5. Relocation of the deceased’s remains

2 Regarding the depth of graves that must be excavated, the Fatwa Committee ruled that in terms of Syara', a grave should protect the body from being dug by wild beasts and to prevent odor from coming out. Thus, a grave does not need to be 6 feet deep. In other words, the grave can be dug as deep as 2 ½ feet. This is if the above characteristics can still be achieved in this new burial system, whereby the grave is sealed with a concrete lid and the body is buried with a mixture of soil and other materials to aid in the decomposition process. Hence it is allowed, even though the grave is not completely covered with soil.

3 As for the tombstone as a grave marker, the Fatwa Committee has decided that the tombstone is not an obligation from the viewpoint of Islamic law. It is sufficient to place a name plaque on the grave to make it easier for the heirs to identify it.

4 Concerning the suggestion that the graves be excavated next to each other, the Fatwa Committee decided that is inappropriate as this will cause people to cross over the graves to reach their intended burial place. One way that could be thought of to avoid such a situation, is having a footpath between the graves that is raised an inch above the ground. This would allow people to distinguish between the footpath and the graves.

5 In terms of the burial pit in this new system, the Fatwa Committee is of the opinion that it should follow the same measurements like the normal burial pits that Muslim bodies are usually buried in.

6 On the reinternment of the deceased’s remains, they can be reburied either horizontally or vertically according to Islamic law.

Fatwa Decision 20 March 2001

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