On maintenance of Muslim burial sites
In the name of Allah Most Gracious Most Merciful O you who believe! Verily, Allah has ordained that we should believe in Him and His messenger (Muhammad SAW) and the Light (Qur’an) that He revealed unto His messenger (SAW) where He says: “Therefore, believe in Allah and His Messenger (Muhammad SAW), and in the Light (this Qur’an) which we sent down. And Allah is All-Aware of what you do” [Q64:08]
The state of Muslim burial sites in Nigeria today is actually an environmentally unfriendly one; one unsafe even to visit. This poses a challenge on the need for some form of action by which such sites would be made not only secure but also visitor friendly particularly as we, Muslims, are encouraged by our Prophet (SAW) to pray for the ahlil-quboor.
When the Messenger of Allah (SAW) was on the expedition to Makkah, he visited his mother Amina’s grave and cried, and made the people around him cry too, and he permitted Muslims to visit graves. (Ibn Majah, Janaiz, 48; Nasai, Janaiz, 101; Muslim, Janaiz, 36; Abu Dawud, Janaiz, 77). Benefits of visiting graves It reminds one of death and afterlife, and makes him draw a lesson from it for his afterlife. (Muslim, Janaiz, 108; Tirmidhi, Janaiz, 59; Ibn Majah, Janaiz 4748; Ahmad b. Hanbal, Musnad, I, 145).
It directs one to asceticism and taqwa (Allah-Consciousness). It prevents over-ambitiousness for worldly life and committing harams. It directs one to commit good deeds. (Ibn Majah, Janaiz, 47).
Visiting graves of saintly people - especially that of our prophet’s refreshes one’s soul and helps to evoke supreme feelings in them. It is mandoob to travel to the graves of our Prophet and Allah’s saintly slaves in order to visit them. The Prophet states in a hadith: “Whoever visits me after I die, it is as if he visited me when I was alive.” (Mansur Ali Nasif, at-Taj, alJamiu’l Usul, II, 190).
Graves of parents, other relatives and friends are visited especially in order to pray for the repose of their souls and for their salvation. Visits remind oneself of the inevitability of death so that one can prepare for the hour when he is no longer able to do anything to improve his situation. The Prophet describes death as a silent preacher because when people remember death they remember that they have to do well in this life in order that they ensure a happy future in the hereafter.
Visiting the graves of parents is recommended as evidence of dutifulness. These visits should not be related to a particular date only, e.g. death anniversaries, etc.
We have to remember, too that the dead cannot benefit the living. Indeed, it is the other way round. The living can pray Allah to have mercy on those who have died and Allah may answer such prayers. In this respect, the living can benefit the dead. This applies to all people no matter how devoted they were during their lifetime on earth. The Prophet says that “a human being” is unable to do anything after his death.
The description “human being” applies both to saintly people and those who are weaker in faith. He says: “When a human being dies, all his actions come to an absolute end, except in one of three ways: a continuous act of charity, a useful contribution to knowledge and a dutiful child who prays for him.”
Similarly, a hadith related in Imam Malik’s Muwatta says: Yahya related to me from Malik from Zayd ibn Aslam from Ata ibn Yasar that the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, said, ‘O Allah! Do not make my grave an idol that is worshipped. The anger on those who took the graves of their prophets as places of prostration was terrible.’
The Qur’anic indicates the fact that prayers and supplication made for the sake of dead people’s souls will be beneficial for them: “Our Lord! Forgive us, and our brethren who came before us into the Faith, and leave not, in our hearts, rancour (or sense of injury) against those who have believed.” (Al-Hashr, 59:10).
These show the need for the ummah to strive to take care of their burial grounds as a form respect for the occupants, and of course the home awaiting our arrival, each and everyone of us. It is a duty on us to procure and maintain burial sites using acceptable means of funding, without necessarily going cap in hand to the well-to-do.
Our burial grounds should be transformed and modernised to attain environmentally sustainable and friendly standard.
Isma’il writes from Wuse II, Abuja: www.muslim-burial-sites. org