On main­te­nance of Mus­lim burial sites

Daily Trust - - TRUST ISLAMIC FORUM - By Isma’il Musa Muham­mad

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

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