Response to Shaykh Faiik Gamieldin

Response to Shaykh Faiik Gamieldin

Regarding Erecting Tombs

Dr. G.F. Haddad

Salam `alaykum:

I feel bound by the obligation of Nasiha to point out that Shaykh Gamieldin’s letter to the Cape Town, South Africa daily The Cape Argus shows lack of knowledge of the sources of Islam on the issue of grave visitation and the etiquette pertaining thereto. The issue hinges on “the erection of shrines to the dead” – I presume he means tombs (darih, qabr) as well as shrines/sanctuaries (maqam) – “and their veneration” meaning respect of a pious Muslim through visitation of his tomb, touching or kissing it, its embellishment, etc.

Building Shrines to the Pious

I had replied to someone else who had asked me the following question: >Recently i met an arabi, we had long discussion about wahabism and their >thoughts. When we discussed about building of tombs for dead persons, he >quoted a hadith, in which he said Once Prophet Mohammed Peace be upon him, >had sent Hazarth Ali (RA) to Yemen to break the tombs, please put light upon >this hadith.


The hadith is in the Sahihayn, Sunan, and Musnad with various wordings.

Ibn al-Jawzi in al-Tahqiq said: “This [hadith] is understood to refer to the elevated graves they used to build with high and beautiful structures.” Al-Zayla`i mentioned it in Nasb al-Raya.

Imam al-Nawawi in his Sharh Sahih Muslim said: “The Sunna is that the grave not be raised up a lot above the earth[‘s surface], nor rounded, but that it be raised up approximately a hand-span (shibr) and flattened, and this is the madhhab of al-Shafi`i and those [of the other schools] who agreed with him, while al-Qadi `Iyad related that most of the Ulema prefer it to be rounded [in the shape of a mound], and this is the madhhab of Malik.”

Al-Shawkani in Nayl al-Awtar added to this that it is haram to build them up high and he claimed that the fact that the Salaf and Khalaf built them up high is no proof that it is not haram, and al-`Azim Abadi approved him whole-heartedly in `Awn al-Ma`bud.

But the Amir al-San`ani in Subul al-Salam said: “The Jumhur – vast majority – hold that the prohibition of building up and plastering graves is one of preference (tanzih) [i.e. not strictness (tahrim)].”

There is also an excellent and authoritative discussion of the issue by Sh. Nuh Keller’s wife, Ustadha Umm Sahl, on Mas`ud Khan’s homepage: under the subtitle: “Domes over the Grave of the Awilya.”


Seeking Blessings (tabarruk) with the Grave and Remains of the Pious

The rest of this post concerns veneration of the tomb of a righteous Muslim.

Dawud ibn Salih said: “[The governor of Madina] Marwan [ibn al-Hakam] one day saw a man placing his face on top of the grave of the Prophet.  He said: “Do you know what you are doing?” When he came near him, he realized it was Abu Ayyub al-Ansari. The latter said: “Yes; I came to the Prophet, not to a stone.” Ibn Hibban in his Sahih, Ahmad (5:422), Al-Tabarani in his Mu`jam al-Kabir (4:189) and his Awsat according to Haythami in al-Zawa’id (5:245 and 5:441 #5845 Book of Hajj, “Section on the honoring of the dwellers of Madina, chapter on placing one’s face against the grave of our Master the Prophet saws” and #9252 Book of Khilafa, “Chapter on the leadership of those unworthy of it”), al-Hakim in his Mustadrak (4:515); both the latter and al-Dhahabi said it was sahih. It is also cited by al-Subki in Shifa’ al-siqam (p. 126) and Ibn Taymiyya in al-Muntaqa (2:261f.).

 It is also narrated that Mu`adh ibn Jabal and Bilal came to the grave of the Prophet saws and sat weeping, and the latter rubbed his face against it. Ibn Majah 2:1320, Ahmad, al-Tabarani, al-Subki, and Ibn `Asakir.

Imam Muslim relates in his Sahih, in the first chapter of the book of clothing, that Asma’ bint Abi Bakr said: “Here is the cloak (jubba) of Allah’s Messenger… [which] was with `A’isha until she died, then I got possession of it. The Apostle of Allah  used to wear it, and we washed it for the sick so that they could seek cure thereby.” Al-Nawawi comments in Sharh sahih Muslim (Book 37 Chapter 2 #10): “In this hadith is a proof that it is recommended to seek blessings through the relics of the righteous and their clothes (wa fi hadha al-hadith dalil `ala istihbab al-tabarruk bi aathaar al-salihin wa thiyabihim).”

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