Mosques: A mosque over a graveyard

Q391 :When I went to my home country on vacation, I observed that a grand mosque was built on top of a graveyard. There is still a tomb below the mosque. I wonder whether this is appropriate. If not, what should be done about this mosque?


A391 : The Prophet says that one of the favors which Allah has given to the nation of Islam is that the whole earth has been made a "masjid" for it; [masjid is the Arabic word for "mosque"). This refers to the fact that a Muslim may offer his prayer anywhere on earth, provided of course that the place where he is praying is free from impurity. However, the Prophet has made an exception in the two cases of a graveyard and a bathroom. Prayer may not be offered in these two places. Nor is it permissible for a Muslim to offer his prayer facing a grave or a tomb or any burial place. The Prophet curses the children of Israel for having "turned the graves of their prophets into praying places." All this makes it clear that places of burial are not proper to build mosques in, nor is it permissible to built a mosque around a grave or a tomb. The reason for this is to prevent any possibility of enshrining the burial place of any person. That is a sure way which leads to entertaining polytheistic beliefs. It is not permissible to build a mosque within a graveyard. If such a mosque is built, then the only proper thing to do with it is to demolish it. If there is one in your locality, then it is preferable for you to pray at home than to pray in that mosque. Having said that, I wish to take up the different case of a disused graveyard where there are no more dead people buried. Can we use that graveyard to build a mosque there? The answer is that it may be permissible if certain conditions are met. To start with, it should be reasonable to assume that those who were buried have perished altogether. A graveyard is thus demolished and a mosque built in its place. This is acceptable, but we should be careful when we dig the place and when we lay down the foundation. If there are any bones or traces of the dead people, they should be gathered and buried somewhere else. The Prophet's mosque in Madinah was built in a place where there were some graves. These were dug out and the traces of those who were buried in them were taken away. No one associated the new mosque with the old graveyard. If these conditions are met, then it is permissible to build a mosque in an area which used to be a burial place. Your advice to the people should be on the basis of this answer. If there are graves around the new mosque then the mosque should be disused altogether. It is better demolished.


Our Dialogue ( Source : Arab News - Jeddah )