Taking body of deceased to native country for burial
When a man or woman dies in our community the body is taken to our native country following the bathing, shrouding and funeral prayers. A committee system has been established to undertake this, and this practice has been around for some time. However, some newly graduated Muslim scholars have started to oppose this practice. What is the correct position in this matter? Please answer in detail quoting the relevant texts so that one may readily act accordingly and also enjoin upon others to do so.
The instruction of Shariah is that, following the death of a Muslim male or female, the body should be bathed, shrouded and the funeral prayer offered according to the sunnah as soon as possible. It is stated in Maraaqil Falaah as follows:
i.e. when death becomes certain the bathing, shrouding and the burial should be hastened to respect the deceased as the instruction given in the Hadith is to hasten. It is improper that the body of a Muslim should be delayed.
It is Sunnah and preferable to bury the deceased in the burial ground of the place where the death occurred. It is Makrooh Tahrimi (severely reprehensible act) to transport the body to another town or country (without valid excuse). It is stated in Maraaqil Falaah as follows:
If there is no burial ground for Muslims at the place of death or other valid excuse, then in such circumstances it will be permissible to remove the body to the nearest burial ground where the body may be buried. It is stated in Maraaqil Falaah as follows:
There is a significant Muslim presence here in the United Kingdom and many Muslim organisations provide a service through which the bathing and shrouding of the deceased is easily performed. Local councils also provide a separate facility where Muslims may be buried in accordance with the requirements of Shariah, therefore the deceased should be buried in the burial ground reserved for Muslims in that very same town or city. If there is a delay in burial due to legal requirements with regards to the release of papers or there is a need for a post mortem. Then in such compelling circumstances there will be no sin.
There is a principle in Shariah that if one has to commit a sinful or severely reprehensible, act to undertake a permissible action, then even that permissible action, must also be refrained from. In view of this, whilst transporting a deceased person to another town or country, perpetration of the following many forbidden practices is seen to be in evidence. Consequently, this practice can only be declared to be forbidden and deserving abstention:
- The burial of the deceased is often delayed for two – three and even more days, while the Shariah requires that the burial should take place as soon as is possible. This requirement is not fulfilled.
- Delay in burial also results in the deceased developing an unpleasant odour and physical decay.
- According to the Hanafi Math-hab, the funeral prayer must only be performed once; not two or three times. In transportation of the body, gives rise to the funeral prayer being offered several times.
- Health regulations of both of the respective countries require the body to be injected with a certain matter and the dignity and respect deserved by the deceased when alive must also be upheld after death. This dignity is not upheld.
- According to some reliable people information, the internal organs of the deceased are removed, and if this is correct, then this is a great injustice towards Muslim deceased, that his or her organs are be disposed of in this way.
- The coffin is stored and carried like other luggage, which is a further show of disrespect.
- Heavy costs are incurred and a lot of effort is exerted without a valid reason.
- At the death of a husband, the wife is required to observe a period of waiting. Contrary to this, sometimes the wife also travels with the coffin which is not permissible.
All of the above factors are those that are obvious. There are also many other forbidden practices, which result from the transportation of the deceased. Therefore, this practice must be corrected. The Muslim scholars who oppose this practice do so correctly and are only fulfilling their duty. Therefore, one must adhere to what they say. There is also a full discussion regarding this issue in Ahsanul Fataawaa V4, and the proof presented by those who hold an opposing view has also been answered. It would be very beneficial to refer to that discussion.
And Allah Knows best
Mufti Ismail Kaccholvi
Darul Ifta Wal Irshaad