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Visiting the graves of saints

Published: 25/08/2011 12:34:00 PM GMT
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I would like to know whether it is acceptable to visit the graves of pious people (mazaar) and offer prayer and offer bed sheets and flowers. I am told by someone that it is polytheism and a great sin. I do not do it, but some of my family members do it on a very regular basis and give utmost priority to it.

Answered by

the Fatwa Department Research Committee - chaired by Sheikh `Abd al-Wahhâb al-Turayrî

Going to such places as a supposed act of piety is undoubtedly a great innovation.

The Prophet (peace be upon him) warned us against such practices, even with respect to his own grave.

`A’ishah relates the following:

When death approached Allah’s Messenger, he began putting a sheet of his on his face. When he became hot and distressed because of it, he would remove it and say: “Allah’s curse is upon the Jews and the Christians, because they took the graves of their Prophets as places of worship.” The Prophet was warning the Muslims against what they had done. [Sahîh al-Bukhârî (1/112, 4/144, 5/140) and Sahîh Muslim (1/377)] Had it not been for the fear that it would be taken as a mosque, his grave would have been in an open place. [Sahîh Muslim (1/376)]

The Prophet (peace be upon him) was so stern in prohibiting people from taking graves as places for Allah’s worship, cursing those who did so, because it is a practice that ultimately leads people to polytheism.

So what can we say about those people who actually direct their worship to the denizens of the graves, offer sacrifices to them, supplicate to them, swear oaths by them, or circumambulate their graves?

Al-Qurtubî writes, commenting on this matter:

Therefore, the Muslims went to great lengths to block the tendency to do so at the grave of the Prophet (peace be upon him). They raised the dirt walls around it high, completely surrounding it and blocking off the entrances to it. Then they feared that the location of his grave might be turned into a direction for prayer, because it was in the direction the worshippers face and some of them might get the idea that facing it was an act of worship. For this reason, they built two walls at the northern corners of the grave and placed them at a slant so that they would form a triangle with on of its corners pointing to the North. In this way, no one could be able to directly face the grave while making his prayer. [Al-Qurtubî, al-Mufhim lima Ashkal min Talkis Kitâb Muslim (2/128)]

This shows us how Allah protected the grave of the Prophet (peace be upon him) as an answer to his prayer when he said: “O Allah! Do not let my grave become an idol that people worship.” [al-Muwatta’ as narrated by Yahyâ b. Yahyâ al-Laythî (p. 414) The hadîth is related by `Atâ’ b. Yasâr with a discontinuous chain of narration.] Those who insist on directing themselves to it can only do so with their hearts, because it is quite impossible to actually face it or even reach it.

If a person merely visits the graves of these saints and considers doing so a pious act, then that person is engaged at the very least in a very serious form of innovation.

If that person asks something of the people buried there, calls upon them, bows or prostrates to them, or believes that they can benefit him in any way, then he is undubtedly committing polytheism of the worst kind.

Source: Islam Today

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