Elevated Graves & Domes

To solidify (make mausoleums out of) the graves of the Auliyaa and build domes thereupon

It has been clearly stated in the Ahaadith of Nabi (salallahu ‘alayhi wasalam) that as far as possible, graves should not be desecrated and disrespected, that is, one should not sit on the graves, walk upon them, urinate or defecate on them, change their form, etc. All such acts are prohibited in the Shariah. The grave of a believer is a resting place in the Aalam-e-Barzakh, which should be respected, and not desecrated.

Some say that building structures around graves is a sign of respect and therefore should be allowed, The question arises as to whether building up of the graves and building solid structures around them and placing domes upon them, is included as respect or not. The answer is simple and straight-forward for any Muslim and levelheaded person. The answer is that to build up the graves is not any form of respect neither is it disrespectful not to build up around the graves. If the solidifying of graves and building domes thereupon was a form of respect, and if there was any form of Deeni benefit therein, then our Nabi (salallahu ‘alayhi wasalam) would most certainly not have prohibited therefrom.

If the matter was as is claimed nowadays by the Barelvi camp that they advocate Deeni benefit therein, and they claim this as permissible and worthy of reward, and at the very least they claim it to be Mustahab, then the question arises as to why Nabi (salallahu ‘alayhi wasalam) prevented the Muslims from doing such? And why did he (salallahu ‘alayhi wasalam) deprive the Ummah from these imagined benefits?

Hadhrat Jaabir (radhiallahu ‘anhu) reports:

“Nabi (salallahu ‘alayhi wasalam) prohibited from solidifying the graves or to build anything thereupon or to sit on them.”

[Muslim Shareef, vol. 1, page 312 / Mishkaat Shareef, vol. 1, page 148 / Tirmidhi Shareef, vol. 1, page 125]

The leader of all the worlds, Hadhrat Muhammad Mustafa (salallahu ‘alayhi wasalam) has expressly prohibited from such actions. Who then is there that can overturn his express prohibition and audaciously claim benefits in what he has prohibited from?

Hadhrat Imaam Nawawi (rahimahullah) comments on this Hadith thus:

“We do not regard it as correct (sensible) that more sand be placed on a grave than what was taken out of it. We regard solidifying grave as Makrooh…because Nabi (SAW) forbade building four walls around a grave and solidifying it. This is our Mathhab and this is also the view of Imaam Abu Hanifah (rahmatullah alayh).”

[Kitaabul Aathaar pgs. 96/97]

Has anyone the right to oppose the explicit Hadith of Hadhrat Muhammad (salallahu ‘alayhi wasalam)? Has any Hanafi attained such a rank that he omits the fatwa of Hadhrat Imaam Abu Hanifah (rahimahullah) which is based on an authentic Hadith?

Remember this view of Imaam Abu Hanifah has been related without any intermediary via his student Imaam Muhammad (rahimahullah), who also held the same view. The opposite camp attempt to refute this by quoting Imaam Shi’raani (rahimahullah) [passed away 973AH], reporting from Hadhrat Imaam Abu Hanifah (rahimahullah) that he said it is permissible to solidify graves and build domes thereupon. Mufti Ahmad Yaar Khaan (Barelvi), comments on this, “It is now confirmed that we have found reference of the Imaam of our Mathhab, Imaam Abu Hanifah (rahimahullah) that it is permissible to build domes on graves.” [Jaa-al Haqq, page 274]

Subhaanallaah! A sufi of the 10th century makes an unsubstantiated statement which clearly contradicts the clear Mathhab of Imaam Abu Hanifah (rahimahullah) as reported by Imaam Muhammad (rahimahullah)! This view is of no consequence.

Although, after citing authentic Hadith and the view of Hadhrat Imaam Saheb, there is no need, but we will nevertheless lay bare the actual ruling, in order to completely clarify the matter, by listing the rulings of various Hanafi Fuqaha-e-Kiraam.

Allamah Halbi Hanafi (rahimahullah) states:

“It is Makrooh to solidify the graves and to plaster them. This is the ruling of three Imaams…Imaam Abu Hanifah (rahimahullah) states that to build anything on a grave, like a dome, etc. is Makrooh. The mentioned Hadith is a proof for this.”

[Kabeeri, page 599]

Imaam Sirajuddeen Al-Hanafi (rahimahullah) [passed away 700A.H.] writes:

“It is Makrooh to build anything on the grave.”

[Fatawa Siraajia, page 24]

Imaam Qaadhi Khaan (rahimahullah) [passed away 592 A.H] writes:

“Graves should not be plastered as has been narrated by Nabi (SAW), that indeed he has prohibited from solidifying graves, placing pebbles and building around graves.”

[Qaadhi Khaan, vol. 1, page 92]

Haafidh Ibn Humaam Hanafi (rahimahullah) [passed away 861 A.H.] writes:

“Indeed Nabi (salallahu ‘alayhi wasalam) has prohibited building around graves and plastering (solidifying) them.”

[Fat-hul Qadeer, vol. 4, page 472]

It is stated in Fataawa Aalamgiri:

“The grave should be heightened to (the size of a) hand-span like a camel’s hump, and should not be built up or plastered. It is Makrooh to build on a grave.”

[Aalamgiri, Misri print, vol. 1, page 176]

Allamah Ibn Aabideen Hanafi (rahimahullah) states:

“I am not aware of anyone who has consented to building around graves.”

[Shaami, vol. 1, page 101]

Note: The general term ‘Makrooh’ according to Imaam Abu Hanifah and other Salaf-e-Saliheen refers to Makroohe-Tahrimi.

In this regard, Allamah Abul Makaarim Al- Hanafi (rahimahullah) [passed away 860 A.H.] writes,

“(The term) ‘Makrooh’ means At-Tahreem (Haraam), according to Imaam Saheb.”

[Abul Makaarim, vol. 3, page 159]

Nawaab Siddiq Hasan Saheb (rahimahullah) writes:

“Haafidh Ibn Qayyim (rahimahullah) has explained in I’laamul Muwaqqi’en that in the terminology of the Salaf, the usage of the word ‘Makrooh’ indicates Tahreem (Haraam).”

[Ad-Daleelut Taalib, page 502]

Hadhrat Mullah Ali Qaari (rahimahullah) states in the commentary of the Hadith, ‘Whosoever initiates a bid`ah dhalaalah…’,

“A bid’ah-e-dhalaalah is that which the Aimmah of the Muslims have refuted, like building upon graves and solidifying them.”

[Mirqaat, vol. 1, page 246]

From this we gauge that the Ulama-e-Muslimeen have strongly refuted and opposed the building up of graves and solidifying them, such they have branded such acts bid’ahe-dhalaalah.

Qaadhi Thanaaullah Saheb Hanafi (rahimahullah) [passed away 1228 A. H.] writes,

“That which is perpetrated at the graves of the Auliyaa, like building them high and being illuminated by lamps, and other such accretions which take place there are all Haraam.”

[Maala Budda Minh, page 95]

In summary, there is no authentic narration, neither aqli nor naqli proof of building up and constructing domes on the graves of the Auliya-e-Kiraam. In fact there is a flood of proof to the contrary.

The ruling to demolish domes

It has been reported of Imaam Shaafi (rahimahullah) that he instructed the demolishing of the domes on the graves of the Aimmah-e-Kiraam.

Hadhrat Abul Hayaaj Asadi (rahimahullah), who was an army officer narrates,

“Ali (radhiallahu ‘anhu) said to me I do not depute you except with that which Muhammad (salallahu ‘alayhi wasalam) has deputed me and that is you don’t leave any picture or statue without having destroyed it, and you don’t leave any raised grave except that you level it.”

[Muslim Shareef, vol. 1 page 312/ Mishkaat Shareef, vol. 1 page 148/ Tirmidhi Shareef, vol. 1 page 125]

The meaning of ‘to level’ graves does not mean flattening them completely. It implies making them all of the same height (hand-span), which is what the Shariah desires.

Allaamah Alaahuddeen Al-Marooni Al-Hanafi (rahimahullah) [passed away 745 AH) writes,

“The meaning of levelling the graves implies making all the graves of the sameheight in accordance to what the Shariah desires.”

[Al-Jawharun Naqi Alal Baihaqi, vol.4 page 3]

Hadhrat Imaam Baihaqi (rahimahullah) reports that the height of the grave of Nabi (salallahu ‘alayhi wasalam) was about a hand-span above the ground. [Sunanul Kubra vol.3 page 410]

Imaam Nawawi (rahimahullah) writes,

“Indeed the Sunnah is that the grave not be raised above the surface of the earth excessively-in fact it should be raised about a hand-span.”

[Sharah Muslim vol. 1 page 312]

From this authentic and clear narration we understand that Nabi (salallahu ‘alayhi wasalam) instructed the razing of high graves and that he deputed Hadhrat Ali (radhiallahu ‘anhu) with this task. During the Khilaafat of Hadhrat Ali (radhiallahu ‘anhu) he deputed this task to an army officer serving under him. This prohibition is categorized as being an integral part of the Shariah.

Allaamah ibn Hajar Makki Shaafi’ (rahimahullah) [passed away 974 AH] writes,

“It is Waajib to raze the high graves and demolish any dome or structure thereupon.”

[Kitaabuz Zawaajir, page 163]

Allaamah Sayed Mahmood Aaloosi Hanafi (rahimahullah) [passed away 1270 AH] writes,

“There is consensus that amongst the worst of Haraam acts and a means of shirk is to perform Salaat at a graveside, or constructing a Masjid upon/ around it (graves). It is Waajib to demolish such high graves upon which domes are constructed, because these are even more harmful than was Masjid-e-Dhiraar which was build in opposition to Nabi (salallahu ‘alayhi wasalam). Nabi (salallahu ‘alayhi wasalam) instructed the levelling of high graves. It is Waajib to remove any lantern or lamp placed upon it and it is not permissible to make it waqf or nadhar.”

[Roohul Ma’aani, vol.15 page 219]

Haafidh ibn Qayyim Hanbali (rahimahullah) [passed away 751 AH] writes,

“It is not permissible to leave them be and it is Waajib to demolish them.”

[Zaadul Ma’ad, vol. 3 page 28]

Similar is narrated from Shaikhul Hanaabilah, Haafidh ibn Taymiya (rahimahullah), in Kitaabul Istighaatha, page 278. You have noted that the Hanafis, Shaafis and Hambalis have all given the instruction to level high graves and demolish domes and structures which have been constructed on graves. This they have all deemed Waajib.

Note: Those from the Barelvi camp degrade and revile Haafidh ibn Taymiya (rahimahullah) and Haafidh ibn Qayyim (rahimahullah), and they assail their lofty status. However, Hadhrat Mullah Ali Qaari Hanafi (rahimahullah) praises them, saying:

“The two of them, (Haafidh ibn Taymiya and Haafidh ibn Qayyim) are amongst the Akaabir of the Ahl-e-Sunnah Wal Jamaah and Auliya of this Ummah.”

[Jam’ul Wasaa-il, vol.1 page 28]

Honourable readers, you have noted that Nabi (salallahu ‘alayhi wasalam) has, in an authentic narration instructed Hadhrat Ali (radhiallahu ‘anhu) to level high graves and that the Ulama-e-Kiraam, especially Mullah Ali Qaari Hanafi (rahimahullah), Sayyid Mahmood Aaloosi Hanafi (rahimahullah) etc have ruled it Waajib to demolish domes and structures on graves.

However, from the Barelvi camp Mufti Ahmad Yaar Khaan Saheb has rendered a great disservice to the Deen by stating, “If there graves have been built up, then it is Haraam to demolish it.” [Jaaal Haqq, page 229] By saying this he implies that Hadhrat Ali (radhiallahu ‘anhu) had perpetrated a Haraam act and that Nabi (salallahu ‘alayhi wasalam) had instructed an act which is Haraam —Nauthubillah!—and the Fuqaha-e-Kiraam have also ruled something which is Haraam —Nauthubillah!

Hadhrat Maulana Rashid Ahmad Gangohi (rahimahullah) [passed away 1323 AH] had so aptly and succinctly stated in reply to a question asked regarding the building of structures and domes on graves:

“Answer: From every angle, the Ahaadith have prohibited such acts hence they can never be rendered permissible by anyone. Consideration will only be given to Qur’aan, Hadith and statements of Mujtahiddeen, and not to the opponents of the Shariah. If the Arabs in Haramain initiate and practice upon any act which is not prescribed in the Shariah and is contrary to the Sunnah, it will never be acceptable. If there is none to prohibit them from these customs then this will never be a proof in the Shariah. Silence should not be maintained. They should be opposed and prevented in the light of the Kitaab and Sunnah.”

[Fatawa-e-Rashidiya vol. 1 page 100]

Replies to the objection of the opposition

Here we are quoting one authentic narration which refutes the opposition camp who claim that the Hadith of Hadhrat Ali (radhiallahu ‘anhu) relates to the graves of the Mushrikeen.

In this regard the famous and renowned Taabiee Hadhrat Thumaama bin Shafee (rahimahullah) narrates,

“We were with Hadhrat Fudhaala bin Ubaid (radhiallahu ‘anhu) in Rome, at the place Roodis, where one of our companions passed away. Hadhrat Fudhaala (radhiallahu ‘anhu) instructed that his grave be levelled in line with the others. And then he said, ‘I have heard Nabi (salallahu ‘alayhi wasalam) order the levelling of graves.’”

[Muslim Shareef, vol.1 page 312/Nisai, vol.1 page 221/Abu Dawood, vol.2 page 105]

This authentic narration proves that the instruction of levelling the graves was not a reference to the graves of the Mushrikeen, otherwise the high-ranking Sahaabah (radhiallahu ‘anhum) of Nabi (salallahu ‘alayhi wasalam) would most certainly not have implemented it for Muslims.

Another claim by the opposition is by making Qiyaas of the grave of Nabi (salallahu ‘alayhi wasalam) to substantiate the building up of graves and placing domes thereupon, this is incorrect because when Nabi (salallahu ‘alayhi wasalam) passed away,:

“Some people suggested burying him (salallahu ‘alayhi wasalam) next to the mimbar whilst others suggested Jannatul Baqi. In the midst Hadhrat Abu Bakr (radhiallahu ‘anhu) said that he heard Nabi (salallahu ‘alayhi wasalam) say that a Nabi is buried at the place where he passes away. Hence his grave was dug right there.”

[Muwatta Imaam Maalik, page 80/Shimaaile- Tirmidhi, page 28]

Since Nabi (salallahu ‘alayhi wasalam) demise was in the room of Hadhrat Aishah (radhiallahu ‘anha) hence in accordance to this narration he was buried there. Hadhrat Abu Bakr (radhiallahu ‘anhu) and Hadhrat Umar (radhiallahu ‘anhu) were granted the honour of being buried next to him. If he was buried out of this place then the Sahaabah (radhiallahu ‘anhum) would most certainly have not built around it. Just as the graves of Hadhrat Uthmaan (radhiallahu ‘anhu), Hadhrat Ali (radhiallahu ‘anhu) and countless other Sahaabah neither have domes nor are built upon.

After many centuries the Turks have constructed domes on some of the graves, however, this action of theirs is not a Shar`i proof, since Nabi (salallahu ‘alayhi wasalam) has expressly forbidden this. Any action which Nabi (salallahu ‘alayhi wasalam) has forbidden can never be made permissible by the action of anyone.

In summary, it was not that the grave of Nabi (salallahu ‘alayhi wasalam) came first and the building around it thereafter. As mentioned previously, Nabi (salallahu ‘alayhi wasalam) was buried in the room of Hadhrat Aishah (radhiallahu ‘anha).

Note: It has been established from authentic Ahaadith and from the Fuqaha-e-Kiraam that domes and structures on graves be demolished. However, this much should be kept in mind that this is the duty of the Sultan and Islamic government. This does not apply to every individual and layman. Therefore the masses should not take the law into their own hands.



Al-Minhaj al-Wadih – The Path of Sunnat – by Maulana Sarfraz Khan Safdar




Additional information:

The Prophet (saw) to close the door of Shirk forbade building mosques on graves of Prophets and saints, forbade to take his grave as a worshiped Idol or to make his grave as a place of celebration (‘Idd). He also forbade Tajsis (solidification) of graves and ordered to destroy any elevated grave.


It is narrated in both “Sahih” that ‘A’ishah said: “The Messenger of Allah (saw) affirmed during his final illness: “May Allah curse the Jews and the Christians for they turned the graves of their Prophets into places of worship (mosques)”, he was warning from what they did”, ‘A’ishah, may Allah be pleased with her, said: “If there was not this (warning), his grave would have been made in an open place, but it was feared that it would be taken as a place or worship (Mosque).”


And it is narrated in “Muwatta Malik” that the Prophet (saw) said: “O Allah do not transform my grave into a worshiped idol, Allah’s anger is intensified on people who establish graves of their Prophets as places of worship (mosques).”


He (saw) also said as in “Sunnan Abu Dawud” and others: “Do not take my grave as a place of ‘Id and send Salah on me wherever you are because your Salah is brought to me.”


Below are some Ahadith narrated in “Sahih Muslim” and it is known that Imam Muslim did not give any name to the chapters of his book, and the names of the chapters are those given by Imam An-Nawawi:


“Chapter 47: Forbiddance to build mosques on the graves and decorating them with pictures and forbiddance to use the graves as mosques


Book  004, Number 1076:

‘A’isha reported: Umm Habiba and Umm Salama made a mention before the Messenger of Allah (may peace be upon him) of a church which they had seen in Abyssinia and which had pictures in it. The Messenger of Allah (may peace be upon him) said: When a pious person amongst them (among the religious  groups)  dies  they  build  a  place  of  worship  on  his  grave,  and  then decorate it with such pictures. They would be the worst of creatures on the Day of judgment in the sight of Allah.


Book 004, Number 1081:

Abu Huraira reported: The Messenger of Allah (may peace be upon him) said: Let there be curse of Allah upon the Jews and the Christians for they have taken the graves of their apostles as places of worship.


Book  004,  Number  1083:

Jundub  reported:  I  heard  from  the  Apostle  of  Allah  (may peace be upon him) five days before his death and he said: I stand acquitted before Allah that I took any one of you as friend, for Allah has taken me as His friend, as he  took  Ibrahim  as  His  friend.  Had  I  taken  any  one  of  my  Ummah  as  a  friend,  I would  have  taken Abu Bakr  as a friend.  Beware  of those  who  preceded you and used to take the graves of their prophets and righteous men as places of worship, but you must not take graves as mosques; I forbid you to do that.


Chapter 199: Commandment in regard to the levelling of the grave


Book 004, Number 2114:

Thumama b. Shafayy reported: When we were with Fadala b. ‘Ubaid in the country of the Romans at a place (known as) Rudis, a friend of ours died. Fadala b. ‘Ubaid ordered to prepare a grave for him and then it was levelled; and  then  he  said:  I  heard  the  Messenger  of  Allah  (may  peace  be  upon  him) commanding (us) to level the grave.


Book 004, Number 2115:

Abu’l-Hayyaj al-Asadi told that ‘Ali (b. Abu Talib) said to him: Should I not send you on the same mission as Allah’s Messenger (may peace be  upon  him)  sent  me?  Do  not  leave  an  image  without  obliterating  it,  or  a  high grave without levelling It. This hadith has been reported by Habib with the same chain of transmitters and he said: (Do not leave) a picture without obliterating it.


Chapter 200: It is forbidden to plaster the grave or constructing anything over it


Book  004,  Number  2116:

Jabir  said:  Allah’s  Messenger  (may  peace  be  upon  him) forbade that the graves should be plastered or they be used as sitting places (for the people), or a building should be built over them.


So one can see that the Prophet (saw) also mentioned graves of saints, and warned that people doing such at graves of saints are the worse of Allah’s creation.


Also the narration of Thumama b. Shafayy makes it clear that the order to level the grave is for all graves, not only graves of Polytheists. Imam An-Nawawi did not entitle this chapter as levelling graves of disbelievers.


The Hadith of Jabir makes it clear, as Imam An-Nawawi entitled the chapter, that plastering graves and building anything upon it is forbidden.


Now the Prophet’s grave being convex and Fuqaha saying that the grave should be raised with three hand span do not contradict these Ahadith, as this is just to indicate that there is a grave there so people cannot walk upon it. Fuqaha did not allow raising it more than this, and it is found in “Kitab ul Athar” of Imam Abu Hanifah, it is said that one should not put more sand on the grave than the one taken from it, so this is to make the grave slightly convex, and this cannot justify what Bralwis are doing nowadays.

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  1. June 20, 2011 at 11:48 am
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