In the News: Islamic Burial Traditions

SHARIAsource Senior Scholar Mohammad Fadel recently wrote an article in the Middle East Eye reflecting on current events in Turkey and Saudi Arabia, and the historical significance of violating someone’s right to a proper burial. “In Islamic law,” Fadel explains, “burying the dead is a collective obligation—an obligation that falls on the entire community of Muslims. If they fail in that duty, they are collectively sinful.”

The SHARIAsource Portal contains several primary sources related to the topic of Islamic burial traditions, including:

  • A fatwā issued by Indonesia’s top clerical organization in the aftermath of the 2004 earthquake and tsunami, permitting the use of mass graves that included both Muslims and non-Muslims. This allowed corpses to be buried immediately, and reassured family members that they could pray over the deceased even from a long distance.
  • A 2007 court case from Delaware in which a man claimed that he and his late wife had gotten married in an Islamic marriage ceremony, and that he wished to bury her according to Islamic traditions. However, since they had never obtained a marriage license, the Court decided that he was not legally her spouse, and that she should be buried according to her parents’ wishes.