The World Federation One Stop Fiqh

Ruling 632

Exhuming a grave is not unlawful in the following cases:

  1. When the corpse has been buried in usurped land and the owner of the land does not consent to the body remaining there, and exhuming the body does not cause hardship (ḥaraj); otherwise, it is not necessary for anyone to exhume the grave except the usurper himself [even if it causes him hardship]. However, if there is a more important, legally justified reason for not exhuming the body – for example, it will cause the body to fall apart – then it is not necessary to do so; rather, it is not permitted. In fact, if exhuming a grave causes disrespect to the deceased, then based on obligatory precaution it is not permitted except if the land was usurped by the deceased when he was alive;
  2. When the kafan or something else that has been buried with the corpse is usurped and the owner does not consent to it remaining in the grave. The same applies if something from the deceased’s own estate that has been inherited by his heir is buried with the corpse and the heir does not consent to the object remaining in the grave. However, if the deceased had stipulated in his will that a certain duʿāʾ, or a copy of the Qur’an, or a ring must be buried with him and his will is valid, then one cannot exhume the grave in order to take the object out. In this case, the exception that was mentioned in the previous case also applies;
  3. When opening the grave does not cause disrespect and the corpse had been buried without having been given ghusl, or it was buried without a kafan, or it becomes known that the ghusl was invalid, or the corpse had not been shrouded according to religious instruction, or it had not been placed in the grave facing qibla;
  4. To see the body in order to establish a right that is more important than not exhuming the grave;
  5. When the corpse has been buried in a place that is disrespectful to it, such as in the graveyard of disbelievers or a place where dirt and rubbish are thrown;
  6. For a religious matter that is more important than not exhuming the grave; for example, in order to bring out a living child from the womb of a pregnant woman who has been buried;
  7. When there is fear that a predatory animal will tear the body apart, or a flood will carry it away, or an enemy will exhume it;
  8. When the deceased had stipulated in his will that his body must be transferred to a place where a holy person is buried in the event that there was no legal reason for not transferring the corpse and yet he was still buried elsewhere, either intentionally, unknowingly, or forgetfully; in such a case, the grave can be exhumed and the body transferred to a sacred place as long as it does not cause disrespect to it and there is no legal reason for not transferring it to the place where the holy person is buried. In fact, in this case, exhuming the grave and transferring the body is obligatory.