Worshiping at the Grave of a Righteous Person

Sometime ago, we discussed on the prohibition of overly praising a righteous person that may lead to worshiping them. This may sound far fetched an unreal. Ho w can an intelligent human, bring themself so low to worship a creation instead of a creator. Insya Allah, in this session we will further show that people do worship dead righteous people even though many do not see it that way. Perhaps they did not study history or they are merely following their ancestors or their environment without putting much thought to it. May Allah guide us all.


It is authentically reported on the authority of `Aa`ishah that Um Salamah (May Allah be pleased with them both) told the Messenger of Allah (may Peace Be Upon Him) about a church she had seen in Abyssinia in which there were pictures. The Prophet (may Peace Be Upon Him) said: “Those people, when a righteous member of their group or a pious slave (of Allah swt ) dies, they build a mosque over his grave and make images therein; by so doing, they combine two evils: (i) The evil of the graves and (ii) the evil of images. (Bukhari)

It has become a practice among the Christians, that when a pious person of them die, they would build an edifice over the grave and place and the person’s image in it. This is in order to remember the person and be inspired by the person’s piety.

Tomb of S@int Pter in V@tican and a pope praying to it.

Prophet salllahu alaihi wasalam explained that they have combined two sins

i. The sin of building over graves which may lead to eventually the worship of the occupants

ii. the sin of making images of living beings – which may lead to the worship of those images, when the original purpose of the construction has been forgotten.

Have we not seen this around the world? That people build a worship place after a pious person’s tomb and call them saints, shrines, mausoleum and so forth?

Thus the lessons are

i. Placing images in places of worship is among the evil deeds

ii. It is forbidden to build mosques over graves.

iii. If even building a place of worship over the grave of a righteous person, what more if worshiping the the grave’s occupants.


Al-Bukhari and Muslim report that `Aa`ishah said: “When the Messenger of Allah (may Peace Be Upon Him) was close to death, he covered his face with a cloth, and then when it became difficult for him to breathe, he uncovered his face and said:

“May Allah curse the Jews and Christians who took the graves of their Prophets as places of worship – do not imitate them.”

And, (added `Aa`ishah,) “if it had not been for this, his grave might have been raised above ground, but it was feared that it would be taken as a place of worship.”

`Aa`ishah informs us in this narration that when the Prophet (may Peace Be Upon Him) was near to death and in a state of delirium, he invoked Allah’s curse on the Jews and Christians because they built places of worship over the graves of their Prophets. Then `Aa`ishah explains that the Prophet (may Peace Be Upon Him) intended by this to warn his Ummah against doing what the Jews and Christians had done; and she made clear that the reason for his forbidding the Companions from burying him outside his house was to prevent them from taking his grave as a place of worship.


i. Prophet salllahu alaihi wasalam was afflicted by the agnies of ilness and death.

ii. Prophet sallalhu alaihi wasalam concern deeply about his ummah.

iii. His greatest concern is that his ummah will also follow the jews and christians in excessively praising him and building mosques over his graves as a place of worship.

If we travel around the world, especially in the middle east area (since that’s where most of the prophets are buried) we will find shrines and tombs of prophets and the sahabahs. Wallahu ‘alam to what people are doing around the tomb. This unfortunately include the muslims and the reason why I am mentioning it to my children is the fear that they will fall into the same error. A’udzubillah!

Now what about the graves of Prophet Muhammad sallahu alaihi wasalam and Abu Bakar and Umar at the Masjid nabawi itself? The site was build as a masjid first. In fact their grave was the house of Aisha and Prophet Muhammad and at the spot where prophet Mohammad sallahu alaihi wasalam died and thus buried. The extension of the masjid to accommodate the increasing number of people which is now encroaching the grave area itself. Thus, we must remind ourselves that when we go to Masjid Nabawi, we are not there to visit the grave. Rather we want to do ibadah in the masjid which constitutes of 1000 rewards. We visit the rawdah to make du’a to ALLAH and not to the graves. We face the qiblah and not the graves! We may say salam to Prophet Muhammad ad Abu bakr and Umar as it is the manners of visiting the grave, but we do not ask anything from them.


Muslim narrates on the authority of Jundub Ibn `Abdillah (ra) that he said: “I heard the Prophet (may Peace Be Upon Him) say five days before his death:

“Verily, I bear witness before Allah that I have taken none of you as my Khaleel,2 for truly, Allah has taken me as His Khaleel, just as He took Ibraheem (as ) as a Khaleel. If I were to take any man from my Ummah as a khaleel, it would be Abu Bakr. Your predecessors used to take their Prophets’ graves as places of worship, so do not make graves into places of worship for I have forbidden you to do this.”

When Prophet sallahu alaihi wasalam knew that the Companions loved him and were influenced by him in everything they did, he began to fear that they might build an edifice over his grave for the purpose of worship as the Jews and Christians had done with their Prophets, and so he expressly forbade the building of places of worship over graves especially his own.

This hadith prohibits the building of places of worship over graves because it entails the glorification of their inhabitants. Glorification is a kind of worship, and directing worships to other than Allah is shirk.


It is narrated by Ahmad, with a good sanad,3 on the authority of Ibn Mas’ood (ra), in a narration traced back to the Prophet (may Peace Be Upon Him) himself, the following:

“Verily, the most wicked of people are those who, when the Hour overtakes them, are still alive, and those who take graves as places of worship.” (Also Narrated by Abu Hatim in hisSaheeh)

What it means by still alive at the strike of the Hour, means only the disbelievers are alive at the time of the hour. The believers will have died even for those who have a mustard grain of eemaan in their heart.

Again Prophet Muhammad salllahu alaihi wasalam inform us in the hadith about two categories of people

i. those who build places of worship over graves

ii. those who pray at those placesof worship

Those who do so glorify the occupants of the graves, and deify them and seek blessings from their graves.


Rulings of graves are

1. It is favourable for men to visit them, without undertaking a journey to do so, since the graves will remind them of the hereafter.

2. building over graves and burning light over them is totally forbidden because it leads inevitably to shirk.

3. Taking the occupants as intercessors or supplicating to them is an act of major shirk because supplication is a form of worship and directing it to other than Allah is shirk.

What Shaikh Al-Islam Ibn Taymiyah Said Concerning This Matter

The Messenger of Allah (may Peace Be Upon Him) forbade it (building over graves) towards the end of his life and cursed whoever did so, likewise praying near them, even if no building is erected over them. This is the intended meaning here, since none of the Companions would have built a mosque over the grave of the Messenger of Allah (may Peace Be Upon Him), for every place where the intention for prayer is made is a place of worship. Indeed, every place which is used as a place of prayer may be classified as a mosque, as He (may Peace Be Upon Him) said: “The whole earth has been made for me a pure and clean mosque.” (Abu Dawood)


Again, we see his very act that Prophet sallallahu alaihi wasalam prohibits greatly.

We see shr1nes in Iran and Iraq and India where it is build over the grave of their righteous ones.

  • 1mam Hus@yn Shr1ne – Iraq, Karbalā. Mosque built over the grave of second grandson of Muhammad. First mosque here in 684 AD, rebuilt numerous times. Current mosque plastered with gold and adorned with jewels.
  • 1Imam Al1 Mosque – Iraq, Najaf. Mosque established in 977, here is buried cousin of Muhammad – ‘Alī ibn Abī Tālib, as well as, according to Shi’a belief – Adam and Noah. Current gold covered building built shortly after 1500. One of most important Islam sites.
  • 1mam Rez@ shr1ne – Iran, Meshed. Important religious and theological complex, includes tomb of Imām R1dhā – eighth Imām, the beautiful G0harshad Mosque, theological education institutions and library. Visited by 15 – 20 million pilgrims a year. Developing since 818 AD. This is a place of worship and minor pilgrimage making supplications and seeking blessings.
  • Jamk@r@n Mosque – Iran, Q0m. Important pilgrimage site since recent times – locals believe that twelwth Imām – a messiah who wil lead the world to an era of universal peace – has appeared here and offered prayers in the end of 20th century. Sacred place since 984. Also a place for them to seek blessings and making supplications.
  • T0mb of Salim Chishti – India, Uttar Pradesh. Tomb of Sufi saint, beautiful mausoleum constructed in 1580 – 1581.

Not to mention, the graves of the righteous people all over the world. Subhanallah! And we wonder how did the people of Noah fall in the trap of shirk. If you ask any of those who visit the tomb/grave/ place of worship, what do they say? They are not asking from them, they claim, they are asking from Allah. That they are alot of reward visiting the graves of the righteous. That those who prohibit them are extremists. Isn’t this exactly like the Quraysh who believe in Allah, but worship their idols who were initially righteous people also?


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