Shafaqna (International Shia News Agency) – The Grand Ayatollah Sistani answered some questions regarding Graves. According to Shafaqna the questions and answers are as follows:
Question 1: If transferring a deceased Muslim to Muslim country entails great difficulty, is it permissible to bury the body in cemeteries of non-Muslims from among the followers of the revealed religions [that is, Ahlul Kitãb]?
Answer: It is not permissible to bury a Muslim in cemeteries of non-Muslims, except if that is the only choice because necessity knows no laws.
Question 2: The Muslim communities in non-Muslim countries are increasing day by day. Knowing the fact that a deceased Muslim will one day be buried in the graveyard of non-Muslims either because of lack of funds available to the family to send the dead body to Muslim countries for burial or because of negligence; so, is it obligatory, as a matter of wãjib kifã’i, upon the capable Muslims to buy a graveyard for the Muslims?
Answer: Burying a deceased Muslim in a place appropriate to his status (other than non-Muslim graveyards) is an obligation of the heir just like other obligatory deeds connected with the burial procedures. And if the deceased has no heir or the heir is refusing to fulfill his duty or is not capable, it is obligatory, on the basis of kifã’i, upon other Muslims [to bury the deceased in an appropriate place]. And if fulfilling this wãjib kifã’i duty depends on acquiring a piece of land in advance by purchase or other means, it is obligatory to try and acquire it in advance.
Question 3: From where should the expenses of transportation to a Muslim country and burial come, if it is not possible to bury a Muslim in the city in which he died because there is no Muslim graveyard? Should these expenses come from the estate of the deceased before dividing it amongst the heirs? Or from the one-third [of the estate] if he has specified that? Or from other sources?
Answer: The expenses of burying a dead body in a place appropriate for it comes from the estate [before its distribution among the heirs] if he did not make a will specifying that it be taken from the one-third. Otherwise [if he made a will regarding the one-third], it should come out of it.
Question 4: When there is no heir for a deceased Muslim person in the foreign land, who should take charge of his burial?
Answer: If it is not possible to contact his heir and ask his consent in handling the burial procedures, the requirement of consent is lifted and it becomes obligatory, on basis of wajib kifã’i, on the Muslims to handle the burial.
Question 5: A Muslim dies in a non-Muslim city that has no Muslim graveyard and the family of the deceased cannot transfer the body to a Muslim country because it cannot afford the cost of transportation. In such cases, is it obligatory upon the Islamic centers that are responsible for Muslims’ affairs to provide the cost of transportation? And is this obligatory upon the Muslims who reside in that city?
Answer: If burying the deceased in an appropriate grave in that same city or other city (excluding non-Muslim graveyards) depends on spending some money, and neither has he left any estate that can pay for it nor are the heirs capable of providing for it—then it is wãjib kifã’i upon the Muslims to provide for it. And it is permissible to count it from the religious or charitable dues applicable to him.
Question 6: A Muslim died in a non-Muslim city that has no Muslim graveyard; and although it is possible to transfer the body to a Muslim country for burial but the cost of transportation is exorbitant—is this a sufficient [reason] for burying the body in the graveyard of non-Muslims?
Answer: This is not a sufficient [reason].
Question 7: In some non-Muslim countries, the corpse is placed in a coffin and then buried in the grave. What is our duty in such a situation?
Answer: There is no problem in placing the corpse in a coffin when burying him in the ground. However, the religious requirements of burial must be fulfilled; and one of those requirements is that the corpse be placed on its right side with the face towards the qiblah.
Question 8: Is it permissible for women to visit graveyards?