“Ash-Sharh al-Moojaz al-Mumahhad li Tawheed al-Khaaliq al-Mumajjad alladhi allafahu Shaikhul-Islam Muhammad”
(The Concise, Simple and Straight-forward Explanation of the Tawheed of the Exalted Creator – which was Authored by the Shaikhul-Islām Muhammad b. Abdul-Wahhāb)
This is an explanation of Kitāb at-Tawheed of Shaikhul-Islaam Muhammad b. Abdul-Wahhaab (d. 1206H, rahimahullāh) by ash-Shaikh al-Allāmah Ahmad b. Yahyā an-Najmee (rahimahullaah).
So Shaikhul-Islām Muhammad b. Abdul-Wahhāb (rahimahullāh) said:
Chapter 20: What has been said concerning the condemnation of the one who worships Allah at the grave of a righteous man, so how much worse is it that a person should worship the dead?
It is reported in the Saheeh from ‛Ā’ishah (J): that Umm Salamah mentioned to the Prophet (ﷺ) regarding a church she had seen in the land of Abyssinia (Ethiopia) which had within it pictures [of people]. So the Prophet (ﷺ) said: “When there used to die a righteous man or servant from amongst them, they would build over his grave a place of worship – and they would make in it these pictures. They are the worst of creatures in the sight of Allāh.” [Bukhāree 427, Muslim 528]. These people gathered together two tribulations: tribulation of building over the graves, and the tribulation of making pictures [of people].
Bukhāree and Muslim also report that ‛Ā’ishah (radiyallāhu ‛anhā) said: “When Allāh’s Messenger (ﷺ) was close to death, he would cover his face with a cloth, and when it became difficult for him [to breath or he would tire] he would uncover it once again. So whilst in that state, he said: “The curse of Allāh is upon the Jews and Christians because they took the graves of their Prophets as places of worship.” So he warned against what they had done. Were it not for that warning, his grave would have been raised – but it was feared that it would be taken as a place of worship.” [Reported by Bukhāree and Muslim]
Muslim reported from Jundub Ibn ‛Abdullāh (I) who said: I heard the Prophet (ﷺ) five days before his death saying: “I free myself before Allāh from taking any of you as a special close friend (khaleel) for indeed Allāh has taken me as a khaleel just as he took Ibrāheem as a khaleel. And if I was to take anyone from my Ummah as a khaleel, then surely I would’ve taken Abu Bakr as a khaleel. Indeed those who came before you would take the graves of their Prophets as places of worship (as mosques). Do not take graves as places of worship, for indeed I forbid you from that.” [Reported by Muslim]
The Messenger (ﷺ) warned from this affair at the end of his life, and he cursed those who did it as is reported in the texts. The prayer next to the graves is also prohibited – even if there is no Masjid built there – and this is the meaning of ‛Ā’ishah’s saying: “It was feared that it would be taken as a place of worship.” Furthermore, it was not the Sahābah who built a Masjid around his grave. Every location which is taken as a place of prayer is considered a masjid. Indeed any place where the prayer is performed is called a masjid, just as the Prophet (ﷺ) said: “The earth was made as a masjid and a place of purification for me.” [Bukhāree 335, Muslim 521] Ahmad (rahimahullāh) reported with a good chain of narration from Ibn Mas‛ood (I) which is elevated as a saying of the Prophet (ﷺ): “Indeed the most evil of people will be those who are alive when the Final Hour reaches them, and those who take the graves as places of worship.” Reported by Abu Hātim in his Saheeh. [Ahmad 1/405 (38844), Al-Albānee in Tahdheer as-Sājid, p. 23 (saheeh)]
Explanation of Shaikh Ahmad an-Najmee (V):
All of these narrations prove the following points:
The prohibition of taking graves as mosques (or places of worship). This is regardless of whether the grave was introduced into the Mosque after building it, or whether the Mosque is built amongst or over the graves. All of this is disallowed.
It is not permitted to pray in a Masjid that is surrounded by graves, and this prohibition becomes even more severe if the graves are in the direction of the Qiblah [such that a person is facing them in prayer]. So if a Mosque is built upon a grave, or over some graves in veneration of them, it becomes obligatory [for the ruling authorities] to demolish it and disallow prayer in them.
If there is an established mosque and then graves are placed within it, then it is better to remove the corpses and bones from the graves, and then place them in the graveyards of the Muslims – thereafter the mosque becomes a suitable and permissible place to pray. Otherwise it is not permissible to pray in such a mosque. Likewise is the case for a mosque that is surrounded by graves on every side.
What is also understood from these narrations is that even if ones directs worship only to Allah; but he performs that worship next to a grave seeking blessings by way of it due to a notion wherein he believes that his worship next to the grave will be accepted by Allah – and that it is seen as virtuous by Allah, then this act of worship is considered futile and is rejected; it is not permissible for him to perform these acts of worship at gravesites.
It is well-known that there are people who sacrifice animals next to graves and they claim that these sacrifices are for Allah. This action is not correct. If the intent was for Allah then he would have sacrificed it elsewhere (in his home, etc) and he would not have brought the animal to the graveside to sacrifice. So at the very least this act of worship is being shared between Allah and His creation; and regarding this there is a hadeeth wherein Allah (E) said: “I am free from need of partners being associated with Me; so whoever does an action seeking in that to associate others along with Me in that act, then I abandon him and his polytheism.” [Muslim 2985]
The Prophet (ﷺ) invoked curses upon those who turn graves into places of worship (arabic: mosques), and he mentioned specifically the Jews and Christians because they would take the graves of their Prophets as places of worship, i.e. making them into mosques.
Whoever supplicates to a righteous person regardless of whether he is well-known, such as the Prophet of Allah, ‛Eesā (Jesus ﷺ) or Uzair (Ezra) or others from the righteous – so whoever calls upon them and supplicates to them, or worships them instead of Allah (or alongside Allah) then he is considered a polytheist and an unbeliever. Likewise whoever [from the Muslims] prays salāh at the graveside believing that his prayer is more virtuous next to that grave, then this is from the most dangerous of pathways that lead to polytheism. And look how much the Prophet Muhammad (ﷺ) would emphasise the forbiddance of taking taking graves as places of worship such that he would invoke the curse of Allah upon those that did that.
From these narrations one can see the prohibition of picture-making – and this prohibition is even greater if the intent behind the images is worship of others alongside Allah such as the worship of the five righteous men from the time of Nooh (Noah ﷺ) who were later taken as objects of worship, and were worshipped by the polytheists of Makkah. Their names were: Wadd, Suwā’, Yaghooth, Ya’ooq and Nasr.
The grave of the Prophet (ﷺ) was initially outside of his Mosque in Madeenah – the fact is that his house was next door to the Mosque and that is where he was buried after his death. Later, in the time of the rule of Waleed Ibn Abdul-Malik he commanded that Mosque be expanded, and thus the house of the Prophet (ﷺ) was included into the Mosque as it was extended. This occurred at the displeasure of the Scholars – and they hated it; from them, Sa’eed Ibn Al-Musayyib (died 94H).
As for the green dome that was erected high over the grave of the Prophet (ﷺ), then it was built at the end of the 6th century – it was built by one of the kings of Egypt. So whoever uses the grave of the Prophet (ﷺ) in the Mosque as a proof, or the presence of the green dome then in reality he has no proof at all. That is because these constructions and affairs were initiated by people ignorant devoid of knowledge. They had authority and the people were not able to prevent them. So they did what they did due to their claim that were expressing their love of the Prophet (ﷺ) and respect for him.
The final hadeeth of the chapter proves that those who take graves as places of worship are from the worst of the people in the sight of Allah (D).
The Prophet (ﷺ) reiterated the prohibition of taking graves as mosques (places of worship) and he emphasised this at the end of his life, when he was close to dying, so that no ambiguity, doubt or speculation can come thereafter to suggest that it was abrogated or that he allowed it later.
Allah honored the Prophet (ﷺ) by taking him as a khaleel (close friend) just as He took Ibrāheem (S) as a khaleel, a close friend. And to be taken as a khaleel carries a higher station of nearness than love (muhabbah).
The same narration also shows the excellence of Abu Bakr as-Siddeeq (I) and an indication of his Caliphate after the Prophet’s death due to his saying: “And if I was to take anyone from my Ummah as a khaleel, then surely I would’ve taken Abu Bakr as a khaleel.”
(Slightly abridged for further clarity)
Watch: Worship taking place at a grave of a “peer” in Birmingham, UK in 2016.
Abu Marthad Al-Ghanawiyy said: I heard Allah’s Messenger (ﷺ) say: “Do not sit upon the graves and do not pray towards them.” [Muslim 976]
Abu Sa’eed al-Khudree (I) said that Allah’s Messenger (ﷺ) said: “All of the earth is a place of worship (masjid) except the graveyards and the toilets.” [Ahmad 11784, Tirmidhee 317, Ibn Mājah 745]
Anas Ibn Mālik (I) said: “Allah’s Messenger forbade from praying amongst the graves.” [Ibn Hibbān 1698]
Abu Hurairah said that Allah’s Messenger (ﷺ) said: “Do not turn your homes into graveyards [by not praying in them]. And verily Shaytān flees from a home wherein Sooratul-Baqarah is recited.” [Muslim 780]
Ibn ‛Umar I said that the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) said: “Make in your homes a place for your prayers and do not turn them into graves.” [Bukhāree 432, Muslim 777]
Jābir (I) said: “Allah’s Messenger (ﷺ) forbade the plastering of graves, and sitting on them and erecting structures over them.” [Muslim 970, Tirmidhee 1052:] and in a narration: “Or to write on them.”
‛Alee Ibn Abee Tālib (I) said to Abu Hayyāj Al-Asdee: “Shall I not send you to do that which Allah’s Messenger sent me to do? That you do not pass by an image (or statue) except that you efface it, nor that you pass by an elevated grave except that you level it.” [Muslim 969]
Thumāmah Ibn Shufayy said: “We were with Fadālah Ibn ‛Ubaid (I) in the lands of the Romans in Rhodes when one of our companions died. So Fadālah commanded that his grave be levelled, then he said: ‘I heard Allah’s Messenger (ﷺ) command that they be levelled.” [Muslim 968]
Abu Khadeejah ‛Abdul-Wāhid Alam.