By Mufti Taqi Usmani

Q.) We are in negotiations with the Bermuda Government to get a dedicated plot for the burial of our dead. On the other hand we have a sister whom the doctors have 'given up' on. She has advanced terminal cancer. We know that only Allah knows when she will die. If she dies before we get all the paperwork done, we will not be permitted to bury her on the proposed plot. We may get permission from government to bury her on private lands provided we exhume and re-inter the body in Baqi when we have it. Is this Halal? If so, what are the rules? How long before exhuming? (Ashmead M. Ali, Bermuda)

A.) The exhumation of a dead body from its grave is not permissible in Shariah except in extreme cases of genuine need. Although a Muslim should be buried in the graveyard of Muslims and not in the graveyard of any other religious community, however, if no such graveyard is available it is permissible that a Muslim be buried in some other graveyard but his grave must have a sign of distinction and it is preferable that a particular area in such a graveyard is marked for the burial of Muslims. Therefore, if a Muslim is buried in a graveyard of non-Muslims in the above manner and then Muslims acquire a plot for their own graveyard it will not be a valid basis for exhuming the graves of Muslims who were earlier buried in the graveyard of non-Muslims.