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can u place tombstones on graves
The Answer

Dear Brother / Sister,

Building Graves
The majority of Islamic scholars have stated that 'tasmim', shaping the surface of the grave  like camel's hump and thus raising it one hand span higher than the ground, is recommended  and that raising it higher than that is detested, and disliked, though not forbidden.(1) On account of the narrations about shaping graves even with the ground (2), Imam Shafii, one of the rightfull sect Imams, though, says that graves should not be made any higher than the ground but should be even with the ground.(3) Likewise, Ali the Companion, may God be pleased with him, said that God's Messenger, peace and blessings be upon him, had sent him to Medinah with the duty to break all the idols and to flatten all the graves in Medinah.(4)
Islamic scholars have different opinions about how much is intended in the hadiths, sayings of the prophet, with the word 'flattening'. The meaning 'making even with the ground' that Imam Shafii understood from the expression is closer to its dictionary meaning. However, in order for graves not to be trodden and sat on, it should be evident that they are graves. And this is possible only by puffing graves a little up the ground. It is narrated that the scholars of Shafii sect that came later also found that much raising necessary; thus the scholars of Islamic jurisprudence have aggreed on this issue.(5)
So, what is commanded to be flattened in the hadith are tombs and graves on which buldings are erected. It is allowed to encircle the grave with some walls to make it clear that it is a grave and to protect it from being trodden by humans and other creatures. However, it is forbidden to waste in that, to make luxury, and to spend much money because there is no benefit to the deceased in embellishing the grave. Instead, it is a more beneficial and better act to give this money to the poor and to donate the merits earned from this good deed to the deceased and to pray for its acceptance.(6)
Even, it is forbidden to paint and to whitewash the wall surrounding the grave as it would be a kind of decoration. It is detested to perform this deed which is forbidden by the Prophet (7), peace and blessings be upon him.(8) It is forbidden to build a dome or a construction on the grave with the intention of ornating or boasting.(9) In hadiths, it is also categorically forbidden to write on graves.(10) Based on this prohibition, mujtahidun, scholars who use reason for the purpose of forming an opinion or making a ruling on a religious issue, say that it is forbidden to write Quranic verses on gravestones as they may fall to the ground and may get trodden; and that it is detested to write other things.(11) It is strange that, though it is forbidden with healthy hadiths, almost all Muslims from the East to the West write on gravestones. This is something that emerged afterwards and thus a bid'at-innovation in religion. For this reason, it is better not to do that.
However, comparing with Prophet's putting a stone to the graves of his son Ibrahim and of Osman b. Maz'un, the first Muhajir to die in Medina, so that they would not be trodden and could be identified(12), the succeeding scholars stated that writing only the name would be a mark for the grave not to be lost  just like the stone put by the Prophet and viewed it as permissible to write on the gravestones only the name and the date of death.(13)
About the shape of the grave we need to say lastly that a Muslim's grave should be plain and humble, and the material to use in gravemaking should be simple and cheap. A Muslim graveyard should be away from ostentation and showiness, and should set an example with its simplicity and orderliness. The graves of the Believers, who leave aside every priority in mosque and stand on the same line in God's Presence, should also be the same in look. In making graves, things that violate this equality should be avoided.
1) al-Jaziri, Ibnu'l-Humam,
2) Muslim, Janaiz, 31, vol.II, p. 666; Nesai, Janaiz, 99, vol. IV. p. 88-89; Abu Davud, Jenaiz. 72, vol. HI, p. 291; A. b. Hanbel, vol. I, p. 89-96, 150, vol. VI, p. 18.
3) al-Jaziri, S. Sabik,
4) A. b. Hanbel, Musned, vol. I, p. 18l
5) S. Sabik, Mollamehmetoğlu,
6) Mahammed Hamidullah
7) Muslim, Janaiz, 32, vol. II, p. 667; Ibn Mace, Sunen, Janaiz, 43, vol. 1, p. 498; Nesai, Janaiz, 98, vol. IV, p. 88; A b, Hanbel, vol. VI, p. 299.
8) al-Jaziri. Tahtavi,
9) al-Jaziri Tahtavi, Şevkani, Serhu's-Sudur, p. 526, (in al-Jami'ul-Farid).
10) Ibn Mace, Janaiz, 43, vol. I, p. 498; Tirmidhi, Janaiz, 57, vol. II, p. 258.
11) al-Jaziri
12) Ibn Mace, Janaiz, 42, vol. I. p. 498; Abu Davud, Janaiz, 63, vol. Ill, p. 288; Tirmidhi, Sunen, Janaiz, 57, vol. II, p. 258.
13) Mollamehmedoglu, O. Zeki
Ölümden Sonraki Hayat (Life after Death) Prof. Dr. Süleyman Toğrak

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