Delaying the burial of the dead for waiting for his relatives to come
Fatwa No: 117766

Question

Assalaamu Alaikum I live oversease. Last month I received news that my Mother is seriously ill. I started my Journy on a Tuesday morning. But she died 1 hour before I started my journey, which I didn't know until I had a stopover at another country. In the mean time my family decided to keep the deceased until I reach their same day midnight (Tuesday midnight) because they new that I am on the way. Burial took place on Wednedsay morning at 9am, which was 28 hours after her death (delay of 28 hours since death). My family had to get a freezer to do that. After all this, I started hearing different view points about the dealy in burial. Could you pleae advise me the delay in this case was acceptable under any circumstances? Also, my relatives started saying like "look at her, she is in the freezer, is she feeling cold?" etc. Does the deceased feel cold or any pain according our Islamic belief? Sorry for my igonorance. A reply from you will be appreciated very much. Salaam Ebrahim

Answer

All perfect praise be to Allaah, The Lord of the Worlds. I testify that there is none worthy of worship except Allaah, and that Muhammad  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allaah exalt his mention ) is His slave and Messenger.

 

First of all, we console you and we say to Allaah belongs what He took and to Him belongs what He gave, and everything with Him has an appointed time, so be patient and hope for Allaah’s reward. We ask Allaah to forgive and have mercy upon your dead and reward you because of this calamity.

As regards delaying the burial, according to the Sunnah, one should hasten to bury the dead as the Prophet  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allaah exalt his mention ) said: ''Hasten to bury the dead.’’ [Al-Bukhari and Muslim] This is the principle in burying the dead, which is to hasten and take the initiative to bury him/her unless there is a sound reason for delaying the burial.

Among the sound reasons of delaying the burial of the dead, is waiting for his/her relatives to come as long as this is not for a long time. Some jurists  may  Allaah  have  mercy  upon  them stated that it is permissible to wait until the relatives of the dead, his/her friends and other people would gather provided this does not cause any difficulty for them and provided that it is not feared that the dead would decompose. However, some jurists  may  Allaah  have  mercy  upon  them issued Fataawa that it is not permissible to delay the burial of a corpse in order to wait for one of the relatives of the dead. Nonetheless, if there is a necessity for delaying the burial, then this is permissible as per the Fatwa of the Permanent Committee.

However, we hope that your family is not sinful for delaying the burial of your mother and for waiting for you.

As regards putting the dead in the freezer and whether or not he/she feels cold, then according to the view that it is permissible to delay the burial for a necessity, then it is permissible to put the dead in a freezer; rather, it might be that this is an obligation in order to prevent him/her from being decomposed. However, we can not authoritatively say that the dead feels cold or does not feel cold in the freezer as this is a matter of the unseen, and we are not aware of any Islamic evidence which proves or denies this.

For more benefit, please refer to Fataawa 90835 and 84867.

Allaah Knows best.

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