The decomposition of the coccyx bone
Fatwa No: 280627

  • Fatwa Date:17-4-2015 - Jumaadaa Al-Aakhir 28, 1436
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Question

Asalamu 'aleykum.there is a Hadith about the day of resurrection which states, that humans will be resurrected from the end part of the coccyx bone.Now scientists and Atheists claim, that all bones including that one decay in the earth. I know, that there are other islamic sites which claim, that it is scientifically established, that the coccyx bone never decays. But when i searched for that information anywhere else, i did not find it. Actually i found people claiming the exact opposite very often.So thats why i have the following question: how is this Hadith understood? Is it possible, that the words "never decompose" mean, that it never completely decomposes, so that there may be a very tiny (like a small particle of sand) left of that bone but the everything else of it decayed? So thst scientists just simply overlooked it - because it is so small ?Or is there another explanation? Pleaese answer without refering to all the islamic sites where the same text is copied and pasted since years - and you can somehow not find the given data anywhere else. I dont say that they are defenetly unreliable - but i want to avoid them.Barak Allahu feek wa jazak Allahu khair.

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, is His Slave and Messenger.

This Hadeeth is presented in Saheeh Al-Bukhari and Saheeh Muslim on the authority of Abu Hurayrah  may  Allaah  be  pleased  with  him: the Prophet, sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, said: "The whole (body) of the son of Aadam (Adam) will be consumed by the earth except for the tailbone, from which he was created and from which he will be created anew." Another version of the Hadeeth was reported on the authority of Abu Sa‘eed  may  Allaah  be  pleased  with  him: he asked: "What is it like, O Messenger of Allaah?” He said: "Like a grain of mustard." [Ahmad and Ibn Hibbaan]

According to the apparent indication of the Hadeeth and its versions, this tiny part of the human body, the tailbone, which is as small as a grain of mustard, does not decay at all. Some scholars, however, held that the Hadeeth means that the tailbone actually decomposes but after a much longer period of time as compared to the rest of the human body; however, this is contrary to the apparent indication of the Hadeeth.

Fat-h Al-Baari reads: "Some Hadeeth commentators argued that the meaning is that the tailbone lasts longer but it does eventually decay just like every other bone does. The wisdom behind the Hadeeth is to highlight that this bone is the origin of humans and the base from which they will be resurrected on the Day of Judgment and that is why it is more solid and stronger than other bones, like the bedrock of a wall. Being more solid and stronger, the tailbone decays after a longer period of time in comparison with other bones. However, this interpretation is refutable because it is contrary to the apparent indication of the Hadeeth and is unsupported by revealed evidence."

Mirqaat Al-Mafaateeh reads: "Some Hadeeth scholars interpreted the Hadeeth to mean that the tailbone remains under the earth for a long time, and not that it never decays, because this is contrary to the tangible reality. Moreover, another Hadeeth reads: 'It is the first to be created and the last to decompose. The indication of the two Ahaadeeth is the same. Some scholars argued that the meaning of the Hadeeth is that the tailbone is the origin of humans, and accordingly it is more solid than the rest of the body with greater reason, like the bedrock of a wall. Being more solid and stronger than other bones, it decomposes after a longer period of time. After investigation – and Allaah is the Grantor of success – I say that the tailbone is the last to decay as underlined in one Hadeeth; however, it does not decompose completely in the ground as this Hadeeth reported in Al-Bukhari and Muslim suggests. The tangible reality should be ignored in this case. It has been asserted in the revision of the chapter on the punishment of the grave – in Mirqaat Al-Mafaateeh – that this tiny part of the coccyx bone which is usually mixed with dust and soil in the grave is rather intangible, as known to scientists." [End of quote]

In brief, the apparent indication of the Hadeeth is that a tiny part of the tailbone does not decay. The fact that people do not find that part in the graves does not prove otherwise because it is a very tiny part. The believer is enjoined to believe in the Ahaadeeth of the Prophet, sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, and to disregard whatever contradicts them.

Allaah Knows best.

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