I would like a clearer understanding of when a person of Muslim faith should be buried. Is it on the day of their death or the nearest possible day to their death. Taking all matters into consideration such as certification of death, allowing time to travel, cemetery opening times, washing and praying etc.
All perfect praise be to Allah, The Lord of the Worlds. I testify that there is none worthy of worship except Allah, and that Muhammad is His slave and Messenger.
It is from the Sunnah (Prophetic tradition) to hasten the burial of the deceased, due to the hadeeths that indicate this, such as this hadeeth: "When one of you passes away, do not keep his body for long and take him quickly to his grave, and have the Opening Chapter of the Qur'an recited at his head and the concluding verses of Surat al-Baqarah recited at his feet.” This hadeeth is reported by At-Tabarani and its chain of transmission is considered Good by the al-Hafidh Ibn Hajar in Al-Fat'h. There is no specific prescribed time in Sharee'ah for burial, such as the first or second day. The key consideration is the fear of changes in the body, making it impermissible to delay the burial to a point where such changes are feared. Asna al-Mataalib reads: “If there is fear of (changes like) decomposition, bursting, or bloating, there is an increase in the obligation of haste.” This is echoed in Hashiyat al-Bujayrami, stating that the term “increase in the obligation of haste” means it is obligatory.
We did not understand the intended meaning of “allowing time to travel”. If you mean that the body will be moved to another country for burial, this is contrary to the Sunnah. Some scholars are of the view that it is not permissible unless there is a valid purpose. The Kuwaiti Encyclopedia of Fiqh reads: “The majority of Shafi'is and Hanbalis agree that transferring the deceased from one land to another before burial is absolutely not permissible unless there is a valid purpose.”
If you mean that a relative is traveling, and there is a desire to delay the burial until their return from the journey, there is no objection to this if the delay is expected to be brief and there is no fear that the body would change, as mentioned before. Al-Buhouti, a Hanbali jurist, stated in Kashshaaf al-Qinaa': “The burial should be hurried up.” Al-Qadhi said: “Unless the arrival of the first [people] is expected, in which case it can be delayed unless there is a fear of body change.”
Allah knows best.
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