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You Are Here: Knowledge Base Aqeedah (Pillars of Faith) Faith in the Hereafter

Decomposition of the bodies of the Prophets and martyrs in the grave

Sheikh Muhammad al-Manī`ī, professor at Umm al-Qurā University:

What we find in the hadīth literature is that the Prophet (peace be upon him) said: ’Verily, Allah has forbidden the Earth to consume the bodies of the Prophets.“ [Sunan Abī Dāwūd (1047), Sunan al-Nasā‘ī (1374), and Sunan Ibn Mājah (1636)]

Ibn `Abd al-Barr mentions that this has been related as applying to the martyrs as well. He then relates an account where the Caliph Muawiyah wanted to cause the spring at the base of Mount Uhud to flow. The Caliph, therefore, ordered a public statement to be made that those who had a deceased relative in the vicinity should undertake to exhume his body and relocate it. Jābir was one of those who went forth to exhume the bodies.

He said: ’We went forth and exhumed the bodies, finding them fresh and flexible—When a spade struck the finger of one of the bodies, drops of blood issued forth“ [Ibn `Abd al-Barr, al-Tamhīd (18/174). Also refer to al-Muwatta‘ (1023)]

Al-Zarqānī comments that this event took place forty years after the Battle of Uhud. Al-Zarqānī also mentions numerous other claims that have been made regarding bodies that do not decompose, including those of the scholars who practice according to their knowledge, those who call the prayer on a voluntary basis, those who memorize the Qur‘ān who act upon its teachings, those who die of plague while exhibiting forbearance, and others.

In truth, there is no evidence for any of these claims aside from what is established that the bodies of the Prophets (peace be upon them all) do not decompose. As for all others, the underlying assumption we should have is that their bodies decompose after death as normal.

And Allah knows best.