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I've heard that going to graveyards and performing worship in front of the deads is forbidden, and is called "grave worship". Is that true?

What is grave worship? what actions and situations are considered so? and what are the consequences of that? (I heard it makes one mushrik).

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3 Answers 3

I will answer you from the Quran only

I am not going to use logic, sweet words or use unrelated verses.

Allah says in the Quran:

And when My servants ask you, [O Muhammad], concerning Me - indeed I am near. I respond to the invocation of the supplicant when he calls upon Me. So let them respond to Me [by obedience] and believe in Me that they may be [rightly] guided.

وإذا سألك عبادي عني فإني قريب أجيب دعوة الداع إذا دعان فليستجيبوا لي وليؤمنوا بي لعلهم يرشدون

This is a clear order to tell Muslims that Allah is near. Just ask him directly by Saying O Allah

Now, what happens in the shrines or at the graves is that people go to the shrines and the graves of the pious people and say for example: O Hussien, Ask allah to forgive our sins. This is considered shirk(Grave worshipper) He is dead. He can't do anything. Not to mention you are basically ignoring the command in the Quran that says you must ask allah directly.

Another clear evidence from the Quran:

Unquestionably, for Allah is the pure religion. And those who take protectors besides Him [say], "We only worship them that they may bring us nearer to Allah in position." Indeed, Allah will judge between them concerning that over which they differ. Indeed, Allah does not guide he who is a liar and [confirmed] disbeliever.

ألا لله الدين الخالص والذين اتخذوا من دونه أولياء ما نعبدهم إلا ليقربونا إلى الله زلفى إن الله يحكم بينهم في ما هم فيه يختلفون إن الله لا يهدي من هو كاذب كفار

Prophet Mohammed said that Dua'a(supplication) is considered worshipping.

An-Nu'man bin Bashir (May Allah be pleased with them) reported: The Prophet (PBUH) said, "Du'a (supplication) is worship."

[Abu Dawud].

And if you read Surah Nuh. You will find the verse that talks about pious people who lived before Nuh. WHen they died. People used to visit their graves and ask them to do things only Allah can do.

In the Quran:

And said, 'Never leave your gods and never leave Wadd or Suwa' or Yaghuth and Ya'uq and Nasr.

وقالوا لا تذرن آلهتكم ولا تذرن ودّا ولا سواعا ولا يغوث ويعوق ونسرا

Because of these people who made the pious people as gods. Allah sent Nuh to them so that he can bring them back to the correct path of worshiping only allah.

Now, Are we allowed to pray inside a mosque that was built over a grave ?

Prophet Mohammed said :

Narrated Sa'id: and the narrator Musa said: As far as Amr thinks, the Prophet (peace_be_upon_him) said: The whole earth is a place of prayer except public baths and graveyards.

Abi Dawud- Saheeh by Al-Albani

Another dangerous thing muslims do is praying towards the grave instead of praying towards the Qibla here is one example :

enter image description here

This is clearly grave worshiping and is considered haram.

Another wrong thing muslims do, Is that they think that reading Quran or making supplication near the grave would make your supplications more acceptable or the deeds of reading Quran would be multiplied.

Another wrong thing is that by touching or visitng the grave you would be blessed by allah.

Ok,now to a different subject. I am not sure if you are looking for this, But Mosques are not allowed to be built over graves. Prophet Mohammed (PBUH) said :

Abu Huraira reported: The Messenger of Allah (may peace be upon him) said: Let there be curse of Allah upon the Jews and the Christians for they have taken the graves of their apostles as places of worship.


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Talking about prostration, Allah (swt) commanded the angels to prostrate before Adam as a sign of sheer respect, not as worship, prostrating in front of something or someone out of respect is acceptable but its better if you don't do it, only if Commanded by Allah (swt). As for grave worshipping, you are prostrating before the dead person and asking him to do things only Allah can do or asking him to act as a sort of medium between the person and Allah, so Allah will grant his Dua's faster or better, that brothers and sisters is utterly Haraam, ask Allah alone and there is nothing like "shirk is allowed" whatsoever as the other brother pointed out Shirk is to associate partners with Allah or putting someone or something in the same rank as Allah That is completely haraam, may Allah guide us all to the right path, and unite the muslims and grant all of us Jannat-ul- Firdous.

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This answer is somewhat taken fom a discussion with @alummat in the chat-room:

Worshiping anyone beside Allah is Shirk. But not everything is necessarily Shirk, even if it seems to you it is a kind of worshiping-a-being-other-than-Allah. The most famous example is the prostration of Angels for Adam, peace be upon him. The only one who refused to prostrate in that case was Satan and of course the only one who committed a sin in that case was again Satan. I know that the angels did prostrate for Adam was due to the direct command of Allah but I'm grabbing your attention to the fact that anyway it is possible that some prostrations done are not considered as Shirk. If there exists a possibility that prostration for someone is not Shirk then there would exist the possibility for many other things also not be Shirk, after all prostration is the highest state of worshiping according to Hadeeth and perhaps that's why a mosque is called Masjid (مسجد: place for Sojud or prostration).

You may then ask that the command for prostration was to the angels and not for the humans to prostrate for anyone else but let me then bring you some evidences from Qur'aan:

  1. when Israelite are ordered to enter the city while prostrating:

    وَإِذْ قُلْنَا ادْخُلُوا هَـٰذِهِ الْقَرْيَةَ فَكُلُوا مِنْهَا حَيْثُ شِئْتُمْ رَغَدًا وَادْخُلُوا الْبَابَ سُجَّدًا وَقُولُوا حِطَّةٌ نَّغْفِرْ لَكُمْ خَطَايَاكُمْ ۚ وَسَنَزِيدُ الْمُحْسِنِينَ

    And when We said: Enter this city, then eat from it a plenteous (food) wherever you wish, and enter the gate making obeisance, and say, forgiveness. We will forgive you your wrongs and give more to those who do good (to others). [2:58]

    also [4:154] and [7:161]. According to Hadeeth on the gate of the city was written a text in the respect of which they were ordered to prostrate for entering the city

  2. Another example is when Jacob --peace be upon him-- and his family, prostrating for Joseph --peace be upon him (recall the dream Joseph saw while he was a child: a sun and a moon and 11 stars falling in prostration for him, [12:4]):

    وَرَفَعَ أَبَوَيْهِ عَلَى الْعَرْشِ وَخَرُّوا لَهُ سُجَّدًا ۖ وَقَالَ يَا أَبَتِ هَـٰذَا تَأْوِيلُ رُؤْيَايَ مِن قَبْلُ قَدْ جَعَلَهَا رَبِّي حَقًّا ۖ وَقَدْ أَحْسَنَ بِي إِذْ أَخْرَجَنِي مِنَ السِّجْنِ وَجَاءَ بِكُم مِّنَ الْبَدْوِ مِن بَعْدِ أَن نَّزَغَ الشَّيْطَانُ بَيْنِي وَبَيْنَ إِخْوَتِي ۚ إِنَّ رَبِّي لَطِيفٌ لِّمَا يَشَاءُ ۚ إِنَّهُ هُوَ الْعَلِيمُ الْحَكِيمُ

    And he raised his parents upon the throne and they fell down in prostration before him, and he said: O my father! this is the significance of my vision of old; my Lord has indeed made it to be true; and He was indeed kind to me when He brought me forth from the prison and brought you from the desert after the Shaitan had sown dissensions between me and my brothers, surely my Lord is benignant to whom He pleases; surely He is the Knowing, the Wise. [12:100]

    Note that here Allah uses the phrase prostration for Yusuf as he says exactly the same about the angels: prostration for Adam, peace be upon them all: in Arabic compare له and لآدم .

But what do such verses really mean, worshiping someone else by the command of Allah? Allah Himself ordering for Shirk? Of course not! Neither Allah stated that to the angels nor Joseph ordered such to his father to fall in prostration for him, even though he was a prophet (and his father was a prophet too). The following is what the interpretation of the verse [12:100] brings on the desk, a Shia interpretation by Ahlul Bayt though:

source: البرهان في تفسير القرآن، ج‏3، ص: 205

ثم قال علي بن إبراهيم: و حدثني محمد بن عيسى، أن يحيى بن أكثم سأل موسى بن محمد بن علي بن موسى مسائل، فعرضها على أبي الحسن (عليه السلام)، و كان أحدها: أخبرني عن قول الله عز و جل: وَ رَفَعَ أَبَوَيْهِ عَلَى الْعَرْشِ وَ خَرُّوا لَهُ سُجَّداً أسجد يعقوب و ولده ليوسف و هم أنبياء؟ فأجاب أبو الحسن (عليه السلام): «أما سجود يعقوب و ولده ليوسف، فإنه لم يكن ليوسف، و إنما كان ذلك من يعقوب و ولده طاعة لله، و تحية ليوسف، كما كان السجود من الملائكة لادم و لك يكن لادم، و إنما كان ذلك منهم طاعة لله و تحية لادم، فسجد يعقوب و ولده و سجد يوسف معهم شكرا لله تعالى لاجتماع شملهم، ألم تر أنه يقول في شكره ذلك الوقت: رَبِّ قَدْ آتَيْتَنِي مِنَ الْمُلْكِ وَ عَلَّمْتَنِي مِنْ تَأْوِيلِ الْأَحادِيثِ فاطِرَ السَّماواتِ وَ الْأَرْضِ أَنْتَ وَلِيِّي فِي الدُّنْيا وَ الْآخِرَةِ تَوَفَّنِي مُسْلِماً وَ أَلْحِقْنِي بِالصَّالِحِينَ.

Imam Redha --peace be upon him-- was asked about the verse [12:100] around the case that Jacob --peace be upon him-- and his sons fell in prostration for Joseph --peace be upon him-- while Jacob --peace be upon him-- was himself a prophet? Imam Answered, the prostration of Jacob and his sons for Joseph was not indeed for Joseph, but for giving tribute to Joseph and obeying Allah. Like the prostration did the angels for Adam and it was not indeed for Adam but for giving tribute to Adam and obeying Allah. Thus, prostrated Jacob and his sons and also prostrated Joseph together with them thanking Allah and it was then that he said the context of the next verse [12:101]: "My Lord! Thou hast given me of the kingdom and taught me of the interpretation of sayings: Originator of the heavens and the earth! Thou art my guardian in this world and the hereafter; make me die a muslim and join me with the good."

So it is now clear that such prostration was indeed for respecting him but praying Allah, and of course Jacob --peace be upon him-- was not a Mushrik.

Now let me add one point, in one verse Allah stress that:

وَالنَّجْمُ وَالشَّجَرُ يَسْجُدَانِ

And the herbs and the trees do prostrate (to Him). [55:6]

This verse has an apparent meaning (Tafseer) and some hidden meanings (Ta'weel). You may like to think about the apparent meaning of the verse how herbs and the trees prostrate to Allah, do they bow or what? This can shift your understanding of deeds in Islam.

Actually even someone when greets another person from a far distance that the second person couldn't hear his voice, he may simply put his hand over his chest, recite the greeting slowly (enough to show he is saying something) and bend very slightly so that the second person understands he is saying a greeting to him. And who can ever claim this slight bending is praying someone beside Allah and thus Shirk? Another example is such a respecting tradition done at the beginning and ending of a fight in some martial arts. If it was the case that any bending was to be considered as Shirk a practicing Muslim should have been so careful all the times never to bend when something or someone is standing or sleeping or walking in front of him, tying his shoes or scraching his knees or picking up something mistakenly dropped on the ground from his hand and etc ... That way, the life would have been quite difficult and it is clear that Islam categorizes such a way of thinking as وسواس (Satanic inspirations from inside).

Therefore, all that I can say is that the intention is the ultimate point, judging and interpreting any deed highly depends on its background intention and it is backed by a famous Hadeeth from Imam Redha peace be upon him: الأعمال بالنیات.

Accusing the others for Shirk would of course be questioned in the Day and as Shirk is the biggest sin in Islam wrongly accusing someone for that would be the biggest wrong blame. Thus here I stress over the fact that Specifically Shia Muslims, who go to Ziyarah at the shrines, don't prostrate for Ahlul Bayt --peace be upon them-- or their descendants or other saints. We pray Allah near them but not toward them, rather only toward Qiblah (although an encouraged Salah need not be toward Qiblah, it can be done even while walking and etc, but anyway, certainly the graves are not Qiblah to those who are doing the Ziyarah). For your interest, we do not agree that prostration can be easily practiced by anyone in front of anyone. Indeed we do not do that at all but in front of Allah and while being at a Fardh prayer then also only toward Qiblah.

This answer encourages the questioner to ask the people who are doing such Ziyarah's, case by the case, about their intentions, before to judge them. And last but by no means least, note that all the Muslims pray toward a stone-made buiding named ka'bah and no one can raise the question if it is Shirk. Both worshiping and Shirk should be fully understood before judging the others if they are Mushrik or not.

PS. What follows are the points I can say about another answer given by brother @Suhaib:

Certainly your answer is not only based on Qur'aan! You have used many Ahadeeth as well. Can you show me in the first verse you have quoted the adverbs "just" and "directly"? / "O Hussien, Ask allah to forgive our sins" is this Shirk really? We have the same saying about the holy prophet in Qur'aan! And Hussain is a martyr and not a death, again according to Qur'aan, peace be upon him. / In the 2nd verse you quoted I grab your attention to من دونه whic means BESIDE Allah, and at least no Shia considers the saints beside Allah but along with Him.

The pious people that you talk about are those whom practiced worshiping idols for the first time, to be more precise, the pious people died, the believers produced their sculptures to worship Allah beside them, heir descendant thought their fathers were praying the idols and worshiping the idols was originated. Of course we do not do such, we still pray Allah like those believers at the same time that we do not build any sculpture as well. Also in that verse you can easily see Allah quote from them "نعبدهم" which means they were worshiping the idols as gods beside the God, we are not similar

According to Qur'aan the believers were going to build a mosque over the cave of the companions of the cave, and the non believers were only leaving their cave on its own, only sealing them as for their grave. And Allah never narrates a story for amusement, that has a lesson inside it for me and you. Any Hadeeth that apparently contradict the verses of Qur'aan is either fabricated or needs interpretation, e.g. may be specified for some specific situation, and for your interest Shia also has some similar Ahadeeth (like your last quoted Hadeeth), but they never forbid Ziyarah in shrines! According to Qur'aan specific times and positions can affect our mood of worshiping Allah, like the middle of night and like the mosques. How you can be sure the shrines are not other examples, like the houses that Allah likes to His name be raised therein, according to Qur'aan again

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@Ali, check if this answer convince you, otherwise we can chat if you liked. –  owari Feb 6 '13 at 22:56
no you have only argued reg prostration. grave worship starts if one enters a shrine with devotion to the internal object –  Islam Feb 8 '13 at 5:02

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