Cremation is practised in many cultures worldwide, but is it allowed in Islam? Can Muslims be cremated? We’ll answer that question and explain the reason behind it, giving you an understanding of the human body in Islam.
Cremation in Islam
Cremation is haram (forbidden) in Islam, and it’s considered a transgression. The prophet Muhammad’s wife, Aisha, says: “Breaking a dead person’s bone is as breaking it in their life.” Instead, the proper way of handling a deceased’s body is a burial in a cemetery.
Why Is Cremation Forbidden?
If breaking a person’s bones alive is the same as breaking them when they’re dead, it follows that burning them alive is the same as burning them dead. The reason lies in a Muslim’s beliefs about the human body and death.
Islam holds the belief that the human body is dignified, and cremation is considered disrespectful and a sin. In fact, Islam forbids people from burning a tree, let alone a human body.
The human body is so sacred that Muslims aren’t allowed to use extremely hot or cold water to wash the deceased’s body in the ghusl. If such little harm to the body must be avoided, burning it is out of the question.
In comparison, burial is simple, clean, ecological, and natural. Also, it gives us a full circle. The messenger Adam and, by extension, all human beings were created from soil, so it makes sense for them to return to it after death.
Are There Any Exceptions?
Yes, dire circumstances might deem cremation necessary. For example, if a natural or human disaster resulted in the loss of countless souls, it might become almost impossible to bury them all. At the same time, leaving them unburied is dangerous and unsanitary, so cremation would be a lesser evil.
We see another exception in medical conditions. The deceased’s body may be dangerous or infectious, necessitating complete disposal, in which case cremation is allowed.
Simply put, cremation is forbidden in Islam. It’s believed to be an act of transgression over the body, which is sacred. Burial is the approved method; it’s simple, clean, and ecological. However, with some epidemics, disasters, and infectious diseases, burial may not be an option, so Muslims may turn to cremation.
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