Q. Can you please inform me as to whether or not women are allowed to go to the cemetery a few days after burial? And how long is it before they bury someone else in the same spot?
A. With respect to women visiting the cemetery, there are three famous opinions of the Fuqaha (jurists) and scholars.
The first opinion is that it is generally permissible for women to visit the graveyard. This allowance is on account of the tradition of the Prophet (SA) in which he said, ‘I used to prohibit you from visiting the graveyard, but now you can visit it. (Musnad ahmad). Those scholars who allow this, state that the above tradition includes the permission for women also (to visit the cemetery) as it is for men. The great jurist Shamsul A’imma Saraks; has preferred this. (Al Fatawa Hindiyah).
The second opinion of some jurists is that it is not permissible (at all) for women to visit the cemetery, since the Prophet (SA) has cursed those women who visit the cemetery. As for the previous narration, these scholars state that the address is given only to men, not women.
The third opinion of some jurists (which is generally accepted and practiced upon) is that, if by visiting the cemetery, women begin to cry, weep, wail and become uncontrollable, then it is haram for them to go to the cemetery, and it is on account of this behaviour, the Prophet (SA) cursed such women as mentioned in the above tradition. However, if the purpose of going to the cemetery is to take a lesson, and remember death and the hereafter, (and there is no possibility of crying and wailing), then it will be allowed for the older women, wearing their proper garb, to visit the cemetery, and not the young women.
As mentioned by these scholars, the allowance for these women to visit the cemetery is based on the narration which states that Aisha (RA) used to visit the graves of the Prophet(SA), Abu Bakr and Umar (RA). (Hashiya Jamiul Masaaneed wa As Sunan). (Kitabul Fatawa vol.3 pg.228; Marghoobul Fatawa vol.3pg.317,317).
Based on the above third opinion, if the women (as specified above ) wish to visit the cemetery, there is no fixed amount of days which must be passed in order for them to do so. However, due to the fact that women are soft by nature, if they go to the graveyard at a time that is close to the burial, then it is feared that they may cry loudly, and may become emotional, since the death of the person may still be fresh in their minds. Hence, it is best for them to allow a few days to past, when they have settled down a bit.
With respect to the other question, it is allowed to bury someone on the same spot (of another grave) when the grave has become old, and one is certain that by that time, the bones would have rotted and decayed. At this time, it is permissible to use the same grave for the burial of another person. (A Muslim must be placed in a Muslim’s grave). Since, the nature of the soil differs in different countries and cities, and also based on the climate, no time in years have been fixed by the jurists. However, the above mentioned guidelines will be taken into consideration. (Al Bahr Ar Raiq; Kitabul Fatawa vol.3pg.91).
And Allah knows best.
Mufti Waseem Khan