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Ruling 630. Exhuming the grave of a believer – i.e. opening his grave – is unlawful, even if the grave belongs to a child or an insane person. However, there is no problem if the body has completely decomposed and become dust.

Ruling 631. It is unlawful to destroy the graves of the descendants of the Infallible Imams (ʿA), martyrs, and scholars, in any way that is considered disrespectful, even if many years have passed since the person was buried and the body has completely decomposed.

Ruling 632.* Exhuming a grave is not unlawful in the following cases:

when the corpse has been buried in usurped land and the owner of the land does not consent to the body remaining there, and exhuming the body does not cause hardship (ḥaraj). In such a case, exhuming a grave is not unlawful on condition that there is not a more important reason for not exhuming the body – for example, it would remain without being reburied or would fall apart – in which case it is not permitted to exhume the body. In fact, if exhuming a grave causes disrespect to the deceased and the deceased was not the one to usurp the land, then permission to exhume the grave is problematic, and in such a scenario, the obligatory precaution is that the usurper must get the consent from the owner of the land for the deceased to remain buried there even if this entails paying the owner;

when the kafan or something else buried with the corpse is usurped and the owner does not consent to it remaining in the grave. The same applies if something from the deceased’s own estate that his heir has inherited is buried with the corpse and the heir does not consent to the object remaining in the grave. However, if the deceased had stipulated in his will that a certain duʿāʾ, copy of the Qur’an, or ring must be buried with him and his will is valid, then one cannot exhume the grave to take the object out. In this case, the exception that was mentioned in the previous case also applies;

when opening the grave does not cause disrespect and the corpse had been buried without having been given ghusl, or it was buried without a kafan or having been camphorated, or it becomes known that the ghusl was invalid, or the corpse had not been shrouded or camphorated according to religious instruction, or it had not been placed in the grave facing qibla;

to see the body in order to establish a right that is more important than, or equal to, not exhuming the grave;

when the corpse has been buried in a place that is disrespectful to it, such as in the graveyard of disbelievers or a place where dirt and rubbish are thrown;

for a religious matter that is more important than not exhuming the grave; for example, to bring out a living child from the womb of a pregnant woman who has been buried;

when there is fear that a predatory animal will tear the body apart, or a flood will carry it away, or an enemy will exhume it;

when the deceased had stipulated in his will that his body must be transferred to a place where a holy person is buried in the event that there was no legal reason for not transferring the corpse and yet he was still buried elsewhere, either intentionally, unknowingly, or forgetfully. In such a case, the grave can be exhumed and the body transferred to a sacred place as long as it does not cause disrespect to it and there is no legal reason for not transferring it to the place where the holy person is buried. In fact, in this case, exhuming the grave and transferring the body is obligatory.
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