Skeptics have advanced certain arguments against building mosques/structures over graves. None of these arguments are backed by any verse of the Quran nor any unambiguous tradition. Since they lack any proof from the Quran and reliable Sunnah, all other arguments like stray traditions and single narrator traditions (Khabar-e-Waahid) and decrees (fatwa) edicts of scholars (fatwa) do not serve any purpose other than to create confusion and disharmony over a well-established precept of Deen-e-Haneef.
Quran advocates building structures over graves
Quran is the best supporter against falsehood and against every attempt to misrepresent well-established Islamic beliefs and we turn towards the Quran to quash arguments of the skeptics against building mosques/structures over graves.
فَقَالُوا ابْنُوا عَلَيْهِم بُنْيَانًا ۖرَّبُّهُمْ أَعْلَمُ بِهِمْ ۚ قَالَ الَّذِينَ غَلَبُوا عَلَىٰ أَمْرِهِمْ لَنَتَّخِذَنَّ عَلَيْهِم مَّسْجِدًا
And they said: Construct upon them a building. The second group said – Let us build a mosque on their graves (in the cave) (and thus seek blessings through this act). Surah Kahf (18): Verse 21
Deliberating on the incident of the Companions of the Cave (As’haab-e-Kahf), one can only conclude that building mosques over the graves was always a recommended act in divinely revealed religions, more so since the Noble Quran has related the incident sans criticism and reliable Sunni exegeses (tafaaseer) have concluded as much.
When the case of the companions of the cave became known to the people after 309 years, they were divided into two groups with regards to revering and honouring them.
One group said ‘Let’s build a structure over their graves’ (so that through this act, we will preserve their remembrance, names and signs). The Noble Quran has expressed this view in the following words:
And they said: Construct upon them a building. Surah Kahf (18): Verse 21
The second group said – Let us build a mosque on their graves (in the cave) (and thus seek blessings through this act). Surah Kahf (18): Verse 21
Commentators of the Noble Quran are unanimous that the first suggestion was that of the polytheists while the second was that of the monotheists and believers.
Therefore, while narrating this incident, the Holy Quran says – Those who prevailed in their affair said: We will certainly raise a mosque over their graves.
History testifies that the era of the appearance of Ashaab-e-Kahf was that of monotheism’s victory over polytheism. After them, the signs of the polytheistic rulers and their successors who invited the people towards idol worship were destroyed. Naturally, this victorious group belonged to this order (monotheism).
Especially, the context of their suggestion, that is, the building of a mosque was for worshipping Allah, which by itself was evidence that those who had suggested were monotheists and used to perform prayers.
If building a mosque upon or near the graves of Allah’s friends was really an act of polytheism, why did the monotheists give such a suggestion? Why did the Majestic Quran relate this without criticizing them? Is not the narration of the Noble Quran, accompanied with silent approval, a proof for its permissibility? It is appropriate that Allah narrates an act of polytheism from a group without implicitly or explicitly criticizing?
This act narrates the approach always prevalent amongst the monotheists of the world and it was a type of reverence or seeking blessings from the buried one. To draw any conclusion other than this without support from another Quranic verse that explicitly prohibits building mosques over graves can only be described as misleading and even mischievous.