I’m a revert to Islam and I want to know that why does a deceased Muslim have to be buried within 24 hours?
The Prophet (pbuh) has not stated any fixed time within which a corpse should be buried after death, but there is a narrative related to the death of Talha ibn al-Barraa in which the Prophet (pbuh) is reported to have said that “he should be buried quickly because it is better that the dead body of a Muslim be buried quickly rather than let it rot in front of its loved ones” (as reported by Abu Dawood).
I think that the wisdom of the Prophet (pbuh)’s directive is self evident from the words ascribed to the Prophet (pbuh).
Besides this reason, there is another reason, which although is not mentioned in the words ascribed to the Prophet (pbuh), yet it is quite apparent through common experience. We know that as long as the corpse is left lying with the family there exists a spirit of lamentation and wailing. The Prophet (pbuh) expressed his dislike for this spirit (of lamentation and wailing). Indeed the death of loved one is a matter of great sorrow, but when this sorrow turns into wailing it weakens the Muslim’s faith in the wisdom and the mercy of God. On a number of occasion, I have personally witnessed comments like: “This was absolutely unjust (zulm)“, “This is not fair at all” etc. Comments that are absolutely void of the belief that a person’s death is a decision of the All-Merciful, the All-Wise, God.
In my opinion, therefore, besides the reason specified in the narrative ascribed to the Prophet (pbuh) – that of not letting the body rot in front of its loved ones – another reason is to curtail the spirit of wailing and mourning and to promote the spirit of contentment with the will and decision of our Lord.
24th January 1999