The spread of marking the graves of their dead to such an extent with which it is feared that

Fatwa no. 18587 Praise be to Allah, Alone, and may Peace and Blessings of Allah be upon Prophet Muhammad after whom there is no other prophet.The Permanent Committee for Scholarly Research and Ifta' has viewed letter no. (53103) dated 25/7/1416 A.H. That his Eminence, the Grand Mufty received from his Highness, the prince of Riyadh. Enclosed was a suggestion proposed to his Eminence from the honored Shaykh `Abdullah ibn Salih Al-Qasir concerning marking graves etc... It was referred to the Committee of the Council of Senior Scholars in letter no. (3735) dated 1/8/1416 A.H. and included the following:Lately, visitors to the graveyard have come to notice (Part No. 7; Page No. 364) a consistent practice by some Muslim foreign nationals in marking the graves of their dead, which may be due to the great number of incomers. Such practices have become so widely spread that we fear that many of them and other forms of Bid`ah (heresy in religion), which contravene Islamic law, may be passed on to people in this country. If your Highness, may Allah reward you, deems it appropriate, would you ask the concerned authorities to consider the numbering of all the rows of graves. In the event that you find this proposal favorable, the authority responsible for issuing Fatwa in this regard will be asked about the legal validity of extending it to all cemeteries. Perhaps it will satisfy the need of the relatives of the deceased and through it Allah will block the means to Bid`ah in this pure land.

After thorough investigation of the matter, the Committee for Fatwa answered that the Sunnah (acts, sayings, or approvals of the Prophet Muhammad) permits the relatives of the dead to mark their graves with stones or the like as mentioned in the Sunan (Hadith compilations classified by jurisprudential themes) of Abu Dawud that Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) marked the grave of `Uthman ibn Mazh`un with a stone and said: "I mark my brother's grave with this (stone)."However, it is not permissible to put numbers on the graves because it is a way of writing on graves, which was a forbidden act by the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him), as well as a way of plastering and painting graves, building structures over them and so forth of other Bid`ahs. It has been related from the Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) that he prohibited plastering graves, building over them or making engravement on them. This is because the relatives of deceased are expected only to make Du`a' (supplication) for their dead and ask Allah to have mercy upon them, whether or not they can recognize their graves. (Part No. 7; Page No. 365) May Allah grant you success! May Peace and Blessings of Allah be upon our Prophet Muhammad, his family, and his Companions!