Why was the Messenger's grave built in its present form?

Q: 1- Why was Prophet Muhammad's (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) grave built in its present form, when where we know that there is a Hadith forbidding Muslims to build structures on graves and decorate them?2- We would like you to tell us the story and history behind the building of Prophet Muhammad's grave.3- How were the graves of the members of Prophet Muhammad 's household and those of the Sahabah (Companions of the Prophet Muhammad) built?4- Are there any graves in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia over which are structures, or are there any decorated graves, especially those of important Saudi individuals?5- Is there a law that bans people to build structures on graves in Saudi Arabia?6- Your Eminence, what is your opinion on decorating graves as an expression of great love and respect for the dead?

A: 1: Al-Masjid Al-Nabawy was established by Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) on Taqwa (fear) of Allah, The Most Exalted and Glorified. The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) was not buried there after his death; he was buried in a grave in `Aishah's room (may Allah be pleased with her) outside the Masjid (mosque). When Abu Bakr died (may Allah be pleased with him), he was buried in the same room next to the spot of the Prophet. And when `Umar, (may Allah be pleased with him) died, he too was buried in a grave next to them in the room. `Aishah's room was formerly outside the Masjid to its left. When `Uthman (may Allah be pleased with him), expanded the Masjid, he did not incorporate the room to the prayer hall. (Part No. 7; Page No. 357) The room was later added to the Masjid after the era of the Rightly-Guided Caliphs during the reign of Al-Walid ibn `Abdul-Malik towards the end of the first Hijri century. This did not happen with the counsel of the people of knowledge.As for the present structure on Prophet Muhammad's grave, it is a more recent addition. Perhaps it was intended to protect the Prophet's grave. 2: Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) gave commands to bury the dead of his Sahabah and members of his household in the grave of Al-Baqi` (Al-Baqi` cemetery). He used to level the graves and did not allow adding earth other than that which was dug up from it. He did not raise the grave above the ground more than a hand span nor did he decorate, plaster or build anything on them. 3: Praise be to Allah, there are no graves in Saudi Arabia with any structures built over them. Saudi scholars prohibit building on graves and command people to level them, following the Sunnah (acts, sayings or approvals of the Prophet Muhammad) of the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him). Furthermore, they command people not to raise the grave so that they are no more than one hand span above the ground. The Salaf (Righteous Predecessors) used to mention in their will that their graves be only one hand span high above the ground. On the authority of Abu Al-Hayyaj who said that `Aly (may Allah be pleased with him) told him: "Should I not send you on the same mission as that on which the Messenger of Allah sent me?" He added: Spare no picture from being wiped out, and leave no high grave unleveled. Recorded by Imam Muslim. Muslim scholars also forbid writing on graves or decorating them because this leads to extreme veneration of the dead, which is among the means leading to Shirk (associating others with Allah in His Divinity or worship). For this reason, the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) forbade plastering graves, sitting on them or building (Part No. 7; Page No. 358) on them. Important individuals in Saudi Arabia do not have distinguished graves, but are buried in common Muslim cemeteries like the rest of the people. 4: In the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, there is no specific civil law for graves; only the Sunnah of Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) regarding graves is followed. 5: It is impermissible to decorate graves, build structures over them, plaster, color, inscribe or draw on them since these are all forbidden acts in Islam. What must be done for a Muslim who dies is to make Du`a' (supplication) for him, ask Allah to have mercy upon him, give out in charity and dedicate the reward to the dead and so forth.May Allah grant you success! May Peace and Blessings of Allah be upon our Prophet Muhammad, his family, and his Companions!