I heard you requested the congregation to face the Qiblah and make dua at the graveyard during your last trip to Zimbabwe. Does this mean one cannot face the grave and make dua? Please advise as this is what we have always done.
باسم الله والحمد لله والصلاة والسلام على رسول الله وعلى آله وأصحبه ومن والاه
Wa alaykumus salaam wa rahmatullahi wa barakaatuh
May Allah bless you for writing in and may Allah make me steadfast during this answer.
It is permissible at the graveyard to make dua whilst facing the grave or whilst facing the Qiblah. Both are permitted.
The evidence for this is the general statement of our Messenger ﷺ when He ﷺ said in a narration found in Saheeh alBukhaari:
“Seek forgiveness for your brother and ask that he be made steadfast, for he is being questioned now.”
In this instruction of our Prophet ﷺ we find a general instruction towards supplication without specifying a particular direction to face. This would entail the permissibility of observing dua irrespective of where one faces.
With regards to the etiquettes of dua; it is from the general recommendations that a person faces the qibla. This recommendation has been established in several authentic and authoritative narrations describing the different supplications of the our Messenger ﷺ.
Based on this; if a person is able to face the qibla whilst supplicating, this would be better no doubt. And if he is unable to face the qibla; his supplication will be correct as well. I normally advise a person who finds it awkward or difficult turning to the qiblah to try and stand with the deceased between him and the qiblah so that diligence is also offered to the recommended practices of supplications.
During my last visit to Zimbabwe, Allah Almighty did bless me to attend a burial and address those present. During the address I did mention facing the qiblah as a recommended practice of dua.
Also, when innovated practices related to graves are on the rise, as we see in the world today, it is important for community leaders to shift certain norms at regular intervals, so that the masses understand the presence of flexibilities with regards to certain practices.
Alhamdulillah Zimbabwe is blessed with established students of knowledge and scholars and my advice was complimentary to the many good teachings already shared by them.
May Allah Almighty shower His Divine Mercy upon our deceased and preserve us all in His obedience. Ameen.
And Allah knows best.