Burying a Muslim in a coffin in a non-Muslim grave due to a necessity
A group of Muslims live in a non-Muslim country. The state allocated part of a cemetery to the Muslims living there provided they bury their dead in coffins. The area specified for Muslims filled up and the state permitted Muslims to bury their dead in a neighboring non-Muslim cemetery. What is the ruling on the following:
1. Burying a Muslim in a coffin in compliance to state regulations.
2. Burying a Muslim living in a non-Muslim country and in a non-Muslim cemetery when there is no other alternative.
1- The important thing in an Islamic burial is to place the deceased in a hole that protects his body from tampering; it must also conceal the body and its odor. Our opinion is that the manner of burial [mentioned in the question] is not prohibited and conforms to Islamic law.
Although coffin burials are considered disliked by a group of jurists because they are similar to graves made of bricks, the dislike is removed when there is a necessity. Hanafi scholars categorically prefer burying women in coffins whether or not there is a necessity.
Muslims living in a non-Muslim country need to integrate and co-exist with its inhabitants without contradicting their customs as long these customs do not contradict a ruling of Islamic law. And as long as the manner of burial in a particular country does not contradict a definitive matter, then there is no legal impediment to it. Islamic law does not aim to contradict customs as long as they are consistent with scholarly consensus.
Imam Al-Sharkhasy, the Hanafi scholar, said, "Imam Abu Bakr Muhammad ibn Al-Fadl [may Allah grant him mercy] maintained that there is no harm in using bricks in their region because the ground is soft. He permitted using wooden boards and coffin burials to the extent that it was said, "There would be no harm in using iron coffins in these lands."
2- It is obligatory to bury a Muslim in a Muslim cemetery if one exists. Otherwise, he is to be buried in his native country except if his transport poses intolerable hardship and harm to his family or damage to his body. In such a case, there is no objection to burying him in a non-Muslim cemetery in the country where he died but in a separate grave. If this is not possible, there is no objection to burying him in a non-Muslim grave because of the legal axiom that states, "Necessity renders prohibited things permissible." Burying the deceased in a non-Muslim grave takes precedence over leaving him without burial.
Allah the Almighty knows best.