First of all, it should be clear that Islam, as a divine religion, respects man when alive or dead. It’s totally rejected in Islam for one to show any sign of disrespect or harm to a dead body, for it’s a unique characteristic of Islam to cater for the welfare of man in this world and the world to come.
Sheikh Ahmad Kutty, a senior lecturer and an Islamic scholar at the Islamic Institute of Toronto, Ontario, Canada, states: “In Islam, funeral rites and practices have been prescribed by the divine law, in accordance with the dictates of Allah. According to this law, beginning from the time of Prophet Adam until the last Prophet, Muhammad, peace and blessing be upon them all, burying the dead has been the prescribed method of conveying the deceased to their graves. We have no mention anywhere that cremation was acceptable in any of the previous dispensations from Allah.
Allah says in the Qur’an: “We have honored sons of Adam.” (Al-Isra’: 70) In keeping with the spirit of this Qur’anic verse, according to the Muslim scholars, it is necessary for us to treat the human body with the utmost of respect not only when a person is alive, but also when he/she is dead.
Incinerating the corpse or discarding bodies to be eaten by vultures, wild beasts, etc., is considered sacrilege and abhorrent and, therefore, forbidden according to Islam.
One of the reasons for this is that our knowledge of what happens to the person after death is limited, and, therefore, Allah alone knows what is good and bad for us in an ultimate sense.
What should be remembered here is that we should treat the deceased person with the utmost of compassion, just as we would treat a person who is alive.
In short, cremation is not a divinely instituted method of burying the human body after death. Like all other man-made institutions, cremation is based on partial knowledge. It is only Allah, our Creator, “who knows what ails us as well as what benefits us.” (Al-Baqarah: 220)
Another important observation is that it has been proven that burying the dead is more environmentally friendly than cremation. This further confirms the dictum that Allah has “forbidden for us only what is injurious or harmful for us (or for our environment.)”