When the wall fell on them (i.e. graves) during the caliphate of Al-Walid bin ‘Abdul Malik, the people started repairing it, and a foot appeared to them. The people got scared and thought that it was the foot of the Prophet. No-one could be found who could tell them about it till I (‘Urwa) said to them, “By Allah, this is not the foot of the Prophet but it is the foot of Umar.”
Aisha narrated that she made a will to ‘Abdullah bin Zubair, “Do not bury me with them (the Prophet and his two companions) but bury me with my companions (wives of the Prophet (p.b.u.h) ) in Al-Baqi as I would not like to be looked upon as better than I really am (by being buried near the Prophet).”
There are two narrations in this regard:
Onne from Hisham bin `Urwah who narrated from his father:
كان الناس يصلون إلى القبر فأمر به عمر بن عبد العزيز فرفع حتى لا يصلي إليه أحد ، فلما هدم بدت قدم بساق وركبة ، ففزع عمر بن عبد العزيز ، فأتاه عروة ، فقال : هذا ساق عمر وركبته…الخ
When the wall of the quarter of Prophet (SAW) fell, people started praying towards it so Omar bin Abdul Aziz (RA) ordered it to be rebuilt to an extent that no one could pray towards it. When it was demolished, shin and the knee became apparent. Omar bin Abdul Aziz started crying then came Urwah to him and said: this is the shin and knee of Omar (RA). End quote.
In the same way there is another narration:
وروى الآجري من طريق مالك بن مغول ، عن رجاء بن حيوة ، قال : كتب الوليد بن عبد الملك إلى عمر بن عبد العزيز – وكان قد اشترى حجر أزواج النبي صلى الله عليه وسلم – أن اهدمها ووسع بها المسجد ، فقعد عمر في ناحية ، ثم أمر بهدمها ، فما رأيته باكيا أكثر من يومئذ . ثم بناه كما أراد . فلما أن بنى البيت على القبر وهدم البيت الأول ظهرت القبور الثلاثة ، وكان الرمل الذي عليها قد انهار ، ففزع عمر بن عبد العزيز ، وأراد أن يقوم فيسويها بنفسه ، فقلت له : أصلحك الله ، إنك إن قمت قام الناس معك ، فلو أمرت رجلا أن يصلحها ، ورجوت أنه يأمرني بذلك ، فقال : يا مزاحم – يعني مولاه – قم فأصلحها
And it is narrated by Al-Aajiri from the chain of Malik bin Mighwal, who narrated from Rajaa bin Hayawah, who said: Walid bin Abdul Malik wrote to Umar bin Abdul Aziz who bought the quarter of Prophet’s wives in order to demolish it and extend the premises of Masjid, so Umar bin Abdul Aziz stood on one side and ordered for its fall and from that day onward I never saw Umar crying more than what he cried at that time. Then he built as it was planned. When (after extending) the house was being rebuilt, three graves became apparent and the sand on them was crumpled (graves were cracked) so Omar bin Abdul Aziz started crying and then he thought of repairing and leveling it himself, he said to him: May Allah reform you, if you stand, people will stand with you, if you had ordered a man would have done it, and I hoped that he would order me to do so. He said: O friend! Stand and reform it!
Anyway, this incident is taken as proof that bodies of martyrs don’t get degenerated by the soil. But it is better not to say this because the preferred opinion in this regard is we can’t say anything for sure because there is no evidence for such claim. There are many contrary situations witnessed as well. Moreover, it is not necessary that the body was saved because it was of Omar (RA) who was martyred and not Abu Bakr (RA)’s who wasn’t.
When there is no evidence for distinguishing between martyrs and other Muslims then it would fall under the general principle:
كل ابن آدم يأكله التراب إلا عجب الذنب منه خلق وفيه يركب *
أخرجه البخاري والنسائي وأبو داود وابن ماجه وأحمد في المسند ومالك في الموطأ
Abu Huraira reported Allah’s Messenger (may peace be upon him) as saying: “The earth would consume every son of Adam except his spinal chord from which his body would be reconstituted (on the Day of Resurrection)“. Narrated by Bukhari, an-Nasai, Abu Dawud, Ibn Majah, Ahmad in his Musnad and Malik in Muwatta.
Hence, Allah preserves the bodies of His beloved people whenever He wills and whomever He wills, whether he is a martyr or not.
The bodies of Prophets would be considered as an exception as there is an evidence for the exception. Allahu A`lam [Allah knows best].
As for the second part, Aishah (RA) gave up her position (near the Prophet [SAW]) where she wanted to be buried, because Umar (RA) had asked her if he could be buried there. She preferred him over herself saying that “I would not like to be looked upon as better than I really am”. SubhanAllah. [More on this tomorrow inshaAllah.]