A Guide To Muslim Burial

Islamic funerals can vary depending to family customs. The Islamic religious law is called ‘Sharia’, an Islamic burial usually takes place within 24 hours of the deceased passing. It’s believed in Islam that the moment a person dies, their soul is taken away by the angel of death. The body is but a symbol of what once existed.

The corpse is washed using fragranced water, and the mouth , nasal , anal and ear holes are blocked up using cotton .Once cleaned the body is wrapped in pure white  muslin cloth , as if he or she was going to perform the Salah prayer.

If the deceased died as a martyr, in the eyes of Islam they will be cleaned, and buried as they are. It’s believed that martyrs are automatically forgiven by Allah (God) for any sin they committed during their lifetime on earth.  Muslim funerals forbid cremation of the human body.

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The individuals washing the deceased body are to be the same gender as the deceased and immediate family. In cases of a violent accident or death, a facility is allowed to wash the body as well as mend any of the physical damage to the body to avoid any bodily fluids leaking.

The washed and cleansed body is then wrapped or taken in a simple cloth called the kafan. The meaning of the wrapping is to provide the body with privacy and dignity. The main concept that’s continuous with the kafan cloth is that it has to be modest without any flashy designs that are considered very inappropriate in Islam. Family members are allowed to add perfume to the cloth if desired, usually rose water will be added, and oud (Arabic perfume)

The deceased can lie for several hours before the burial so mourners can pay their respects or offer condolences. In instances where the corpse has to be transported, embalming and refrigeration to keep the body in a presentable state are allowed. The whole idea is that the body must be kept in a state that won’t upset or distress the mourners.

Once the body has been cleansed and wrapped, fellow Muslims will gather to offer prayers called Salat-al-Janazah for forgiveness of the dead. The prayers consist of the Eid prayer that’s the Janazah prayer, which includes the four Takbirs. Takbirs are the Arabic term for the phrase Allahu Akabr (God is great) .

Included in this prayer is the plea for Allah’s help to mankind and the deceased. The prayer is allowed to be delayed in circumstances such as war, and crisis. This prayer is the obligation of every adult male Muslim. Men are also requested to pray in the mosque, if there is one within walking distance from their home. When Janazah is performed, the obligations of others are released.

The burial called al-Dafin varies with customs and styles of the grave by regional customs. The grave is perpendicular to Mecca with the body to be placed directly into the grave without a casket. The grave is to be raised to the maximum height of 12 inches above the ground. The grave can be marked or unmarked with a simple wreath; most Muslims prefer to have a marker for the deceased.

It’s actually forbidden in Islam for flowers and gifts to be laid at the grave side, as this is a symbol of worship. Islamic law states that the only method of worship that should ever take place, is that to God (Allah)

In the Middle East, women are discouraged from participating in the muslim funeral procession. This is down to the emotional state of women, who tend to make a scene in the presence of other men, which is highly discouraged in Islamic faith.

Although women do attend the funeral, the gathering takes place in the home, where women pray and gather to show respect for the deceased, men usually gather at the local mosque for 3 consecutive days.

A typical Muslim funeral takes 3 days, depending on the personal preference of the family. The food and beverages provided at the gathering are usually taken care of by family members, and the deceased family are given relief from the added pressure of having to arrange catering.

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