Funeral Rites in Islam

An Islamic funeral is considered a community event. Muslims believe a funeral to be a very spiritual occasion. Everyone in attendance participates in group prayers, in which mourners pray that Allah will have mercy on not only the deceased but also on all deceased Muslims. Islamic funerals are to help mourners cope with their grief, but are also meant to offer hope for a good afterlife for the deceased. Allah says:

“Verily I will test you with fear and hunger, and loss of wealth, life, and the fruit (of your labor), so give glad tidings to the patient ones.” (Qur’an 2:155)

Death is a very painful and emotional time, yet spiritual faith may allow it to be one that is filled with hope and mercy. Muslims believe that death is a departure from the life of this world, but not the end of a person’s existence. Rather, they believe that eternal life is yet to come, and pray for God’s mercy to be with the departed in hopes that they may find peace and happiness in the life that is yet to come. Allah says:

“From the earth, We have created you and unto the earth, We shall return you and from it, again, We will resurrect you once again!” (Surah Taha: 55)

Muslims view death as a transition from one state of being to another, not as an end. They believe that actions follow you to the afterlife. So, if you follow the law of the Quran and live a good life you will be rewarded in the afterlife. In death, you will be separated from the ugliness in the world. But if you live a dishonest and bad life, you will be separated from all the beauty of the world. Allah says:

“Do not lose hope of Allah’s mercy, for verily Allah (can) forgive all sin.” (Qur’an 39:53)

Al-Istirja: When the news of the death in the family reaches the relatives and friends, the first thing that they should say is the following Qur’anic verse:

This dua is known in Arabic as al-istirja. Inna lillahi wa inna ilayhi raji’un 

“Truly! To Allah, we belong and truly, to Him we shall return.” (Quran 2:156)

Between Fear and Hope: The dying person should be in a psychological state between fear and hope. The person should fear Allah’s punishment for his or her sins and, at the same time, hope for Allah’s mercy and forgiveness …

Acceptance of Fate: The dying individual is obliged to accept his lot gracefully so that it becomes a source of reward and blessing for him on the Day of Judgement.

Muslim beliefs about death: Most Muslims believe that the good deeds they do in life will be rewarded with entry into Paradise on the Day of Judgement, which is when the world will end.

Care for the Dying: When a Muslim is near death, those around him or her are called upon to give comfort and reminders of God’s mercy and forgiveness.

Immediately Upon Death: Upon death, those with the deceased are encouraged to remain calm, pray for the departed, and begin preparations for burial. Muslims strive to bury the deceased as soon as possible after death.

Washing and Shrouding: In preparation for burial, the family or other members of the community wash and shroud the body. (If the deceased was killed as a martyr, this step is not performed; martyrs are buried in the clothes they died in.)

Silent funeral: A Muslim funeral is very quiet. There should be no talking to one another. Even the prayers are mainly said silently with only parts of them spoken aloud.

Funeral Prayers: The deceased is then transported to the site of the funeral prayers (salat-l-janazah). These prayers are commonly held outdoors, in a courtyard or public square, not inside the mosque.

Burial: The deceased is then taken to the cemetery for burial (al-dafin). While all members of the community attend the funeral prayers, only the men of the community accompany the body to the gravesite.

Mourning: Loved ones and relatives are to observe a three-day mourning period. Mourning is observed in Islam by increased devotion, receiving visitors/condolences, and avoiding decorative clothing and jewelry. Widows observe an extended mourning period (iddah) of four months and ten days in length.

Good Words: People present may pray aloud for the one who is dying letting the person hear words of concern and sympathy. Negative words should be avoided.

Prioritize people who always read Al-Quran: We need to prioritize people who always read Al-Quran when it comes to the funeral.

Islamic funeral customs require that:

  • The body be buried as soon as possible after death
  • The body is turned to face towards Mecca, the holy center of Islam.
  • Guests of the same sex should greet each other with a handshake and hug.
  • A person sitting next to the body reads from the Koran. An Imam presides over the service.
  • The deceased’s eyes and mouth are closed. There is rarely an open casket.
  • Guests should not take photos or use recording devices.
  • The arms, legs, and hands of the body are stretched out in alignment with the body.
  • The death is immediately announced to all friends and relatives.
  • The body is bathed and covered in white cotton.
  • Within two days following the death, the body is carried to the graveyard by four men. A procession of friends and relatives follow.
  • No discussion takes place at the time of burial, but all guests pray for the soul of the departed.
  • After the body is buried, all guests go to the house of the family of the deceased. A meal is prepared and guests usually stay for the entire day. Family members may stay for the whole week.
  • During this time, the family members socialize. It is believed that socializing helps to ease suffering.
  • If arriving late, guests should simply join in.

Under Islamic funeral customs, the mourning period for a relative is typically 3 days. A widow may mourn for 4 months and 10 days. How an individual expresses mourning in appearance or clothing is not defined by the teachings of the religion but rather on local, regional, or family custom. The dead are remembered through periodic visits to their graves as well as through prayers. Do keep in touch. If you have any other question, don’t hesitate to write to us. Allah says:

“Everyone shall taste death.” (Quran 3:185)

In Islamic culture. death is accepted and viewed as a natural part of life. The belief that the deceased has moved on to a pleasant afterlife is an important belief and helps the bereaved cope with their suffering. May Allah forgive you and all of us!

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