The Islamic religion sees death as a transition to another state of existence known as the afterlife. Where the soul goes in the afterlife entirely depends on how well the person followed all Islamic religious codes throughout their life.
Muslims practice the Islamic faith. These practitioners believe that if a person lived a good life, then they will go to Paradise after they die. Otherwise, they will be separated from everything good in the world.
Thus, Islamic funerals do not just serve to comfort the bereaved but also to pray to Allah to show mercy on the dead. Here, Allah is the Islamic word for God. It is important that everyone from the community attend this spiritual event.
Introduction to Islamic Funerals
An Islamic funeral is referred to as a community event. That’s why every member of the Muslim community usually attends an Islamic funeral. This occasion is believed to be a very spiritual event by Muslims. Everyone who attends this event participates in group prayers. In these prayers, mourners pray to Allah to show mercy on not just the dead but also on every deceased Muslim.
An Islamic funeral is to help the bereaved family cope with their grief. However, these funerals are events meant to provide hope for an amazing afterlife for the deceased. This service lasts for 30-60 minutes.
Traditions and Rites to An Islamic Funeral
In the Islamic faith, the most significant funeral rite is the burial that takes place immediately after death. As the funeral rite is performed as quickly as possible, there is no visitation, viewing, or wake. Just after death, the deceased body is washed and then covered with a clean sheet by family members. The hands of the body are placed as they used to do in prayer.
After that, the body is moved to the funeral location, a mosque. It is quite rare to see an open casket at Islamic funerals. Usually, the funeral is held outside the mosque. This place can be a community square, courtyard, or prayer room. Here, members of the Islamic community may gather. All attendees and the body are made to turn to face Mecca, which is the holy place of Islam. The Imam, a holy leader leads all the funeral prayers.
Attendees make at least three queues: men, then children, and then women at the back. After prayers, people take the body to the burial location in a silent procession. Although it is just men traditionally, several Muslim communities also allow children and women to attend the burial ceremony.
Another burial rite in Islamic funerals is to have each individual present at the burial throw three handfuls of dirt into the grave. As Muslims believe that there will be the body’s physical resurrection on Judgement Day, this faith restricts cremation. In the same way, autopsies are discouraged as they postpone burial. Also, autopsies are considered vandalism of the body.
Plus, Muslims do not prefer to move the body away from the death’s site, making autopsies even more unsettling for them. They consider embalming as another body’s desecration. It is only performed if needed by law. Otherwise, such violations of the body are not accepted in Islamic funeral traditions.
Eventually, tradition dictates that one should send flowers to the family’s house after the deceased is buried. The mourning period in Islamic funeral tradition lasts for 40 days. During the mourning period, flowers and food are highly appreciated.
Islamic Funeral Etiquette
At Islamic funerals, mourners may express grief but there are certain norms of decorum there too. For example, loud wailing is not allowed at an Islamic funeral. Also, no outward signs of extreme emotions are permitted, like thrashing about, ripping off clothes, self-injury, and sacrilegious. Only crying is allowed.
Conventional Muslim cremation etiquette prohibits mourners from clicking pictures or recording any part of funeral prayer services in any way. After the burial and the prayer service, mourners can gather at the immediate family’s home. That’s the time when mourners can pay their condolences to the family and give support in their grief.
So, it is better to stay there the entire day. According to Muslim funeral traditions, a meal will be served. It is believed that socializing helps the bereaved family cope with such a loss. During the first three days of the 40-day mourning period, the community members should bring food for the family. Today, most modern Muslim communities witness a short mourning period.
Customarily, widows will observe a longer mourning time. So, no matter what the time frame they follow, it is important that the community members visit and offer their help in any way they could.
FAQs Related to Islamic Funerals
- What is the time limit of Islamic burial?
Islamic burial should take place immediately. It is customary to bury someone of the Islamic faith within a period of three days. Although many strive for within 24 hours, it may vary depending on the community.
- Why is an Islamic funeral attended by the entire community?
The Muslim community believes that a fellow Muslim’s death is a loss to the entire Muslim community. Also, they believe funerals to be a very spiritual occasion. That’s why the entire community attends an Islamic funeral service to share the grief of the bereaved family.
- Are Muslim women allowed to attend an Islamic funeral?
According to Muslim funeral rites, women are not allowed to attend Islamic funerals. However, many modern communities permit women to the funeral prayer service.
- What should one wear at an Islamic funeral?
For both women and women, dress attire needs to be modest. Men should wear trousers and a shirt. Women should wear an ankle-length skirt, a shirt having long sleeves and a high neck, and a headscarf. All should wear clean socks, where they should remove their shoes before prayer.
- Is a non-Muslim permitted at an Islamic funeral service?
Yes, it is usual for a non-Muslim to attend an Islamic funeral. So, non-Muslims are allowed at Islamic funerals.