Islamic law governs most aspects of an observant Muslim's life and death. While cultural customs may vary, Islamic law has specific requirements for the preparation of the body, burial and funeral rites for a Muslim. According to Hanafi Islamic jurist Ibn Abidin, it is a communal obligation to wash and bury a deceased Muslim. Making sure that the proper procedures are followed will show respect for the departed and comfort his loved ones.
- Skill level:
- Moderately Easy
Obtain a death certificate, burial order and any other documentation required by the relevant local authorities to release the body for burial. Contact a local mosque or Muslim community centre for a referral to a Muslim-operated funeral home, or a funeral home used to working with Muslim clients.
Arrange to have the body collected by the funeral home. Arrange to have the body washed, and shrouded by a qualified Muslim. If the funeral home does not have a Muslim on staff, a same-sex relative or member of the community may wash and shroud the body.
Select a place to hold the funeral prayer. While Islamic law discourages holding funeral prayers in a mosque, Muslim communities in the USA often do so. Select a burial plot. If purchasing a plot from a cemetery, select a cemetery that does not require a burial vault. Select a time for the funeral prayer, and notify the funeral home of the burial location and location and time of the funeral prayer. If not held in a mosque, select a person to lead the funeral prayer.
Notify the local Muslim community of the date, time and location of the funeral prayer. At the funeral venue, just before the service, arrange the body in front of the person leading prayer, with the face directed toward Mecca. Recite the funeral prayer promptly.
Transport the body to the burial site. Place the body in the grave on its right side, with the face directed toward Mecca. Fill the grave.
Tips and warnings
- The body of a Muslim should be buried as soon as possible. Islamic jurists have not agreed on an exact time limit for burial, but strongly encourage a swift burial.
- Schools of Islamic jurisprudence vary on some of the details of a Muslim funeral and burial. When possible, adhere to the procedures specified by the school of Islamic jurisprudence that the deceased belonged to.
- For Muslim funerals, flowers, embalming, embellished caskets, music and formal viewing of the body are discouraged by Islamic jurists.
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- ISNA: A Guide for the Muslim Funeral
- Muslim Association of Hawai'i: Muslim Funeral Guide for Residents of the San Francisco Bay Area
- Muslim Funeral Services: The Muslim Funeral Procedure
- Ahlul Bayt Digital Islamic Library: Burial Rituals; Muhammadhusien Kermali
- Sunnipath: Fiqh of Death: A Reader
- Taleem ul-Haq; Shabbir Ahmed E. Desai