Muslims have their own traditional way of burying their dead; they also have their own practices when it comes to conducting funeral services. When a Muslim dies, the body is immediately buried and thus, planning and preparation must be done as soon as possible.
The local Islamic organization should be contacted to assist the family in arranging the burial and funeral services, as well as in choosing and coordinating with the funeral home. Routine autopsies, cosmetology, cremation, and embalming are prohibited.
Preparing the body for burial
The corpse must be physically cleansed, and washing the deceased is called Ghusl. The temporal position and locale of the deceased will dictate the method, accessories, and style to be used in bathing. Close family members of the same sex are the ones that should give the Ghusl; however, if it is a spousal death, the spouse will do the washing.
The washes should be odd numbered. Therefore, the body is needs to be washed at least three times. A certain order also needs to be followed in washing the body. The upper right side should be cleaned first, followed by the left; the lower right side and lower left side are next. If the deceased is a woman, the hair must be washed and three braids should be made.
Once the body is clean it will be covered in a white cloth called Kafan. Different regions have their own specifics when it comes to choosing the style, color, and materials that will be used for the cloth. In shrouding the body, simple cloth must be used. Three pieces of large cloth is used for males, and five pieces are necessary for female. Women are made to wear a sleeveless dress that reaches the ankle. A head veil is also worn.
The body is placed on top of the sheets and the left hand should be positioned in a prayer position. Folding the sheets should start at the right side and then the left, until they’re completely wrapped around the body. Also, a rope is used to secure the body. After the body’s secured, it will be transferred to the mosque for the “Salat al-Janazah” (funeral prayers).
Traditional Muslim funeral services
Muslim funeral services start with a prayer. Everyone in the community must perform the Salat al-Janazah. Everyone is required to face the Qiblah or the direction towards Mecca and recite the prayer in the courtyard, study room, or prayer room of the mosque. A three-line formation is usually followed – males closely related to the deceased should be on the first line, men on the second, followed by children and women.
The body will be transported to the cemetery after the Salat al-Janazah has been recited. Men used to be the only ones allowed in burials, but more and more communities are allowing women to be present.
All about the grave’s specifics
The grave must be perpendicular to the qiblah when dug and the body is placed on the right side. “Bismilllah wa ala millati rasulilllah” must be recited by the people who are going to place the body in the grave. Layers of stone or wood are place on top of the body to prevent direct contact with the soil. Three handfuls of soil are placed on the grave by those in attendance. Small stones or markers are placed on top of the grave for recognition.
Is there anything else to know?
Well, the mourning period usually lasts for 40 days, and for widows it lasts for four months and ten days. The first three days after the burial and funeral services, the community will provide food for the family that will receive the visitors.