Your Guide to Funeral Planning | 02.02.2023

All You Need To Know About Turkish Funerals

All You Need To Know About Turkish Funerals

Reviewed By: William Prout

Cross Checked By: Joshua Siegel

4 min read

A Closer Look At Turkish Funerals

Studies show that over 99% of the population of Turkey follows the Islamic religion. With such an overwhelmingly vast majority of Muslims in the country, it is natural that funeral services in Turkey revolve largely around Islamic funeral tradition. The people in Turkey believe in an afterlife. And they staunchly believe that the behavior of a person during their current life and their dedication to the Islamic way of life affects whether they will spend the afterlife in Jahannam or Jannah — which are the Islamic versions of hell and heaven respectively. 

The religion of the Turks also greatly influences the manner of the funeral ceremony, the way they dress, the food they eat during the funeral services and the general etiquette followed during the burial. Let us take a closer look at Turkish funerals and the practices that are commonly adopted by families in Turkey during this challenging time. 

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Pre funeral Traditions In Turkey

Even before the actual funeral services begin, the Turks have elaborate practices they follow. Here is an overview of what happens before the funeral in Turkish tradition.

  1. Spreading the word of the death -The Hodja or the village leader typically spreads the news of the demise among the Turkish community that the deceased person was a part of. Within a few minutes, most of the friends and family of the deceased gather at their home. 
  2. Preparing the deceased person’s body for the funeral - The family members then blindfold the deceased person’s eyes and tie the jaw of the body to prevent it from slacking. The body is then bathed in perfumed soap to prepare it for meeting the angels after the death.
  3. Making the environment right - Thereafter, the body is covered in a shroud and the head is turned towards Mecca — the holy place of the Muslims. The room in which the body is kept is typically well-lit, and many Turkish families make halwa — which is a dessert made of flour and ghee. 
  4. Handling the formalities - Alongside these preparations, there are also many practical things to take care of, like getting the necessary paperwork and documents ready. The burial license and the death certificate are the most important among these, so the funeral can take place smoothly.

Turkish Funeral Services And What Happens During The Ceremony?

During a Turkish funeral ceremony, prayers play a pivotal role. The funeral may take place in a mosque or at the place of burial itself. Wherever the ceremony is being held, the Imam — an Islamic spiritual leader — will lead the prayers and the friends and family gathered follow suit. Then, if the funeral procession is not already at the burial site, the body is carried to the said place. 

Most Turkish burials are carried out during the afternoon namaz or prayer time. The coffin or casket is laid into the ground with the deceased person’s right side aligned with the direction of Mecca. In case a Turkish family chooses to have a natural burial, no coffin or casket will be used. Instead, the person’s body will simply be covered by a shroud and placed into the gravesite. 

Other Important Funeral Traditions And Funeral Etiquette In Turkey

Aside from the general procedure of the funeral services outlined above, there are several other finer details surrounding Turkish burial ceremonies. Here is a closer look at some of the most important practices and conventions in this regard.

The dress code - The dress code in Turkish weddings is modest. Women typically dress in dresses or clothes with a high collar and an ankle-length hem. Men, on the other hand, may wear shirts and trousers. Simply put, all attendees generally wear clothes that cover the neck and legs fully. Also, all the people who are taking part in the ceremony are required to take off their shoes during the prayer-time. 

The presence of women at the ceremony - Women were conventionally not allowed to be a part of the actual funeral. However, nowadays, this is changing. Nowadays, women and children are increasingly becoming a part of Turkish funeral services. However, they tend to stand at the back of the mosque and may not be included in the burial ceremony. If you are attending a Turkish funeral, it is best to ask about the practices followed by the family before you go.

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The Bottom Line, Turkish Funerals Are Quick And Quiet

Funerals in Turkey are typically held very quickly after the demise of a person, often within 24 hours of death. This stems from the Turkish belief that very shortly after their demise, the deceased person will be questioned by a couple of angels about their life on earth. To uphold this sentiment, funeral services are held quickly and quietly, with little to no fanfare and a particular focus on prayers and chanting.