Islam, Death And The Afterlife
A Muslim funeral, or Janazah, is a spiritual occasion for the Muslim community. It must take place twenty-four hours after death. In the Islamic religion, there is credence in the afterlife and what good deeds one must perform to enter paradise on The Day of Judgement. Only if they have conducted their life in accordance with such deeds will their soul finally rest in eternal peace.
Muslim Funerals And The Organisation
Since it is expected for the funeral to take place twenty-four hours after death, Sharia law attests that all funeral arrangements must kick off right after the person has died. The local mosque is contacted by the deceased's family to assist them with the funerary organization. It is crucial to locate an appropriate funeral director familiar with foreseeing such arrangements. Mourners must offer their religious prayers to the deceased. For this, they gather in a prayer room, in the mosque. During this time, visitations are prohibited. Cremations are also forbidden since the Islamic faith rests on beliefs of physical resurrections. Post-mortems are also discouraged unless they are for the purpose of organ donations.
Muslim Funerals And The Body Preparation Process
The body is covered with a white cloth after death. The nasal and oral openings are also closed, after which the Ghusl is performed. Here, the body is washed thrice by the deceased's family members. The close members bathing the body are of the same sex as the deceased. The deceased body is placed in a particular manner— with the left hand on the chest and the right hand over it. The large white sheet then cloaks the body and is tied with Kafan (ropes).
The Funeral Procession And Service
The Imam, as the officiating mosque priest, leads the Islamic funeral. The service will encompass prayers and readings from the central religious document of Islam, the Quran. The funeral lasts approximately thirty minutes to about an hour. Mourners are made to recite Islamic funeral prayers as they congregate at the mosque. This is known as Salat al- Janazah. What it symbolizes is a pardon for the departed. Those gathered to make up about three rows, all facing in the direction of Mecca, the place of birth of The Prophet.
After prayers, the body of the deceased is relocated to its place of burial. The graves on site must be angled perpendicular to Mecca. The body inside must be carefully adjusted to have the right side of the face resting in the direction of Mecca. The shrouded body is placed in the grave and those gathered are meant to pray while it is lowered. Since it is uncommon to use a casket, stones and wooden planks are placed around it to ensure that the body is on a cleaner surface and not in direct contact with any dirt. All gathered mourners place some soil into the grave. It is not necessary to have an elaborate gravestone. A simple marker is erected for identification purposes.
The Expected Code Of Conduct
Since it is a solemn occasion, those attending are expected to dress simply and modestly. Since it takes place inside the mosque, people are expected to take off their shoes while entering. For a widow, the expected mourning period lasts between four months and ten days. During this time, they are also expected to be dressed in black and remain at home. They are not allowed to have any spoken interaction with another man.