Funerals in Islam
Main points for the preparation of a Muslim's body for burial;
- The prayer to God for the deceased Muslim is a common collective duty (Fard Kifayah). This means that some Muslims should offer this prayer, and when it is offered by some of the Muslims present at the time it is sufficient, and the other Muslims become exempt from responsibility.
- When a Muslim dies, the whole body, beginning with the expose parts of ablution must be washed a few times with soap or some other detergent or disinfectant, and cleansed of all visible impurities; this is called "Ghusul". A man's body should be washed by men and a woman's body by women, but a child's body can be washed by either sex. A husband may wash his wife's body and vice versa if the need arises. When the body is thoroughly clean, it is warped in one or more white cotton sheets (Kafan or Kefen) covering all the parts of the body.
- The dead body is then placed in a coffin and carried to the place of prayer, a mosque (outside in the courtyard) or any other clean premises. The body is put in a position with the face toward the direction of Kaba in Mecca (Qibla or Kible).
- All participants in the prayer must perform an ablution unless they are keeping an earlier one. The imam stands beside the body facing the Qiblah at Mecca with the followers behind him in lines.
- The imam raises his hands to the ears declaring the intention in a low voice to pray to God for the particular deceased one, and saying "Allahu Akbar" (Allah is greatest). The worshippers follow the imam's lead and after him place their right hands over the left ones under the navel as in other prayers.
- Then the imam recites in a low voice what is usually recited in other prayers, i.e. the 'Thana' and the Fatiha verses of the Koran only.
- At this stage he says "Allahu Akbar" without raising his hands and recites the second part of the Tashahud verse (from ''Allahumma salli'ala sayyidina Muhammad'' to the end).
- Then he makes the third takbeer (tekbir) saying "Allahu Akbar" without
raising the hands and offer his supplication (Du'a' in Arabic) in any suitable
words he knows: "Allahumma-ghfir li hayyina wa mayyitina, wa shahidina
wa gha`ibina wa sagheerina wa kabeerina wa dhakarina wa unthana. Allahumma
man ahyaytahu minna fa aahyihi 'ala-i-Islam. Wa man tawaffaythu minna fa
tawafahu 'ala-i-Islam. Allahumma la tahrimna ajrah, wa la taftinna ba'
Translation: "O Allah! grant forgiveness to our living and to our dead, and to those who are present and to those who are absent, and to our young and our old folk, and to our males and females. O Allah! whomsoever you grant to live, from among us, help him to live in Islam, and whom of us you cause to die, help him to die in faith. O Allah! do not deprive us of the reward for patience on his loss, and do not make us subject to trail after him".
- Then the four takbeer (tekbir) saying "Allahu Akbar" without raising the hands is made followed by the concluding peace greetings right and left as in other prayers. It should be remembered that the worshippers behind in lines follow the lead of imam step by step and recite privately the same utterances in a low voice.
- After completing the prayer, the coffin will
be taken to the cemetary; mourners should walk in front or beside the bier,
those who are riding or driving should follow it. During this process silence
is recommended. The grave should be deep. The body is lowered for burial
with the face resting in the direction of Mecca
(Qibla). When lowering the body down,
these words are said: "Bismi-I-lahe wa be-I-lahe wa 'ala millati rasuli-I-lahe
salla-I-lahu 'alayhi wa sallam."
Translation: "In the name of Allah and with Allah, and according to the sunnah of the messenger of Allah upon whom be the blessings and peace of Allah."
Beside these, any other fit prayers may be offered. If the deceased is a child under the age of puberty, the prayer is the same except that after the third takbeer (tekbir) and instead of that long supplication the worshippers recite these words: "Allahumma-j'alhu lana faratan wa j'alhu lana dhukra, wa j'alhu shafi'an wa mushaffa'a".
Translation: "O Allah! make him (or her) our fore-runner, and make him for us a reward and treasure, and make him for us a pleader, and accept his pleading".
It is not recommended to use a casket unless there is a need for it .,e.g the soil is wet or loose. A stone or bricks or soil should be placed under the deceased's head to raise it up. After placing the body in the grave, fill the pit with soil, and raise the level of the grave a little less than one foot in a sloping way.
The grave should be built and marked in a simple way. The dead body should be covered with white cotton sheets of standard material. Any extravagance in building the grave or dressing up the body in fine suits or the like is non Islamic. It is false vanity and a waste of assets that can be used in many useful ways. It is strongly against the teachings of the Islamic religion and the prophet Muhammed (peace be upon him).