Islamic Funerals - The Role of the Family, Community and Funeral Director

by Mark Thomas Walters - Date: 2009-12-16 - Word Count: 493 Share This!

It is a fundamental Islamic teaching that death, rather than being the end of someone's life, is the start of the third stage of it. At the point of death, a person's soul is said to rise up within them. An angel called Malikul Mawt (Angel of Death) then arrives to remove the soul.

As the soul continues to live after death, it is important for Muslims to cleanse it prior to their death. For this reason, it is common to find friends and family members of a dying person around their death bed praying for Allah's forgiveness and mercy in relation to any transgressions that the dying person may have committed.

Visits and prays prior to death are just the beginning of a process that is implemented for every Muslim in the final stages of their life. There are a range of preparations and customs that must be adhered to in accordance with Islamic law, that involve not only the family and friends of the dying person, but also the wider Muslim community.

Once a person has actually died, those present at that time will act as follows - they will close the deceased eyes, bind their lower jaw, and cover the body from head to toe in a clean sheet. Other family members will then be contacted so that they can come to show their respect for the deceased. When family members start to arrive to view the body, it will be washed by them several times. Once the body has been washed by visiting family members, it will then be shrouded with white material.

The next stage of the proceedings is the local community paying their respects to the deceased through public funeral prayers (Salat-ul-Janazah). These typically take place outside of a Mosque, with the coffin being placed on a stand in front of the lined up funeral goers, who may or may not have know the person in question. The purpose of these prayers, which are normally led by the most closely related male to the deceased, is to request pardons for all deceased Muslims.

The burial follows the completion of the funeral prayers, and is required by Islamic law to take place within three days of the actual time of death. Only men are permitted to attend the burial, and chosen members of the attending group must carry the body to the graveyard at shoulder level. A coffin may or may not be used, and if one is used then it must be made of wood rather than steel, as the aim is to allow the earth to reclaim the body in as short a time as possible.

It is then customary for people to visit the deceased's family for several days after the funeral, bringing gifts of food. Prayers are continued to be said throughout this period, with the focus of them being on thanking Allah for the passing of the soul of the deceased safely on to the third stage of its life.

With origins dating back to 1853, E.F. Box are one of the oldest funeral directors within the UK. They offer a range of funeral services across a variety of faiths, beliefs and ways of celebrating life.n
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