Muslim/Islamic Funeral

Muslims believe that the loss of an individual is a loss to the entire Muslim community. In fact, Muslims are often encouraged to attend any Muslim's funeral even if they did not know the honoree.

There are several important traditions you should be aware of in the Islamic tradition: Bodies are prepared for burial by an imam, relative or close friend, who ritually washes the body and enshrouds it in white cotton; the funeral should take place within 24 hours after death. While most Muslim countries allow the body to be prepared at home or in a mosque, in the U.S., preparation is most often done at a hospital or funeral home. Muslims are never cremated.

The funeral itself takes place after the noonday prayer, and can be held in a mosque, home or funeral home. The service is led by an imam, relative or a friend. Women and men sit separately, on the floor, having left their shoes at the door. Women must wear a veil or scarf, and loose clothing. In some cultures and mosques, only men attend the service.

Muslims prefer a plain pine casket. Mourners take turns carrying the casket to the gravesite. The coffin is lowered with the face of the honoree turned toward Mecca, the holy center of Islam. While family members recite a verse from the Qur'an (Koran), they shovel dirt onto the grave.

Non-Muslim friends are welcome to attend the funeral. Dress conservatively and remain quiet and still when prayers are being recited. Flowers are not a part of Muslim tradition; it is best to check with the family to see if donations to an organization would be a good way to honor them.

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