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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
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.