Death rites

When a person is dying, if he or she is able to, they should say the Shahadah.

As soon as possible after death, the body is washed three times by relatives of the same gender as the deceased, and it is then wrapped in a white cloth. The body is then taken to an outdoor location, sometimes near the mosque, where Muslims will stand and offer prayers for the forgiveness of the deceased and that they may find peace and happiness in the world to come.

The body is buried as soon as possible after death. It is laid on its side with three mounds of soil under the head, the chin and the shoulder. The head faces towards Makkah. The following words from the Qur'an are said:

To Allah we belong, to Allah we return.Qur'an 2:156

There is usually a three-day mourning period.

For a Muslim, death is the end of life on Earth but not the end of a person's existence. When a person dies, Muslims believe they enter an intermediate phase in the grave, waiting for Yawm al-Din or the Day of Judgement, when Allah will raise the body. This is why Muslims generally do not practise cremation.

On the Day of Judgement, Muslims believe that:

  • all people will be judged by Allah
  • everyone will be raised from the grave and will have their faith in Allah and their earthly good and bad deeds weighed up
  • those who can cross the bridge over Hell (known as Sirat), carrying their book of life, will enter Paradise and gain eternal happiness
  • those who cannot cross the bridge will fall into Hell forever
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