Rites and rituals - continued

Funeral and mourning rites

Upon hearing of a death, Muslims say the following words:

To Allah we belong, and to Him is our return. Surah 2:156

The funeral rites for different Muslim communities may differ as they are not found in the Qur’an, and much depends on the rules and provisions of the country in which they are living.

When someone is dying, the family gathers around them to pray. When they die, the body is washed at least three times with the head in the direction of the qiblah – this will be carried out by the person’s family members or someone of the same gender.

The funeral is carried out as soon as possible so that the body is buried before it starts to decay (decaying of the body can be extremely quick, especially in hot countries). Traditionally, only men attend the funeral as women may become too emotional over the death of their loved one.

Yawm al-din

Due to the belief that Allah will raise their bodies from their graves on the Day of Judgement - Yawm al-din - cremation (the burning of the body) is forbidden. Instead, the body is laid in a grave facing Mecca and the grave is filled with handfuls of earth.

The mourning period differs from one Muslim tradition to another. Some mourn for no more than three days, whilst exceptions are made for widows who may mourn for four months and ten days. They are not allowed to remarry during this time. Muslims will make sure that a widow is not left alone during the mourning period.

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