Islam Funeral Service Rituals: Summary & Reference Guide

Islamic funeral customs

Quick Reference
Length of Service
30 – 60 minutes
Flowers?
During mourning period after services
Food?
Yes
Dress Code? (Men/Women)
Men: No head cover / Women: Cover arms and legs
Recording Devices?
No
Source of Readings?
Koran or Qur’an
Open Casket?
No
Return to Work? (Days)
3
No. of Days to Mourn?
40

The word “Islam” means the “achievement of peace with Allah [god] and man, and complete resignation to Allah in thoughts, words, beliefs, and deeds.”

Moslems, the followers of the Islamic religion, live by the Koran.

The Koran teaches:

  • There is one God, Allah.
  • There is a day of judgment and a life after death.
  • To pray five times a day.
  • To fight for the sake of Allah.
  • To perform duties of generosity.

Muslims view death as a transition from one state of being to another, not as an end. They believe that actions follow you to the after life. So, if you follow the law of the Koran and live a good life you will be rewarded in the after life. In death, you will be separated from the ugliness in the world. But if you live a dishonest and bad life, you will be separated from all the beauty of the world.

To learn more: Islamic Prayer

Islamic customs require that:

    • The body be turned to face towards Mecca, the holy center of Islam.
    • Guests of the same sex should greet each other with a handshake and hug.
    • A person sitting next to the body reads from the Koran. An Imam presides over the service.
    • The deceased’s eyes and mouth are closed. There is rarely an open casket.
    • Guests should not take photos or use recording devices.
    • The arms, legs, and hands of the body are stretched out in alignment with the body.
    • The death is immediately announced to all friends and relatives.
    • The body is bathed and covered in white cotton.
    • Within two days following death, the body is carried to the graveyard by four men. A procession of friends and relatives follow.
    • No discussion takes place at the time of burial, but all guests pray for the soul of the departed.
    • After the body is buried, all guests go to the house of the family of the deceased. A meal is prepared and guests usually stay for the entire day. Family members may stay for the whole week.
    • During this time, the family members socialize. It is believed that socializing helps to ease suffering.
    • If arriving late, guests should simply join in.

    The mourning period officially last for 40 days. During that time, family members wear only black clothing. For one full year, the wife of the deceased continues to wear black, but the anniversary of the death is not observed.

    In the Islamic culture death is accepted and viewed as a natural part of life. The belief that the deceased has moved on to a pleasant afterlife is an important belief and helps the bereaved cope with their suffering.

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