Islamic Funeral Prayer & the Finality of Death
In preparing for the burial of the deceased, the family or other Muslim community members will clean and shroud the deceased’s body. The only time this is not performed is if the dead was a martyr. In that case, the deceased will be buried in the clothing in which he died.
The body is respectfully washed with clean, scented water, and then the body is wrapped in a kaftan, or clean, white burial shroud. This is done before the funeral prayer.
This sacred prayer is an essential part of the funeral tradition because if a person is buried without it, the entire Muslim community will incur a sin for neglecting this important obligation.
While the prayer may be said in the mosque, it is more customarily practiced outside the mosque. It is also acceptable to pray the Janazah prayer in a graveyard, but it is not permitted to utter other prayers there. The prayer can be said at some distance from the graves or in an area specifically dedicated to prayer. The prayer may also be said over the deceased’s grave if the person was buried before the prayer was performed.
The spoken words of the prayer incorporate a quiet reading of Al-Fatiha, then praying for Mohammed and reciting two supplications. The prayer is conducted when an Imam is present and facing toward the Qiblah.
Rewards for Prayer
Offering the funeral prayer comes with a reward for the person who says the prayer and the deceased. It is said that the person who says the prayer gains “one Qeerat of reward,” and the person who says the prayer and stays by the body until its burial will receive “two Qeerats of reward.”
Sometimes special circumstances surrounding the death of a Muslim make it impossible for another Muslim to pray the Janazah prayer over the body. In this particular case, performing the prayer elsewhere is sometimes considered acceptable.
Finality of Death
When someone dies, Muslims believe that everything is left behind. There are only three things that persist after death: charity given during a lifetime will continue to help others, people will continue to benefit from the knowledge, and a righteous child can still pray for the deceased.