Muslim Funeral Traditions

Overview

Published: 12/11/2009

by Funeral Home Resource Team

Photos

Muslims do not believe in cremation or embalming. Muslims are always buried, never cremated. It is a religious requirement that the body be ritually washed and draped before burial, which should be as soon as possible after death. Muslim women never attend burials and it is rare for funeral directors to be involved. Various Muslim sects are united in the belief of the sacredness of the human body and are against postmortem examinations.

Muslim Burial Customs

• After death, the Deceased is covered with a clean sheet, the eyes are closed and sometimes the Deceased is turned toward Mecca.
• Like Jewish traditions, Muslims are to be buried as soon as possible and not embalmed or cremated to avoid disturbing the Deceased.
• Autopsies are not strictly forbidden, but discouraged and acceptable when necessary.
• Organ donation can vary between Muslim cultures. Some allow organ donation and others do not.
• The casket is either plain wood, or where allowed, there is no casket at all.

The Muslim Culture

In accordance to Muslim Funeral Traditions, the preparation of their loved ones is done by family or a funeral home that is familiar with Islamic customs. The family member is prepared for burial and wrapped in a white shroud. It is preferred for a Muslim to be buried where he or she died, and not be transported to another location or country (which may cause delays or require embalming the body). If available, a cemetery (or section of one) set aside for Muslims is preferred. The deceased is laid in the grave (without a coffin if permitted by local law) on his or her right side, facing Mecca. Grave markers, tombstones and flowers are not allowed. Rather, one should humbly remember Allah and His mercy, and pray for the deceased. It is a very silent ceremony. Do not send flowers.

Muslim Funeral Attire

Funeral dress depends on faith and tradition. Muslim funeral customs, for example, take place in a Mosque where shoes must be removed, and women and men sit separately in designated seats. Women are usually obligated to wear a headscarf. When attending a Muslim funeral, women should take a scarf. Whenever attending funeral rites of someone from a different faith, it is prudent to make enquiries and ensure appropriate dress. Improper funeral attire is a distraction from funeral rites.


The traditional Muslim mourning period is three days during which visitors are received and mourners avoid decorative jewelry or clothing. Widows typically mourn for four months and ten days, during which they are not allowed to move residences, re-marry or wear decorative jewelry or clothing.