Islamic funeral

Funerals in Islam follow fairly specific rites, though they are subject to some interpretation and local variation in custom. In all cases, however, Islamic law calls for burial of the corpse, preceded by a simple ritual involving bathing and shrouding the body, followed by prayer. Cremation of the body is generally forbidden.

Burial rituals

Burial rituals should normally take place as soon as possible and include:

  • Bathing the dead body, except in extraordinary circumstances as in battle of Uhud.
  • Enshrouding dead body in coffin cloth.
  • Funeral prayer.
  • Burial of the dead body in a grave.
  • Positioning the deceased so that the head is faced towards Makkah.

Bathing of the dead body

The corpse is washed (bathed), the main factor in this step is to physically cleanse the corpse. The method, the style and the accessories used for bathing the corpse may vary from time to time and from place to place. Bathing a corpse, in whatever method, is a part of the Sunnah of the Islamic prophet Muhammad, and therefore a part of the Islamic Shari`ah. The body is washed while a cloth is put on top of it. The water is then poured over the body with the cloth on the body. The genitals should be covered at all times.

Enshrouding the dead body

The corpse is wrapped in a simple plain cloth. The cloth is called 'kafan' and the process 'takfeen'. The main factor in this step is to respectfully wrap the corpse in a cloth so that its private parts are not visible to others. The style of this wrapping and the material and the color of the cloth used for this wrapping may vary from place to place and from time to time. However, the important aspect in the style of wrapping and the material used is that it should be a simple rather than a gaudy style and the cloth used for this purpose should also not be very flashy. It is for this reason that Muslims have generally preferred to use white cotton cloth to serve as 'kafan'. It is allowed to put some perfume on the cloth.

Funeral prayer

The Muslims of the community gather to offer their collective prayers for the forgiveness of the dead. This prayer has been generally termed as the Janazah prayer.

The prayer is offered in a particular way. Like Eid prayer, this prayer is also prayed with extra (four) Takbirs, but there is no Ruku' (bowing) and Sujud (prostrating). Supplication for the deceased and mankind is recited. In extraordinary circumstances, the prayer can be postponed and prayed at a later time as done in the Battle of Uhud. It becomes obligatory for every Muslim adult male to perform the funeral prayer upon the death of any Muslim, however when it is performed by the few it alleviates that obligation for all.


The deceased is then taken for burial (al-Dafin). The style of the grave and that of the burial may vary from place to place due to different methodologies surrounding funeral proceedings. The Islamic directive is restricted to a respectful burial in the ground.

The grave itself should be aligned perpendicular to the Qiblah (i.e. towards Mecca). The wrapped body is placed directly into the ground, without a casket. Graves should be raised, up to a maximum of twelve inches above the ground. Graves markers are simple, because outwardly lavish displays are discouraged in Islam. Many times graves may even be unmarked, or marked only with a simple wreath. However, it is becoming more common for family members to erect grave monuments.

Only men are allowed to attend the actual graveside service. The body is laid such that the head is facing the Qiblah. Those present at the grave each take their turn in pouring three handfuls of soil into the grave while reciting "We created you from it, and return you into it, and from it we will raise you a second time", . More prayers are then said, asking for forgiveness of the deceased, and reminding the dead of his or her profession of faith.

After the burial, the Muslims who have gathered to paying their respects to the dead collectively pray for the forgiveness of the dead. This collective prayer is the last formal collective prayer for the dead.


Loved ones and relatives are to observe a 3-day mourning period. Mourning is observed in Islam by increased devotion, receiving visitors and condolences, and avoiding decorative clothing and jewelry. Widows observe an extended mourning period (Iddah), 4 months and 10 days long, in accordance with the . During that time, the widow is not to remarry, move from her home, or wear decorative clothing or jewelry.

Grief at the death of a beloved person is normal, and weeping for the dead is allowed in Islam. It is however prohibited to express grief by wailing (Bewailing refers to mourning in a loud voice), shrieking, beating the chest and cheeks, tearing hair or clothes, breaking objects, scratching faces or speaking phrases that make a Muslim lose faith.

Directives for widows

Qur'an prohibits widows to engage themselves for four lunar months and ten days, after the death of their husbands. According to Qur'an:

Islamic scholars consider this directive a balance between mourning of husband's death and protection of widow from censure that she became interested in re-marrying soon after her husband’s death. This is also to ascertain whether a lady is pregnant or not.

Husbands should make will in favor of their wives for the provision of one year’s residence and maintenance, except if the wives themselves leave the house or take any other similar step. As stated in Qur'an:



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