What Are the Major Ceremonies in Islam?

There are four fundamentally important Islamic ceremonies that mark major milestones in a person's life. They are circumcision for males, the confession of faith, marriage and the funerary or internment ceremony.

Circumcision, or the removal of a male's foreskin during infancy, is the first rite, and likely stretches back not only to the believed circumcision of the prophet Muhammad, but to the common link to Abraham and his covenant that Islam shares theologically with Judaism. It is also often considered a matter of cleanliness and hygiene.

In order to accept Islam formally, the person must perform the Shahada, or Muslim profession of faith, which states that there is no god but Allah and that Muhammad is His messenger. In accepting Islam, the believer then commits to performing prayers five times daily and abstaining from activities like drinking alcohol, gambling and usurious practices.

The marriage ceremony in Islam, called the Nikah, is simple, with the bride and bridegroom giving themselves to one another in the company of witnesses. If the traditional statements cannot be stated in Arabic, then the bride and groom choose someone versed in the Nikah procedure to represent them and utter the words.

Islamic funerals require the body to be dressed in a simple white shroud, along with pilgrimage garments if the person had made the pilgrimage to Mecca. The body is then laid in the grave on its right side, with the face pointed toward Mecca and a stone placed beneath the head to support the cheek. The last person to leave the grave whispers the Shahada in the ear of the deceased.