Muslim Funeral Traditions

Muslim funeral culture…

It is difficult to endure a loss of a family member or a friend. Grief is the same in any faith. Thus far, all religions have a set of traditions and rituals to deal with death. So, Islam is no different.

In addition to funeral traditions, Muslims have rituals and instructions for those who are dying. It endorses saying positive things to the person close to death. So, it is to make sure the person feels protected and not left alone. It is important to gently reassure the dying person to accept Allah. So, it is important to say the Shahadah. It means to declare faith.

Clear rules

Islam has a clear set of rituals and rites. There are specific rules to prepare the body for burial and for the funeral itself. Muslim beliefs are similar to heaven and hell. Thus far, heaven is known as Jannah or paradise and Jahannam is hell. 

Thus far, many Muslims believe when they accept Islam and say their Shahadah, the dying person goes to Jannah. The belief is that this rule applies even if they accept Islam just before death. So, in Islam tradition, the rituals start immediately after death.

After death

Soon after the death, it is traditional to close the eyes of the deceased. Furthermore, bind the jaw and cover the body with a clean sheet. Thus far, it is customary to arrange a funeral before the next sunset or within 24 hours of death. In fact, it is crucial.

It is a Muslim belief that it is important to face the body towards Mecca. A copy of the Quran is put under the head of the deceased persons.

The washing of the body is performed by persons of the Muslim faith and of the same gender as the deceased. However, the exceptions are for children and spouses. Thus far, the traditional Islamic rites require following specific rules. So, the body is placed on a high platform and the washers will systematically use cloths to clean the body. The body is washed top to bottom and left to right. This procedure may be repeated three to seven times. While cleaning the body it is important to say, ‘in the name of Allah’.

Once the deceased is clean and dry, it’s time to shroud the body.

Shrouding body

The rules to shroud male and female Muslims are different. A male body is wrapped by three white sheets and four ropes. The hands are placed on the chest. Thus, the right hand is placed on the left hand, as if in prayers. Each sheet is wrapped right side first over the body. So, to finish off the shroud, tie two ropes above the head and below the feet. Hence, the other ropes may secure the sheets over the body.

It is a little more complex to wrap for women. A loose-fitting sleeveless dress, a head veil, and loincloth are put on to dress the body. All these go underneath the sheets and ropes similar to wrap the male body.


It is customary to pray before the burial. This ritual is known as Salatul Janazah. The people who are not close to the deceased or the family may participate. Thus far, the prayers must happen soon after shrouding the body. It may happen outside a mosque or in its prayer room. The preference for prayers is to take place at dusk or sunset.

They gather in a group to pray silently. The request is that Allah forgives the person and all other deceased Muslims.

Funeral service

The mourners who attend the funeral may stand in horizontal lines to face Mecca. Men will be in the front row, children in the second, and women in the third row. Thus far, the entire prayer takes place standing. Attendees, silently set pure intentions for the service. They will silently recite the Fatihah which is the first section of the Quran. It is a seven-verse prayer that asks for Allah’s forgiveness and guidance. So, after the silent Fatihah, there are four more prayers.

Hence, before each of the four prayers, mourners will say ‘Allahu Akbar’. It simply means God is good. These four prayers are known as the Tahahood. One prayer is to the prophet Muhammad and the other three are personal for the deceased. Thus far, if the funeral is for a child, the third personal prayer is often for the child’s parents. After the service, the body is taken to the cemetery for burial.

Body transfer

It is a Muslim tradition that several men may carry the body to the cemetery on foot. Mourners may follow behind. Thus far, nowadays, the body is transferred in a hearse with a cortege behind it. The vehicle transferring the body may not be a military vehicle.

Thus far, the funeral cortege must be in silence. It does not permit any loud crying, singing, or reading the Quran. Similarly, it does not allow any incense or candles.

Due to the immediate burial rule, it is customary to bury a Muslim where ever they die. This often means that when Muslims die in another country or regional situation, they are buried there. So, they are not to be brought back home for the funeral.

Muslim burial custom

It is a tradition to bury a Muslim body in a Muslim cemetery. Muslims dig graves in a special way. The grave is normally perpendicular to Mecca. Thus, it is important the grave is deep enough to contain the odour when the body decomposes. It avoids animals digging it up too. Thus far, it’s considered desecration to cremate a Muslim corpse

Thus, the person is placed on the right-side facing Mecca. It is ideal to remove the body from the coffin. While the person is placed in the grave, the Imam continues to recite prayers and the mourners follow.

Then each mourner may place a handful of soil into the grave

Mourning period

Mourning or Hidaad, for losing a loved one may last three days. There are rules for accepting mourning. Islam faith discourages loud crying and acting out during the mourning periods. Thus far, weeping is acceptable. It is a Muslim belief that that the deceased person’s soul may hear the cries and be disturbed.

There is a specific mourning period for a woman who may lose a husband. It is called the Iddah or Edda. Thus far it lasts four months and ten days. During this period women is not permitted to wear perfume or wear jewellery. They should not leave the house. However, it allows attending to employment and errands. She may visit family and friends during Iddah. However, she is required to sleep at home.



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