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Muslim funerals explained

In the Muslim culture, people who have passed away have to be buried within 24 hours. This is just one of the beliefs that influence a Muslim funeral.

Muslim funerals are required to be low-key affairs, where the dead have to be buried either the same day or the day thereafter to show respect. No frills and flowers make part of these send-offs and the coffins are either plain or a simple shroud. Families pay for the funeral costs and in these instances the need for funeral insurance often falls away.

Things you might not have known about Muslim funerals

  • Muslim funerals are not dissimilar to Jewish funerals as the dead are buried prior to decomposition taking place.
  • Cremations are not permitted.
  • Only the men of the deceased accompany the body to the gravesite.
  • In preparation for burial, the family or other members of the community will wash and shroud the body.
  • If the deceased was killed as a martyr, this step is not performed – martyrs are buried in the clothes they died in.
  • The deceased will be washed reverentially with clean, perfumed water, in a way similar that Muslims cleanse themselves for prayer.
  • The body is wrapped in sheets of clean, white cloth called the kafan.
  • Burying in a coffin is disallowed in the Muslim tradition unless there is a necessity for health or legal reasons; for example if the body is badly damaged, or if the country of residence has burial laws which prohibits burial without a coffin.
  • South African legislation requires human remains to be transported in coffins so it is common practice to transport the deceased in a steel casket.
  • Once at the burial site, the deceased is lifted out of the casket and buried in a biodegradable calico shroud.
  • The steel casket is re-used by the community for all burials, which makes this a “green” way to bury.
  • The body is lowered into a recess in the trench and turned on its right to face the Mecca.
  • Muslim cemeteries are exceptional in that they are all about unpretentiousness, minimalism and low-costs.
  • Glorifying the dead with elaborate monuments is avoided and the erection of cupolas, catacombs, figurines or any enduring structure on a grave site is discouraged.
  • A humble name plate is used on Muslim graves for identification purposes.

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