Muslim burials occur very quickly - usually within three days of death.
Upon hearing that someone has passed away we recite 'Ina illahi wa ina ilahi rajioon' - 'To God we belong and To Him we shall return'.
It is a reminder of our own impending death, which no-one is immune from, so we should plan our life and make provisions accordingly.
So what typically happens?
- Ghusl (washing of the body - once released by coroners/hospital etc.)
- Kafn (shrouding of the body in two simple white sheets and some itr/perfume)
- Continuous recitation of the declaration of faith (La-ilaha illalahu Muhammad-dar rasool-lallah - There is no god but God and Prophet Mohammad (peace be upon him) is His Messenger.
- Supplications on behalf of the deceased for God to forgive his or her sins.
- Visitation to the deceased's household for condolences
- Bringing or arranging food for the deceased's household (to make the mourning period easier)
- Reading of the Holy Qur'an
- Janaza (funeral prayer - just before burial)
- Burial (as soon as possible typically within 3 days)
Islamic belief is that nothing now benefits the deceased except for three things:
- Pious children who continue to perform good deeds and pray for their parent
- Sadaqa Jariya (continuous charity which benefits in perpetuity e.g. building a well or a school)
- Good knowledge which the deceased used to say (which should be shared and furthered by all)
Now the deceased is in his/her second life in the barzak (grave) awaiting the resurrection for the Day of Judgement when good and bad deeds will be judged by God All-Mighty and balanced on the Scales of Justice.
What is appropriate to do or give to a Muslim family after hearing of a death?
- Card of sympathy and well-wishes
- Donation towards a continuous charity (e.g. building a well) in the name of the deceased
- Flowers that can be laid at the grave
- Attendance at the burial
- Visits to the household (a few days after the burial)
The reason for the three days quick burial is so that life can move on for the community since death is a part of life. The deceased's wife or husband usually continues mourning for a longer period of time.