Muslim Death, Funeral, and Burial Customs and Traditions
Muslims believe in an afterlife and that once an individual’s soul is freed from the physical body, they await a reckoning where they can account for their actions in this life. As part of this belief, Muslim funerals and burials are usually held as soon as possible after death in order to free the soul from the body. In most cases, family and friends will accompany the funeral procession to the grave; condolences and assistance are usually offered at that time. Excessive or demonstrative mourning is forbidden, and condolences are brief. Guests generally leave after speaking briefly to the family.
Things to know:
- Flowers are not appropriate at a Muslim funeral or as gifts to the mourning family
- Men and women sit separately at the Muslim funeral service, and women should cover their heads and arms
- Following the funeral service, mourners will walk in silence to the burial plot
- Bodies are usually buried in a shroud, without a casket, with the head pointing toward Mecca (the Muslim direction of prayer)
- After the funeral, families will have another three days of mourning, and some will have gatherings where food and drink is offered
- It is acceptable to bring simple food and meals to the family in mourning; do not bring flowers
- No recording devices of any kind — audio, video or photo — are permitted
- The period of grieving for most families is three days; for a new widow, the period of grief is four months and 10 days
- Some sects mourn officially for 40 days; during that time the family wears only black.
- The widow wears black for a year, although the anniversary of the death is not otherwise observed