Islamic funerals

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Muslims believe in resurrection: death is the transition to eternal life. Within Islam, there are different philosophical schools, of which the Sunni and the Shiites are the largest.

Herdenkingspark Westgaarde in Amsterdam has a burial field for each of these schools. Muslims are never cremated, always buried, and preferably as soon as possible after death.

‘Muslims are never cremated, always buried as soon as possible’

Visiting the dying

The care for the dying and deceased is not done by the immediate family but by the Muslim community. The dying are positioned on their right side, facing the Kaaba in Mecca and are offered water. He or she could namely have such a thirst as to be greatly tempted to listen to Satan. One of the precepts of Islam is to visit a dying person. That means there is often a great deal of activity around a deathbed. The visit focuses on reassuring the dying person and helping him or her to remember: ‘This suffering is a test from Allah. This is the will of Allah.’ All believers can provide spiritual and religious support. Even so, the choice is usually made to bring in someone who has some expertise (an imam for example).

‘The debts of the dying person must be paid off’

Ritual washing

After death has been established, ritual washing follows. That is a task for the family and fellow believers. The ritual washing is done by people of the same gender. After the washing, those present pray together for forgiveness for the deceased and other deceased Muslims. This prayer is recited standing, while facing Mecca.

The prayer for the dead

After the washing, it is time for the Djanazah prayer, whose full name is Salat-ul-Djanazah. This means: prayer for the deceased. It is customary for many people to participate. The prayer is exclusively recited for and by Muslims, and all participants must be in the state of cleanliness, (wudu). The prayer for the dead only lasts a few minutes and is usually led by an imam or a son of the deceased.

‘The imam recites the prayer for the dead, the Salat-ul-Djanazah”

The Muslim funeral in the Netherlands

The deceased is preferably buried without a coffin, laying on the right side, facing the Kaaba in Mecca. If there is a coffin, it must be one in which the deceased can lay on the right side. In order to make it possible for the dead to be resurrected on the day of resurrection, a space must remain open above the body. A special structure is often placed in the grave to ensure this. The shroud is loosened at the head and feet. It is not unusual for Muslim women to attend the funeral.

‘According to Islam, only one person may be buried in one grave. The peace of the grave is important for Muslims’

Period of mourning

After the funeral, everyone goes to the home of the deceased to eat and drink together. Men and women sit separately. Crying is acceptable, but the emotions must remain under control. Muslims assume that the spirit or the soul of the deceased is still among then, so it is their duty to be careful with him or her. After the mourning period of three days, there is a first memorial gathering. Often, a mourning period of around 40 days is observed. During this period, loved ones gather regularly to read from the Quran. Around the 40th day, the period of mourning is concluded with a memorial gathering in the home of the deceased or the next of kin. Quran readers read aloud and prayers are recited for the soul of the deceased to rest in peace. One year after the death, there is another memorial gathering.

‘During the 40-day period of mourning, loved ones regularly gather’

To the grave

For Muslims, it is very important to visit the grave of the deceased regularly. Often, they do that after Friday prayers and on holidays. For Muslims, graves are not places to pray for the dead. It is customary to read from the Quran at random graves and to pray for the souls of all deceased to rest in peace.

Would you like to know more about an Islamic funeral or about our Islamic burial field at Herdenkingspark Westgaarde? Then contact us via the form below.