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Islamic Funeral

There are about six million Muslims in the United States. Immigrants represent 60% of Muslim and 40% are African American and Hispanic converts to Islam as adults, their parents, relatives and friends are usually non-Muslim, and may have strong emotions concerning a loved one who has left the religion of their birth. As service providers we must be more sensitive to the emotional issues that can arise when a Muslim requests to be buried Islamically and their non-Muslim family, friends and relatives object to burial requirements which may differ greatly from their own.

Each religion has specific burial procedures and Islam is no exception. This brochure will attempt to have answer basic questions that a concerned parent, spouse, relative or bereavement counselor may have. Each Masjid (Mosque) has a committee which will be able to make sure the Muslim family has an Islamic janazza(Funeral).


At the time of near death when the soul starts to separate from the body, those around a dying Muslim should persuade him/her to mention the Shahada (There is no God but Allah). This is based on the following hadith "Teach your departing people to say: There is no God but One".


As soon as the soul leaves the body, people around the deceased should do the following:

  1. Close the deceased eyes
  2. Pray for his/her forgiveness
  3. Cover the whole body with a sheet or other cloth.
  4. Rush preparation of the body for burial
  5. Bury the deceased in the locality of his/her death
  6. Quickly settle all debts from his/her estate



Mourning the deceased for three days is permitted. Uncovering the face of the deceased or kissing him is not forbidden. however, it is prohibited to express extreme emotion such as beating cheeks, tearing clothes, stamping feet, pulling the hair or express grief by wailing. It is acceptable to announce the death to increase the number of those praying for the deceased.


It is obligatory for Muslims to wash the body. Males should wash males and females should wash females. If the Muslim client can not identify anyone to assist in this obligation, your local masjid probably will have a established committee who will perform this service.

  1. The body must be washed three times and make sure that the water reaches all parts of the body
  2. Use soap (make sure it contains no pork products)
  3. Use perfume with water, if possible
  4. Wash the woman's hair very well.
  5. Comb the man's hair. Plait the woman's hair into three braids
  6. Always start with the right side of the body and limbs.

There is a brief Islamic service and prayer reading at the masjid, and at the grave site. The Islamic funeral procedure and practices can stir up deep emotions for non-Muslim family members. Counselors must be sensitive to the issues raised by the family. Work also with the local masjid on counseling non-Muslim family members. Most masjids have a social service member or Imam available to answer additional or complicated questions.


Most Muslims are affiliated with and attend on a regular basis a local masjid. HIV+ Muslims should have on record with their primary CBO/hospital the following information:

  1. Masjid name, telephone number, exact street location and Imamís name and assistant Imam/Secretary.
  2. Person[s] to be notified within their family and/or masjid for burial/funeral arrangements.

If possible, must of these details can be prepared and when death occurs, the counselor and/or client can already have a contact person's name, telephone number on file. This can be especially important when the Muslim client is located in rural areas or where there are small Muslim populations.

This Project is funded by the Ford Foundation


[counter] accesses since september 17, 1998

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