Funeral Rites Across Different Cultures: Islam

Islam is a major world religion centered around the Quran, the sacred scripture of Islam, and the teachings of Muhammad.  Islam is predicated on the belief in one god, Allah.  Followers of Islam, or Muslims, believe there is one God, Allah (the Arabic word for God).  Islam began with the Prophet Muhammad, who is a religious leader and role model in all areas of life for many Muslims.

Belief in an afterlife encourages Muslims to take responsibility for caring for others.  Part of honoring the deceased is burying the body as quickly as possible.  As such, it is not typical for Muslims to hold viewings, wakes, or memorials.  For a Muslim burial, the body is turned to face towards Mecca, the holy city of Islam.

Mourners may express grief, but only within certain limits of decorum.  Outward signs of extreme emotion, such as loud wailing, thrashing, and profane speech are not permitted.  Mourners stay home, and avoid wearing jewelry and elaborate clothing.  Funerary and mourning rituals include prayer, reading from the Quran, and reflecting on the brevity of life.

After the burial, mourners gather at the home of the family, where a meal is typically served, to express condolences.  Socializing helps the family cope with loss.  It is common practice to send flowers to the family’s home after the burial of the deceased.  In Islamic tradition, there is a 40-day mourning period, during which time flowers and foods from the community are appreciated.

Woodlawn continues to be a non-sectarian cemetery without a specific religious affiliation.