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What Happens at an Islam Funeral?

If you’re attending a Muslim funeral for the first time, you may be unsure about its customs. Learning what happens at an Islam funeral helps you pay your respects and offer your support to the family of the deceased properly. This brief guide covers the Muslim funeral.

Muslim Funeral Customs

Muslim funerals are composed of a prayer and burial, which take 30 to 60 minutes on average. The prayer happens at a mosque, which aims to ask for pardon for the deceased. Then, the body is moved to the burial site, where a speech may take place.

Muslim funerals are similar throughout Muslim communities, but religious sectors, circumstances, and family wishes can create slight variations.

The Funeral Prayer

Known as Salat al-Janazah, this is a special prayer that Muslims perform for the deceased. Mourners congregate at a mosque and follow the Imam, who leads the prayer.

Like other prayers, they face towards the Islamic holy city of Mecca. The casket is placed before them and they ask for mercy and forgiveness on behalf of the deceased and other dead Muslims during the prayer. Of course, recitations from the Quran are included.

As for the dress code, funerals don’t have a specific one, but mosques do. Attendees should dress modestly, meaning no revealing or see-through clothes.

For men, that can be a shirt and trousers. As for women, they should wear ankle-length skirts and high-neck tops with long sleeves. Hijabs (headscarves) are only required for women if they partake in the prayer. Note that you must take off your shoes before entering the mosque, so wear presentable socks or stockings.

If you’re a non-Muslim, we recommend you be mindful of the dress code. As for the funeral prayer, you don’t have to join in or learn it, but you’re welcome to.

The Burial

After the prayer, the body is transferred to the burial site. Typically, only men attend the burial; however, some Muslim communities allow women to join. The grave is positioned so that it’s perpendicular to Mecca, and the deceased is placed on their right side. This way, they can face Mecca in their resting place.

If a Sheikh (Islamic scholar) is in attendance, he might recite a supplication and give a speech about death and the many lessons it can teach us. So, you should listen and reflect. Then, mourners take turns throwing three handfuls of soil into the grave.

Final Words

Overall, understanding how Muslim funerals unfold is crucial if you’re attending one. They start with the funeral prayer or Salat al-Janazah, which is performed to request pardon for the deceased. Then, the burial takes place, where only men typically attend.