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A Handbook of Muslim Burials

BURIAL

General

The funeral procession should be solemn and dignified. It is forbidden to accompany the body with music, loud recitations of The Quran or blatant demonstrations of grief. The deceased is transported to the cemetery in the hearse provided by the funeral home. It is recommended that all Muslims in the community make an effort to accompany the body to the cemetery in their own transportation.

Many Muslim communities in the West have established their own cemeteries, while others have contracted with the relevant local authorities to reserve portions of existing cemeteries for Muslim burials.

Procedure For Burial

The following is a typical procedure for a burial without a casket. Where a casket is used either because of local laws or other reasons, the concrete box (or the grave-liner) mentioned below is omitted and soil is poured directly on top of the casket:

(1) The shrouded body is picked from the casket and is then gently lowered in the grave by two or more people. It is preferable that close relatives or friends perform this last service for the deceased.
(2) The body is received by two or more persons standing strategically inside the grave and is placed on the ground by them. The face of the deceased is then turned gently towards the Qiblah. This can often be facilitated by turning the whole body slightly on its side and strategically placing lumps of clay or earth at its back.
(3) A rectangular, concrete, lid-less box (i.e., a grave-liner) provided by the cemetery is then placed inverted over the body so as to enclose it completely. This prevents the soil from being thrown directly on top of the body.
(4) Everyone present may then deposit three handfuls of soil in the grave in accordance with the Sunnah of the Holy Prophet (pbuh) as well as in recognition of their own mortality and of the fact that they too will eventually need similar services from the community:
Abu Hurayrah (ra) reported:
" Allah's Messenger (pbuh) once prayed over a Janazah, and then (after burial) he went toward the dead person and threw three handfuls (of soil) on the side of his head." (See Note #2 below). (Ibn Majah)
It may be mentioned that there is no authentic Hadith of the Holy Prophet (pbuh) requiring the recital of a specific Quranic verse with each handful of soil.
(5) Soil is now poured into the grave to fill it completely. No flowers, wreaths, or similar offerings are placed on the grave.
It is acceptable for the top of the grave to be raised slightly above the ground. A headstone or a suitable simple marker may also be placed on the grave for purposes of identification.

Notes

(i) The body of a female should be handled only by those who are her Mahram so that her privacy is respected at all times. If no Mahram is present at the funeral, this service can be performed by close relatives or others with due regard to the deceased person's privacy and the sensitivity of the occasion.
(ii) The person mentioned in this Hadith was buried in a Lahd type grave so that the handfuls of soil could be thrown towards the head of the body. A Shaqq type grave is in common use in the West so that the handfuls of soil can be thrown directly on the casket or the concrete grave-liner.


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