The publication of a Handbook of Muslim Burials may need some explanation. A review of the available literature on Islam in English shows a marked paucity of useful information on this important and sensitive subject. Moreover, the little information that is available is either inadequate or incomplete in its scope as well as in its presentation. Evidently, the sensitive nature of the subject and its common perception as a rather unpleasant topic has discouraged prospective writers.
This short handbook is an attempt to provide the necessary information on the preparation and burial of a deceased Muslim in a concise, easy-to-understand, yet discreet, manner. It is based on authentic and reliable sources and, therefore, should go a long way towards providing the peace of mind one needs at an especially stressful time in life.
The writer has personally encountered situations where the bereaved family was not familiar with the proper rites of the preparation and burial of a loved one, and no knowledgeable help was readily available to alleviate their worrisome situation. Even when some help was available, the family was often in the awkward position of having to decide between different opinions on matters of preparation and burial born out of the cultural environments of those offering advice.
The material in this handbook follows the dictates and the recommendations of the Shariah strictly and consequently should be very helpful in minimizing confusion and in making a rather difficult job relatively easy.
The arrangement of the material in this handbook is concise, straightforward and logical. In order to maintain continuity and improve readability its contents are divided into sections. Each section is a logical extension of the preceding section, and taken together, these sections form a whole and cover all necessary information adequately.
A glossary of the technical terms used in the text is included at the end of the handbook. These terms are used freely in the text without further explanation or elaboration. Therefore, an adequate understanding of all of these terms is essential for a fuller comprehension of the contents of this handbook.
An attempt has been made to complete the coverage of the subject by the inclusion of information on the decorum to be observed at the funeral, common mistakes made during the burial process, and other similar topics.
Relevant verses from The Holy Quran as well as Ahadith of the Holy Prophet (pbuh) have been included where considered necessary to explain, elucidate, and authenticate the text. Two sketches are provided to illustrate and clarify the text tastefully.
The sources used in the preparation of this handbook are identified in the bibliography. The author is greatly indebted to the authors of these and other books which he has freely consulted in the preparation of this work. Comments and suggestions from the readers for improvement of future revisions of the handbook would be greatly appreciated.
The writer wishes to thank Imam Moujahed M. Bakhach of the Islamic Association Of Tarrant County, Fort Worth, Texas for the technical review of the handbook and his many suggestions for its improvement. The help rendered by Syed Moazzam Farooq in the preparation of the final text is also appreciated. The writer is especially indebted to his son, Salman Sarwar Razi, for his constructive criticism and numerous suggestions to clarify and improve the overall quality of the book. Last, but not least, the writer gratefully acknowledges the unquestioning support and encouragement offered by his wife, Qaisar Razi, during the preparation of this handbook.
SARWAR ALAM RAZ
Fort Worth, TX, U.S.A.
March 1, 2001