Attending a Muslim Funeral
Muslims strive to bury the deceased as soon as possible after death therefore it is not unusual for the funeral to take place that same day or the next. In Leicester, we are fortunate to have services that cater to the needs of the Muslim community and to the Muslim faith. Our hospitals provide urgent release of bodies and our Registrar of Births and Deaths provide an out of hours service for families to register the death and obtain a Burial Order. Leicester City Council also has a provision for facilitating out-of-hours burials.
The main steps involved in the burial of a Muslim is washing and shrouding the body of the deceased, performing the funeral prayer and finally burial. The first two steps are performed only by selected relatives and community members. The funeral prayer is a Muslim ritual that must be performed by Muslims, though observers are most welcome.
Can A Non-Muslim Attend A Muslim Funeral?
Yes, they can and are most welcome. Special provisions will be made for any non-Muslims attending the funeral, there are some matters however one should be aware of when attending.
The dress code for men and women should be modest. This means a shirt and trousers for men and an ankle-length skirt, which should not be tight or transparent, together with a long-sleeved and high-necked top for the women. A headscarf is also essential for women. Shoes are removed before going into the prayer hall. Clean and presentable socks, stockings, or tights are therefore a good idea.
The Funeral Prayer
Saffron Hill cemetery has a purpose-built Muslim Chapel which Muslims call a Janazgah. The funeral prayer is performed in the Janazgah where the congregation will form rows behind the deceased coffin to perform the funeral prayer. It should be noted here that the funeral prayer is performed for the deceased and not to the deceased.
Following completion of the funeral prayer, the congregation will form two lines and pass the coffin or carrier along from shoulder to shoulder taking it towards the gravesite. Visitors are welcome to follow the congregation as they move the coffin or carrier towards the grave however a short distance should be kept thereby allowing the congregation walking space to carry the coffin.
The Council's cemetery staff will have the grave prepared to receive the deceased. The alignment of the grave will be at right angles to the direction of Mecca. If the family has decided on a shroud burial the deceased will be taken from the carrier and lowered into the grave by the immediate family members. Once lowered, the deceased enshrouded body will be placed on their right side facing Mecca.
If the deceased is to be buried in a coffin the immediate family members may open the coffin at the graveside for the deceased to be placed on their right side. The lid will then be replaced and the coffin lowered into the grave. Family members and mourners will then begin to backfill the grave.
The Imam will then say a few final prayers at the graveside and following this, the congregation will disperse.
The immediate members of the family will most likely remain at the graveside for a short while longer; this may be an opportune time for visitors to convey their condolences if they so wish.