Rites and Ceremonies
Written by: Beth Davies-Stofka
The body of the deceased person must be buried as promptly as possible, preferably by sunset on the day of the death, though Muslims handle this according to the laws of the land in which they live. The family of the deceased person is responsible for preparing the body for burial and for saying the funeral prayers, which are not typically said in the mosque. The body is buried in a plain white shroud. If the person went on pilgrimage to Mecca, then he or she is buried in the pilgrimage garments. Male relatives climb into the grave to arrange the body on its right side in a hollow niche in the wall of the grave. They turn the deceased's face toward Mecca, supporting the cheek with a stone. The last person in the grave with the body again whispers the shahadah in the deceased's ear. Each member of the assembled party throws soil into the grave, and a member of the party recites a blessing that summarizes the key beliefs of Muslims. Many Shi'i Muslims also recite the names of the twelve imams. Graves are marked with simple stone markers, to emphasize the equality of all people in death. The deceased repose in an intermediary state called the barzakh until God resurrects the dead on the Day of Judgment.
1. How is Muslim behavior dictated by prohibitions?
2. Why is circumcision important for Muslim boys?
3. Describe the ceremonies that take place at death. Why is this the most important rite for Muslims?