With the UK’s 2021 census showing that the Muslim population of England and Wales stands at over 3.8m people, Islamic funerals are anything but uncommon. The Islamic faith specifies some very different rites and practices when compared with the Christian burials that still make up the vast majority of funerals in the UK.
Nevertheless, Muslim funerals have their own traditions and customs to obey when a follower of Islam passes away. Here we outline the goings-on of a Muslim funeral and what is expected of guests.
What happens at a Muslim funeral service?
If you’re unfamiliar with a Muslim funeral plan, you may be surprised by how soon after death the preparations begin. That’s because Sharia, Islamic law, provides that funeral preparations are to begin as soon after the passing of the deceased as possible.
Muslim funeral services can be carried out at any burial site which can suitably accommodate the positioning of the burial, but the service will begin at a mosque. Here, mourners gather to recite Ṣalāt al-Janāzah. This is an Islamic funeral prayer that is performed as a congregation, and asks for pardon for both the deceased and all Muslims who have died.
The congregation separate themselves into an odd number of at least three rows and recite the prayer whilst facing Mecca, the holiest of Muslim cities and a focal point for many aspects of a Muslim funeral, and indeed Muslim life. The body of the deceased will also face Mecca.
There are also prayers and readings from the Qur’an, the Islamic holy book. After the prayers, the body is moved to the burial site and lain to rest in a position perpendicular to Mecca. A final prayer is said as the body is lowered, with mourners each depositing handfuls of earth into the grave.
The service will be lead by an Imam, an Islamic community and holy leader, who will direct the proceedings and guide those who are unfamiliar.
Muslim funerals will always be a burial, as cremation is prohibited due to beliefs surrounding desecration of the body.
What to wear to a Muslim funeral?
Dress for a Muslim funeral should always be conservative and respectful. A simple shirt and trousers will suffice for men, and a headscarf with long-sleeved shirt and long skirt for women. Shoes are removed before prayers, so bear that in mind also in regards to footwear.
If you wish to attend a Muslim’s funeral but don’t own a headscarf, a respectful request for assistance to the family or another attendee may help.
How long is a Muslim funeral service?
Islamic funeral services are typically on the shorter side of things, usually up to an hour at most. This is largely due to the need for burial as soon after death as possible, and the heavy amount of strict tradition to follow leaving little room for extra steps in a Muslim funeral.
How much does a Muslim funeral cost in the UK?
The cost of a Muslim funeral can be a slightly different matter for the deceased’s loved ones compared to the funerals of other faiths and those without a religion.
Tradition states that a Muslim man pays for his own funeral or that of his wife’s, and that this money is taken from his estate before paying off any debts left behind.
The actual cost of the funeral will vary depending on region and services required, so it’s best to contact your funeral directors to discuss costs in greater detail and plan ahead.
Muslim funerals in the UK
If you’re looking for a sensitive and trustworthy funeral director to help you plan and carry out a Islamic funeral, contact Middleton’s Funeral Services.
We will help you carry out a faithful, respectful service that helps to give family and loved ones some much needed closure, perfectly in line with the traditions and values of a Muslim funeral.
To find out more, contact us today.
Your funeral your way
Middleton’s Funeral Services are a rich and diverse community and believe in honouring the individual regardless of religion or belief.
If you wish to organise a religious ceremony for your loved one you can contact us using the form below or visiting the contact us page.