First of all, it is be noted that Islam demands its adherents to follow the Prophet’s guidance in each sphere of life. In their social, political, religious, and daily gatherings, Muslims should abide by a certain code of ethics that is based on the Qur’an and the Sunnah of the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him). In funerals, Muslims are distinguished by firm adherence to Shari`ah-based rules that keep the dignity of man and at the same time consider the feelings of the afflicted family.
Sheikh Ahmad Kutty, a senior lecturer and Islamic scholar at the Islamic Institute of Toronto, Ontario, Canada, states: “Islamic funerals consist of the following sequence of actions:
1. Immediately after the death has occurred and it has been verified, his/her eyes are closed; the mouth and jaws are tied gently with broad bands or pieces of cloth so that they do not remain wide open; the legs should also be tied in the same way. The body should be covered, and must always remain covered, preferably with a white sheet of cloth.
2. The bereaved family and friends are to be comforted; all attempts are made to share the grief and help them face their loss with patience and surrender to Allah’s will.
3. Funeral arrangements must be made without delay; relatives and friends are to be notified. The body must not be kept waiting unnecessarily.
4. Immediate family and friends are to prepare food for the bereaved family for three days.
5. Islamic funerals consist of washing, shrouding and prayer.
6. Washing is preferably done by close relatives; males should be washed by males, and females by females, except in case of spouses or parents and children who are permitted to wash each other. If close relatives are not available to wash, then those who are allah-fearing and trustworthy should be asked to do it.
7. After the body has been washed, it should be shrouded in three white sheets (in case of males) or five sheets (in case of females).
8. Funeral Prayer is performed. It can be performed in a mosque or funeral home.
9. While performing funeral Prayer, the casket is placed in front of the Prayer-leader, who leads the worshippers in prayer.
10. Funeral Prayer consists of glorification and praise of Allah, benedictions on the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) and prayers for the deceased as well as for the living.
11. Following the Prayer, the body is escorted to the graveyard. While accompanying the funeral, silence should be observed; it is considered a time for meditation on death and the transient nature of life.
12. The body is lowered gently to the grave with the following prayer:
“Bismi Allah, wa `ala millat rasuli Allah salla Allahu `alaihi wa sallam. Minha khalaqnakum wa fihah nu`idukum wa minha nukhrijikum taratan ukhra.”
In the name of Allah, and in accordance with the way of the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings be upon him). “From the earth We have created you and unto the earth We shall return you and from it, again, We will resurrect you once again!” (Taha: 55)
13. Then each person takes three handfuls of dirt and throws them into the grave saying the same words.
14. Once the grave has been fully covered with dirt, once again, prayers are said, invoking Allah’s mercy on the deceased.
15. Finally, they say farewell by uttering a greeting of peace to him and to all those who are buried in the graveyard: “Greetings of peace to you all. Allah-willing, we will also join you. May Allah forgive you and all of us!”
16. The dead are remembered through periodic visits to their graves as well as through prayers.