Islamic Funeral Practices
(WASHINGTON, D.C.) -The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), a
Washington-based Islamic civil rights and advocacy group, today issued an
outline of Islamic funeral and burial rites as background information for
There are five main points for the preparation of a Muslim’s body for burial.
1. WASHING THE BODY - Family members often assist in the washing. Men wash
a man’s body. Women wash a woman’s body. Either men or women may wash a
child’s body. A husband may wash his wife’s body and vice-versa if the need
2. WRAPPING THE BODY - The shroud used for wrapping the body must be a
clean (preferably white) cloth and should cover the whole body. The shroud
is tied at the head and feet, with a piece of cloth (from the same shroud)
in such a way that one can differentiate the head from the feet.
3. PRAYERS - Those praying stand in rows facing the direction of Mecca,
with the prayer leader in front. The body (or bodies) is placed in front of
the congregation. The worshipers make a personal intention to offer a
funeral prayer. They say “God is Great,” then fold their hands on their
chests. The opening chapter of the Quran, Islam’s revealed text, is read
quietly. Prayers are recited for the deceased, the Prophets Abraham and
Muhammad and for the Muslim community. Saying “peace be to you” concludes
the prayer. The entire funeral prayer is performed while standing.
4. FUNERAL PROCESSION - Mourners walk in front of or beside the body. Those
who are riding or driving should follow it. Silence is recommended.
5. BURIAL - The body is laid in the grave. No casket is used unless there
is a need for it, e.g., if the soil is very loose or wet. Each person
present shares in filling the grave by pouring three handfuls of soil.
The Prophet Muhammad said: “(Weeping) is the mercy that God has placed in
the hearts of His servants.” The Prophet also said that only good things
should be remembered about a person’s life after he or she dies.