Our Sheffield New Muslims booklet details procedures and processes that have to be followed under British and Islamic law on a death, and also information about Sheffield services that may be of use.
You can also request a PDF version of this booklet by contacting us
WHAT TO DO AFTER A DEATH:
A practical guide for Sheffield new Muslims and their friends and families
In the Name of Allah, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful
“When their time has come, then they will not remain behind an hour, nor will they precede [it].” (Qur’an, 10:49)
This booklet has been prepared by the Sheffield New Muslim Project. As far as we know, all the information was correct at the time of publication and we will try to keep it up-to-date, insha Allah.
- 1 Introduction
- 2 PRIOR TO DEATH
- 3 WHEN SOMEONE DIES
There is no doubt that death is the only guaranteed event that will face each and every single living being, be they male or female, rich or poor, black or white. No one can live one second more nor die one second before the span designated for them by Allah.
The death of someone in the family or of close relatives or friends is often a time of great stress and emotion.
As Islamic funerals may be unfamiliar to new Muslims and their non-Muslim families and friends, this booklet has been written to help them prepare and for them to have something to refer to when a death occurs. It features a practical guide of what needs to be done, fulfilling both governmental and Islamic requirements, in terms of the paperwork that needs to be completed to meet legal requirements and also organizing the funeral and burial.
What is most important to realise is that if you are unsure about any aspect or if you need help and support, there are people and organizations that are familiar with the processes and are available to offer help and consultation.
PRIOR TO DEATH
Making an Islamic Will (Wasiyah)
It is very important for all Muslims to make a will. The Prophet (peace be upon him) said: “It is not rightful for a Muslim who has something to bequeath to sleep two consecutive nights without having his will written.” (Sahih Al-Bukhari)
It’s easy to put off making a will, but if you die without making one you are deemed to have died ‘intestate’. This means that your assets will be distributed according to the law of the land rather than your wishes, and there are major differences between that and the Islamic laws of inheritance as defined in the Qur’an. So, if you die intestate, your wealth will not be distributed according to the Shari`ah (Islamic Law).
If you haven’t already written a will, we have found www.islamicwillwriters.com very useful. They will make sure that your will complies with both British and Islamic law, which reduces the chance of problems after your death.
Paying off all debts
It is generally recommended for a Muslim to avoid getting into debt, but if it can’t be avoided it should be paid back as soon as possible. The situation becomes even more imperative if death is expected. It is strongly advised to settle all outstanding debts under these circumstances if possible, as the Prophet (peace be upon him) said: “The soul of a believer is attached to his debt until it is paid off.” (Tirmidhi)
Preparing for death
When the signs of death are clearly showing on someone, it is recommended to let them lie on their right side, facing towards Mecca, i.e. towards the South East. It is permitted to lay them on their back with their feet towards Mecca with their head slightly raised with a cushion, so it faces in the same direction.
At this time, you may recite any part of the Qur’an. Surah (Chapter) Yaseen has been seen to cause relief, but there is no strong evidence that it must be read at this time.
Encourage the dying person to say: “La ilaha illa-Allah, Muhammadun rasulu-Allah. (“There is no god but Allah, and Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah)” and help to make these their last words if possible.
WHEN SOMEONE DIES
Practical tasks immediately after the moment of death
- As soon as a person dies their eyes and jaws should be gently closed
- Straighten their limbs carefully and gently
- Until the time of the deceased’s bathing, the body should be covered by a clean sheet
- Those who hear of the death may say: “Inna lillahi wa inna ilayhi raji’un (Surely we belong to Allah and to Him shall we return)”
- It is permitted to kiss the forehead of the deceased and to cry, as long as it’s not wailing
- Locate the deceased’s will to check their final requests, as this may include details about their wishes for their washing (Ghusl), funeral (Janazah) and burial (Dafn)
- If the deceased was a married man, his widow now enters her Iddah (see later for details).
The following people should be contacted immediately on a death:
- The family doctor to certify the death.
- The Registrar of Births and Deaths to register the death.
- The preferred mosque or local funeral director for the Ghusl (washing)
- The local mosque for Salat-ul-Janazah (the Funeral Prayer).
- The close friends and relatives.
Procedures to be followed on death
Different procedures have to be followed based on whether the death occurred in hospital or not and whether it was expected or not. Details will be given below for all the following scenarios:
- Expected death out of hospital
- Expected death in hospital
- Unexpected death
- Unexpected death – reporting to the coroner
- Unexpected death – coroner’s post-mortem
- Unexpected death – inquest
- Stillborn babies
- Organ donations
Expected death out of hospital
If the death was expected, contact the doctor who attended the deceased during their final illness. If the doctor can certify the cause of death they will give you the following:
- A Formal Notice that states that the doctor has signed the Medical Certificate and tells you how to get the death registered
- A Medical Certificate that shows the cause of death (this is free of charge and will be in a sealed envelope addressed to the Registrar of Deaths).
If the doctor treating the deceased had not seen him or her either after the death or within 14 days before the death, the death must be reported to the coroner (as explained in section 4).