In Islam a stillborn baby is a baby born after 120 days (17 weeks) of pregnancy with no signs of life and must be given a name. If it is difficult to determine the sex of the child, a neutral name suitable for either boys or girls should be given.
All babies must be buried. It is important to do this promptly; if one chooses to leave a baby of under twenty weeks with the hospital and allow for staff to make arrangements for disposal then the baby will be cremated after a service that takes place at the crematorium. If one chooses to leave a baby that is twenty weeks plus then the baby will either be cremated and the baby will be denied the correct Islamic burial or arrangements will be made for the baby to be buried in the shared grave, depending on what the parents choose. This grave is for babies from families of all faiths and no faith, the grave contains twenty one babies. Alternatively, you can ask to speak to the Muslim Chaplain, who can help arrange a private funeral in a single grave, this will include the washing, shrouding and liaising with the funeral director.
Both a foetus and a stillborn must be buried. It is important that you do this promptly, especially for a “non-viable foetus”, otherwise the hospital will make arrangements for its disposal or burial in a multi-faith mass grave and your baby will be denied a Muslim burial.
There are different schools of thought regarding organ donation. The general ruling is that organ donation is permitted after death, as long as no money is exchanged for it. It would be advisable to consult a learned scholar you trust and act according to their ruling.
How to Register a Death
To avoid delay, a death should be registered by the Registrar of Deaths in the town in which the death occurred. (Appendix A includes details on how to contact the Sheffield Registrar.)
You should go to the Registrar as soon as possible to get the Certificate for Burial or the Certificate of Registration of Stillbirth, as mentioned above.
Please note that the Registrar is not normally available during weekends and bank holidays, but arrangements have been made in Sheffield for emergency weekend and Bank Holiday appointments to be made for the purposes of registering a death and obtaining the paperwork necessary to allow a burial to proceed as soon as possible.
When you go to the Registrar you should take:
- The Medical Certificate giving the cause of the death from the doctor or the Pink Form (Form 100) given to you by the Coroner
- The deceased’s medical card, if possible
- The deceased’s birth and marriage certificates, if available.
You should tell the Registrar:
- The date and place of death
- The deceased’s last (usual) address
- The deceased’s first and last names (and maiden name, where appropriate)
- The deceased’s date and place of birth (town and country if born in the UK, and country if born abroad)
- The deceased’s occupation and the name and occupation of their spouse
- Whether the deceased was receiving a pension or allowance from public funds
- If the deceased was married, the date of birth of the surviving widow or widower.
The Registrar who registers the death will give you the Certificate for Burial (known as the Green Form), unless the Coroner has already given you an Order for Burial (Form 101). For a stillbirth, you will instead be given a Certificate of Registration of Stillbirth.
One of the above forms (only one is required, not both) will give permission for the body to be buried. No burial can take place at the cemetery without presenting one of these forms to the cemetery staff.
Other paperwork, including the Death Certificate, is also obtained when a death is registered. This is a certified copy of the entry in the death register. There is a fee for this certificate and one each is required for the will, pension claims etc., so it is better to obtain several copies at the time of registering the death, as the price increases if you request one later.
As soon as you have the right documents for burial, or are sure of getting the documents by a particular time, you must plan the funeral.
Inform the local undertaker or mosque that a Death Certificate has been issued (a listing of some of the funeral directors operating in Sheffield is included in the Appendix B of this guide). They will make all the arrangements with the cemetery for burial, unless you wish to do this yourself, and will advise you of the time and place of burial. The funeral director will also arrange for the body to be taken for washing and later to the Funeral Prayer and then onto the cemetery.
You must have a Certificate for Burial (known as the Green Form) or an Order for Burial (form 101) from a coroner otherwise the burial cannot take place. The process for obtaining these documents is explained above.
There are five main stages to prepare a Muslim’s body for burial:
- Washing the body (Ghusl )
- Shrouding the body (Kafn )
- The Funeral Prayer (Salat-ul-Janazah)
- The Funeral Procession (going to the cemetery)
- Burial (Dafn)
The practical aspects of arranging funerals cover:
- Making arrangements for the Ghusl
- Arranging transportation of the body (from wherever it is resting, to the place of Ghusl, to the place where Salat-ul-Janazah is to take place and then finally to the cemetery)
- Making arrangements with the cemetery for burial
You can arrange all or any of the above either through the mosque or one of the funeral directors.
In accordance with the Shari`ah (Islamic Law), unless it is required by the law of the land, it is not permissible to delay a burial, except within the limits of what is needed to prepare him or her or to wait for close relatives or neighbours to come, if that will not take long, because the Prophet (peace be upon him) said: “Hasten to bury your dead…” (Sahih Al-Bukhari)