The Funeral Procession (Going to the Cemetery)
After performing Salat-ul-Janazah, the body is taken in the coffin to the graveyard as soon as possible. During the summer months, April to September, the last time for burial is usually 20:00 and during winter, October to March, it is normally 16:00.
Following the procession is a communal obligation and it is one of the rights the deceased have on the men they leave behind. Women do not follow the procession to the graveyard or go to the burial; however, they may go to the graveyard after the burial to be reminded of the afterlife, as may men, as long as it does not become habitual.
Walking in front of, behind or at the side of the coffin on the way to the graveside is permissible. It should be done without loud Dhikr (Remembrance of Allah) or supplications.
It is preferred to bury the deceased in the location in which they died. Transporting from town to town or to another country is best avoided, especially if this would involve embalming, as is often the case if transporting a body overseas. Some scholars say that it is only permissible to transport a body if: the deceased had willed it, no great financial expense is involved and there is no harm done to the body.
How to perform the burial (Dafn)
- After placing the body into the grave it is turned onto it’s right side to face towards Mecca (the Qiblah).
- It is desirable that Mahram (men closely related by blood) or close relatives enter the grave to lower the body. However, a husband should not enter the grave to bury his wife and the general principle about burying the dead is that only Muslims should bury Muslims.
- While the body is being lowered say: “Bismillahi wa billahi wa `ala millati Rassulillahi sal Allahu `alayhi wa sallam (In the name of Allah and by Allah and on the religion of the Messenger of Allah, peace be upon him) ”.
- The strips of cloth tying the shroud should now be untied.
- The recess of the grave should be covered with unbaked bricks.
- The grave should be filled with soil, with each person present throwing at least three handfuls of soil.
- After burial, those present should supplicate for the deceased, seeking forgiveness for him or her.
- The shape of the grave when filled should be like the hump of a camel, around 25-30cm high.
- There are many supplications that may be read at the grave side, the best being the recital of the Qur’an.
- Stand facing the grave (with your back towards the Qiblah) and recite as much of the Qur’an as possible and make Dua (supplications) for the forgiveness of the deceased.
- Nothing else should be placed in the grave.
- Some local graveyards permit burial without a coffin (please check first).
- The grave should not be made square or into any other shape, nor should large headstones, any type of buildings or enclosure be built on or around it.
- It is preferred not to put plants or flowers on a grave.
It is encouraged to give condolences to a bereaved family and to supplicate for them and the deceased after a death. There is no specific time frame for this.
No specific dates or days, such as the third, seventh, eleventh or fortieth are mentioned in Shari`ah for specific devotions.
Islamically, it is encouraged to visit the family and take food for them to help them out at the time of their loss, but not to expect to eat a meal with them. It is allowed to eat light snacks and have drinks with them.
Waiting Period for a Widow (Iddah)
- The period of waiting for a woman after a husband dies is called Iddah. This period is of four months and ten days and has some strict criteria laid down in the Qur’an and Hadith.
- During Iddah, a widow may not leave her husband’s house, except due to need or necessity, such as visiting the hospital due to illness or buying what she needs, such as food or other items, if she cannot find others to do such for her. If she is the sole bread winner with no other means of income, only then is she permitted to leave the house during the day. At night she should return to the house. However, if she does not have anyone she knows close to her and she fears for her safety, she may move due to that need.
- The Iddah of a widow who is expecting a child at the time of the death of her husband will be until the birth of that child. The four months and ten days should not be reckoned in this instance.
- If a woman is not at home at the time of her husband’s death, she should return as soon as possible and pass the period of Iddah at home. The days of her Iddah are calculated from the time of his death.
- A woman in Iddah should abstain from wearing fancy clothing, makeup or jewellery and she must not wear perfume, kohl or henna.
- She cannot receive a proposal of marriage during this time. Although a man may indirectly make a statement of intent to her, but a clear proposal is not allowed.
A Few Final Notes
- The trustee(s) of the deceased should pay all debts as soon as possible.
- Charity can be given on behalf of deceased by feeding the poor, giving Sadaqah.
- Hajj can be performed for someone who was unable to go during their lifetime.
- The Shari`ah has not specified any particular type or colour of clothing to be worn by those who are bereaved.
APPENDIX A – REGISTRAR OF DEATHS
A death can be registered and a Burial Certificate obtained by the Funeral Director or a representative of the deceased contacting one of the following:
Monday – Friday
Sheffield Register Office
Tel: 0114 2039423
See website for opening hours https://www.sheffield.gov.uk/home/births-deaths-marriages
Tel: 0114 2396068
9.00am – 5.00pm
Weekends and Bank Holidays
Sheffield Registration Service
10.00am – 5.00pm
Tel: 0114 2738721
9.00am – 5.00pm
To be used when applying for exceptional permission from the coroner to remove a body from the country (e.g. return to Pakistan for funeral) at the weekend.