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Islamic Death and Dying Process
Ashley Hedrick
Angelo State University
Islamic Death and Dying Process
Dying is a process that is difficult to fully handle. Whether a person has friends, family, religion, or all the above; dying is still a process most people are not prepared for, nor do they want someone else to encounter. There are certain cultures and religions that help with the preparatory and post process of death. Some cultures have strict rules and rituals concerning death. Other religions have less strict rules involving the course of death. One religion that has specific rituals and practices revolving around the death process is Islam. The main goal for Islam rituals during death is to ultimately ensure a passage to their Heaven. Reciting specific literature, facing towards Mecca, and positioning the deceased person are just a few things a Muslim will perform during the death process (Ahaddour, C., Van den Branden, S., & Broeckaert, B, 2017).
One way that Islam culture is similar to the “Americanized” way of dying is they encourage the settling of their finances (Ahaddour et al. 2017). It is important to divide and distribute their wealth to their children (inheritance) prior to death (Ahaddour et al. 2017). In Islamic culture they are also very keen on giving to a third party, either a charity or some organization affiliated with their religion. If a person was to leave money and finances for their children or family to deal with, it’s considered a burden to leave behind (Ahaddour et al. 2017). Whether they have a short time or have a longer time before death, a will and last testament is put in place so no burden or choir is left behind (Ahaddour et al. 2017).
When a Muslim enters the final stages of their life, or the active dying stage, the rituals are centered around a literature called the hadith (Ahaddour et al. 2017). This literature was created because the Qur’an does not mention what to do during the dying process (Ahaddour et al. 2017). The Qur’an is the sacred texts believed by Muslims to come directly from God. A person in the active dying stage it is important to state the shahada (Ahaddour et al. 2017). Citing the shahada is how a person reaffirms his or her belief in their unity with God (Ahaddour et al. 2017). These words are so important to this culture that they believe it should be their last words leaving this world. The people who are around the dying person will also cite the words of the shahada to remind them how important it is to affirm their beliefs. Visiting a sick or dying person is a duty and a meritious practice in the Islamic culture (Ahaddour et al. 2017). One of the visitor’s job is to offer and give the dying person some water. Muslim’s believe that they are having extreme thirst during the dying process and require water (Ahaddour et al. 2017).
After the person passes away they are believed to be in a transition time to their afterlife. Family must wash the body, shroud the body, perform the death prayer, and bury the person before they can transition to their ultimate location in the afterlife (Ahaddour et al. 2017). A shroud is a piece of clothing that a person is wrapped in to be buried. The deceased person is buried in the shroud and is faced toward Mecca (Roberson, 2018). The eyes and mouth are closed, and the legs and arms are straightened, and the toes tied together by a thread (Ahaddour et al. 2017). It is important to close the eyes and mouth quickly because rigor mortis will set in and then you may not be able to close the mouth. The deceased person is washed an off number of times, three, five, or seven, by water and lotus plant (Ahaddour et al. 2017). Mecca is considered the holy city and most people with Islamic beliefs request to be facing towards Mecca after death (Roberson, 2018).
Death is scary. Whether you are the person dying or the family or friend witnessing the death, there are hard emotions that come with dying. Religion and culture can bring peace and comfort to a person during the dying process. For example, a Muslim can find comfort in placing their family member towards Mecca because this to them signifies they are heading to Mecca, the holy city. The day does not contain enough hours for a person to properly tell someone goodbye, but reciting prayer in a person’s ear when they are dying is a way to show you care and love them immensely. Death can come quickly, quietly, and unexpectantly but having religion or culture to guide can give a person strength to not only face it and get through it, but to have peace at the end of it.

Ahaddour, C., Van den Branden, S., & Broeckaert, B. (2017). Purification of Body and Soul for
the Next Journey. Practices Surrounding Death and Dying Among Muslim
Women. Journal of Death and Dying, 76(2), 169-200. doi:10.1177/00302228I77729617
Ahlul Bayt Digital Islamic Library Project. (n.d.). Orders Regarding a Dying Person. Retrieved
August 1, 2018, from khui/orders-regarding-dying-person
Roberson, K. (2018). Understanding Death Rituals. International Journal of Childbirth
Education,33(3). Retrieved July 29, 2018, from 2prNJuePfgeyx43zx

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