First there must be a distinction between the two primary sects both considered traditional Muslim yet hold different beliefs and traditions, yet for the sake of simplicity the Muslim funeral process has some commonality in beliefs. For example Muslims generally believe that the acts one does during their lifetime determine if they are granted access into “Paradise” on the Day of Judgment (or at the time of death). There is also commonly believed to be a “Last Day” in our future when the world as we know it ends-at this point only the worthy Muslims will be allowed entrance into Paradise and “sinners” will travel to “hell” or generally suffer.
Muslin Funeral Urgency
One of the most important aspects of a Muslim funeral is actually Islamic law or “shariah” which states that urgency from the time of death to burial is the key-the deceased must be begin immediately after passing. The deceased person’s body is considered holy and autopsies, even embalming and cosmetology are not traditionally allowed as theses acts are viewed as desecration of the body.
Since the body itself is to be buried immediately (as soon as possible) after death there is no “viewing” or wake, making both the embalming and cosmetology unnecessary. There are specific preparations for preparing the body to be buried, which requires the deceased to be thoroughly washed (at least 3 times-but always an odd number) and shrouded. If the deceased is a woman the hair is often braided and a sleeveless, full length dress with veil is worn. Both male and female bodies are covered in a white sheet as the last step of preparing the body for burial. Shrouding and washing of a deceased Muslim’s body both follow a strict order and processes and end with the left hand resting on the chest, the right hand placed over the left in a state of eternal prayer. After the cleaning and shrouding of the body it is finally transported to the mosque (masjid) for prayers.