Death Ceremonies and Customs

Muslims view death as a transition to the afterlife. It is believed that the body and soul is resurrected at death, and the Day of Judgement begins. This day assesses whether one enters the eternal afterlife of Paradise or Hell.

Known in Arabic as 'Jannah', Paradise is the Islamic conception of heaven in the afterlife. It is a place in which a Muslim receives Allah's pleasure and mercy, feeling no negative emotions of any kind - only a pure, everlasting bliss. There is no disease, death, pain, impurity or suffering of any kind, only delight and pleasure. In Paradise, people can eat to their hearts desire and never get sick or full or drink for days and never be sinful. Upon entry, one is greeted by angels and becomes reunited with family members that also made it to Paradise. The Qur'an physically describes Paradise as a beautiful garden with mansions and flowing rivers. However, it also emphasises that the reality of the perfection of Paradise can never really be known until a person enters it.

In the Qur'an, Hell ('Jahannam' in Arabic) is described as the most unimaginable place of eternal pain and suffering. It is immense in size and scope, organised into different levels of punishment. The lowest levels are the hottest and worst, reserved for those who committed the most abominable sins in their lives. The Qur'an says that when people are dragged into the fire of Hell they immediately regret all the sins of their lifetime, however, no second chances are given.

Muslim’s generally trust in their faith during times when death has occurred. Their belief that Allah has power over life and death (including the Day of Judgement) gives provides a fatalistic assurance of destiny. There are a few customs regarding death:
  • Palliative care is accepted for a person’s comfort.
  • A person’s body must be handled with respect and care, and must be covered at all times.
  • Usually a body is buried within twenty-four hours of death, and cremation is not permitted.
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