Residents of Farmersville, Texas, about 35 miles north of Dallas, are fighting to prevent the establishment of a Muslim cemetery on an empty strip of land next to a highway because of misconceptions about threats it could pose to the community.
To help illuminate what Muslim burial entails, Gail Rubin, the Doyenne of Death® offers these insights:
- The funeral traditions of Muslims and Jews are remarkably similar. Both Jewish and Muslim burial traditions are the closest you can get to green burial in a conventional cemetery.
- Both avoid embalming and focus on swift burial of the deceased, within 24 to 72 hours.
- The Muslim ritual for washing and dressing the body is called a Janazah ceremony. Men perform the rite for men, women for women.
- The ritual is usually performed at the community mosque by members of the community.
- The body is wrapped in a shroud, usually made of cotton or linen.
- Depending on the cemetery, the shrouded body may be buried directly in the earth. If the cemetery requires a casket and liner, Muslim burial traditions can conform to the local requirements.
- The community comes to the home of the mourners to support them during their grief after the funeral for up to 40 days, depending on local traditions.
“Respectful treatment of the dead is imperative for us all to maintain our humanity,” said Rubin. “The closed-mindedness exhibited by the residents of Farmersville is sad to see.”
Here’s video of the news story on WFAA-TV in Dallas.
For more in-depth information on this topic, listen to the interview Gail Rubin conducted with Dr. Ahmad-Rufai Abdullah on A Good Goodbye Radio about Muslim traditions regarding funerals and burials. He is a leader of the Islamic Burial Society of North America, formed in 2006, and has trained hundreds of volunteers to conduct the Islamic Janazah ritual to prepare the deceased for burial. Download the podcast.
- The key elements of Islamic funeral and burial traditions
- What the Janazah process of body preparation involves
- Who does Muslim body preparations and who performs funerals
- When funerals and burials are prohibited
- Mourning traditions and how they vary by sect and culture
- How to respond to a bereaved member of the Islamic faith
You can also download the hour-long podcast for free from iTunes.