Dr. Aneesah Nadir –
Over the past 2-3 weeks 15 of our local brothers and sisters, young and old, have returned to Allah according to Sr. Veneranda Sanchez, assistant funeral services coordinator. Ahmad Ewais, funeral director of the Islamic Community Center of Tempe (ICC) and a chaplain with Arizona Muslim Chaplain Services, indicates that this December he has presided over the most Muslim funerals since the Muslim cemetery opened in Arizona. It seems that we were attending Janazah/funeral services for nearly 2 deceased community members per day. May Allah have mercy on them.
It has become apparent that many of us don’t know what to do when a Muslim passes and many of us have not prepared for the time we will return to Allah. Included in this article are things to consider and steps to take when preparing for your Janazah or the Janazah of a loved one.
- If you are over 18 prepare your Last Will and Testament now, while you are still of sound mind and body. In Qur’an Sura Baqarah 2: 180 the preparation of our will is a duty prescribed by Allah. And the Prophet peace be upon him urged us not to sleep two nights without preparing our will. The will or “love letter” to your family is provided by legal coverage plans like LegalShield. LegalShield’s Estate Planning Package including the will, medical directives and powers of attorney is prepared by an attorney at no cost for its members. Attorneys in traditional legal practice also provide will preparation for $500-$1,000 per person on average.
- Include your Muslim burial request along with your will documents so that family members will be clear about your final wishes. Often there has been a dispute about the burial when the family is not Muslim. Some have been cremated which is not part of Muslim funeral practices.
- Have your medical or physician’s directive prepared indicating your wishes regarding remaining on or being taken off life supports so that your family does not have to get into a dispute about this. Consult with your scholar about Islamic teaching about the point at which one is considered deceased and machines are no longer considered beneficial.
- Consider prepaying and completing the ICC Funeral and Burial Form in advance. The cost for the ICC to prepare the deceased and burial at Makbaratul-Rahma (Mercy Cemetery) in Maricopa, Arizona, is currently $2,500 which includes the shroud, washing, burial and headstone. While we don’t know the hour or the land in which we will die, preparing as much as possible is important. Among the deceased this month were those who did not have the financial means to pay for their burial. Also, the loss of a loved one is very emotional for the surviving family and friends. Paying and planning ahead may be a great help to your loved ones.
- When a Muslim dies in Arizona whether at home or at the hospital or hospice contact Br. Ahmed Ewais at ICC/Tempe Masjid, 480-894-6070 (office) or 480-244-7441 (cell). Have the hospital or hospice contact Angels Cremation & Burial at 480-962-6435. Please mention that the deceased is Muslim. ICC works with this mortuary to handle the death certificate and transport the deceased to ICC for washing and preparation according to Islamic tradition. Br. Ewais and his team of trained brothers prepare the males and Sr. Veneranda and her team of trained sisters prepare the female deceased. They take great care and are gentle as they wash and shroud our deceased.
- Immediately after a Muslim passes away please ask attending nurses to
- Close the deceased’s eyes.
- Tie chin with forehead using a thin cloth to keep the mouth closed.
- Place the right hand on top of left hand on their chest. If necessary, use a cloth to tie hands to keep them together.
- Disconnect any tubes attached to the body and have a nurse/doctor stitch all cuts.
- Please keep private parts covered at all times.
- Janazah prayers are held in the courtyard of ICC often around Dhuhr prayer time. The deceased may be viewed by close family before the last cloth of the Kafan, a white cotton or linen cloth shroud, is tied; otherwise there is no open viewing.
- The deceased is transported to Mercy Rahma Cemetery for burial and graveside prayers. No traditional casket or coffin is used when the deceased is buried. The deceased is buried in the Kafan. Once the grave is covered flowers may be left on the gravesite.
Please do your best to discuss your burial wishes and Muslim tradition with your close family. Prepare family and friends who live far and nearby by letting them know that the Muslim burial occurs within 24-48 hours. Family and friends of other faiths are welcome to attend. Muslim family, friends and community members are strongly encouraged to attend prayers for the deceased. The service is simple and brief out of respect for the deceased. They may make a donation to ICC or any charitable organization in the name of the deceased.
- The location for visitation to give condolences is planned with the close family members. Providing meals and support to the family helps during this period of grief and loss.
InshaAllah having this information will assist you in preparing for the day you or your loved ones return to Allah.