Practical steps when someone
dies (Instructions for Muslims
in the UK)
DEATH AT HOME
If the deceased person’s GP had attended them at home, during their last illness and can certify the cause of death or, if at hospital, the doctor is aware of the cause of death, then a Medical Certificate will be issued free of charge, stating the cause of death.
To register the death, you should
take the Medical Certificate to the local Civic Centre,
and register at Registrar’s (deaths) office and where
you will be issued with a Death Certificate.
When you go to the Registrar you should also take the following:
a) Deceased’s NHS Medical Card (if available)
b) Birth & Marriage Certificate (if available)
Notify any Muslim Funeral Director/undertaker*
and give them the Death Certificate.
Inform the undertakers about
the type of burial i.e. With a coffin (in a box) or
without a box (according to the Shari’ah ).
A list of Muslim undertakers is available
- Inform the undertakers about the type of grave required ie. A grave on which a stone structure can be mounted, or a simple grave with only a headstone marking the grave (according to Shari’ah).
- Notify your local mosque or community centre so that he can arrange for an announcement to be made about the Janazah (Funeral Prayer). They should also be able to advise you on the procedure.
- Arrange the time and place of burial with the undertakers and inform your relatives, friends and the Imam. - Tell the undertakers which mosque you want the coffin to be taken and arrange the time. Remember in Islam, the body of the deceased has to be buried as soon as possible.
- Continue to pray and ask Allah (SWT)'s forgiveness for the deceased.
- The undertakers will take the coffin to the Mosque as per your instruction, and prayers will be offered for the deceased. After the prayer the coffin will be taken to the cemetery for burial.
- We appreciate that suffering a
bereavement can be a traumatic experience.
*We recommend Muslim Undertakers because they are aware of all the requirements related to burial of Muslims and can assist with with your concerns.
WHEN CAUSE OF DEATH IS UNKNOWN
lf, at home, the deceased persons' person physcian is unable to certify the cause of death, then he/she will inform the police who in turn will inform the coroner.
If, at hospital, the doctor is unable to certify’ the cause of death, then he/she will inform the Coroner. (The Coroner is usually a doctor or a lawyer responsible for investigating certain deaths) The matter is referred to the Coroner if death occurs in any of the following circumstances at home or at hospital:
• If the deceased person was not attended by doctor during his last illness or after death or within 14 days prior to death.
• If the cause of death is uncertain.
• If the death was sudden, violent or caused by an accident.
• If the death occurred while undergoing an operation.
• If death was caused by an industrial disease.
The Coroner will probably arrange for a post-mortem examination of the body. The main purpose of this is to ascertain the cause of death. The consent of the relatives is not needed for this. They are, however, entitled to be represented at the examination by the doctor. If they are represented, the Coroner will, if practicable, tell the relatives the time and place of examination.
AFTER THE POST MORTEM
If the death was found to be due to natural causes then the Coroners Office will issue a pink form (form 100). Take this form to the Registrar of Birth & Deaths and follow the procedure described overleaf.
If the cause of death is uncertain or was due to an accident, violence, or industrial disease, then an inquest will be held. An Inquest is an inquiry into the medical cause and circumstances of death. It is held in public and sometimes with a jury. It is up to the Coroner to decide how to organise the enquiry in a way to best serve the public interest and the interest of the relatives. It may be important to have a lawyer to represent you if the death was caused by a road accident, or an accident at work, or other circumstances which could to a claim for compensation. After the inquest, the Coroner will give you, free of charge, permission for Burial (form 101), this gives permission for the body to buried and should be given to the funeral director so that the funeral can be held. The Coroner will also send a Certificate. After Inquest (form 99), stating the cause of death, to the Registrar. This allows the death to be registered.
Frequently Asked Questions
- Grieving for
more than 3 days....permissable?
- Are we allowed to refuse to join in death anniversaries?
- Immediate burial vs. Burial overseas
- Can a Muslim man viewing the face of a deceased Muslimah?
- Can a woman go to a funeral?
Questions answered in "Renaissance" magazine.
Q: Why is it forbidden to grieve for more than three days after someone's death? Is this in the control of the bereaved?
A: It is certainly not forbidden to feel grief for a person for more than three days. To grieve for a person is not in one’s control. In fact, it is so natural that the Prophet (saw) himself wept over the death of his son, Ibrahim: Ibrahim was about to die, the Prophet (saw), it is reported, picked him up, kissed him while tears were coming out of his eyes. One of his companions asked: O Prophet of Allah (saw), do you cry also? The Prophet (saw) replied this crying was a blessing and then while weeping remarked: The eyes shed tears and the heart is aggrieved but we shall only say that with which the Lord is pleased and we are sad at being separated from you O Ibrahim! (Bukhari) The thing which is desirable is that a person should come back to his or her normal life routine by not later than three days. They should not just sit and sob after this period, but should try to adjust to the new situation and follow their general routine.
Questions put to the late Shaikh S M Darsh and his answers. (Acknowledgement to Ta-Ha Publications Ltd)
Q: A close relative died here, in England, while on holiday from his home in a Muslim country. Instead of burying him immediately, his relatives insisted that the body be flown back for burial. Were they right to do so?
A: This depends on the family. If most of the family are abroad, then it is right and proper that the body be flown back, so that there are children, grandchildren, sisters, etc, who can visit the grave and remember their dead. But, of course, if most of the relatives are here, then it is definitely better if the body is retained for burial.
Of course Islamically, bodies should be buried without delay, but delays incurred while death certificates are obtained, or while dead bodies are prepared for the return flight, are necessary and unavoidable These should not be confused with the kind of delay when families hold bodies in mortuaries for weeks, waiting for long-lost relatives to arrive. It is better in such instances that the body is buried straight away
Q: Can a Muslim man view the face of a deceased Muslimah?
A: Seeing the face of a deceased person is related back to the time of the Khalifah Abu Bakr (RA) who came and uncovered the face of the Prophet after he had died (SAW), kissed it, and said 'You are beautiful.' As far as a Muslim man is concerned, males and females may be allowed to view his face. But if the deceased is a female, it will be better only for a blood-related maharim to view the face, and not anyone else.
Q: Can a woman go to a funeral? It has been suggested that in the times of early Islam women were prevented from doing so. Is this true? Are women allowed to physically enter cemeteries or graveyards?
A: There are conflicting Ahadith on this subject. While one set of Ahadith prohibits such practices, another set seemingly goes the opposite way. Those people who reject the idea altogether quote the following Hadith in which the Prophet(SAW) is reported to have said:'Allah has cursed those who often go and visit graves.' Another Hadith relates an incident in which the Prophet (SAW) asked his daughter, Fatima (RA),why she had left her house. She is reported to have replied: 'I went to the family of such and such a dead person and I prayed to Allah to shower His mercy on the person.' The Prophet (SAW) is then reported to have asked whether she went to the funeral and she replied: 'God forbid, how could I do such a thing when I have heard that you have forbidden this?'
However, those looking for evidence to show that women are allowed to visit graves quote some of the following Ahadith: According to one tradition, the Prophet (SAW) is reported - after acknowledging that he had earlier forbade women to visit cemeteries - to have said: 'Now you are allowed to go and visit them, for they remind you of the life to come.' In another Hadith, included in both Muslim and Al-Bukhari, the Prophet (SAW), is reported by Umm Atiyyah to have forbade women from following janazah prayers '... but,' adds Umm Atiyyah, 'he did not stress it'
The question then is: What does the believer gather from all this? After much deliberation, scholars have concluded that women can go to gravesides and cemeteries, providing they fulfil usual requirements - in the same way as, for example, they go shopping or visiting friends and neighbours. This, say scholars, is the best method of combining the two sets of Ahadith which may otherwise appear contradictory.
Q: The relatives of a family friend who died last year are angry with me for not joining in their 'mourning marathon'. I attended the funeral of the deceased and went to his house to offer further condolences. However, I refused to join in the perpetual Qur'an recitals, tasbeeh-counting and sumptuous meals, organised for the third, tenth, twentieth and fortieth day after his death, as I think that these are un-Islamic. Did I act correctly?
A: Your response was correct. It is good to console the family of someone who has died and share their grief in their hour of need, without getting involved in the more extravagant practices as described. Condolences are offered occasionally before, but usually after, the burial. Mourning, according to the Islamic point of view, lasts for three days only In fact the three day period is designated as 'extra time' for people who were unable to offer condolences earlier, to go and visit the family. The three-day period serves no other purpose. No one should gather at the house of deceased after this time is up. The 'seventh', 'tenth', 'twentieth' and 'fortieth' days, etc., are all innovations which have no basis from the Islamic point of view.
Outsiders joining relatives in reading the Holy Qur'an for the sake of the spirit of the deceased is acceptable to some Muslim scholars, as long as this remains an occasional practice. But setting dates, compiling guest lists and choosing menus for organised mourning sessions in the way described is not allowed. Even the Hanafi Fiqh says that it is better for people to disperse after the burial rather than sit in the mosque for this purpose. Offering food at the time of a death is a sunnah of the Prophet (SAW). However the simplicity and genuineness of the original Islamic precedent bears no resemblance to the pomp and lavishness of its modern-day successor. When Ja' far ibn Abi Talib (RA) passed away, the Prophet (SAW) asked for food to be prepared 'for the family of Ja' far' - to help the grief- stricken family whom the Prophet knew would otherwise not have fed themselves. Offering condolences itself is a good Islamic practice. The Hadith in this respect is quite clear: ' Anyone offering condolences to a Muslim brother or sister will be clothed by Allah in a dress of honour on the Day of al-Qiyamah, the Day of Judgement.'
Internet Links and Other Resources
- Janazah Guide
- Support organisations
Haji Taslim Funerals
East London Mosque
45 Fieldgate Street
0171 247 2625
Haji Mohammed Ajaib Funerals
Contact: Nayyar Ejaz Kaleem
0181 427 3638/933 6975
Mobile: 07957 375 727
Islamic Funeral Services
01753 821 190
Mobile 0860 859 090
Fax 01753 575 832
Ruhani Muslim Funeral Services
13 Waldbeck Road
01582 422 786
Sher Azam Funeral Directors
(Off Thornton Road)
Tel: 0850 269 553
0410 344 913
Bangladeshi Association North London
30 Beverly Close
Winchmore Hill London N21
Tel: 0181 360 9195
Provide help and assistance in bereavements arrange funerals.
Ithaad Funeral Service
5 Cross Street
01282 694 700
Help with Funeral arrangements
Preparation of The Deceased and The
When is Cremation allowed ?
The Islamic Will Abdal Haqq and Aisha Bewley and Ahmad Thomson.
Published by Dar al-Taqwa £5.99
The Islamic Will (Scotland) £15
Consultancy services international partnership (CSIP)
PO Box 3748
Glasgow G5 0YB
Tel: 0800 056 3811
National Islamic Helpline
Freephone 0800 328 1408
Muslim Women's Helpline
020 8904 8193 or 020 8908 6715