Islamic Funeral Customs and Service Rituals

Islamic Funeral Customs
The Blue Mosque and Hagia Sophia in Istanbul

The word “Islam” means the “achievement of peace with Allah [God] and man, and complete resignation to Allah in thoughts, words, beliefs, and deeds.”

Moslems, the followers of the Islamic religion, live by the Koran. The Koran teaches:

  • There is one God, Allah.
  • There is a day of judgment and a life after death.
  • God sent a number of prophets to teach how to live according to His law. Jesus, Moses, and Abraham are respected as prophets but the final Prophet was Muhammad.
  • Muslims live according to the five basic Pillars of Islam. These include the declaration of faith, praying five times per day, contributing money to charity, fasting, and taking at least one pilgrimage to Mecca.


Muslims view death as a transition from one state of being to another, not as an end. They believe that actions follow you to the afterlife. So, if you follow the law of the Koran and live a good life you will be rewarded in the afterlife. In death, you will be separated from the ugliness in the world. But if you live a dishonest and bad life, you will be separated from all the beauty of the world.

Islamic funeral customs require that:

  • The body be buried as soon as possible after death
  • The body is turned to face towards Mecca, the holy center of Islam.
  • Guests of the same sex should greet each other with a handshake and hug.
  • A person sitting next to the body reads from the Koran. An Imam presides over the service.
  • The deceased’s eyes and mouth are closed. There is rarely an open casket.
  • Guests should not take photos or use recording devices.
  • The arms, legs, and hands of the body are stretched out in alignment with the body.
  • The death is immediately announced to all friends and relatives.
  • The body is bathed and covered in white cotton.
  • Within two days following the death, the body is carried to the graveyard by four men. A procession of friends and relatives follow.
  • No discussion takes place at the time of burial, but all guests pray for the soul of the departed.
  • After the body is buried, all guests go to the house of the family of the deceased. A meal is prepared and guests usually stay for the entire day. Family members may stay for the whole week.
  • During this time, the family members socialize. It is believed that socializing helps to ease suffering.
  • If arriving late, guests should simply join in.

Under Islamic funeral customs, the mourning period for a relative is typically 3 days. A widow may mourn for 4 months and 10 days. How an individual expresses mourning in appearance or clothing is not defined by the teachings of the religion but rather on local, regional, or family custom. 

In Islamic culture. death is accepted and viewed as a natural part of life. The belief that the deceased has moved on to a pleasant afterlife is an important belief and helps the bereaved cope with their suffering.

Islamic Funeral Customs Quick Reference Guide
Length of Service 30 – 60 minutes
Flowers? During the mourning period after services. (See our Sympathy Flowers)
Food? Yes
Dress Code? (Men/Women) Men: No head cover / Women: Cover arms and legs
Recording Devices? No
Source of Readings? Koran or Qur’an
Open Casket? No
Return to Work? (Days) 3
No. of Days to Mourn? Varies. 
Embalming? Only if required by local laws
Cremation? Forbidden
Body/Organ Donation? Organ donation for the purposes of saving lives appears to be permitted. Full body donation does not.

How Much Will Your Funeral Cost? Try Our QuickPlan to Find Out.