May 21, 2012

Muslim births and deaths

A Muslim learns that he must always be cognizant of death, and not fear it when it comes. As most of you know, when someone dies in the Muslim faith, the Muslim funeral machine goes into action, and everything must be done swiftly so that the body can be in the ground on the same day – even if it is midnight and the men have to use lamps at the grave site.

Dress code and decorum

The moment someone dies the death notice goes on to Radio 786 and people hear the news, or other people hear the news and pass on the message. Women step into their robes and put on their scarves. In half an hour the house is full of people. People phone one another to pass on the news. Doctors also know that when a Muslim person dies they have to give the death certificate right away, the planks and burial cloth must be bought, the washers of the dead must be picked up to wash and prepare the body for burial, one of the rooms have to be cleared out where the body will be washed and be on display for a few minutes. A Muslim person can grieve, but the crying must not go on and on. One has to accept death and thank God that the deceased has passed on and has entered another dimension.

Prayer meetings create an opportunity for socializing

There are many celebrations during a Muslim’s lifetime. When a child is born, a male member in the family must whisper a prayer in the child’s ear. The name of God is the first thing the child must hear. People are invited to the event and after prayers for the infant, there are refreshments and gifts. All gatherings and events start with prayer. Even a death is seen as an opportunity to get people together as everyone is so busy with their lives otherwise. When you receive news of a funeral you have to drop what you are doing in order to attend. In one room people are washing the body and preparing the burial cloth, in another room someone is writing the name of the deceased on a board, and in the kitchen there are the women busy preparing pots of food. There is sobriety, but also the buzz of life. When the men return from the cemetery, people sit and stand around talking and food is served. Socializing has importance in Muslim life. You see friends and relatives you haven’t seen for a long time and you can interact. Together you mourn for the deceased, and together you celebrate the different events like marriages, births and deaths. By the time you reach home five hours later, you are more aware of your own mortality..

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