Muslim burial experience
Nqobile Tshili, Chronicle Reporter
IT is almost unheard of nowadays that someone is buried without a coffin particularly in Zimbabwe with most citizens subscribing to funeral policies in preparation for the inevitable.
Others have joined burial societies which have served to cushion bereaved families from the expenses associated with funerals.
In most instances when a deceased person is buried without a coffin, their family will be perceived to be extremely poor to buy the coffin.
But this is not the case with Muslims as they bury without coffins.
A Muslim leader, Sheikh Isaac Ali yesterday took a Chronicle news crew over the procedures that are followed in the burial of a Muslim believer.
He said Muslims conduct cost effective burial procedures which involve not buying a coffin.
“We consider buying a coffin as taking money to waste. In Islam we consider simplicity. We consider more the people that are left behind. In Islam we believe that what is important is for you to be buried. If you are a good person then you go to paradise and if you are a bad person you will go to hell. There is no connection between the coffin and after life,” he said.
“We believe all the prophets that were sent by God, Adam, Jesus to Mohammed that was the practice. It is a biblical practice we follow.”
Muslims use a body carrier to move the dead from one place to the other.
Sheikh Ali said in the process of burial, they first cover the body in the grave with timber.
Sheikh Ali said women are also not allowed to attend burial proceedings but they can attend burial services.
“In Islam we do not say women are not supposed to go to the cemetery, they are not allowed to go for the burial process because socially they are very weak. Secondly, we want women to have special memories with their loved ones. We want them to retain that memory they would have had with that person when they were still alive,” said Sheikh Ali.
He said also women are spectators in burial proceedings hence they are excluded from the burial process.
Sheikh Ali said while in some religions they just wipe the body of the deceased to make it presentable, they actually bath it with soap and water in preparation for burial.
“The first thing that we do is that we do the washing of the body. In Islam we believe that cleanliness is half of our faith. So, when a person dies it means they cannot bath themselves and that is where the Muslim come in. We do the bathing of the body, it is in the same way that we bath and there are no special exceptions,” he said.
“We as Muslims don’t bury a person in a coffin, what it means is that when we are doing the washing of the body we then try as much as possible to empty the bowel of the person who has passed away. We just put the body in a sitting position and if there is anything in the body it flushes itself out.” Sheikh Ali said a lot of non-Muslims lack appreciation of what is done during the bathing of the body hence they now invite relatives of the deceased to be part of the body’s burial process.
He said some people are resisting the way they bury while it has also found acceptance especially among African traditionalists.
“There are two groups that we interact with in Zimbabwe. First the people who believe in the African traditional culture have no objections and it is in line with their beliefs and also practice this form of burial. Then we have Zimbabweans who are Christians, some understand the social aspect of it then some dispute the religious aspect that I have explained but we try to educate them,” said Sheikh Ali. – @nqotshili