Finding the right words to say to the bereaved is not a simple task, especially if you are not familiar with their religious customs. Learning about Muslims' views on life and death and the differences between Muslim and Western funeral customs can help you express your sincere condolences to friends and associates who practice Islamic traditions. Also, offering words inspired by the Quran not only can offer comfort, but also can demonstrate your respect for the Muslim faith.
Express your condolences by saying a prayer for the dead that emphasizes the parting was Allah's will. Ahmed Khalifa Al-suwaidi, a high-ranking official in the United Arab Amirates, responded to the death of an Islamic missionary with the condolence: "We...pray that Allah will bring him to rest through his mercy in his heaven and to alleviate the hearts of you and your dear family, to Allah we belong and to him is our return." These words draw on the Quranic verse that reads: "To Allah belongs what He took, and to Him belongs what He gave. Everything is recorded with Him for an appointed term."
Attempt to lift the spirits of the bereaved family by reminding them that Allah will reward their patience and perseverance. Recite an appropriate verse from the Quran, such as: "But give glad tidings to those who patiently endure, who say, when afflicted with calamity: 'To Allah we belong and to Him we return.' They are those on whom [descend] blessings from their Lord, and mercy, and they are the ones that receive guidance." Another appropriate quote comes from the great scholar Mansour bin Zazan, who said: "Sorrow and sadness will increase rewards."
Reassure those in mourning that the deceased is now living in paradise with Allah and that the reward for their patience will be reuniting with their loved one in the afterlife, as is the Muslim belief.
Take your leave after offering condolences to allow the family the space to take care of their affairs. You may offer assistance before leaving but Muslim culture deems it inappropriate to gather at the home of the bereaved because it strains the family's resources.
Continue to help the family through their early mourning by delivering food to them so their minds may focus on their loved one and spiritual healing.
- Do not offer flower arrangements to the family of the deceased, either at the funeral or at the bereaved's home. Muslims tend to believe giving flowers upon death is wasteful.
- Weep for the dead, but do not wail or cry out loud. Overt displays of grief are frowned upon according to Muslim traditions.
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