Death and Funeral Tradition

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Death is inevitable phrase of our loop.

Such as birth celebrations we also have death and funeral customs and traditional burial patterns.

No cremation in Turkey.

Holy Qoran mentions Kabil (Kain or Kayn), elder son of Adam, caused his brother Habil’s (Hevel) death and learnt what to do with his dead brother’s body only from the movements of a crow sent by God.

“Shame on me, am I unable to bury my brother’s body like that crow!” (el-Mâide 5/31).

Burial is essential for environmental hygiene, health, reminding of death. Funeral is a religious task of a convoy preparing a dead body for a fresh life of eternity.

Unless there’s an actual life or death matter funeral must take place as quick as possible generally in daylight after next call for prayer (Muslims practice praying 5 times a day).

1. Right after death, the body’s eyes are put closed, head is turned to qibla, feet are put close, arms attached to body on two sides, a knife or scissor on belly is placed. Body waits until to be taken by crowd for funeral.

2. Preachers announce death person’s name so loudly from mosques’ minarets that all neighborhood hears it at the same time info given about funeral time.

Religious preparation tasks for funeral: Washing

Preacher washes the body (male to male preacher and female to female). Washing place must be reserved for one gender only and makeup, nail polish or any other stuff covering the skin has to be removed finally rose water, cologne, sweet essence may be sprayed to body and shroud.


Shrouding follows Islamic traditions as a shroud is white. Traditionally people like to save up some money for their shroud before they die or they buy it on behalf.

Funeral Prayer

Striking function of funeral prayer is a sort of purification for a dead one. Imam (preacher) asks the crowd during prayer: “People! How have you thought of this person?” surely they reply: “We have thought good about her/him”.

Closest relatives (preferably men) take coffin on shoulders and transfer it to cemetery

Here in this case Islamic tradition is a bit different. Shrouded body, head directed to qibla, is buried in 1-1.5 metre deep grave without a coffin. Few pieces of woods put on body to separate it from soil and grave is filled on top of it. They mark tombstone with his/her name and maybe carve some symbols (flower for young gones, flag for soldiers) .

Graves are reserved personally or bought by families. By the way, statues and sculptures or colorful stuff are particularly not really welcomed very well in Muslim cemeteries.

Graveyards in Turkey are everywhere. We don’t built them far from central or out of the cities in particular. Graveyards are everywhere in the cities with a view to remind the end of the way, death and pay attention to what we’ve been doing so far about our lives, prepare mentally for judgement day and to live our lives according to Islamic rules to earn eternal joy or suffer after death.

There are significantly certain days after funeral to remember deceased with religious ceremonies.

3th, 7th, 40th, 52th, first year.
First week of death is mourning period, people around household bring some food and come for emotional support.
Most commonly 40th day household invite people around for a religious ceremony for the memory of a dead person at the same time they cook some food and halvah to serve and distribute around.

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