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the Message Continues ... 9/77
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The Koran guides in death
Courtesy: The Jersey Journal
Thursday, November 29, 2007
I slam is the most recent of the major faiths. Its beginning coincides with the Prophet Muhammad's pilgrimage from Mecca to Medina in 622 A.D. And Islam followed Judaism and Christianity with its monotheism, believing in Allah. It also has a similar belief in the afterlife, which is a continuation of life begun on earth. "Death is actually just a transitional point, where we leave this worldly life and enter into a different, everlasting life," said Imam Mohammed Alhayek, a spiritual leader at the North Hudson Islamic Center in Union City, one of the most active and largest Islamic centers in Hudson County.
Islam puts a lot of emphasis on good living in this world, which has implications for the hereafter. The Koran, their sacred book, details what it will be like. "Their grave will be spacious and well lit. Their deeds will come to them in the form of a handsome attendant who will speak kindly," said Alhayek. However, Muslims who did not live a good life will find the opposite. "From their graves, they will be able to see their place in Hellfire," explained Alhayek, a Jordanian native who enjoys educating non-Muslims about his faith.
Like other faiths, Muslims gather around a sick person and pray by reciting verses from the Koran. Upon death, the family and survivors remain calm, pray for the departed and begin preparations for burial, which usually takes place in one day, said Alhayek. Bromirski Funeral Home (disclosure: they waked my mother, Grace, in April) on Warren Street in the Paulus Hook section of downtown Jersey City has been doing more Muslim funerals and average about 20 per year. Barbara Bromirski, one of the directors who handles the legal, technical and business matters, is impressed by the demeanor of the Muslim families. "The young people are brought up in a very strong religious background."
The funeral home will retrieve the body and simply cover it with a white sheet until the family comes to prepare it since there is no embalming unless the body will be sent back to their country of origin. Men prepare the bodies of men; women do other women and children. No other people are present when this occurs.
The body is washed and anointed with scented water. Bromirski's stocks rose water and camphor, which is broken up in bits for the coffin. But the special cloth, kafan, to shroud the body has to be purchased by the family the day of the burial and cannot be stocked. A martyr will be buried in the clothes they died in, said Alhayek. The coffin has to be made of solid wood and Bromirski's uses pine. Men and immediate family members view the body of a man and the reverse for women.
Funeral prayers may be said at the grave site or at a mosque and are similar to the prayers said five times each day in silence with a few spoken words except there is no bowing or prostration. Burials occur in Muslim sections of cemeteries as in Rose Hill Cemetery in Linden, according to Bromirski. Jersey State Memorial Park in Millstone is a Muslim cemetery only for Muslims. Tombstones or markers are discouraged. Muslims do not believe in cremation.
Mourning occurs for three days and includes increased prayers. Widows do not wear decorative clothes and jewelry and observe an extended period of four months and 10 days called iddah during which she cannot marry or move from her home.
Remembering the deceased occurs in three ways, according to Alhayek: charity while they were alive and the people who benefit and an offspring who prays for the deceased. And these benefits were cited by the Prophet Muhammad, whose life and writings continue to inspire Muslims in life and facing death.
SANTORA is the pastor of Our Lady of Grace Church, 400 Willow Ave., Hoboken, 07030, 201-659-0369, or e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. Correction: The last name of the United Synagogue Scout Master is Kasser.
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