Muslim funeral rites and traditions are based on the Islamic religious law known as Sharia. Preparation for Muslim burials begin immediately following the passing of a Muslim, at which time the deceased person's mouth is often fastened closed using a piece of material, and the eyes are also closed. The feet are bound together, and the body is covered with a white sheet.
Muslim funerals are held within 24 hours of death whenever possible, as this is an important part of complying with Islamic Sharia.
Muslim funeral traditions place a heavy emphasis on preparing the deceased's body prior to the funeral service. Muslim burial preparations include bathing of the deceased, preferably within hours of death. The corpse is washed by close family members of the same gender; however, when a child passes, both men and women are permitted to help wash and shroud the body. Once the washing is complete, the body is enshrouded with plain white cloth, known as the kafan.
Muslim funerals are generally officiated by the Imam, and conservative Muslims generally consider attending a Muslim funeral to be a communal obligation for adult males. Depending on the traditions in the local faith community, Muslim women rarely attend the Muslim funeral service or the Muslim burial, except in cases when the deceased is a member of the woman's immediate family.
The behavior of mourners at Muslim funerals is also guided by traditions of the Islamic faith. Crying or soft weeping for the loss of a loved one is considered acceptable, whereas wailing and loud crying is discouraged at Muslim burials based on the belief that the spirit of the deceased can be harmed by emotional outbursts.
Muslim burials, known as al-Dafin, are to be held immediately following the Muslim funeral. Muslim burials include using a grave which is aligned with Mecca. Depending on the local laws, traditions and community practices, a coffin and burial vault may be used or the body may be placed directly into the ground. Once the Muslim burial prayers are completed, the mourners often help bury the deceased by throwing at least three handfuls of dirt into the grave.