Funeral Rites

Notes on Funeral Rites in both Religions

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Christian Funeral Rites

When a Christian dies, they will either be cremated or buried based on personal or family preference. If they are being buried, then the coffin will be placed at the altar in a Church, with lit candles nearby to represent light over darkness. The vicar will then often give a brief sermon, often on the afterlife, or will describe the person's life. The coffin is then taken to the grave, and after being laid inside, the vicar will place some dirt over the coffin, and commit the body to the Earth, often with the passage from the book of common prayer*.  This part of the funeral is called the committal. Family members will then often say personal prayers by the graveside, and then the body is buried. After the funeral, there is often a wake to celebrate the person's life and memories.

*= "In sure and certain hope of the resurrection to eternal life through our Lord Jesus Christ, we commend to Almighty God our brother ; and we commit his body to the ground; earth to earth; ashes to ashes, dust to dust. The Lord bless him and keep him, the Lord make his face to shine upon him and be gracious unto him and give him peace. Amen."

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Muslim Funeral Rites

When a Muslim is close to death, the last words they say or hear will be the Shahadah, or declaration of faith that Allah is the only God, and Muhammed is his prophet. After they have died, the robes that were used for their pilgrimage to Mecca are often used as a shroud, to show everyone is equal in death. The body is always buried, as Muslims believe that on the Last Day, the dead will rise from their graves and be judged by Allah. There is never an elaborate headstone or wake, as Islam teaches that a better way to remember a person's life is to donate to charitable causes. Excessive mourning is frowned upon, as Islam teaches that people should not be sad about death, as it is Allah's will, but a 3 day or 4 month period of mourning is allowed for a close friend/relative or spouse respectively.

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