Rasulullah says: “Men are asleep, they will wake up when they are dead.” He also says:
“The faithful do not die, they simply move from this world to the hereafter.” At the end of this life one will be born in the hereafter. But we must be careful. “One dies the way one lives and one is resurrected the way one dies.” When the Messenger of Allah was about to leave this world, to console his companions, he told them that when he will leave, he will leave them with two great teachers: one a talking teacher, one a silent teacher. When they asked him who they were, he told them that the talking teacher, who will take his place, is the Holy Quran and the silent teacher, who will guide them in this life, is death.
Therefore we must remember death and we must not be afraid of it, for Allah says: “For the friends of Allah, there is no fear nor sadness (in death).”
When a faithful is about to leave this world, those who are close to him should be present, quietly in a dignified manner, make their presence felt by gentle words, touches and caresses. They should gently repeat the tevhid while the Surah Ya Sin is chanted in a soft and beautiful way. Zem Zem water could be given to him, if he is able to drink, or his lips could be wetted. Hopefully this will remind him to remember and pronounce the tevhid and the name of Allah before he leaves this world.
The following is the farewell celebration of a dervish who is leaving to meet his Lord. When he breaths his last breath, the dervish is laid on his back either his feet facing the Qiblah or his head in the direction of the Qiblah. He is undressed. If his eyes are open, they are closed. His chin is tied with a knot above his head. His private parts are cleaned. His arms are placed at his sides. His legs are straightened, the two big toes tied together. Then he is totally covered with a clean white cloth and something metal is placed on his belly.
Later the body is removed to the place where he will be given his last ablution, while, at the home of the deceased, his family and friends read the whole Quran. This could be done by dividing the sections to be read amongst as many people as are available. It is customary to prepare special deserts and drinks to be offered to the guests.
The final ablution is done in the following manner: The persons washing the body are in a state of ablution themselves. The body is placed on a table covered with a water-repellent material. The body is uncovered except for the section between his navel and his knees. One of the washers takes a cloth in his left hand and wipes the private parts of the deceased, and disposes of the cloth, washes his hands and with his index finger cleans the navel. After that, with the hollow of his right hand he gives water to the mouth of the deceased three times and three times gives water to the nose and three times wets his face, then washes his right arm then the left until the elbow, wets his head, washes his right foot then the left as is done in ordinary ablution. Then with luke warm water, the hair of the deceased is soaped, then his right side and his left side and his front and back, the whole body is soaped and rinsed.
While the body is being washed the face is perfumed with incense. After drying the body, the points of the body touching the ground during prostration, the palms, the elbows, the knees and the top of the feet are perfumed with rose perfume or camphor.
There are three layers of shroud, which should be preferably of cotton and perfumed. The first is put upon the body like a shirt covering from the neck to the feet. The second wraps the body from the right and the left, the third goes over the two layers and is knotted at the top of the head and under the feet. Then the body is placed in a simple wooden coffin which is covered with green cloth over which a black or green cover, embroidered with verses of the Quran is laid.
In the case of women, who are washed by women, the same procedure is done with the exception that if they have long hair it is braided and placed over their chest. In their case, there are five pieces of shroud. One is a head covering which is put on first, then the first layer of shroud is put then an extra shroud covers their chest tightly then they are wrapped in the two other shrouds. After the coffin is covered with the same material, to distinguish them, at the level of the face an ornate headcover is laid. This is an obligatory procedure for every Muslim.
In the case of dervishes, the procedure of the last ablution is done twice. During the second washing a group of dervishes sings ilahis which are presented with this writing in sequence. The first is a reminder of the living addresses to the dead and the second is from the lips of the dead addressed to the living. When the total ablution is finished, if the deceased had been given a “dalli arakia” it is put on his or her head. In the middle of his forehead the tevhid is written, on his eyes the earth of Kerbala is sprinkled. If he or she is a khalifa, his ijaza is placed in his right hand. This procedure in the sufi terminology is called to be dressed for the wedding.
Unless there is a compelling reason, the deceased should be buried within 24 hours. Women are not recommended to participate neither in the funeral prayers nor at the grave site, but it is permissible.
The funeral prayer preferably takes place after the afternoon prayer following the death. According to our tradition the coffin does not enter the mosque, but is placed on a platform outside. The congregation stands in three lines in front, facing the coffin in the direction of the “qiblah.”
The intention is to make the funeral prayer for the man, the woman or the child who has passed away. The imam stands on the other side of the coffin, facing the Qiblah. When the imam makes “tekbir” aloud the congregation raises their hands and ties them in front, then everyone silently recites the “subhanakah.” At the second “tekbir” the congregation does not raise their hands and recites the “salli wa barak” salawat. After the third tekbir~ without raising the hands, a prayer for the soul of the dead is recited. The usual prayer is the following: “Allahumma agfirli wa lil mayyiti wa li sagiril muminina wal muminat.” (Oh God, forgive me and this deceased and the rest of the believing men and women.) Then after the fourth tekbir, in the same manner, one gives salams to the right and to the left and the prayer is finished. After that the imam makes a prayer for the hereafter of the deceased then he addresses the congregation and asks them if they vouch that the deceased was a good person. The congregation responds audibly, “Indeed.” Then the imam says, “If he has wronged you in any way or if he owes you anything do you willingly forgive him?” The congregation responds positively. Then a “Fatiha” is recited for the soul of the deceased and the coffin is transported to the grave site.
While the coffin is being transported various “ilahis” are sung which are included at the end marked three, four, five and six. The dervishes would also be chanting the “Huseyni Tevhid” and the hafizes would be chanting the funeral salah. (attached at the end as seven and eight).
At the grave site, the coffin is lowered into the grave from the side of the “‘qibla”” and the coffin is slanted so that the right side of the deceased is towards the ““qibla””. Then, either Surah Mulk or Surah Waqiah is recited, and/or a short “hatim” is recited by everyone, consisting of Surah Ihlas, Surah Falaq, Surah Nas, Surah Fatiha and the first five verses of the Surah Baqara, and offered to the soul of the deceased,
After the grave is covered, the imam gives the inculcation. With these words the imam coaches the deceased how to respond to the questioning angels. He addresses the grave saying thrice: “Qul ya [name of the deceased] ibn (the son of [mother’s name] )“ or “binti (the daughter of [mothers name] )“ Wa annaka radhiyta billahi rabban; wa bil islami dinan; wa bi Muhammadin salallahu alayhi wa sallam nabiyyan; wa bil Qurani imaman; wa bil Qaabati qiblatan; wa bil mu’minina ihwanan. Shahadatan an Ia ilaha illallah Muhammadun rasulullah. wa annallaha yeb’asu man fil qubur, minha halaqnakum wa minha nu’idukum wa minha nuhrijukum taratan uhra. Rabbi la tazarni fardan wa anta hayrun nasirin.”
After this the dervishes form a circle around the tomb and make a short “zikrullah” and leave their brother or sister at the mercy of Allah, the Merciful and the Compassionate.
When Hazrati Rabia, r.a., went to her Lord, the angels came to her in her grave to question her as to who was her Lord, what was her religion, who was her Prophet, which was her book and where did she turn to pray. At their first question, Hazrati Rabia, herself, asked the angels, “Where did you come from?” The angels said, “From the realm of angels.” Hazreti Rabia said, “That is another realm, another dimension far away from this temporal, material world and you haven’t forgotten who your Lord is. How do you expect that I would forget Allahu taala when I am a few feet under this world and a few hours from when I was alive?” And the Lord said to the angels, “Withdraw from in between us and leave us alone.”
May Allah accord my ihvan such ease. Amin. And may they recognize that the real tomb is this body within which we live and may they live the secret of “dying before dying.” So when death comes to this mortal body, may they find the true life and may they, during this life, be able to turn the tomb of this body into a paradise by living in it in accordance with Allah’s pleasure so that they enter directly to Paradise when they enter their tomb. Amin, bihurmati sayyid al mursalin.