Can Women Go to Muslim Funeral Prayers?

Muslim women pray separately from men.
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As with any religion, Islam has funeral customs to guide the bereaved. Certain steps must be followed, including washing and shrouding the body, funeral prayers at the mosque and a procession to the graveyard for final prayers. Rituals and burial typically occur within one day, and cremation is forbidden. Prayer in Islamic faith is a time for total devotion to Allah without distraction; therefore, men and women are modest in dress and women pray behind the men, separate from them or adjacent to them. Funerals are no exception.

1 Islamic Prayers

Islamic prayers follow a proscribed order in all instances, including funerals. Both men and women begin by declaring their humility. Eyes are lowered throughout prayer in reverence to Allah. Women and men are considered equal to Allah, but they pray separately so worship time does not become mixed with other agendas such as socializing or dating. Both men and women wear loose, nontransparent clothing to the mosque. All of a woman’s body must be covered except her face and hands.

2 Mourning

The Hidaad, or mourning period, for close relatives typically lasts about three days. While Muslims weep, they should not cry aloud due to their belief in humility before Allah and a desire not to cause their departed loved ones anguish. When a woman loses her husband, she enters a special mourning period called the Iddah or Edda, lasting for four months and 10 days during which time she can't wear jewelry or perfume and doesn't leave her house except for work and essential errands. Remarriage is forbidden during the Iddah.

3 Discouraged Practices

The Hadith, or beliefs espoused by the Prophet Muhammad, orders Muslim men to follow the funeral procession in Volume 2, Book 23, Number 331-333. Women are discouraged from following funeral processions, however, or from visiting grave sites as mourners may be vulnerable to temptations of the flesh, or Fitnah, during times of grief. They are not strictly forbidden to do so, but failing to follow the Hadith may lead to Karaha Tanzihiyyah, or disapproval.

4 The Janaazah

Muslim funeral prayers, or Janaazah, are one of the seven fundamental duties of Muslim men and women. Women are not obligated to leave their homes to attend funeral prayers as they are in Hidaad, but they are permitted to do so. Generally women are in a separate line, with a line of children further separating women from men due to considerations of Fitnah. During Janaazah, the Fatihah, or first section of the Quran, is silently recited by all. A Tashahhud, or prayer to Muhammad, is then recited, followed by three personal prayers for the deceased. Between each prayer, everyone recites, "Allahu Akbar," or "God is great."

Brenda Scottsdale is a licensed psychologist, a six sigma master black belt and a certified aerobics instructor. She has been writing professionally for more than 15 years in scientific journals, including the "Journal of Criminal Justice and Behavior" and various websites.