The funeral meal is an important part of Muslim ritual in observance of death. Traditional Muslim foods baked for funerals vary widely as the cuisine of each Muslim country is different in its staples and delicacies. In general, lamb and rice are common ingredients found in many Muslim recipes, and the sweet halvah is a dessert found at most Muslim funerals. All food consumed by Muslims, including those served at funerals, must adhere to specific religious dietary guidelines outlined in the Quran.
Mansaf is a traditional funeral meal most common among Palestinian Muslims, but it features the staples of a Middle Eastern diet. Mansaf is a baked dish of lamb with yogurt sauce over a bed of rice, bread, pine nuts and almonds. The dish is made in large quantities and is meant to be eaten communally at the funeral gathering in a symbolic gesture of togetherness.
Another traditional food found at many Muslim funerals is halvah. Halvah is a sweet dessert made from honey, flour, pine nuts and ingredients for different flavors such as almonds or dates. Colored yellow with saffron, halvah is a fragrant dish made in large batches to share among neighbors and the local homeless on the occasion of a funeral, according to Jaqueline Thursby in her study of cultural differences in funeral customs published by the University of Kentucky.
Many other traditional foods served by Muslims can be baked for a funeral. Baklava is a common dessert made with honey, pastry dough and pistachios, and murabba is a dish made of dried and sweetened mangoes. Puddings such as shir baranj with its sweet mixture of rice and boiled milk make simple yet tasty dishes to bring to a funeral. Stews are also common Islamic foods found at funerals, such as the slow-cooked qidreh, a Palestinian dish of chicken, spices and rice allowed to simmer for hours in a brass pot.
Any food made for a Muslim diet must abide by specific dietary laws set forth in the Quran. Known as "halal," which means "permissible" in Arabic, the restrictions state that pork in any form is forbidden, and that all meat must be slaughtered by a Muslim butcher following a particular procedure of bloodletting and prayer when killing the animal. These restrictions are observed in the daily meals of all observant Muslims, and any food served at a Muslim funeral must follow halal standards.
- The New York Times: He Would've Wanted Everyone to Eat
- Funeral Festivals in America: Rituals for the Living; Jacqueline S. Thursby
- Halal Food Authority: Definition of Halal
- Journal of Muslim Minority Affairs: The Moghul Islamic Diaspora - The Institutionalization of Islam in Jamaica
- ITN Source: West Bank - Hebron's traditional dish, 'qidreh', has become the city's most famous affordable fast food meal
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