The procedures below are the basic outline of the steps required to ensure a quick burial of a departed brother or sister in the Scottish Highlands. The first step in all cases is to contact the following people immediately:
1. Family Doctor
2. Funeral Director
3. Local Imam/Mosque 07714 499289
4. Close Relatives.
A. If the deceased person’s doctor had attended them, at home or during their last illness and can certify the cause of death or if in hospital the doctor is aware of the cause of death, then a Death certificate will be issued, stating the cause of death, if the doctor is unable to certify the cause of death for any reason, a procurator fiscal will instruct for a post mortem to be carried out.
B. Inform the funeral director that a death certificate has been issued. He will make arrangements with the cemetery & arrange for the body to be taken for washing.*
C. To register the death, you should take the death certificate along with the deceased’s birth & marriage certificate to the local registrars. The Registrar will issue you with a white form F14 for the funeral director/undertaker & a green from BD8 to tell the Department for Work and Pensions about the death
* To prepare the body for burial, it must be washed (“Ghusl”) and shrouded (“Kafan”). Close same-sex family members are encouraged to give Ghusl, though in the case of spousal death the spouse may perform the washing. The body should be washed three times. If, after three washings, the body is not entirely clean, it may be washed more, though ultimately the body should be washed an odd number of times. The body should be washed in the following order: upper right side, upper left side, lower right side, lower left side. Women’s hair should be washed and braided into three braids. Once clean and prepared, the body should be covered in a white sheet. To shroud the body, three large white sheets of inexpensive material should be laid on top of each other. The body should be placed on top of the sheets. Women should, at this point, be dressed in an ankle-length sleeveless dress and head veil. If possible, the deceased’s left hand should rest on the chest and the right hand should rest on the left hand, as in a position of prayer. The sheets should then be folded over the body, first the right side and then the left side, until all three sheets have wrapped the body. The shrouding should be secured with ropes, one tied above the head, two tied around the body, and one tied below the feet. The body should then be transported to the mosque (“masjid”) for funeral prayers, known as “Salat al-Janazah.”
Salat al-Janazah (funeral prayers) should be performed by all members of the community. Though the prayers should be recited at the mosque, they should not be recited inside the mosque; instead, they should be performed in a prayer room or study room, or in the mosque’s courtyard. Those praying should face the “qiblah”—that is, toward Mecca—and form at least three lines, with the male most closely related to the person who died in the first line, followed by men, then children, then women. After Salat al-Janazah has been recited, the body should be transported to the cemetery for burial. Traditionally, only men are allowed to be present at the burial, though in some communities all mourners, including women, will be allowed at the gravesite. The grave should be dug perpendicular to the qiblah, and the body should be placed in the grave on its right side, facing the qiblah. Those placing the body into the grave should recite the line “Bismilllah wa ala millati rasulilllah” (“In the name of Allah and in the faith of the Messenger of Allah”). Once the body is in the grave, a layer of wood or stones should be placed on top of the body to prevent direct contact between the body and the soil that will fill the grave. Then each mourner present will place three handfuls of soil into the grave. Once the grave has been filled, a small stone or marker may be placed at the grave so that it is recognizable. However, traditionally, it is prohibited to erect a large monument on the grave or decorate the grave in an elaborate way.