Focusing on the Spiritual Side Rather than the Cultural Side
Bismillahir Rahman ir Rahim
By Imam Abdullah El-Amin, TMO
O mankind. We created you from a single pair of a male and a female, and made you into nations and tribes, that you may know each other (so you can grow). But verily the one most honored of you in the Sight of ALLAH is the most righteous of you. And ALLAH has full knowledge and is well acquainted (with everything).
This is a big world that we live in and have jurisdiction over. And in every part of this glorious creation the vegetation on the land is different; climates are different; animals are different and of course, people are different. He left us this vast area of land containing many countries, cities, states etc. And they are all different. This is a fact as expressed in the above sura, and many other places of the Qurâ€™an, by our Lord Savior, and Master, Almighty ALLAH.
Additionally, as we are also aware, ALLAH, The Almighty, left us with one general message, the last scriptural message human beings will ever receive.
It is obvious with so many ethnic groups and cultures, it is impossible for all Muslims to practice the religion the exact same way. An example is the many different ways various schools of thought perform the obligatory salat. Nearly every school has its own particular rituals or steps in the salah â€“ and this is just in the Sunni branch. We havenâ€™t even mentioned the Shia differences. But one thing is certain. Each school says they are correct and that their way is the ONLY way. They say â€œitâ€™s the way the Prophet did it.â€ (s)
Now we come to questions about that great equalizer called death. A brother called me the other day to ask me about my funeral businessâ€™ practice of shipping human remains to other countries for burial if requested by the family or next of kin. He insisted it was haram because of the delay in burying the body and also the necessity of exchanging of body fluids. He was very kind and respectful in his inquiry and I told him I would write about it in this column; not to give you the â€œreal truthâ€ â€“ because I donâ€™t believe that I, nor anyone else, have the final answer â€“ only ALLAH, highly glorified is He, knows all.
Some people say you can view the face; some say its haram. Some say you put the kaffan on from right to left. Others say it is imperative to start it from left to right. Some say you MUST wash the body with the feet pointing toward Qibla. Others say it must be done with the head pointing that way. Some say you make wudu before ghusl â€“ others do it afterwards. Who is to say?
The death of a loved one is a very traumatic time for people and each person has their own personal way of coming to closure. I think the best way is to have good intentions before, during, and after the burial procedure. Of course we at Rahman Funeral Home strive to follow and submit to what we think ALLAH and Muhammad (s), the Messenger has lain out â€“ but so does everyone else I believe. In servicing so many different cultures, I have come to the conclusion that if ALLAH did not forbid it, the person has to come to their own conclusion, starting with the intention to please ALLAH (or at least donâ€™t displease Him). We are proud to have the first lady licensed funeral director in the State of Michigan, Sister Helon Rahman. This ensures privacy and respect for any of our sisters that make their transition.
ALLAH revealed the above scripture so we can learn to know, love and respect each other and get along with each other. Cultural and ethnic differences are good. But they are for the purpose of uniting â€“ not dividing.
As Salaam alaikum
(Al Hajj) Imam Abdullah El-Amin