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Burying the dead: Why Christians should learn from Muslims

The swiftness with which Yusuf Haji's burial was done questions the essence of expensive funerals

In Summary

• The culture fostered by Sharia Law presents a dignified way of handling the dead. Funerals in Islam entail specific rites.

• Islam calls for burial of the body as soon as possible by a followed by a simple ritual involving bathing and covering the body.

Family members carry the body of the late Garissa Senator Yusuf Haji into a hearse to be transported to a mosque in South C for prayers.
Family members carry the body of the late Garissa Senator Yusuf Haji into a hearse to be transported to a mosque in South C for prayers.
Image: CHARLENE MALWA

The ease with which Muslims conduct their burial ceremonies is an example for Christians to emulate. Take the case of the burial of Garissa Senator Yusuf Haji.

The swiftness with which the event was held brings to question the essence of expensive events mostly witnessed in Christian burials.

The culture fostered by Sharia Law presents a dignified way of handling the dead. Funerals in Islam entail specific rites. Sharia calls for burial of the body as soon as possible by a followed by a simple ritual involving bathing and covering the body.

Muslim burials are conducted within 24 hours of death to protect the living from any sanitary issues, except in the case when foul play is suspected. In such cases, it’s important to establish the cause of death before burial.

The 24 hours ensure that morgue expenses do not escalate unlike with Christians who take up to two weeks or even more to raise money for a ceremony in the name of “giving the deceased an honourable sendoff”.

Equally, Muslims build simple graves for the dead, regardless of the social standing of the deceased.

Burying the deceased in a coffin is forbidden unless there is a requirement that must be followed in a particular area. This is not the case with Christians who mostly abide by the wish of the deceased. This and other cultures project the Islam faith as one that truly respects fthe dead unlike with Christians who only respect them in theory.

A normal Christian’s burial attracts high expenditures that to an extent are unnecessary. A mention of the famous phrase “pesa ya matanga” is overly misused to strike emotions of sympathy and exploitatively solicit funds which at times are not spent for the purpose originally intended. These exploitative schemes extend to WhatsApp groups and uncalled for Harambees, even when there are no hospital bills to clear.

The long procedures employed by the Christian faith present platforms for leaders to politick or for people to address agendas unnecessary in a burial setting. Recently, MPs Simba Arati and Sylvanus Osoro fought at the funeral of Kisii Deputy Governor Joash Maangi's father.

This and other scenarios depict the lack of order in burials officiated by Christian clergy. It is high time for the church, especially in Kenya, to put their house in order regarding burials.

The writer is a communication student at Multimedia University of Kenya

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