In multicultural country like Malaysia, rituals differ according to one’s religion and culture (The Star Online 2011). As Malaysia dominantly is a Muslim country, most of birth and death rites are followed the Muslim’s guideline. I am going to share about death rites in Malaysia from Muslim perspectives. Just like other people in other countries, death is determined by checking the pulse or heartbeat. Some of the citizens choose to call police in order to examine the cause of death if someone involved in an accident and some choose to call hospital immediately to confirm the vital. As analyzed by Malaysiakini in their website, the majority of death in police custody reported in media and Suara Rakyat Malaysia (SUARAM) (which means Malaysia citizen voice), are Indians (Malaysiakini 2018). Also, death that involved police mostly will be posted in media. When one’s body is confirmed dead, the family members will take them home to start the death ritual. In Islam, the death ritual has to be done as soon as possible.
First and foremost, people will clean up the body just like taking a bath. They will clean the dead body with water three times until there no more dirt and feces. One’s who clean the dead body should not tell people bad thing about the body such as if the dead body has scars or anything else (Utusan Online 2013). Second, the body must be shrouded with white cloth. The shroud cloth must be white, dry, and cover all the body parts. For men, it has to be three layers while five layers for women. Third, people will perform prayers to the body. Here the steps of the prayers according to Siraplimau website (Nazurah Hassan 2016):
- The body must be clean and face the qiblat.
- Prayer must be performed after the body being cleaned and shrouded with white cloth.
- The body must be put in front of the people who will perform prayers.
After the prayers, the body will be march to the cemetery to be buried. The hole to bury the body must be two meters depth in order to avoid the bad smell and safe from wild animals. After that, there will be another prayers being performed at the cemetery (Utusan Online 2013). From the Star Online, Ustaz Khas shares: “At the Muslim burial, once the body has been lowered into the grave, and the prayers have been recited, those presents will take three handfuls of Earth and throw it into the grave. The significance of this is that we come from Earth and to the Earth we shall return” (The Star Online 2011). He also shares “In Islam, you are not encouraged to cry too much or scream when someone is dead” (The Star Online 2011).
After all the death ritual is done, the family members usually will serve people who come for the ritual with food and drinks. However, it depends to the family whether they afford to do so or not. They believe that the food is being served as a significance that we should not only serve food to people when we are happy but we also have to share some food when we sorrow with someone’s death (BH Online 2015).
Last but not least, all deaths must be registered even though death is something that no one hopes for. In Malaysia, the next-of-kin must register the death within seven days of the death being recorded by police or hospital. The death also must be reported to The National Registration Department in order to issue a death certificate (ExpatFocus n.d.). To conclude, death is not the opposite of life, but a part of it.
BH Online. (2015). Agama: Kenduri Arwah Jika Ikhlas. BH Online. Retrieved from https://www.bharian.com.my/node/62778
ExpatFocus. (n.d.). Malaysia-Death. ExpatFocus. Retrieved from https://www.expatfocus.com/expatriate-malaysia-death
Malaysiakini. (2018). Reporting Deaths in Police Custody: Behind the Numbers. Malaysiakini. Retrieved from https://pages.malaysiakini.com/deathincustody/
Nazurah Hassan. (2016). Panduan Solat Jenazah yang Lengkap Beserta Doa. SirapLimau. Retrieved from https://siraplimau.com/cara-solat-jenazah-lengkap-doa/
The Star Online. (2011). Final farewell. The Star Online. Retrieved from https://www.thestar.com.my/travel/malaysia/2011/04/07/final-farewell/
Utusan Online. (2013). Pengurusan Jenazah. Utusan Online. Retrieved from http://ww1.utusan.com.my/utusan/Bicara_Agama/20130101/ba_02/Pengurusan-jenazah