Performing Janaza In The Time Of Coronavirus

The Muslim community has found itself in a dilemma over performing Janaza (funeral rights) during the pandemic.

Performing Janaza In The Time Of Coronavirus

The Muslim community has found itself in a dilemma over performing Janaza (funeral rights) during the pandemic.

By

Najaha Nauf
Photo -

With the coronavirus (COVID-19) global death toll reaching high death tolls, the Muslim community has found itself in a dilemma over the Janaza (funeral rights) to be performed on those who have passed away during this time. 

Janaza includes bathing the body of the deceased, shrouding them with white cloth as they are not to be buried in their casual clothing, praying Janaza prayer and eventual burial within 24 hours of passing. However, the amount of deaths per day and safety measures to take into consideration have made this ritual difficult to carry out and many Muslims around the world have voiced out their concerns. 

Countries like the U.S., who have a record number of most deaths reported daily due to COVID-19, have been given strict guidelines to adhere to with regards to the funeral, including minimal contact with the deceased and limitation for members in a gathering. Families of the deceased have been urged to speak with their community religious leaders concerning alteration to rituals. 

While this is a breath of relief for the U.S. Muslim community, certain countries are not given as much freedom to practice this ceremony. For instance, in Sri Lanka, those who have died from COVID-19 are subjected to cremation instead of burial despite the World Health Organization (WHO) releasing a statement that includes guidelines stating burial as a possible means of disposal. The government of Sri Lanka has released a gazette containing guidelines of their own, which state that those who have passed on due to the virus are to be cremated, regardless of religious beliefs. This has upset the Muslim community due to the blatant rigidity with which they have treated their own people and the lack of scientific back-up to their claims. While several community and religious leaders have formed petitions against the violation of rights, it goes to show that not all parts of the world are able to implement the same rituals.  

Several fatwas have been issued by various Islamic councils around the world with regards to Janaza during a pandemic as loved ones of those who have passed on have had a difficult time coping with not only the passing but also the guilt of not having fulfilled their rights. Scholars who were asked have mentioned that the Fardh Kifaya (communal obligation) such as washing, shrouding, conducting the funeral prayer and burial can be implemented as long as no safety protocols are violated. 

READ MORE: Here’s How COVID-19 Affects Muslims During Ramadan

 

It’s recommended that washing is to be done by an individual wearing personal protective equipment (PPE) who would be willing to self-quarantine afterwards, to ward off any chances of infection. In the case of complications with regard to use of water, Tayammum (dry ablution) can be considered. 

As for shrouding, most scholars believe that as the minimum requirement of shrouding is for the awrah (private parts) to be covered, if sealed bags are used, then shrouding can take place before sealing. If sealing has already taken place and cannot be undone, the body is to be shrouded over the bag. 

Because those who have died as a result of a plague are considered martyrs in Islam, one view states that it is acceptable for the above rights to not be fulfilled, with regards to heavily infectious cases where both washing and shrouding are not recommended by health professionals. 

Due to inability to perform congregational prayers, it is considered valid even if the funeral prayer is performed by a single person away from the graveyard. With regards to broadcasting of the funeral for loved ones who may not be able to attend, it’s allowed as long as decorum in the face of a funeral is retained. 

Burial is a way of honoring the dead. Burial in an enclosed box or a body bag is considered acceptable as it is better for the community as a whole. Cremation, however, is where Islam draws the line: it is forbidden for a Muslim to be cremated as it is considered a form of mutilation. However, in the case of the government forcing cremation on the community, the bereaved family is to be assured that they are not sinful, nor is this to be considered a sin on the part of the deceased as our lives have been planned by the Best of Planners. Being patient in times of oppression is considered better for you than to be distraught by the fate presented to you. 

The Janaza is followed by a period of mourning where condolences are to be given to the grieving family. Limitations on social gathering and non-essential visits to homes should not restrict you from reaching out, especially not when we live in a time of digital closeness. Give the family a call or drop them a text: let them know that you are thinking of them during these trying times and if possible, extend a helping hand to them. Remember the deceased in your duaas and pray for those who are suffering in silence in the midst of this pandemic.

READ MORE: Here Are Prayers For When You’re Feeling Low On Faith

How To Ensure You Don’t Slip Up After Ramadan

You manage to build a strong system in fixing your spirituality during Ramadan, but how can we maintain it?

How To Ensure You Don’t Slip Up After Ramadan

You manage to build a strong system in fixing your spirituality during Ramadan, but how can we maintain it?

By

Sarah Lashuel
Art - Hafsa Khan (@hafandhaf on IG)

Has the high worn off yet? The spiritual high of Ramadan that is. 

Let me guess, you waited all year for Ramadan to come around so you could get your spirit right, and just like that it was over in a flash. I’m going to also go out on a limb and guess that now you’re trying to promise yourself you’ll keep up all the good work you’ve done, while in the back of your head you know you’ll have to wait until the next Ramadan to do better? 

If that’s you, then I know exactly how it feels. At some point in the year, the previous Ramadan and all the promises you made fade away like a dream. That’s part of what makes the holy month so special right? 

But the feats we accomplish and the lessons we learn are too precious to turn our backs on. Whatever your experience is during the fasting month, if you’ve felt the light of Ramadan and want to keep it shining, or you want to use this as a benchmark for a better you, here’s how.

 

 

Reflecting On Ramadan’s Past

It’s been over a week since Ramadan ended. We may be getting back into our normal routines, but before we get too far along, now is the time to reflect on how the month transpired for you. Not only can this act as a personal send-off for the holy month, but it will also make what you take away more concrete and memorable. 

When we reflect on Ramadan’s past, consider these questions:

  • What was different during Ramadan?
  • What brought me joy?
  • What brought me closer to my faith?
  • What were the challenges I faced? How did I overcome them?
  • How did I prepare for the month? 
  • What could I have done better? 

Using a pen and paper to take notes as you think will help you put words to feelings and even dig up some things you weren’t aware of. Clarity is essential before we can even get into intention or action. Focus on what is important to you. There’s no point in beating yourself up over expectations that don’t align with your needs, circumstances, or goals.

Getting Your Motivation Right 

There’s a reason why Ramadan makes it easier to start and maintain healthier habits and mindsets. The expectations are clear ahead of time. You know what’s going to go down, and you have time to prepare. Everyone’s in this together, your family, friends, and Muslims all over the world. Not to mention, everyone is also doing their best to adjust their schedules and lifestyles to accommodate during the month. With that said, does that mean it ends there? It doesn’t have to. Use the motivations of Ramadan to your advantage to keep the spirit of Ramadan alive all year round. 

Motivation is a lot simpler than we realize. If we like doing something, if it makes us feel good, then we’ll do it, even if it’s not what’s best for us. If something is easy to do, if it’s convenient, if it doesn’t need much effort, we’re more likely to do it right? You can see how true this is in any aspect of your life, like school, work, entertainment, and even friendships. Understanding how motivation works for you is a must if you want to keep yourself from getting stuck in a rut. 

Make things easy for yourself, make them fun. Give yourself the chance to learn about and practice the positive changes you want to make. Give yourself the chance to make them your own!

Set your intentions and then create your game plan. It should be realistic, and it should work with your life! Planning out the steps you need to take means you’re less likely to get overwhelmed by an overbearing feeling of what you “should” be doing.  

Be sure to prepare. Whatever you do, you want to be setting yourself up for success. Simple steps, like pre-downloading books, favoriting podcast episodes, or compiling screenshots of dua into a dedicated album, can make a world of difference that your future self will thank you for. 

Once you start, check in with yourself on the progress you’ve made. Is your plan working? Are you on the right track? Is there something you want to adjust?

As long as you want to make a change, you’re already half-way there. 

Fasting

The act of fasting is the central focus of Ramadan and it is an act that can put us in a different physical, mental, and spiritual state. Many people consider it a reset. From proven health advantages to mental clarity, to spiritual cleansing, there are many reasons why so many of us cherish the opportunity our faith gives us in prescribing we fast for the duration of a  month. 

Fasting throughout the year can bring great benefits, if you are able and well enough to do so. If you aren’t able to fast from food, use the spirit of fasting to mentally detox and gain some perspective. Think about the things in your life you assume you can’t live without, whether it’s social media, or spending on things you don’t need, or even vulgar language: challenge yourself to abstain from them and see what you can learn. 

If it’s safe enough for you to physically fast, then set your intentions early and make sure to prepare. Do it alone, or do it with friends or family. Decide what it is that you’ll look forward to if you accomplish the fast. Prepare by making sure you’re nourished and hydrated the day before you fast. While you may find it more difficult to fast any other time, just remember that if you can do it during Ramadan, you can do it period. Keep your momentum by building trust and confidence in yourself through accomplishment. 

Another way to channel that Ramadan energy is to learn more about intuitive eating. With all the iftar gatherings and incredible food it’s no wonder we got caught up in indulgence once the sun sets. After Ramadan is still a good time to continue being mindful about what we eat and how we eat, and it’s something we can do alongside our everyday routines. Intuitive eating challenges you to learn about your own body’s rhythms and needs, that way you can make lifestyle choices that support you in the best way possible, while considering all the things you don’t need. 

Persistence, Not Perfection

Holidays, festivals, and days of observance can be points in the year that inspire an extra surge of energy and passion. You’ll notice that every faith has fasting as a part of their practice. Allowing yourself to be conscious of this reality can keep the inspiration and reflection going. 

Don’t forget that you’re not alone in this. Reaching out to others may be a great way to spread goodwill and get farther together. Those friends or family who were isolated, or going through hardships during ramadan, their hardships may not end once Eid hits. Check up on them, plan days to have dinner together, find ways to connect. This is where prioritizing your time comes into play – if you could make time for it during Ramadan, see what you can do throughout the year.

If we were meant to become perfect during Ramadan, we’d only ever experience one Ramadan, but that’s not the case. Human beings forget, and struggle, but we also never stop learning. There’s no such thing as taking steps back, every experience you have is moving you forward in one way or another.

READ MORE: What Celebrating Eid Under Quarantine Looks Like