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An Islamic View on Women Attending Funerals

Due to the high-profile funeral ceremony of King Hussein of Jordan and the spotlight on Queen Noor, several statements have been erroneously made concerning the attendance of women in the service. The custom of excluding women from funeral ceremonies is a cultural tradition garbed in Islamic clothing that varies from one place to another, applied for example in Pakistan and Saudi Arabia but not necessarily in Egypt or Syria. Iran, considered by several media in the West as the most fundamentalist state in the Middle East, does not bar women from attending funeral services.

According to the Quran and the traditions of Prophet Muhammad, there is no established law that forbids women’s attendance. Prophet Muhammad’s burial was witnessed by several women, including those from his family. The Prophet’s wife, Ayesha, witnessed the burials of the first and second caliphs, Abu Bakr, her father, and Umar. She is also a source of several traditions (hadith) of the Prophet Muhammad.

Grief is a natural human emotion that cannot, and need not, be stamped out but should be dignified, noble, demonstrative of our faith. Muslims’ behavior is supposed to reflect Islam's belief that, rather than an end, death is a transition to another life that is eternal and, for the believer, much better than this one. The passing of someone dear to us, the attendance of a funeral, or visiting of tombs are to be reminders of the impermanence and fleeting nature of this life and an exhortation for us to seek the next one with good deeds.

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