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How Muslims Wash, Bury Their Dead

body-washing-dummyBy Tasnim Shamma, WFAE

When a loved one dies, most of us turn to a funeral home or crematorium to take care of the body. In the Islamic tradition, it’s different. Family members often help wash and bury their bodies within 24 hours. But first, you have to learn how to do it.

WFAE's Tasnim Shamma attended a body-washing class and filed this report.

Welcome to the Islamic Society of Greater Charlotte’s washing room.

The walls are white, there are metal tables ready for bodies and it smells kind of like moth balls. And if you’re a Muslim in Charlotte, your body is almost guaranteed to pass through this room.

It wasn’t always that way. Local Muslim bodies used to be taken to local funeral homes to be washed. But Zainab Ahmed says they weren’t always culturally sensitive.

"The thing I did not like was the man was handling the Muslim sister without any clothes," Ahmed says. "So that was very painful for me to see. And since then, I would tell the community members here, those on the board, it is a must. It is necessary. We have to have a washing place."

Three years ago, she got her wish. And today, Ahmed teaches Muslims how to wash bodies. 

The first step is gathering the materials. You need soap, gloves, a comb, a bucket and yards of white cotton cloth. (Read more)

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