WHAT TO DO WHEN SOMEONE DIES?
The death of someone in the family or of a friend is often a time of great stress and emotion.
Quite often people are not familiar with what to do, either from a religious point of view or in terms of the practical steps that need to be completed to bury one’s loved ones. The practical steps that are covered relate to the paperwork which needs to be completed to meet legal requirements; and to organising the funeral itself. What is most important to realise is that if you are unsure about any aspect, or if you need help and support, members of the extended family, close friends and your local Mosque are always available to help and consult.
It is Sunnah, on hearing of the death of a fellow Muslim, to recite the following brief prayer:
إِنَّا لِلّهِ وَإِنَّـا إِلَيْهِ رَاجِعُونَ
Indeed to Allãh do we belong and to Him we shall return.
(Sũrah alBaqarah Verse 156, Sahĩh Muslim 918)
Flowchart of Procedure
If the case is of a complicated nature or you require any further assistance, please contact Birmingham Muslim Burial Council
Required documents for burial
If the death was expected, contact the deceased’s GP who attended the deceased during their final illness or MacMillan/District Nurses, as appropriate.
The attending Doctor/Nurse will confirm the death and should issue a confirmation certificate or Formal Notice of death. This should not be mistaken for the Medical Certificate Cause of Death (otherwise referred to as the MCCD or Death Certificate)
N.B: In some circumstance the attending Doctor may be able to issue the MCCD (death certificate) at this juncture. This is normally the case where the attending Doctor has treated the patient in the 14 days before death.
If the doctor treating the deceased had not seen him or her either after the death or within 14 days before the death, the death must be reported to the Coroner, as explained later in section 4 of this guide.
If the death occurs in hospital, the hospital staff will contact the person named by the deceased as next of kin.
If close family or friends are in hospital, it is important that you make sure that hospital staff are aware of and have recorded details of the next of kin in case of emergency.
A Doctor will issue a Formal Notice and MCCD, as in 2, above. Again the 14 day rules as outlined in above in section 2 will apply.
The hospital will keep the body in the hospital mortuary until MCCD has been issued AND the next of kin arranges for it to be taken away.
Please note that in some hospital trusts the hospital will not release the body until the Certificate for Burial (Green Form) is obtained from the Registrar of Deaths.
If you are asked for permission to do a post-mortem then please do not agree to this. As it is an expected death, doctors will only ask for research purposes. Islam does not permit post-mortems if they are not required by the law.
New Medical Examiner System
From 1st April 2019, all deaths that occur in a hospital will need to be referred to a Medical Examiner who will be based at the hospital. The Medical Examiner will be required to come to an agreement with the consultant on the cause of death. The medical Cause of Death Certificate will require the Medical Examiner’s signature. It will be the decision of the Medical Examiner whether to refer the case to the coroner.
Currently this is a non-statutory requirement, but several hospitals around the country have already implemented this system which is expected to become statutory.
At the present time this system only applies to hospital deaths but there are plans for it to be used for all deaths
In the event of an unexpected death in the community, please call 999 in the first instance. The attending Ambulance service will confirm the death and issue a Formal Notice. At this point your local Funeral Director should be contacted to make the necessary arrangements for the deceased until the MCCD has been issued.
The attending Ambulance services will either:
- Refer the case to the Coroner
- Ask the next of kin to contact the GP
If the doctor treating the deceased had not seen him or her either after the death or within 14 days before the death, the death must be reported to the Coroner. For unexpected deaths in the community, this is usually the case.
Note: Many GP surgeries do not operate at weekends and this may result in delays in obtaining the Medical Cause of Death. Our strong advice is that you should always be mindful of the out-of-hour’s provision for your GP surgery.
In most circumstances of unexpected death, the Coroner is likely to be the only person to certify the cause of death.
In the event of a post mortem being required the next of kin should request for a non-invasive post mortem (i.e CT or MRI Scan) and request for prioritisation.
Procedure for the prioritisation of requests to release bodies
In determining requests for the prompt release of bodies, The Birmingham and Solihull Coroner has adopted the following procedure:
- Requests for prioritisation will only be considered when they are made by the next of kin or someone nominated on their behalf.
- The person making the request should contact the Coroner’s office by telephoning: 0121 303 3228 during office hours or emailing: firstname.lastname@example.org.
- The person asking for prioritisation will be asked to explain their relationship to the deceased and the reason for the urgency. Reasons for requesting the prompt release of a body can include and are not restricted on religious grounds. Religious or cultural belief will be considered where it is relevant to the deceased or the family of the deceased. All requests regardless of the grounds for the request will be forwarded immediately to the Coroner who will consider each one individually as soon as practicable.
Important: Only one member of the bereaved family should be nominated to act on the families behalf in dealing with the Coroners office.
If a baby is stillborn (born dead after 24 weeks of pregnancy) you will be given a Medical Certificate of Stillbirth signed by the midwife or doctor, which should be given to the Registrar of Deaths.
If no doctor or midwife was present and no doctor or midwife examined the body, you will not be given a Medical Certificate of Stillbirth. You must however sign a form (Form 35) which the Registrar of Deaths will give to you when you go to register the death.
If a baby is stillborn before 24 weeks of pregnancy it is treated as a “non-viable foetus”. You will be given a form by the midwife or doctor recording the details of the non-viable foetus.
You do not need to register the death of a non-viable foetus with the Registrar of Deaths; no other paperwork is involved.
The hospital will ask whether the family will take care of the disposal of the foetus or stillborn remains or whether the hospital should do so. In every circumstance, please ensure that you opt for carrying out the arrangements yourself. See below for the Islamic perspective.
In Islam a foetus is defined as a morsel of flesh / blood / water if less than 120 days inside a mother’s womb. It becomes human after 120 days (17.14 weeks).
A birth given after 120 days of pregnancy that is stillborn must be given a name. If it is difficult to determine the sex of the child, then a neutral name suitable for both boys and girls must be given.
Both a foetus and stillborn must be buried. It is important that you do this promptly, especially for “non-viable foetuses”, because if you do not then the hospital will make arrangements for disposal/burial in a multi-faith mass grave and your baby will be denied a Muslim burial.
Appendix A includes a table that explains the requirements regarding the funeral of a foetus and stillborn.
In Islam, there are different schools of thought regarding organ donation. Consult the Ulama (scholars) you are happy with and act according to their ruling.
Upon receipt of the Medical Certificate Cause of Death (MCCD), book an appointment at the local registry office and make the office aware that the deceased is of the Muslim faith and requires prompt registration in accordance with their religious beliefs.
Documents required for registration:
- Medical Certificate Cause of Death (MCCD)
- Passport of the deceased or any formal ID (i.e Driving License)
- Proof of address of the deceased
COVID-19 Process: Upon receipt of MCCD, this should be immediately emailed to the registry office at RORegistrations@birmingham.gov.uk (or your local registration office) by the healthcare professional i.e GP or hospital. Birmingham Muslim Burial Council have arranged for prompt registration of Muslim deaths in order to allow for speedy burial in accordance with Shariah. For this to take place, the email should have “URGENT MUSLIM” in the subject line.
Once the MCCD has been sent the next of kin will need to complete a pre-registration of death form online.
The Coroner is a doctor or lawyer responsible for investigating deaths. In any of the following circumstances the doctor may report the death to the Coroner:
- If the cause of death is unknown or uncertain.
- The death was sudden and unexplained, e.g. a sudden infant death (cot death).
- The death occurred in prison or in police custody.
- The death was caused by an accident or injury.
- The death was caused by an industrial disease.
- The death occurred while the patient was undergoing an operation or did not recover from the anesthetic.
Also as noted above, if the doctor treating the deceased had not seen him or her either after the death or within 14 days before the death, the death must also be reported to the Coroner.
The Coroner is likely to be the only person to certify the cause of death under the above circumstances.
Where there is a post mortem required, the guidelines from the Chief Coroner is that in certain circumstances local coroners should allow the families to undertake a non-invasive Post mortem (CT or MRI Scan).
They should enquire with the relevant coroner if this is possible.
For people who live in London, there are currently two options: one at John Radcliffe Hospital in Oxford and the other is at Whittington Hospital in London.
Please bear in mind that the cost of the non-invasive Post Mortem will have to be borne by the family and could be up to £1,000 * including transportation. There is a small chance that the non-invasive Post Mortem could be non-conclusive, and an Invasive Post Mortem would still be necessary. This whole process could potentially cause a delay in the burial.
*The cost stated is approximate as at April 2019 and is subject to change and should be checked and confirmed.
The Coroner may arrange for a post-mortem examination of the body to determine the cause of death if not known. The consent of relatives is not needed but they are entitled to be represented at the examination. When relatives have told the Coroner, they wish to be represented, the Coroner will, if at all practical, tell them when and where the examination will be.
If the post-mortem shows that death was due to natural causes, the Coroner may issue a notification known as the Pink Form (Form 100), which gives the cause of death so that the death can be registered. The Coroner usually sends the form directly to the Registrar of Deaths but may give it to you to deliver.
An inquest is an enquiry into the medical cause and circumstances of a death. It is held in public, sometimes with a jury. It is up to the Coroner how to organise the enquiry in a way which best serves the public interest and the interests of the relatives.
The Coroner will hold an inquest if the death was:
- Violent or unnatural.
- Caused by an industrial disease.
- The death occurred in prison, or
- If the cause of death remains uncertain after post-mortem examination.
The Coroner may give you an Order for Burial (Form 101) so that the funeral can take place.
This may be done before the inquest is completed, provided the body is not required for further examination.
The Coroner will also send a Certificate After Inquest (Form 99 [rev]), stating the cause of death, to the Registrar of Deaths. This allows the death to be registered.
When you go to the Registrar, you should take all of the following:
- The Medical Certificate of the cause of the death given by the doctor or the Pink Form (Form 100) given to you by the Coroner.
- The deceased’s medical card, if possible.
- The deceased’s birth and marriage certificates, if available.
You should tell the Registrar:
- The date and place of death.
- The deceased’s last (usual) address.
- The deceased’s first names and surname (and the maiden name where appropriate).
- The deceased’s date and place of birth (town and country if born in the UK, and country if born abroad).
- The deceased’s occupation and the name and occupation of their spouse.
- Whether the deceased was receiving a pension or allowance from public funds.
- If the deceased was married, the date of birth of the surviving widow or widower.
The Registrar who registers the death will give you the Certificate for Burial (known as the Green Form), unless the Coroner has already given you an Order for Burial (Form 101). For a stillbirth, you will instead be given a Certificate of Registration of Stillbirth.
The above forms (only one of them is required, not both) give permission for the body to be buried. No burial can take place at the cemetery without presenting one of these forms to cemetery staff.
In addition, certain other paperwork including the Death Certificate is obtained at the same time as the death is registered.
Note: A Death Certificate will not be issued during the out-of-hours service. Only the Green Burial Order will be issued. You will need to register the death and obtain a death certificate within 5 days of the death.
As soon as you have the right documents for burial, or are sure of getting the documents by a particular time, you must plan the funeral.
You must have a Certificate for Burial (known as the Green Form) or Order for Burial (form 101) that a Coroner has issued otherwise a burial cannot take place. The process for obtaining these documents is explained above.
There are five main points for the preparation of a Muslim’s body for burial as listed below:
- Body Washing (Ghusl).
- Shrouding the body (Kafn).
- Funeral Prayers (Janazah Salah).
- Funeral procession (carrying the funeral bier to the grave).
- Burial (Tadfeen).
The practical aspects of arranging a funeral covers:
- Making arrangements for Ghusl.
- Arranging transport of the body (from wherever it is being kept to the place where Ghusl is to take place; to the home of the family if required; to the Mosque if Janazah Salah is to take place there and then finally to the cemetery).
- Making arrangements with the cemetery.
You can arrange all or any of the above either through your local Mosque or through a Muslim funeral director. You can, if you have the knowledge, do any or all of the above yourself with help from friends and family.
Also find out if the person who died had already made arrangements for burial in a particular cemetery by checking their will and/or looking through their documents.
In accordance with Shariah, the burial should not be delayed on any account or for the arrival of family members or for any other reason.
After death, bathing and shrouding should be performed as quickly as possible. If it is possible to arrange the burial of the deceased in the morning, one should not delay until late afternoon.
Abu Hurayrah (radi Allahu ‘anh) has narrated that the Prophet (sallallahu alayhi wa sallam) said:
“Make haste in burying the deceased: because if it is the Janazah of a pious servant, then enjoin this goodness with its station quickly; and if it is the Janazah of an evil person then quickly dispose of such a load from your shoulders.” (Sahih Bukhari 1315, Sahih Muslim 944)
Sometimes, on account of a certain relative being overseas and this person’s inability to arrive quickly, burial is delayed for up to two or even three days. Shariah has prohibited such a practice.
- Like other prayers, facing the Qiblahis a necessary condition. The Imãmshould advise the people to straighten the rows.
- Niyyah (Intention):Making intention is necessary for the Janãzah Salãh just as it is necessary in other prayers. Before beginning the prayer, the intention should be made in the heart that one is performing the Janãzah Salãh for Allãhbehind the Imãm.
- First Takbĩr (Takbĩr Tahrĩmah): The hands are raised up to shoulder level with the fingers stretching to the earlobes and the Imãmsays “Allãhu Akbar”loudly and the congregation softly. The hands are then folded under the navel, right hand over left like all daily Salãh.
- Sũrah alFãtihaor Thanã: After the Imãmhas initiated the Salãh, the person should recite either Sũrah alFãtiha or Thanã softly:
الْحَمْدُ لِلَّهِ رَبِّ الْعَالَمِينَ، الرَّحْمَنِ الرَّحِيمِ، مَالِكِ يَوْمِ الدِّينِ، إِيَّاكَ نَعْبُدُ وَإِيَّاكَ نَسْتَعِينُ، اهْدِنَا الصِّرَاطَ الْمُسْتَقِيمَ، صِرَاطَ الَّذِينَ أَنْعَمْتَ عَلَيْهِمْ غَيْرِ الْمَغْضُوبِ عَلَيْهِمْ وَلَا الضَّالِّينَ
Praise be to Allãh, the Lord of the universe. The most Gracious, the most Merciful. Master of the Day of Judgement. You alone we worship, and [from] You alone we ask for help. Guide us [to] the straight path. The path of those on whom you have bestowed your grace, not of those who earned [your] wrath, nor of those who have gone astray.
سُبْحَانَكَ اللَّهُمَّ وَ بِحَمْدِكَ وَتَبَارَكَ اسْمُكَ وَتَعَالَى جَدُّكَ وَلاَ إِلَهَ غَيْرُكَ
Glory be to You Oh Allãh, praise be to You, blessed is Your name, and exalted is Your Majesty, and there is none to be served besides You.
- Second Takbĩr: The Imãmwill say the second Takbĩrand the congregation should follow. One should not raise the hands.
After the second Takbĩr the person performing the Janãzah Salãh should recite Durũd softly. It is preferable to read the Durũd Ibrahĩm, which is recited in Tashahhud.
اللَّهُمَّ صَلِّ عَلَى مُحَمَّدٍ وَعَلَى آلِ مُحَمَّدٍ كَمَا صَلَّيْتَ عَلَى إِبْرَاهِيمَ وَعَلَى آلِ إِبْرَاهِيمَ إِنَّكَ حَمِيدٌ مَجِيدٌ. اللَّهُمَّ بَارِكْ عَلَى مُحَمَّدٍ وَعَلَى آلِ مُحَمَّدٍ كَمَا بَارَكْتَ عَلَى إِبْرَاهِيمَ وَعَلَى آلِ إِبْرَاهِيمَ إِنَّكَ حَمِيدٌ مَجِيدٌ
Oh Allãh! Shower Your mercy upon Muhammad s and the followers of Muhammad s as You showered Your mercy upon Ibrahĩm u and the followers of Ibrahĩm u. Indeed, You are Praiseworthy, Glorious. Oh Allãh! Shower Your blessings upon Muhammad s, and the followers of Muhammad s as You showered Your blessings upon Ibrahĩm u and the followers of Ibrahĩm u. Indeed, You are Praiseworthy, Glorious.
- Third Takbĩr: The Imãmwill say the third Takbĩrand the congregation should follow. One should not raise the hands. The congregation should then recite the appropriate Du’ã.
Janãzah Du’ã for an Adult Male or Female
اللَّهُمَّ اغْفِرْ لِحَيِّنَا وَمَيِّتِنَا، وَشَاهِدِنَا وَغَائِبِنَا، وَصَغِيرِنَا وَكَبِيرِنَا، وَذَكَرِنَا وَأُنْثَانَا، اللَّهُمَّ مَنْ أَحْيَيْتَهُ مِنَّا فَأَحْيِهِ عَلَى الإِسْلامِ، وَمَنْ تَوَفَّيْتَهُ مِنَّا فَتَوَفَّهُ عَلَى الإِيمَانِ اللَّهُمَّ لَا تَحْرِمْنَا أَجْرَهُ، وَلَا تُضِلَّنَا بَعْدَهُ
Oh Allãh! Forgive those of us that are alive and those of us that are dead; those of us that are present and those of us who are absent; those of us who are young and those of us who are adults; our males and our females. Oh Allãh! Whomsoever You keep alive, let him live as a follower of Islam and whomsoever You cause to die, let him die a Believer. Oh Allãh! Do not deprive us of his reward and do not allow us to go astray after him.
Janãzah Du’ã for a Boy
اللَّهُمَّ اجْعَلْهُ لَنَا فَرَطًا وَاجْعَلْهُ لَنَا أَجْرًا وَذُخْرًا وَاجْعَلْهُ لَنَا شَافِعًا وَمُشَفَّعًا
Janãzah Du’ã for a Girl
اللَّهُمَّ اجْعَلْهَا لَنَا فَرَطًا وَاجْعَلْهَا لَنَا أَجْرًا وَذُخْرًا وَاجْعَلْهَا لَنَا شَافِعَةً وَمُشَفَّعَةً
Oh Allãh! Make him/her (this child) a source for our salvation and make him / her a source of reward and treasure for us and make him / her an intercessor for us and one whose intercession is accepted.
- There are also other Du’ãs which are narrated from the Prophet Muhammad s and they can be found in the various books of Ahadith.
- Any of these Du’ãs can be read.
Abũ Hurayrah t narrates that the Prophet s has mentioned:
زُورُوا الْقُبُورَ فَإِنَّهَا تُذَكِّرُكُمُ الآخِرَةَ
“Visit the graves for they will remind you of the hereafter.”
(Ibn Mãjah 1596, Nasaĩ 2034)
The Prophet Muhammad s taught the following words as salutation to the people of the graves and a prayer for their forgiveness:
السَّلامُ عَلَيْكُمْ أَهْلَ الدِّيَارِ مِنَ الْمُؤْمِنِينَ وَالْمُسْلِمِينَ وَإِنَّا إِنْ شَاءَ اللهُ لَلَاحِقُونَ أَسْأَلُ اللهَ لَنَا وَلَكُمُ الْعَافِيَةَ
Peace be upon you oh dwellers of the graves, among the believers, and Muslims, and we shall be joining (you) Allãh willing. I seek well-being from Allãh for you and us.
(Sahĩh Muslim 975)
University Hospitals NHS Trust Birmingham Tel: 0121 371 2000
Good Hope Hospital: Tel: 0121 424 7404
Heartlands Hospital: Tel: 0121 424 1476
Queen Elizabeth Hospital Birmingham: Tel: 0121 371 2450
Solihull Hospital: Tel: 0121 424 5360
City and Sandwell Hospital NHS Trust Tel: 0121 554 3801/0121 553 1831
City Hospital Certificate Office (Bereavement) 0121 507 4638
Sandwell Hospital Tel: 0121 553 1831
Rowley Regis Hospital Tel: 0121 507 6300
Manor Hospital Walsall NHS Trust Tel: 01922 721172
Bereavement Office: 01922 656837
New Cross Hospital Royal Wolverhampton NHS Trust Tel: 01902 307999
Local Coroner Offices
Birmingham Coroner Office Tel: 0121 303 3920/0121 303 3228
e mail: email@example.com
Sandwell & Black Country Coroner Office Tel: 0121 569 7200
e mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Local Register Offices
Sandwell Register Office Tel: 0121 368 1188
Dudley Register Office Tel: 0300 555 2345
Walsall Register Office Tel: 0845 111 2847
Birmingham Register Office Tel: 0121 675 1000/0121 675 1004
Birmingham Muslim Burial Council Mob: 07735079839/07730815108
Muslim Burials Walsall Mob: 07817401702
National Burial Council