Why Muslims Practice Direct Burial as Explained to Me by My Pakistani Friend
My moonlighting at The Parkesburg Point has connected me to people who are outside my traditional tribes.
Last night, I spoke with a first generation Pakistani named Annis (that’s probably spelled wrong) whose son was serving community service at The Point. We discussed religion (he’s an interesting mix of Islam, Hindu and Christian) and then we talked about death.
His mother had died a few years back and he told me how she saw the ghost of Muhammad before she died. According to Annis, before people die they see apparitions of a religious figure.
In Pakistan, Islam is the predominant religion, but there’s a mix of Hindu and Christianity. Nevertheless, most Pakistanis bury the traditional Islamic method: direct burial.
The body is washed.
The body is shrouded in linen.
The body is prayed over.
The body is buried.
So far, Annis wasn’t telling me anything I didn’t know. Then he asked me, “Do you believe that the spirit dwells around the body after death?”
I replied, “I don’t know for certain there’s a spirit and I don’t know if it dwells around the body.”
He then asked, “When you talk about a newly deceased person at your funeral home, do you use present tense or past tense?”
I thought about it for a couple seconds and replied, “Present tense.”
“See!” he said. “You believe the spirit is still dwelling around the body.” And although I didn’t buy his logic, I did appreciate how he used this point to explain his understanding of direct burial.
“We believe that the spirit is only at peace when it is buried. So we must bury right away and treat the body properly or the spirit will not find peace. If a body is not treated properly, that spirit will not find peace.”
“Well,” I thought to myself, “that explains a number of burial customs.”
A spirit will only find peace when it’s body is buried properly.