Muslim Funeral Traditions in Kazakhstan

by K-Berens

Kazakhstan's religions are Muslim 47%, Russian Orthodox 44%, other 9%. Above is an Islamic cemetery.

The majority of Kazakhs belong to the Islam faith and identify themselves as Sunni Muslims. Their funerary customs are described as a mix of pre-Islamic beliefs and Muslim customs.

When a person passes away, their body is washed then wrapped in a white shroud. The body is not left unattended for any length of time up until the burial. Women are allowed to mourn openly and emotionally, however along with many other countries women are prohibited from entering the graveyard. The body is carried to the graveyard on a stretcher, and after prayers they lower the body into the ground to be buried.

After the burial the clothing of the deceased is divided amongst people at the funeral. A spear adorned with a flag to indicate mourning is placed by the grave with different colors indicating the age of the deceased – red indicates a young person, black indicates middle aged, and white an elderly person. The flag is not removed until the period of grieving is over, which lasts exactly a year.

Solemn funeral celebrations are held on the third, seventh and fortieth days after the death. On the day of the death the deceased’s favorite horse is shaved of its mane and tail, and exactly one year after, the mourners hold a ceremonial slaughtering of the horse.

Monuments of miniature mausoleums made of clay and brick are often placed on top of the grave, as well as animal bones from a sacrifice.

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