Somali Death Practices

by L-Johnson

Mogadishu which literally means "The Seat of the Shah" is the largest and the capital city of Somalia.

In the East African country of Somalia, the Somali people will bury the body of someone who’s passed the same day they die. Verses of the Quraan are read to make the spirit leave the body. The body is prepared by closing the eyes and mouth, and straightening out the limbs. The body is hand washed with warm water by the women in the family if the deceased is female, or by men in the family if he is a male. Prayers are said while the body is being tenderly washed. Make-up is not traditionally used, but a perfume called Adar is sprayed on the body. The body is then wrapped with white cotton cloths from head to foot so the body doesn’t move around.

The deceased is then taken to a mosque for prayers, where a special good-bye prayer called Janaaso is said. The body leaves the mosque draped in a green cloth, embroidered in gold with the name of Allah. A part is made in the cloth near the face so it can have direct contact with the earth. The body is then buried without a casket in a large rectangular hole dug in the ground. The body is covered with grass or leaves, sometimes sawdust or soil, and then covered by wood. The large hole is filled back up with soil. Somalis believe that the life of the person is complete, so there is no need to spend a lot of money on elaborate funeral procedures.

Somalis believe that when a person passes, their spirit goes to the afterworld. Their lives and deaths are in the hands of Allah, so they don’t worry about death and accept that it can occur at any time. In the few cities that record death information, the records indicate the cause of death is “by God’s will”.

Read more:

Somali Funeral Traditions | EthnoMed

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