Muslims and Catholics: Dying and Death Practices Comparing
Death and dying are very grave issues and not many people are willing to talk about them openly. Certain rituals and practices are conducted to prepare the dying. In Islam, death symbolizes the transition from life on earth to the eternal abode. Muslims are encouraged not to resist death but to instead view it as the accomplishment of a divine plan. To Muslims, death is not taboo and they are frequently encouraged to reflect on it.
Muslims all over the world practice certain customs in preparation for death, especially following a chronic illness. Starhill et al contend that the wish of many Muslims is that they die at home in line with the Islamic traditions. Friends and relatives visit the dying person and together they recite the Quran as they seek forgiveness. Once a Muslim dies the limbs and straightened, and the mouth and eyes are closed. The body is laid facing Mecca. Burial takes place as soon as possible to avoid family distress. After the body is washed, it is then wrapped in a white cloth and the procession heads to the graveyard where a final prayer is recited before burial.
Among Catholics, death is a gateway to eternal life. In death, Catholics share in Christ’s glory. When we turn away from God, we cannot share in his glory and as the giver of life, he deprives us of life-giving energy. In this regard, death symbolizes our estrangement from God. Through death, we are in fellowship with God. Whether death is expected or sudden, Catholics need to show support and unconditional love to the dying. Caring for the dying includes the alleviation of pain. It is important to note that Catholics are vigorously opposed to euthanasia.
The dying individual is advised to partake in the Sacrament of Unction, to facilitate the restoration of the body and soul. The family, friends, and the laity may also pray the Holy Rosary with the sick. In case the sick is unconscious, audible prayers are recommended. The dying may also wear a crucifix as a symbol of surrendering his/her suffering to Christ. The burial ceremony is preceded by a Holy Mass, during which the faithful celebrate the life of the dead.