Writing an obituary is a significant responsibility. It can be an overwhelming one, too, if you don’t know how to write an obituary properly.
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This task becomes even more intimidating if you’re writing an obituary for someone who had strong religious or spiritual beliefs that are different from yours. You want to respect their beliefs when you write the obituary, but you may not know precisely how to do so. Additionally, depending on how devoted they were to their religion, certain cultural differences may make writing their obituary seem challenging.
For example, maybe you’re not a practicing Muslim, but you’re writing the obituary for someone who was. While the best way to learn how to write a Muslim obituary is to consult with someone familiar with the religion, this guide can also help. It describes the basic steps involved in writing a Muslim obituary and provides some examples.
Tip: Writing an obituary might be just one of the tasks you're facing for the first time after losing a loved one. For help prioritizing the rest, check out our post-loss checklist.
Steps for Writing a Muslim Obituary
Like Muslim funerals, Muslim obituaries can be unique when compared to others, but in general, the process of writing one doesn’t need to be nearly as arduous as you may expect. Simply follow these key steps:
1. Consult with other Muslims
If you’re writing the obituary of a Muslim, there’s a good chance you know other Muslims. If you don’t believe they’ll be too preoccupied with grieving or planning the funeral to offer any help, you could ask them for suggestions regarding how to write an appropriate Muslim obituary.
If this isn’t an option, you could contact a local mosque to see if anyone is available to answer some questions. It’s also not uncommon for religious families to turn to funeral homes and burial services that cater to their particular religion when a loved one dies.
Maybe that’s the case for the person whose obituary you’re writing. If so, the funeral home or burial service may offer an obituary template you can use. A member of their staff might even be willing to directly walk you through the process of writing the obituary.
The Internet can also be a useful resource. There are many online discussion communities for Muslims and those interested in Islam. Members of such communities might be able to offer some useful advice.
2. Read Muslim obituaries
Writing a Muslim obituary becomes much less daunting of a task after you read a few Muslim obituaries. You can easily find plenty of examples online.
You’ll find that most Muslim obituaries aren’t dramatically different from those of any other religion. Of course, there are some features of Muslim obituaries that make them unique.
Specifically, they do tend to reference Allah. They may include such phrases as “returned to Allah” instead of “passed away,” and they may ask readers to pray that “Allah accepts” the deceased.
Muslim obituaries also tend to prioritize mentioning the deceased’s closest personal relationships from the start. For example, a Muslim obituary might begin “[Deceased’s name], wife of [husband’s name], returned to Allah on [date of death].”
3. Don’t forget the basics!
Certain basic steps you should take when writing any obituary still apply when writing a Muslim obituary.
For example, as long as they’re emotionally up to the task, you should speak shortly with other close family members and friends of the deceased to ask if they have any input or want you to include any specific details. Naturally, it’s also important to confirm you have all the essential information about the deceased’s death and life correct.
Keep in mind that not all Muslim obituaries are the same. You’ll learn this quickly after reading a few examples. For example, if the deceased was particularly religious, their obituary may reflect this.
However, plenty of Muslim obituaries only briefly reference the religion, focusing primarily on the deceased’s life, interests, and personality instead. You may ask the family members and friends with whom you speak if they have a preference regarding which type of obituary they’d like you to write.
(Tip: If you want to ask Muslim family members of the deceased for assistance, but you’re not sure how to do so during this sensitive time, you may also want to research what to say when a Muslim friend dies.)
4. Write your draft
Once you believe you have all the necessary information and have done enough research to confidently write a draft, get started.
Writing the draft will be much easier if you take notes during your research and conversations with loved ones (as well as anyone else who you consulted with). You may have to refer to them if you reach a point where you’re unsure if what you’re writing is accurate or proper.
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Ideally, other close loved ones and friends of the deceased will be willing to read the draft of your obituary before you need to submit it to the relevant funeral home and/or publications. You’ll feel much more confident in what you’ve written if they have a chance to review it first.
However, even if they don’t, you still need to reread the draft thoroughly. You don’t want to submit one that contains any errors.
Example Obituaries for a Muslim
Again, if you want to feel more confident in your ability to write an appropriate Muslim obituary, you should read a few real examples online. Websites for Islamic funeral homes offer many. That said, here are some basic examples to help you get started:
Example for a parent or grandparent
[Deceased’s name], wife of [husband’s name], was born on February 3, 1945, and returned to Allah in her home on January 5, 2007. May Allah accept her good deeds and enter into Janat ul Firdous. Those who knew her will remember [deceased’s name] as a devoted wife, mother, and grandmother. She is survived by her [list including husband, children, and grandchildren.]
(Note: Janat ul Firdous is the highest level of Heaven in Islam. Additionally, as you’ll see in real examples, many Muslim obituaries feature a separate section after the main text of the obituary itself listing where and when services are to be held.)
Example for a child
On May 15, 2013, in Philadelphia, PA, [deceased’s name] was born to loving parents [parents’ names]. It is with deep sadness that we must report he returned to Allah on August 9, 2020. He had spent the last two years struggling with cancer. While his time here was short, we believe that, through his many good deeds, he has rejoined Allah. Despite his illness, [deceased’s name] brought laughter wherever he went, and although he was only a child, he was a devoted Muslim. These are the qualities we shall remember most when we think back on his life. “Verily we belong to Allah, and verily to Him we do return.”
Example for a partner or spouse
It saddens us to announce the passing of [deceased’s name], husband to [wife]. He returned to Allah on September 10, 2020.
[Deceased’s name] was born to parents [parents’ names] on October 15, 1930. His life was as remarkable as his spirit. His devotion to Islam inspired him to actively work towards a more fair and just society for all. He earned a degree in political science from Princeton University and later earned his law degree from Columbia. He rose quickly in his career, eventually starting his own firm, through which he offered representation to those less fortunate.
Later, he entered local politics. Colleagues remember him as a man who struck a unique balance. He was driven but warm, passionate but light-hearted. His wife also remembers him this way.
We ask you to pray that Allah has mercy on him for any sins he committed, accepts his numerous good deeds, and enters him into Paradise.
Example for someone who died suddenly
It is with both human sorrow and unbreakable faith that we must share news of the sudden passing of [deceased’s name]. He died of a heart attack on June 8, 2020.
The sudden passing of such a beloved figure in the community certainly comes as a shock to many. However, it is in these moments that we must remember the strength our faith has to lift us up. We believe in Allah’s plan. As mere humans, we may not be able to see the plan now, but as Muslims, we accept it and rejoice in the knowledge that Allah’s wisdom can do no wrong.
This faith was a defining quality of [deceased’s name]. It’s a trait shared by his wife, [wife’s name], and one he instilled in his children, [children’s names]. For that, they will always be grateful and pray to reunite one day in Paradise.
Writing a Muslim Obituary: Tips for an Important Task
Remember, while this guide to writing a Muslim obituary may have been useful, you may still want to consult with experts if you have any lingering questions about the task. Luckily, it’s probably not as difficult as you might have assumed.
“What is Jannatul Firdaus? (Description in Quran).” My Islam. myislam.org/jannatul-firdaus/