Muslim Funeral/Death Traditions, Help?

I tossed up GQ and IMHO, so if I picked wrong please feel free to move.

I have a co-worker who I like very much and whom I have spent a lot of time with, who is a Shiite Muslim (Lebanese, if it matters.) We have had a lot of good conversations and I’ve known him for years - via sales conferences and the like we have spent off-work time together as well, I know his wife and his completely adorable small boys. He’s observant - keeps halal, does 5x prayers a day, tries to fast for Ramadan (sometimes he travels during). His father just died, and they were very close, so close that I’m actually afraid to ask my co-worker this for fear he’ll tear up, and frankly he’s the only Muslim I know well enough personally to ask, so I turn to the Dope for etiquette/cultural advice.

I’d like to send something to him and his family to show sympathy - are flowers appropriate? Is there something more appropriate than flowers? Just a card? Food? (Halal is easy to come by here, so that’s not a problem.) I would send it to his house, not to work.

What is the right thing to do?

Muslim here.

He is a Muslim, not a bloody Klingon. Why do you think a card, food, flowers etc would not be appreciated.?

Furthermore funeral rites are much more a regional rather than a religious or sectarian thing.

Muslim here as well and AK84 pretty much covered it. Over here (in Malaysia) we give cash donations to the next of kin to cover funeral expenses. Is the father in the States or over in the Old Country? You could visit the family during the funeral if possible. But yeah, card, flowers, food, cash…they’re all good.

He’s here.

Thanks to you both - I mostly didn’t want to do the wrong thing, and I know some cultures don’t do flowers. Can you appreciate that? I’m pretty sure he’s not a Klingon, although he is a huge ST:TNG fan and thus might like to be.

Food and flowers it is.

I am not a Muslim (and I will defer to our Muslim friends as to religious requirements and traditions), but it would seem to me that a card and flowers and offering to help in any way that the family needs, would always be appreciated.

Sorry, on reflection I was a bit more snarky and affronted that I had reason to be. I would like to know, which cultures do not do flowers?

Some Jews don’t appreciate them:
http://judaism.about.com/od/deathandmournin1/f/funeral_flowers.htm
http://www.jewish-funerals.org/dresner

Thanks, AK84, I appreciate your response. It was you I had in mind when I asked the question, and nearly just PMed you.

Ignorance fought. Thanks!

My dad didn’t want flowers when my mom died. Mom was just going to be cremated, so what the hell was he going to do with all of the flowers? They ended up being cremated with her, which I thought was nice, but sometimes, people don’t want any.

Food is always good though.

And in Spain, we do flowers but not food, but I imagine that sending a cross-shaped floral arrangement to a Muslim’s funeral would be not so much a no-no as a reasonable justification for the deceased family’s to stop talking to the sender…

A card, addressed to the whole family - since you know the wife and kiddos - with a handwritten message of condolence, is never a bad idea.

Do you know them well enough to offer to babysit the two kids while they’re dealing with funeral arrangements or what-have-you?

And some Jews might not want gifts of non-kosher food, for that matter.

If you feel close enough to this guy … here are my suggestions:

Couple of bags of ice
2 liters or canned sodas
Toilet paper
Disposable cups, napkins, cutlery and nice paper plates
Paper towels
This guy’s house is probably getting flooded with food, so no need to send any noms. However, he’s also probably getting flooded with friends and family. Everyone invariably has to pee while they’re visiting and nobody ever thinks of TP. Nobody ever thinks of drinks, either, because they’re bringing stuff to eat. Paper plates, etc keep the family from having to clean up much and it also puts some of the burden on the visitors to throw away their own stuff (as opposed to sticking a plate in the sink to be washed).

Cash is always good, too. Seriously. Depending on where his dad lived, etc., there may be unexpected costs of travel (especially gas), renting a moving van to haul his dad’s stuff somewhere else, etc. Death can get expensive!

Maybe a gift card to a restaurant or movie tickets? Sometimes it’s good for grieving people to just get out and do something, ya know? Especially since he has kids – poor things have lost their grandpa, maybe a little unexpected fun is in order.

The most important thing you can do, though, is just be there. If you’ve ever lost someone very close to you, you already know what I’m about to say – most of the people you call friends will completely disappear on you after the funeral. It’s not that they don’t love you, they just don’t know what to say and they’re scared of saying the wrong thing and upsetting you. So they hide until you seem to be back to normal. Don’t treat him with kid gloves, of course, but no matter how normal he looks, this guy is essentially gonna be walking around with a heart that may as well have been clawed by a grizzly bear.

I can name quite a few of the people who came to my Mom’s funeral. I can name EVERYONE who called me a month after she died to check up on me – it’s easy, because there was only one.

Thanks for the suggestions, everybody.

The funeral is over, the surrounding ceremony and the funeral took three days. I’m sending food since it is a very big family and many of them at his mum’s house still, particularly the ones from out of town. I’m not all that keen to visit there, because although I have met his mum briefly since she watches the kids, my Arabic is limited to hello, thank you and goodbye, and her English isn’t much better.

It’s such a massive family that all the kids are pretty well looked after by all and sundry family members, the older kids watch the younger ones. Out of town family is there so the kids will be happy to see cousins, aunts and uncles they don’t usually see.

So today I ordered a box of food from the Lebanese grocery in the area and had it sent to his mum’s place with a note (Halal, of course), and sent a card and flowers to my friend’s house. He’s a sales guy so I won’t see him personally until next week but I’ll check in with him then. As I said, I didn’t want to say too much at work just now because I was pretty sure he would just burst into tears. By next week we should be able to have a talk. Once it all settles I’ll visit.

Thanks again. :slight_smile:

Nice work Gleena, I am sure it will be appreciated.

You’re sweet, Gleena :slight_smile:

Seriously. You could get by in a Hindu’s cremation, though it would just confuse the shit out of the family, but we ARE supposed to acknowledge that every faith is a path to God. You’d just get yourself talked about.