Thursday, June 07, 2007

death and cremation

Last night I got an email from my sister telling me that my BILs (her husband) grandmother passed away. She's been going in and out of the hospital for weeks now and a few days back they took her off of the feeding tubes, Hospice came into the home... so everyone knew it was only a matter of time.

Charlie, her daughter (the woman who owns the pot belly pig - in the video at my husband's site), is an only child. I really like her. She has a goodness inside of her and welcomes you in to her home w/ open arms. She loves her pig (whose name is Piggy Sue - just sooo cute!) just like she was part of the family.... this is a woman after my own heart... and I'm sure that's part of the bond between us.

Her father, who is still alive, has Alzheimer's disease. My sister says that he just sits by the window and stares out of it. She wonders if he knows and I feel that he does. I'm sure his wife has told him either before she passed or even in the afterlife. My prayer is that God brings him comfort and eases his sadness.

I found out today that my BILs grandmother is going to be cremated and have her ashes blown into the sea. I believe in cremation and actually decided long ago that I wanted to be cremated when I die. A lot of ppl disagree w/ cremation, but I see it as a beautiful thing. I would love to have my ashes scattered over some beautiful meadow high atop a mountain where the wind always blows and there's always beautiful flowers in the spring time.

All of my cats who have passed were cremated. I have their ashes. All but one, I should say. Our cat Chloe died here in Bahrain and we buried her outside.... and we also buried our baby parakeet that died outside. I've wondered about cremation here for animals and have meant to ask my vet about it, but each time forget.

All of this brings me to my point ..... why do Muslims not cremate the dead?

What if someone wanted to be cremated? Is it against the religion? And, if so, why?

Many, when thinking about cremation, can't see past the fact that your body is burnt to ashes... but when I think about it... your soul has already left your body and there is nothing left but a shell.... so isn't it or shouldn't it be up to the person as to how they want to use their body afterwards?

I'd be interested in your thoughts?

In my last thought... I want to send my love to my sister and her husband, and his mother during this trying time. May God be with you, keep you safe and heal the sadness and pain that you feel inside during this difficult time.


Olivia said...

I don't mind cremation.

I remember learning in Sunday school about the body not being corrupted so that at the Second Coming you'd have a body to take to heaven. But that's just silly - that won't be the body you're taking anyway, you get a new one. What about the poor Christians who died in fires, or the Titanic, or even any who got dismembered? They're not perfect.

Um Naief said...

olivia, i so agree with you. hashim and i were discussing this at lunch today and i asked him about why Islam is against it and he says that it has something to do with it being haram to do anything to your body. that's why drinking, smoking, tattoos and such are against the religion. the body is a holy temple or so i gathered.

anyway... as the discussion went on i asked about these ppl who want to donate their organs or eyes even... which got us both to thinking about it. i see nothing wrong w/ donating a pair of eyes if it'll bring someone sight, or a heart for someone that could die w/out it... to me, religion makes it all too complicated. i don't believe it is meant to be this way.

i remember learning about what you're talking about ... Jesus coming and bodies (if you were a good girl or boy) rising up to go to heaven... or not.... but i was raised to believe in fire and brimstone, and not questioning a thing and such... so cremation was never a positive thing either.

Gardens of Sand said...

Let's see, I am no expert on religion but here are my 2 cents: islam commands its adherents to bury their dead. 'To dignify the dead is to bury him/her.' The custom is close to the Jewish custom in the old testament. In the OT most of the good folks and prophets were buried. It goes w/o saying all muslims are buried when possible. Maybe it is because we are made of dust (through Adam pbuh) and so to it we return.

Besides throughout the monothiestic holy books (torah, injeel/nt and quran, believers were buried rather than burned. It may also be that traditionally, cremation is practised by polythiestic faiths (my theory). It also costs literally nothing to bury the dead in muslim countries.

I personally prefer burial for the reasons above and also coz aint nobody burning me dead or alive!!LOL. I also think it is a beautiful way to complete the circle of life and be a part of it.I am an organ donor and they can take whatever part of me they want!

Cerebralwaste said...

I am so sorry to hear of your recent loss of a family member Tooners.

Organ donors are needed all over the world. If just a small percentage (over those who already do) would be come organ donors there would be no shortage of organs available for transplant. It saddens me that people die waiting for a transplant when there honestly is enough to go around.. If only people would become donors.

Jane said...

The idea of my dead body being trapped in a box for eternity horrifies me. Cremation all the way. In my ancestry, the Vikings put their dead out to sea and burned their bodies. Sounds good to me. I'm more willing to believe that my soul could get stuck if my body isn't totally destroyed. My grandma donated her body to university. We'll get it back in seven years. I'm not sure what will happen after that.

memo said...

Thats a really interesting question. Islam hasn't directly forbidden doesnt say anywhere in the quran (the only religious reference I follow) that cremation is forbidden.But it does strictly forbid disrespecting or harming a dead body. But is cremation disrespecting a body? I don't think so. The quran does provide us with the method of burial, and how to tend to the dead. It shows ultimate respect to the body after the person is dead. For instance, the body has to be cleaned and wrapped in white clean cloth and prayed upon. Therefore it is treated with great delicacy. But as you said, the body is just a shell, and our souls are the energy that should be judged. The thing is, there is so little we know about the afterlife and what is going to happen. The prophet was even asked once about the soul, and he replied with "its not my business, it's God's". So yea basically, I don't see anything wrong with it but I would want to be buried the Muslim be fully prepared to what ever is after death.

Puppy said...

I am sorry for the loss of your BIL. May God ease their pain and accept the soul of grandmother.

I am not an expert in Islam, so i will leave the religious question for someone who knows more about it.

I personally would like to be burried. I would prefer my kids to come to a certain place where i am, rather than to some beautiful place, where a business center or buildings can be built with time. I mean with time ppl tend to build houses over nice places, and i dont want to be part of it. Well another reason is, what if someone will want to clone me? they definetely should know where to get my DNA ;)

If my relatives will want to say prayers for me, where should they go? Nooooo, no crimation for me.

Munther said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Munther said...

Hey T !

About cremation in Islam, now I am no religious person but from what I know I think Olivia had it nailed !

It's because in your second coming your soul needs your body to get judged and then either head to heaven or hell (doesn't matter if you were dismembered you get a new perfect body"I think" and drawing and being lost at sea is considered being buried "does this make any sense?").

But if you look at it from another angle, god can surely create another body similar to your original so why is it prohibited ? Ok hold on while I ask my gran ! :P

Um Naief said...

gardens, thanks for the info. in the catholic faith, there's a day called ash wednesday. it's for the purpose of remembering that we came from ash/dirt/dust and it's where we shall return. i also see or can understand w/ the part about not burning ya... but you won't feel it for i believe the soul has already left the body... but i get what you mean.

CW, i believe in organ donation as well. i'm not sure it happens a lot here... but it would be nice if it became a standard question on a driver's license like it is in other places.

jane, there's something quite romantic and noble about how the vikings did it.

memo, you know, w/ what you say, it makes me wonder why cremation isn't offered, or give as a choice. altho, in saying this, i think that burials are a very holy thing in this part of the world. or it's the impression i get w/ the preparation of the body, the prayers. in the states, it seems like a money making business and when they embalm the person... it just weirds me out and i think there's something freakish about it. but it is about money.... boy, what a business.

puppy, hmmmm... you always make me think. very good points you bring up here. wouldn't it be terrible for a bldg to go up in such a place... but hey... nowadays you find ppl building homes over old burial sites.... not even realizing that ppl were buried there. imagine finding out that your home is built on such. and... you are right about being able to go to the grave site and have something there.... but you know, my grandmother and my relatives are all buried in indiana, except my father. i've never been to his grave and only to my grandmothers three times. but i still have the thoughts of her, pics and such. so.... hmmmm.... you just make me think.

munther, this is what i have a hard time w/. the judgment part... the standing and being judged. i was raised to believe this and still believe in being judged, but what i disagreed w/ in christianity is that i just couldn't imagine all the bodies/souls waiting for the 2nd coming, and then only those that had been saved would rise, go into purgatory, and if you passed the test then off to heaven you'd go, and if you didn't pass... the burning inferno was to be yours forever. as i've gotten older, i've started to believe that hell is what you make of it here on earth.... and that we all go to , maybe some souls sooner than others (ghosts) but... what do i know!!

Gazza said...

I think cremation is a good thing and you dont have miles and miles of land nowone can touch as its sacred ground...have you heard this poem? Do not stand at my grave and weep.
I am not there I do not sleep.
I am a thousand winds that blow
I am the diamond glints on snow.
I am the sunlight on ripened grain
I am the gentle autumn rain.
When you awaken in the morning hush
I am the swift uplifting rush
Of quiet birds in circled flight
I am the soft stars that shine at night.
Do not stand at my grave and cry.
I am not there, I did not die.

Puppy said...

Un Naief,

But its less likely the graves will be destroyed for buildings, rahter than nice places.



Um Naief said...

Mr. Gazza, what a beautiful poem! thank you for passing words that are so lovely on to me. :)

puppy, i agree... graves will always be there.... but when i read the poem passed by gazza, it just says, to me, that it's really not about the burial... or how it's done. this makes me think of the day you passed that guitar player, hoped to hear him play your favorite song.... and it happened. to me... there was a purpose for that and your father was there with you. what a beautiful thing!

Puppy said...

Yes, he is always in my heart. And i swear i feel his presence most of the time, which ease my presence.

The poem is really good. I liked it too.

Lotus Reads said...

why do Muslims not cremate the dead?

A very thoughtful question um naief and one I didn't know the answer to, but reading the comments of your readers has enlightened me tremendously.

I am very passionate about organ donation and I plan to write a post about it soon.

About cremation, personally, having come from a Hindu background, I would much prefer it to a burial, but I can see and understand the Muslim point of view.

I really enjoy your blog...will be blogrolling you!

Janeen said...

Thank you dear sister for your kind words. I will have Charlie go to your blog to read this.. she will very much appreciate it.

I will be cremated as well... Mom doesn't want to be, we really need to discuss this as a family (not on a blog)

Minor correction: It is "Piggy Sue" not Miss Piggy.

I love you.

cj said...

Myest friend just passed away, she as cremated. I know the saying ashes to ashes, dust to dust. But I can't get over that we are to believe fire comes from hell. I am mixed up. Please someone respond
to this. In Memory of My soul mate
Geri Brown

Rinawati A. Samad said...

I want to be cremated when I died. to speed up the deteroriation and all those gooeey maggot eating flesh, pus all over, foul smell process. Burying a body, or cremating it, leads to the same end result; the body will turn to dust.Thats the main point..TURN TO DUST. So, for me speeding up the process do give me some relieves. And when disasters on earth come and your burial place uncovered because of the flood and earthquake... my poor body will be esposed... oh poor me.