“… in this world, nothing is certain but death and taxes.” – Benjamin Franklin
If you know an Arab who has recently lost a loved one, you’re probably wondering if there is anything that you can say to them in Arabic that will express your deepest sympathies. In this post today, we will share with you a few words and phrases that you can use that might just give some comfort to those who are grieving their loss. What’s more, we’ll first talk about what you can expect at an Arab funeral and the three days of mourning that follow. This way, you’ll not only know what to say but also what is expected at the funeral should you be invited.
Though there is a sort of obituary that is announced in newspapers, these days you’ll most likely find out first through a text message or social media post. It will include the name of the one who passed away, their children’s names (if they had any), and the time and place of the funeral.
The deceased is prepared for burial by washing the body and wrapping it in a white cloth. Afterwards, they are taken to the mosque and then to the cemetery where they are placed in the grave on their right side so that their faces point towards Mecca. Wood and stones are then placed on top of the body to keep the soil from touching it as the grave is filled. Finally, the imam will say a prayer for the deceased and all those in attendance will respond with “Amen”.
After the funeral, the relatives of the deceased open their homes for three days to receive those who wish to offer their sympathies. Their homes are usually separated by gender with one room for the men and one room for the women. If the house is too small for all of those offering their condolences, then a tent is usually rented for this purpose. Just as it is in most of the West, black is typically worn as a symbol of mourning.
Once you arrive at either the house or the tent, you will be received by a relative of the deceased. After they greet you, offer your condolences. You may use any of the below:
After giving your condolences, you’ll be seated and given a cup of coffee. Be sure to greet those next to you. There will come a time when prayers will be recited for the soul of the departed. You might even be offered to stay for a meal; however, some families slaughter a sheep and give its meat to the poor in the deceased’s name.
Arabs feel it is their moral duty to help in any way they can during this difficult time whether the deceased is a friend, neighbor, or relative and often aid in funeral preparations, meals and, of course, emotional support.
Indeed, the death of a loved one is never easy, but just a few words in Arabic from you will be met with much more gratitude from those in mourning.
If you would like to know more about the Arabic culture or would like to learn more words and phrases in Arabic that you can use in everyday situations, visit our website today and download the Kaleela Arabic language learning app. It’s available now from kaleela.com.