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Islamic Cultural Center (Jim Henderson)

Islamic Cultural Center (Jim Henderson)

Muslims, who make up an estimated 2 to 4 percent of the city’s population, follow death rituals that closely resemble those of other Judeo-Christian faiths, said Hussein Rashid, a member of the city’s Ismaili Muslim community and professor of Islamic studies at Barnard College.

Akin to Jewish tradition, the burial takes place as part of the funeral ritual.

“If you took away the Arabic in the prayers and watched it (a Muslim burial) as if it were a silent movie, it would look very familiar in an American context,” said Rashid.

However, unlike some Catholics and Reform Jews, cremation is not permissible among Muslims. Muslims must bury their dead – and they must align the bodies in the direction of Mecca. For this reason, many New York Muslims bury their dead in Jewish cemeteries, which are oriented towards Jerusalem, the same general direction as Mecca. — Suman Bhattacharyya