Imagine you are a Muslim and you die. At your funeral there are seven million mourners. You'd have to think you were something pretty special, wouldn't you? Seven million, that's a lot of people, wishing you a final farewell. Hopefully there'll be enough cheese and wine to serve.
It happened once, in Egypt, when Jamal Abd al-Nasir (Gamal Abdel Nasser) passed away back in 1970, due to a heart attack. The Arab world was in shock. His funeral procession to the graveyard where he was buried is believed to be the longest in recorded history, 10-kilometers, (6.2 miles). Everyone who was a somebody showed up. His coffin was draped in the Arab flag, attached to a gun carriage pulled by six black stallions, followed by a column of cavalrymen. Again, imagine seven million people. He must have been something special.
He was in fact very special. He was the most respected Arab leader of the twentieth century, the self appointed second President of Egypt, Prime Minister and Supreme Commander of Egypt's Military.
A Normal Arab-Muslim Burial
Don't let me disappoint the average Arab-Muslim but, you'll probably not have the privilege of being buried in a coffin. Americanized Muslims' are a different story, but in an Arab country the average person is wrapped in a cloth and dropped in a hole and covered up, carefully of course, making sure your head is facing Mecca, usually within 24 hours after you've died.
If you are lucky enough to be placed in a coffin, they mark which way your head is facing on the outside of the casket with a magic marker. An arrow or some other mark indicating where your head is. I myself have no clue, which direction Mecca is from here!
Don't get me wrong, people do care, while you're dying. Family and friends may gather around your death bed and recite over and over the last three verses of Ya Sin, the 36th sura of the Quran, just so the person dying doesn't forget Allah's (God's) power. It goes something like this:
Is not He, who created the heavens and the earth, able to create the like of them? Yes, surely, He is the Creator and the All-Knowing. His command, when He desires a thing, is to say to it: "Be!" and it is. So glory to Him in whose hand is power over everything. Unto Him you shall be returned.
It would be pretty hard to take, don't you think? Lying there, almost dead having to listen to that all day. I'd want to yell out, "Shut The F__k Up" but with my luck, I'd be too weak and have to lie there and listen until the end, but luckily, I won't have to, I'm not a Muslim.
The Final Recitation of Surat al-Fatiha At Your Gravesight
Then a few will gather at your gravesite after you're dead; all the family, friends and acquaintances, everyone you've associated with throughout your life, saying a few choice words, reciting the Surat al-Fatiha, the first sura (revelation) or chapter of the Quran, which symbolizes a life has just ended and identifying you as a Muslim. As if God, didn't know.
Since this recitation has been implanted into your psyche since birth, it is only appropriate to say it one last time before they cover you up with dirt and move on.
We all can't be self appointed Presidents, Prime Ministers and Supreme Commanders of Armies.