How Do Muslims view the Elderly, Death, and the Afterlife?
By Ali Unal
Institutional homes for the elderly are virtually unknown in the Muslim world. The strain of caring for one's parents during this most difficult time of their lives is considered an honor and a blessing.
In Islam, serving one's parents is a duty second only to worshipping and it is the parents' right to expect it. It is considered despicable to express any irritation when, through no fault of their own, the old become difficult to handle.
It is written in the Qur'an: "Your Lord has commanded that you worship none but Him, and be kind to your parents. If either or both of them reach old age with you, do not say 'uff' to them or chide them, but speak to them in terms of honor and kindness. Treat them with humility, and say, 'My Lord! Have mercy on them, for they did care for me when I was little.'" (Qur'an 17:23-4)
Muslims believe that the present life is only a trial preparation for the next realm of existence. Basic articles of faith include: the Day of Judgment, Resurrection, Heaven and Hell.
When a Muslim dies, he or she is washed, usually by a family member, wrapped in a clean white cloth, and buried with a simple prayer, preferably the same day. Muslims consider this one of the final services they can do for their relatives, and an opportunity to remember their own brief existence here on earth.