Condolence Customs, Jiddah
its divided into 2 steps:The burial: the deceased, Islamically, should be buried ASAP as a sign of honouring them by giving them home. the deceased's body must be washed in a certain way by family members or as recommended in their will, and dressed in a white towel, be brought to a mosque to be prayed upon, &held for burial. The Consolation: there're 2sections for the funeral attendees, women’s section &the men’s. Men are seated in a reserved area, furnished by red carpets &chairs in rows. This area is on the street alley where the house of the deceased’s family. the street will be blocked for cars to pass by. Women accommodated inside the house and under the air conditioners! Chairs in rows served. Women keep their black abaya &scarves on all the time. not sure why if it has religious/social significance, maybe a sign of respect &sympathy. close relatives of the deceased seated in the 1st row that faces the other chairs, wearing white scarves &clothing. Women attendees walk in the room 1by 1 to offer consolation to each one of the women in that row. The usual Islamic saying is ‘Azzama Allah ajrakom o rahima mayitakom’, ‘God bless you and have mercy upon the deceased'. Then these women find their way to one of the seats, sit for few minutes, then free to leave. Usually a tape recorder of Quran is recited both in women’s section and men’s respectively. In few minutes when people start to pack in, a woman of the attendees may volunteer to make a religious speech and a brief prayer service for the family and the deceased. Usually this speech goes around afterlife reward and divine promises for the loss and for the deceased, &then it ends with a prayer. Aza usually starts at 7pm or after Maghrib prayer time and last for 3 days continuously. Relatives or friends of the family usually stay until the dinner is served which is about 9:30pm or after Isha. Interesting! Aza doesnt mean ‘funeral’ but literally means ‘consolation’ &its the event where everyone has the chance to come and to show sympathy.
Aza or Condolence often, in Jeddah or al Hijaz region, lasts for 3 days after the deceased has been buried. When someone dies, they will be immediately buried on the same day or the next as maximum. This stands for high respect as it is largely believed that the grave is the new home for the deceased. "Takreem al mayyet dafno" or ...to pay respect to your deceased ones, bury them. So, the immediate relatives of the person will receive condolences from visitors at their house. Family rents chairs & red carpets so a large numbers of visitors can sit. There are normally 2 sections; women's & men's seperately. The immediate relatives will be wearing white if they are women so everyone will recognise them as well as sitting in 1 row. Women visitors should let their black abaya on, covering hair indoor as a sign of sadness and respect. Men wear their white thobes & ghotra to cover their hair, which is the special costume for events.
Reception starts after Maghrib or sunset prayers to Isha or evening prayers through the whole year unless in Ramadan, the Holy Month where it starts later. After 9pm or Isha, only close friends and relatives will remain with the family members and have dinner, which is prepared by neighbours and purchased by other relatives or so...it is the tradition, considering the great amount of grief, the family has no time or the spirit to make any effort of serving others, so their friends are expected to help. The dinner usually is rice and meat. During the meal, the interesting part comes. People start to narrate their dreams about the deceased, 'oh i saw him in heaven'...'she is happy with flowers'. This is very common, not sure if they are credible to me!!!Also there is recitation of Quran in the men's section or a religious speech and prayer service in the women's section or vice versa.
This is strictly observed and smoothly done as people help each other to get this done quickly. I've heard that it's not the case in the Central Region as it only lasts for one day...interesting!