Do Muslims in the West need funeral covers?
OPINION | May 10, 2012
Yanyo Mooge “Kayse”
I am sure you get sick and tired of all those funeral ads that seem to never end. To be honest it used to annoy me as a Muslim, because I always considered it was not permissible to pay for something unforeseen knowing they (companies) were profiting from it. Indeed death is inevitable, there is no avoiding or hiding and the life that succeeds it is eternal. It is natural part of life. In the West, it is a multi-billion dollar business that has largely caused an enormous financial and emotional toll on affected families.
The average cost of a funeral in the West is between $4,000 to over $70,000, depending on what the person or family of the deceased want (casket, gravestones, transport, etc). Many in the Western world like extraneous items and expensive practices in their funeral rites such as tombstones often to impress everybody at the services. Many families simply choose the cremation option instead of the traditional burial services for obvious financial reasons. In Islam as well as Judaism and in some Orthodox Christian, the practice of cremation is forbidden. Muslim burials tend to be slightly cheaper than the other faiths or other practices.
A lot of Muslims do not believe in life insurance or signing up with the funeral mainstream companies that exist in every Western country. In Islam death is not considered the end of life but the beginning of one that will never come to an end. In another words, Muslims believe that the present life is just a trial in preparation of the next realm eternal existence. Having grown up in Australia myself, I am not aware if funeral corporations exist in Muslim countries.
If you’re a Muslim living in the West and believe funeral covers are not permissible, you should not be worried about expensive funeral expenses. I am sure others suggested life insurance to you before but the problem with them is that it takes long period of time for them to release the funds (lots of paper work including coroner’s and doctor’s report) and Muslims are required to bury the deceased as quick as possible (within three days). Thus it’s not ideal. Then there are the interest charges that come with life insurance covers. Some mainstream companies also have age limitations; over 50 is quiet expensive while over 70 are disregarded. As Muslims, we all believe death has no discrimination and is the only thing guaranteed in this life.
I was recently invited to a meeting in Melbourne, Australia’s second largest city, facilitated by a small group of men with Somaliland roots. After few pizzas and traditional Somali tea, the small group of men dubbed themselves Committee of Somaliland Funeral got down to business and rightfully surprised the likes of me. I was a member of the group since their formation in early 2000 but I never really attended their annual meetings.
The non-profit committee laid out their hustle free funeral plan that covered singles and families of all sizes. After a fierce debate between the committee, new nominated committee and the attendees, the group agreed on a simple and flexible cover. A single adult (18 or over) is fully covered for a year for $50. The breadwinner of a household is covered for $50 and $5 for each child and wife/husband; so for an example $65 would fully cover a household of four.
The group which only had 88 members as of March 2012 has just over AUD$22,000 contributions in its bank balance after paying for three funerals since January 2011 (AUD$9,800) and a bank fee of AUD$316. The fund managers also refused to own deposit rates from the bank to ensure it did not constitute to riba (interest) which is regarded a major sin in Islam.
Becoming a member of the fund meant you were now making Sadaqah (voluntary charity) because if death did not occur on you or your family member, your money was used to cover the funeral costs of other Muslims.
I am not aware if other Muslim communities also run similar contribution funds but I know Somali communities have such services in almost every city in the Western world. My advice for any Somali or Muslim is to join not only one but at least two. I mean you are only spending $90-$95 to cover a large family of nine members. People who are seeking sadaqah join Somali Funeral, Somaliland Funeral, etc. They both exist in Melbourne and I strongly recommend you cover yourself or family with interest-free, hustle free Muslim funeral fund. They are both open to all Muslims.
Funeral cover does not mean immortality; it just means helping your family to cope with the loss by ensuring financial burden does not fall on those they care about. Would you rather come up with $4,000 or $50?
I hope this helps those who have not considered joining an Islamic funeral contribution fund which are not profit driven like the mainstream companies. For any question, please leave it for me in the comment section or email me.
I will finally leave the following short film made by Muslim Australians with you, enjoy.
Yanyo Mooge “Kayse”