Sympathy Etiquette Guide: Muslim

September 23, 2013    |    By +
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sympathy-muslim-traditionsChoosing sympathy gifts is never easy. How can any gift fill the void of a missing loved one? It’s a tall order, but remember, no one actually expects a sympathy gift to eliminate the grief. Still, a gift adds a bright touch to an otherwise dark time, so my suggestion is to always give when the opportunity arises. But, there are some guidelines that you need to be aware of so that you don’t offend people you care about and are trying to help. Being sensitive to friends’ and acquaintances’ cultural traditions is always a must, but it’s especially crucial at this fragile time. Some gifts or gestures that are your go-to’s may turn out to be big no-go’s, depending on the culture. With this in mind, I’m doing a series on sympathy etiquette by tradition to help you navigate sympathy gifts. This week we’ll focus on Muslim sympathy traditions.

Muslims mourn for three days after the funeral, and tradition states that family and friends can bring food during this time. Similarly to Jewish traditions, Muslims believe the deceased’s family should not have to worry about preparing their own meals during their time of grief. One thing you definitely want to keep in mind when bringing food is to follow Muslim dietary restrictions. Alcoholic drinks, pork products and meat not killed according to halal conditions are prohibited, just to name a few. To be safe, stick with vegetarian foods and avoid anything alcoholic. Whether to bring flowers or not is debated, so a good idea in this case might be to ask a family member how they feel about receiving flowers at this time.

See other sympathy etiquette by tradition posts and shop all of our favorite sympathy gifts with these guidelines in mind.



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Kathryn D.W.
Kathryn Drury Wagner is the senior manager of content at She was formerly the executive editor at Honolulu Magazine, and is the author of The Ultimate Guide to Shopping on Oahu. Her career has included staff positions at Country Living Gardener and Power & Motoryacht. Her latest book is "Hawaii's Strangest, Ickiest, Wildest Book Ever!"

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Gwen is the Editorial Curator at In addition to writing blogs, she creates gift guides, curates the site, and produces content for our social media channels. As a freelance writer, she created blogs on fashion, art, travel, health and lifestyle. A talented jewelry designer, she's also a yogi and a hospital volunteer with her therapy dog, Lilo, a Pomeranian.