Arabic Language Blog

How to Give your Condolences in Arabic التعزية Posted by on Jul 21, 2021 in Arabic Language, Culture, Vocabulary

If you happen to know someone who is of the Islamic faith and who has lost a loved one, you may want to know how to express your condolences تعزي in Arabic, since such phrases are taken from both the Quran and Hadith. Knowing how to say at least one of these phrases will mean so much to the person and his/her family. In this post, we will get familiar with these phrases and their meanings. We will also talk about what takes place at the funeral الجنازة and afterwards during the three days of mourning العزاء. You never know, you may be visiting an Arab country and find yourself going to a funeral where you’ll want to know what to expect, how to behave and what to say. 

The Funeral الجنازة

Religion الدين plays a big role in forming today’s funeral practices. But first, how do people know someone has passed away? The deceased’s family عائلة المتوفي will first make phone calls to relatives and friends. Announcements الإعلانات are also made in mosques, in the local newspaper, on the radio, and of course by word of mouth. Most recently though, you will know that someone has passed away on social media which tends to be the quickest way to let most people know. The announcement الاعلان will include the name of the deceased المتوفى/المرحوم, names of their children if he/she is a parent, and time and place of الجنازة

Here is a hypothetical example of an announcement:

Image provided by Yasmine K.

Preparing the deceased for burial includes bathing and wrapping the body in a white cloth. The deceased is then taken to the mosque for the funeral. At the cemetery المقبرة, the body is lowered into the graveالقبر and laid on the right side facing the direction of the holy Kabbah in Mecca. The clergyman then says a prayer for المتوفى/المرحوم with all attendees ending the prayer with a resounding آمين Amen”.

The Three Days of Mourning العزاء

After the الجنازة, for three consecutive days, families of المرحوم open their homes to receive guests who wish to offer their condolences التعازي. Two places are prepared to receive these guests, one for the men الرجال and one for the women النساء. In some cases when there are too many people to fit in a house, the family rents a tent and chairs to accommodate the people. It is considered a symbol of mourning in Islamic culture as well to wear black أسود or dark colors.

As a guest, upon arriving, you will be received by one of the deceased relatives with a word of welcome which in turn, you give your تعازي. Once you sit down, you’ll be given a cup of Arabic coffee. It is customary to greet those who are sitting beside you. During these three days, prayers are recited for the soul of المرحوم. A meal or two is served by the family along with continuous coffee and water rounds. Dates التمر may also be served. Some families slaughter a sheep and distribute the meat to the poor in the name of المرحوم

The purpose of these three days of mourning is not only to pay respects and pray for the departed’s soul, but to also take care of the departed’s family. Relatives, neighbors, and friends consider it their moral duty واجب أخلاقي to help with the preparations, meals and of course helping them cope emotionally during this difficult period. 

Even after the mourning period, the family does not celebrate the first Eid عيد that comes after الجنازة. Relative’s weddings are also postponed for a while out of respect for the mourning family. 

Condolences التعازي

Let’s begin with what we can say about المرحوم that’s an equivalent to “God rest his soul.” or “God have mercy on his soul.” 

We can say الله يرحمه if the deceased is male and الله يرحمها if female which means “May God have mercy on him/her. 

A phrase commonly used from the Quran is:

انا لله وانا اليه راجعون 

Meaning, “To God we belong and to Him we shall return.”

There are also phrases to say directed to the deceased’s family and friends. 

.البقية في حياتك

Meaning, “May the remainder be lived in your life.”

.عظم الله أجركم  

Meaning, “May God increase your reward.” [for suffering such a loss]

Remember, these phrases can be said to the person who informs you of someone’s passing either verbally or as a reply to say, a Facebook post. In addition of course to the people you meet at a funeral and after during the days of mourning. 

I hope you found this post useful in that it added to your cultural knowledge and vocabulary. 

Till next week, happy Arabic learning! 😊

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About the Author: yasmine

MarHaba! I am half Jordanian of Circassian descent and half American. I have a Master's in Second Language Teaching and I teach Arabic as a foreign language here in the US, both MSA and Levantine Arabic. I hope to help you become more familiar and interested in the Arabic language and culture.