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    Will Michael Jackson's Funeral Be Jehovah's Witness—or Muslim?

    Funeral Carriage at Forest Lawn Hollywood, Michael Jackson Getty Images; Pool Photographer/Getty Images

    Weren't the Jackson family Jehovah's Witnesses? How will that affect the funeral?
    —Bet

    Other fans are asking me similar questions, but instead wondering whether Michael Jackson's funeral may be Muslim. See, in 2007, his brother Jermaine Jackson told the media that Michael had shown interest in the religion, and there was brief speculation that Jackson converted from Jehovah's Witness to Islam.

    Now, we know this: (a) There will be no memorial service at Neverland, (b) there might be some kind of Jackson-related event on Tuesday at the Staples Center, (c) his body is waiting at Forest Lawn cemetery in Los Angeles, and (d) there are signs of a private family service on Sunday, possibly the funeral.

    However, of the two religions mentioned above, if the funeral is religious at all, it will probably swing toward...

    Jehovah's Witness, the religion of Jackson's parents. Jackson himself was said to be an ardent Witness throughout most, if not all, of his life, and—unlike the Islam conversion stories—there are plenty of accounts to back that up. As late as four years ago, Jackson was publicly proclaiming his adherence to that faith, and he never publicly confirmed a conversion to Islam.

    Jackson family friend Firpo Carr told CNN this week that Jackson once said "he wanted me to study the bible with him because he was raised as one of Jehovah's Witnesses early in life, [and] he would want his children to be raised the same way."

    In general, Witnesses believe that true Christians should remain separate from the world as much as possible and that the Bible is God's word. They also believe that a select 144,000 faithful will go to heaven to rule alongside Jesus Christ.

    So what might M.J.'s funeral look like if it does follow Jehovah's Witness tradition?

    Witnesses believe that nothing in a person survives death, including the soul. Wakes and directly addressing the dead person are both banned in Witness funerals. The services are relatively short at 15 to 30 minutes.

    Jackson family attorney Brian Oxman has told a British tab that M.J. will be buried, not cremated, though the family has not officially confirmed or denied that. Most Witnesses are cremated or buried within three days of death, though there is no specific direction regarding time before interment.

    In contrast, Muslims traditionally frown upon autopsies and bury their dead quickly, often within 24 or 48 hours of death. There is generally silence during the procession to the burial site, and the body is buried with the head facing toward Mecca.

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