NEW YORK (RNS) — Imam Saad Jalloh, the spiritual leader of the Islamic Cultural Center of New York, one of Manhattan’s largest mosques, is a familiar voice to thousands of Muslims across the city. Lately he’s also become a familiar voice to the staff at local hospitals. Social workers, nurses and doctors have taken to calling Jalloh to ask what to say to a dying Muslim. Every day, he advises the sick and their families across the city by phone, offering prayer.

When their loved ones die, Jalloh seeks above all to minimize survivors’ suffering, searching for the words that assure them of their family member’s ascension to paradise.

Traditionally, when a Muslim dies the body is washed three times by an immediate family member,

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