Washing and Shrouding The Dead – غُسْلُ اَلْمَيِّتِ
وَإِذَا أَخَذَ فِي غُسْلِهِ سَتَرَ عَوْرَتَهُ, وَسُنَّ سَتْرُ كُلِّهِ عَنْ اَلْعُيُونِ,
وَكُرِهَ حُضُورُ غَيْرِ مُعِين ٍ ثُمَّ نَوَى وَسَمَّى, وَهُمَا كَفِي غُسْلِ حَيّ ٍ ثُمَّ يَرْفَعُ رَأْسَ غَيْرِ حَامِلٍ إِلَى قُرْبِ جُلُوسٍ,
وَيَعْصِرُ بَطْنَهُ بِرِفْقٍ, وَيُكْثِرُ اَلْمَاءَ حِينَئِذٍ ثُمَّ يَلُفُّ عَلَى يَدِهِ خِرْقَةً فَيُنَجِّيهِ بِهَا,
وَحَرُمَ مَسُّ عَوْرَةِ مَنْ لَهُ سَبْعٌ.
When the washer begins washing him, his nakedness is covered. It is recommended to cover him completely from onlookers. It is offensive for anyone to attend other than someone who is assisting in the washing.
The washer makes an intention and says, ‘Bismillah’ just as for washing the living (it being obligatory and this ruling dropped if one forgets). If the deceased is not pregnant, the washer lifts the deceased’s head until he is close to seated, gently presses the stomach, and uses a great deal of water (to wash away all that came out from the stomach and to remove its smell). He then wraps a cloth on his hand and cleans the deceased’s private parts. It is unlawful to touch the nakedness of a deceased who is seven years of age or older.
When the person begins washing the deceased, he should cover the person’s awrah. It is recommended to cover him completely from onlookers. It is disliked for anyone to attend other than those who are attending. Why? Part of the awrah might be exposed. No one wants people to see them while they are asleep. This is a similar case and the exception to this rule are only the close relatives even if they are not directly involved with the washing.
The principle of washing the deceased is, to purify them physically and spiritually. How can one cleanse them spiritually? By covering their faults, their defects, and speaking well of them. One should always assume the best no matter what they see of the signs while washing.
Covering the awrah is compulsory except for the one who is below the age of 7. They are not considered to have awrah as per the Shariah. This does not mean that it is allowed to watch, but rather the fiqh ruling is to show that it is not sinful as parents, teachers, and others will be involved in washing them etc.
The person should intend that he is performing ghusl on behalf of the deceased and recites the basmalah. The Hanabilah consider it to be obligatory as if it is obligatory during wudhu and tayammum, then so much so here. The ruling here of ghusl is similar to the one doing ghusl when alive.
If the deceased is not pregnant then then the washer raises the head till the deceased is close to a sitting position and gently pushes the stomach downwards while using lots of water to clean. He is made to sit-up so that the impurities within the body can easily come out. A lot of water, perfume, an emphasis on smelling good is stressed on to show and teach about thinking well of the deceased. This is a form of covering the physical and spiritual defects of a person. This applies to both men and women. It is not prohibited for the women to be perfumed in this state. The prohibition of perfume for women is not restricted to the house, rather it is linked to the presence of men.
ثُمَّ يُدْخِلُ إِصْبَعَيْه ِ وَعَلَيْهَا خِرْقَةٌ مَبْلُولَةٌ فِي فَمِهِ, فَيَمْسَحُ أَسْنَانَهُ,
وَفِي مَنْخِرَيْهِ فَيُنَظِّفُهُمَا بِلَا إِدْخَالِ مَاءٍ, ثُمَّ يُوَضِّئُهُ وَيَغْسِلُ رَأْسَهُ وَلِحْيَتَهُ بِرَغْوَةِ اَلسِّدْر ِوَبَدَنَهُ بِثُفْلِهِ,
ثُمَّ يُفِيضُ عَلَيْهِ اَلْمَاءَ, وَسُنَّ تَثْلِيثٌ وَتَيَامُنٌ وَإِمْرَارُ يَدِهِ كُلَّ مَرَّةٍ,
وَمَاءٌ حَارٌّ وَخِلَال ٌ وَأُشْنَانٌ بِلَا حَاجَةٍ, وَتَسْرِيحُ شَعْرِهِ
The washer wraps the hands with a piece of cloth and wipe the private parts like istinja. It is prohibited to touch the awrah of someone who is seven years of age or higher. The washer should insert his fingers wrapped with a wet cloth into the mouth and nose of the deceased and cleanse it thoroughly without water entering into either.
The washer should then make the deceased do wudhu by washing the limbs of wudhu. He then washes the head and the beard with cider, lote tree residue and froth. Sheikh Abdul Qadir Ibn al-Badran (Damascus) in his footnotes commented on this and said that instead of cider, soap can also be used as cider is not well known in the country. The main aim is to cleanse and smell good. This teaches us that fiqh is not merely history, but how we can arrange our lives practically in accordance to Islamic teachings. Learning the reasoning of a ruling is very important. Why? Not so that we can question it because of our doubts, whims and desires. Rather, we do so, so that we know how to apply it properly in our lives.
After making wudhu, he should pour water over his body and wash it three times. It is recommended to wash the body three times. The washer should push the stomach gently in case any impurities remain and then it is washed again if any impurities exit from the body. The body is continued to be washed as long as impurities keep emerging from the body even if it is more than seven or nine times. If this continues excessively, then a means to block the exit of the impurities is looked for.
It is disliked to wash the body just once. If there is a need then a single washing suffices and is valid. It is disliked to use hot water as it softens the body and could ruin/damage the body. It is disliked to floss the teeth and similar along-with combing the hair of the deceased.
وَسُنَّ كَافُورٌ وَسِدْرٌ فِي اَلْأَخِيرَةِ, وَخِضَابُ شَعْرٍ, وَقَصُّ شَارِبٍ,
وَتَقْلِيمُ أَظْفَارٍ إِنْ طَالَا, وَتَنْشِيفٌ, وَيُجَنَّبُ مُحْرِمٌ مَاتَ مَا يُجَنَّبُ فِي حَيَاتِه ِ وَسِقْط ٌ لِأَرْبَعَةِ أَشْهُرٍ كَمَوْلُودٍ حَيًّا,
وَإِذَا تَعَذَّرَ غُسْلُ مَيِّتٍ يُمِّمَ,
It is recommended to use camphor and the lote tree for the final washing. Camphor oils etc are also used. This is recommended to be used at the end as this is something which purifies and also smells good. It is also recommended to dye the hair of the head of a woman and the beard of a man coupled with trimming the man’s moustace and beard in a good manner. If the nails are long then it is recommended to clip them. All of this is from the Fitrah of the Sunnah. The one in a state of Ihram is not washed with perfume etc as the deceased would not have been allowed to use perfume while being alive in that state as well either.
A miscarriage that is four months or more will be considered as a baby that is born alive and given a proper washing. It will also be given a name irrespective of the time. It is shrouded and prayed over. But if the miscarriage occurs before four months, then there is no washing or shrouding.
If in case washing the deceased is impossible then the washer resorts to tayammum. The washer wipes the face of the deceased with pure dust and then wipes the hands with dust. Tayammum is never applied to the entire body. An opinion validates wiping till the arms but that is the maximum allowance as per the Shariah and nothing more.
وَسُنَّ تَكْفِينُ رَجُلٍ فِي ثَلَاثِ لَفَائِفَ بِيضٍ بَعْدَ تَبْخِيرِهَا, وَيُجْعَلُ اَلْحَنُوط ُ فِيمَا بَيْنَهَا,
وَمِنْهُ بِقُطْنٍ بَيْنَ أَلْيَيْهِ, وَالْبَاقِي عَلَى مَنَافِذِ وَجْهِهِ وَمَوَاضِعِ سُجُودِهِ, ثُمَّ يَرُدَّ طَرَفَ اَلْعُلْيَا مِنْ اَلْجَانِبِ اَلْأَيْسَرِ عَلَى شِقِّهِ اَلْأَيْمَنِ,
ثُمَّ اَلْأَيْمَنَ عَلَى اَلْأَيْسَرِ, ثُمَّ اَلثَّانِيَةَ وَالثَّالِثَةَ كَذَلِكَ, وَيَجْعَلُ أَكْثَرَ اَلْفَاضِلِ عِنْدَ رَأْسِهِ
It is recommended that a man be wrapped in three white cloths which have been steam scented (bukhoor). It is recommended for perfume to be sprinkled in between each sheet. This is not an established rule, rather this is something recommended to make the deceased look nice and smell nice as long as no harm is caused. Some perfume is applied to a piece of cotton which is then placed in between the buttocks of the deceased and there is no harm in doing so. Some perfume is to be applied near the eyes, by the nose and the face in general including the places of prostration. This is an honoring the places of prostration.
The edge of the uppermost shroud which is the closest to the deceased and is the one over which the body rest. This is passed from over the left side to over his right side. Then the right side is passed over the left side and likewise with the second and third sheet of cloth. Any excess should be kept at the top of the head as it is easier for the feet to be uncovered as compared to the head.
وَسُنَّ لِاِمْرَأَةٍ خَمْسَةُ أَثْوَابٍ: إِزَارٌ وَخِمَارٌ وَقَمِيصٌ وَلِفَافَتَانِ, وَصَغِيرَةٍ قَمِيصٌ وَلِفَافَتَانِ, وَالْوَاجِبُ ثَوْبٌ يَسْتُرُ جَمِيعَ اَلْمَيِّتِ
For a woman, it is recommended to use 5 pieces of cloth which include:
- Izar: This is a lower garment like a skirt similar to what the men wear in the state of ihram.
- Khimar: This is the head-covering.
- Qamis: This is a shirt which covers from the top of the body unlike the shirts that we know of today.
- 2 shrouds.
For a young girl a shirt and two shrouds are used. She does not need as much as an older woman. Nail varnish and other things are not an issue which do not have to be removed. They do not hinder the ghusl of the deceased.
From what is obligatory is just to use a single sheet of cloth to shroud the deceased. Likewise with ghusl, just a single washing is also sufficient.
Based on the Hanbali primer, Akhsar Al-Mukhtasarat authored by Ibn Balban al-Hanbali as taught by Sheikh Zahed Fettah حفظه الله