The washing and shrouding of the deceased is an obligatory duty enjoined upon all Muslims in the community. However, if it is performed by some, the
other members are cleared of the obligation. The person selected to wash and shroud the deceased should be one who was chosen by the deceased, if possible. The person should be an adult Muslim who is in possession
of his or her senses, and who is honest, trustworthy, pious, well acquainted with the rules for washing the deceased in
accordance with the practices of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH).
If the deceased is a child, the washing may be done by either a male or female adult. If the relatives of the deceased
are non-muslims, it is the duty of other Muslims to wash and shroud the body of the deceased.
Before washing the deceased, the washer must make his or her intention to wash the body of a specific person. The body is then placed on its back, and the abdomen (stomach area) is gently pressed the so that any waste material may be discharged.
But the best way is to start with istinja’ (cleaning the private parts), then wudoo’, then washing the body with water and lotus leaves three times, then pouring water over the body, three times on the right side and three times on the left. If there is a need to do that more than three times, then it should be five times; if there is a need for more than that, then it should be seven
times. It should be an odd number of times; this is preferable. But if the person is washed once or twice, that is acceptable, although what is preferred is three or five or seven times, if need be.
Umm Atiyyah reported in regard to the
washing of her daughter: “The
Messenger of Allah (PBUH) told them (the women) to start from the right side with those parts of the body over which
ablution is performed [Sahih Bukhari, Volume 2, Page 195]
PERFUMING THE DECEASED
It is mustahabb to perfume the shroud, whether the deceased is a man or a woman. This is indicated by the Saheeh Sunnah. It is proven in al-Saheehayn that the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) commanded
the women who were washing his daughter to put some camphor or a little camphor in the last wash [Narrated by Bukhari 1253, Muslim 939], Camphor is a type of perfume.
Al-Haafiz said in al-Fath: It is said that the reason why camphor is used, although it is a perfume, is because of the angels and others who attend, in addition to the fact that it has a drying and cooling effect; it can penetrate the body of the deceased and stiffen the body, keep vermin away, prevent wastes from being expelled, and prevent the body from decomposing rapidly. It is the most effective of
perfumes in that sense. This is the reason why it is put in the last wash, because if it was put in the first wash the water would remove it. But can musk, for example, be used instead of camphor? If we think just in terms of fragrance, then yes, otherwise the answer is no. It was said that if no camphor is available, other kinds of
perfume may be used, even if it has only one of these qualities.
It was narrated that Jaabir said: The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said: “When you perfume the deceased with incense (bakhoor) then perfume him three times. [Narrated by Imam Ahmad, 14131]
This ruling – that it is mustahabb to perfume the deceased – does not include one who is in ihraam for Hajj or Umrah, because the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said concerning a man in ihraam who died at Arafah: “And do not put any perfume on him.” [Narrated by Bukhari, 1851]
Al-Nawawi said: It is mustahabb to perfume the shroud with incense except in the case of a man or woman who is in ihraam. [Al-Majmoo’ , 5/156]
Al-Bayhaqi narrated (3/568) that Ibn Mas’ood (May Allah be pleased with him) said: Camphor is to be put on the parts of the body on which one prostrates, which are: the forehead, the
nose, the hands, the knees and the feet, becausebhe used to prostrate on these parts so they are deserving of greater honour. [See Sharh Fath al-Qadeer , 2/110]
Shaykh Ibn ‘Uthaymeen (May Allah have mercy on him) was asked: Is there any report that the entire body of the deceased may be perfumed? He replied: Yes, that it was narrated from some of the Sahaabah (May Allah be pleased with them). – Majmoo’ Fataawa Ibn ‘Uthaymeen , 17/97
A collective work research
Johnson Abdulazeez Ayomide @ knowislam.com.ng