Fiqh-Us-Sunnah Notes, Janaa’iz (Funerals), Ch. 7: Washing A Dead Body

Fiqh-Us-Sunnah, Volume 4, Janaa’iz (Funerals)

CHAPTER 7: Washing A Dead Body

{{NOTE: Please note that all my notes from my study circle/class are between these double-curly brackets in italic. }}

CHAPTER 7a: Washing A Dead Body

{{NOTE: The following is needed when washing the deceased:

a) Scissors

b) Gloves

c) Sponge

d) Non-alcoholic perfume

e) Warm water

f) Bucket

g) Soap/shampoo

h) Cotton wool (whenever needed)

i) Assistance (at least one)

j) Three Towels

– One for covering the deceased’s awrah
– One before doing the last ghusl with perfume
– One for whole body drying

k) 3 White sheets – approx. 2.5m by 75cm

l) Four straps to tie the kafan


The entire body must be washed with water, at least once {{NOTE: Not once, it is a sunnah to wash it at least thrice. If you want to do it more than that, you can wash it 3 or 5 or 7 times, as per necessity (B1254).}}, regardless of whether the deceased is a male and needed a ritual bath {{NOTE: Janaabah}}, or a female who was menstruating at the time (of her death). It is recommended {{NOTE: No proof to say it is recommended.}} that the body be placed on an elevated surface i.e., a table or a board {{NOTE: Again, there is no proof from a hadeeth for this, because here you could basically go on forever, i.e., it’s recommended to switch the light of the room on, to know what you’re doing, to not take your time etc. An elevated surface is for the person (who is washing) to decide for himself, for example, he may have a back problem. }}. It then should be stripped of clothes {{NOTE: Wherever it is possible. I.e., not if his clothes are burnt onto his skin}}, but his ‘awra (private parts) should be covered {{NOTE: Except for husband and wife or when it is a small child.}} {{NOTE: Only the Prophet (saw) was washed with his clothes on (order from Allaah).}}. (Ash-Shafi’i says that it is better to wash the body of the deceased wearing a shirt, if it is thin enough to let water reach the body. The Prophet, peace be upon him, was washed this way, but it was done only in his case. The common practice has been to cover the ‘awra and wash the body) At the washing, only people whose presence is needed may stay.

The washer, male or female {{NOTE: Men wash the men and women wash the women. The only exception, as said above, is when a husband washes his wife and when a wife washes her husband, and also a woman washing a small boy (is an exception to the rule)}}, must be a trustworthy and pious person who will not broadcast what he or she might see except what is good.

Ibn Majah reports that the Prophet, peace be upon him, said: “Trustworthy persons should wash your dead.” {{NOTE: IM 1461. This hadeeth is fabricated however the meaning is sound.}} A washer must utter his or her intention to wash the body of a specific person {{NOTE: Wrong, no articulating of the intention.}}. Then he should begin by lightly pressing the stomach {{NOTE: Lightly pressing the stomach is not reported from the sunnah. But it can be done if necessary on certain circumstances.}} of the deceased so as to expel, if possible, any remnants from it, and then wash the body of all impurities. The washer should use a wash cloth or wrap his or her hand with it, because touching the private parts of the dead is haram (forbidden). Then he or she should wash the deceased as in wudu (ablution) for the salah (obligatory prayers). The Prophet, peace be upon him, is reported to have said: “Begin washing the dead by washing organs on the right, and those parts that are washed in ablution.” {{NOTE: B 1254 & M939}} This is in order to crystalize the mark of the believer’s parts of the body always washed during wudu that will shine forth brightly on the Day of Judgement. Then beginning from its right side, the body should be washed with soap {{NOTE: Important to get the dirt out. }} and water, three times. If soap is not available, then washing with ordinary water will suffice. If the washer feels that three washes are not enough to cleanse the body properly, then he may wash it five or seven times. According to a sahih hadith, the Prophet, peace be upon him, said: “Wash the dead body an odd number of times, that is, three, five, or seven, or more if you feel it is necessary.” {{NOTE: B 1254}} (Ibn Abd al-Barr observes: “I know about no one who recommended more than seven washes.” Ahmad and Ibn al-Munzhir disliked to exceed beyond seven)

Ibn al-Munzhir said: “The Prophet instructed the female washers to wash the dead body more than seven times in case they felt it was necessary to do so, but it must be an odd number of times. If the deceased is a female, then her hair should be loosened, washed, redone, and placed behind her back. According to a hadith narrated by Umm ‘Atiyyah the hair of the Prophet’s daughter was done in three plaits. I asked: ‘Did they loosen her hair and then redo them in three braids?’ She said: ‘Yes’.” {{NOTE: This is reported in Nisaa’ee 1883}} Muslim reports this in these words: “We braided her hair in three braids, on both sides and in front (of her).” In his Sahih, Ibn Hibban says: “They did so in compliance with the order of the Prophet: ‘Do her hair in three plaits’.” {{NOTE: M 939 & Ibn Hibbaan 3033 from Hafsah Bint ‘Umar. }}

After having washed the body, it should be dried with a clean cloth lest the shroud should get wet. Then some perfume should be applied to it. The Prophet, peace be upon him, said: “When you apply perfume (to the dead), apply it an odd number of times after washing it. {{NOTE: This here is only for shrouding. }}” This is reported by AlBaihaqi {{NOTE: 3/405}}, Al-Hakim and Ibn Hibban, of whom the last two consider it a sound hadith.

Abu Wa’il said: “Ali had some musk, and he requested that it be applied to his body upon his death. This was of what was left from the perfume used on the body of the Prophet upon his death.”

The majority of scholars are of the opinion that clipping a deceased’s finger nails, trimming his mustache, shaving the hair under his arms or from his private parts is makruh (disliked) {{NOTE: Also is it not in the sunnah to do this. }}. Ibn Hazm, however, considers it permissible. {{NOTE: A bit about Ibn Hazm: Ibn Hazm was from the zhaahiree school of thought. They used to take hadeeths in their literal (apparent) meaning. Two nice and interesting examples of this way of thinking are:

1) When the Prophet (saw) forbade urinating in still water (lake?), Ibn Hazm was of the opinion that is was permissible to urinate in a bucket and throw the contents of the bucket in the lake!

2) When the Prophet (saw) said that a (non-divorced) women’s approval in a marriage contract is her silence (due to her shyness in saying “Yes I want to marry him”), Ibn Hazm therefore stated that if she says “Yes I agree to marry him” (or any words to the effect) then the contract is null and void!}}

The scholars are agreed that the body of the deceased be rewashed if the stomach excrete something (i.e., urine or stool) after it had been washed and prior to being shrouded {{NOTE: It is not fro the sunnah to do the while re-wash. }}. They differ, however, whether in such a case the entire body should be rewashed. Some hold that the body must be washed again in such a case. Others are of the opinion that there is no need to wash the whole body again {{NOTE: And this is the stringest opinion – You just need to clean that spot/place. There is no need to do wudhu (or ghusl) again. }}, while still others hold that at least wudu (ablution) must be repeated in such a case. Some others hold that in such a case the entire washing must be repeated.

The opinions of most scholars concerning washing of the dead are based on the hadith transmitted by the group on the authority of Umm ‘Atiyyah who said: “The Prophet came to our house when his daughter {{NOTE: Zainab}} died, and said: ‘Wash her three times, five times, or more than that if you consider it necessary, with water and sidr (lotus tree leaves), and after the last wash apply some camphor to the body, and inform me after you have done so.’ So when we finished washing we informed him. He gave us a cloth that he wore around his waist, and told us to wrap her in it as a first sheet of shroud. {{NOTE: Then Umm ‘Atiyyah (the narrator) said “Then he (saw) combed her hair and made it into three plaits “}}

The reason for using camphor, as mentioned by some scholars, is its pleasant smell, since burial is a time when angels are present. Besides, it is cool and has a soothing effect, especially when the body stiffens, and helps keep various insects away from the body, thus preventing its early decomposition. In case camphor is not available, any other substance that has these or some of these properties may be used instead.

CHAPTER 7b: Cleaning The Body By Tayammum When Water Is Unavailable

If there is no water to wash the dead body, then it may be cleaned with tayammum (ablution with dust), for Allah says in the Qur’an: “If you do not find water, then perform tayammum (ablution with dust).” And the Prophet said: “The entire earth has been made pure and a mosque for me.” {{NOTE: B 335 & M 521}} Similarly if it is feared that the body might deteriorate if it is washed, then it may be given a tayammum.

The same applies to a woman who passes away when there is no other woman around to wash her, or if a man dies and there are only women but no man to wash him. Abu Daw’ud in his collection of Marasil, and Al-Baihaqi on the authority of Makhul, report that the Prophet, peace be upon him, said: “If a woman dies while she is with men and there is no other woman with them, or if a man dies while with woman, and there is no other man there, then the body of the dead person may be given a tayammum instead of washing it and then it should be buried. They both will be regarded as ones who died when there was no water available to wash (and purify).” {{NOTE: UNAUTHENTIC! }}

{{NOTE: In these next four paragraphs there is a difference of opinion which is now being discussed:}}

The body of a woman shall be given tayammum by one of her mahrim consanguine relatives {{NOTE: Blood reletives}} with his hand. If there is no consanguine relative present, then {{NOTE: Opinion One}} then any other man can give her a tayammum by wrapping a piece of cloth around his hand. This is the opinion of Abu Hanifah and Ahmad.

{{NOTE: Opinion Two: }} Malik and Ash-Shafi’i are of the view that “if a male relative of the deceased is available, then he should wash the body of the dead woman, for in matters of ‘awrah (‘Awrah (Arabic), those parts of a person’s body which must be covered. A man must cover the front and back of his pubic region. There is disagreement about the navel, thighs, and knees. There is, however, no disagreement over what constitutes a woman’s ‘awrah. Her entire body is ‘awrah and must be covered, except her hands and face) (nakedness of the private parts) and being alone with a woman, she is considered and treated in such a case as a male person for him.

{{NOTE: Opinion Three: }} In Al-Musawwa it is noted that Malik said: “I heard the scholars saying: ‘If a woman dies and there is no other woman there to wash her, nor any male consanguine relative nor her husband who could undertake this responsibility, then she should be given a tayammum, wiping her face and hands with dry soil’.” Malik said: “The same should be done in the case of a man who dies and there are only women around him.”

{{NOTE: Opinion Four: }} Ibn Hazm holds that if a man dies while among women and there is no man around, or if a woman dies while among men with no other woman around, then the women may wash the body of the man and the men the body of the woman while covered in thick cloth. The water should be poured over the whole body without any physical contact. He is of the view that tayammum may not be given instead of a wash except when no water is available.

{{NOTE: The strongest opinion from the above mentioned four opinions is the fourth one, that of Ibn Hazm’s. It is the best opinion on the subject matter. I.e., to wash the deceased with a thick towel on. }}

CHAPTER 7c: One Spouse Washing The Other

{{NOTE: Husband – Wife}}

The jurists are agreed on the permissibility of a wife washing the body of her dead husband. ‘Aishah said: “Had I known then what I know now, I would not have allowed anyone, except his wives, to wash the body of the Prophet.” This has been transmitted by Ahmad and Abu Daw’ud {{NOTE: AD 3141}}, and by al-Hakim, who considers it a sound hadith.

There is a difference of opinion, however, on the permissibility of the husband washing the body of his dead wife. The majority of scholars, nonetheless, consider it permissible, as is shown by a report, narrated by ad-Daraqutni and Al-Baihaqi, that Ali washed the body of Fatimah on her death. This is also supported by a hadith that the Prophet, peace be upon him, said to ‘Aishah: “If you die before me, I will myself wash you and enshroud you.” Ibn Majah {{NOTE: IM 1465}} records this hadith.

The Hanafi school holds that it is not permissible for a husband to wash his wife’s dead body, and if there is no other woman available then he should give her tayammum. However, the above hadith prove the contrary of this view.

CHAPTER 7d: A Woman Washing A Boy

Ibn al-Munzhir said: “All great scholars are agreed that a woman may wash the body of a young boy.”

{{NOTE: Additional info:

– Reward For The Person Doing The Ghusl: “For the two conditions, the reward is great (1) concealing his defects, and (2) seeking the pleasure of Allaah.

– “He who washes a Muslim and protects his defects, Allaah will forgive him 40 times.” [Al-Haakim]

– Who Has More Priority To Do The Ghusl? The one who knows about the sunnah of the ghusl (especially if he is a relative). Proof = ‘Alee washed Muhammad (saw). For example, a person who is a shaykh has less priority than a relative who knows the sunnah of ghusl.

– If you see good things, tell people about it – ‘Alee did so.

– It is preferred to di ghusl after you do ghusl to the deceased and wudhoo after you carry the deceased.}}

{{NOTE: Next chapter; The Shroud }}

10 Responses to “Fiqh-Us-Sunnah Notes, Janaa’iz (Funerals), Ch. 7: Washing A Dead Body”

  1. Bismillahi Rahmani Rahim
    Salam ualaikum wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuhu.

    I got linked on your Blog, mashAllah, your Blog seems to be exemplary. If you allow I would translate some Posts regarding” the washing of a dead person” in german. But there arises the question, from who do you took this lesons or what/who is the source of your Posts? I notice that it complies to the most of the sunna that I know, at least to my knowledge. I would be delighted if you reply. May Allah reward you with Jannatul Firdaus.

    Barak Allahu feek for such a great Blog.

    • Assalaamu ‘alaykum wa rahmat Ullaahi wa barakaatuh,

      1) Yes you can translate whatever you wish from this blog to German or any other language for that matter.

      2) These notes are based on classes I used to attend years ago. The teacher who taught me was a student of the Faqeeah and Shaykh, Mashhoor Hasan Aal-Salmaan. Shaykh Mashhoor Hasan Aal-Salmaan has been praised by many of the shuyookh including Shaykh Al-Albaani. Shaykh Al-Albaani clearly said he has benefited most from shaykh Mashhor in terms of his fiqh books he authored.

      3) Note that I still need to complete the uploading of other chapters on the topic of Janaa’iz. I’ve only probably posted up about half of the chapters. So in shaa Allaah there is loads more to come…

      I hope this has answered ur question.

      Wassalaamu ‘alaykum.

  2. Abdul Hakeem Says:

    BarakaLLAHU feehi

  3. abu haleema Says:

    Assalamu Alaikum,

    May Allah reward you with good for making the information available.

    Please let me know the proof for making wudu for the dead prior to washing as the haddeth quoted does not speceiy that wudu is to be done. It only says “Begin washing the dead by washing organs on the right, and those parts that are washed in ablution.” {{NOTE: B 1254 & M939}}”

    Was salaam

    • Wassalaamu ‘alaykum,

      Akhee the hadeeth you mentioned is the proof. The wording is: “Begin washing the dead by…”

      So this hadeeth is a proof for washing the dead’s places of wudhoo first, and when you wash these places, you wash the right before the left.

      So you wash his right hand before his left hand, his right arm before his left arm, his right ear before his left ear, and his right foot before his left foot.

      I hope this has answered your question/doubt.

  4. abu Haleema Says:

    Assalamu Alaikum,

    Jazakallah for your reply. The issue of performing wudhu for the dead is still not clear. The hadeeth instructs to commence from the right side and the parts of body that are washed in wudhu. This would mean that the dead person’s right side is washed first by washing the hands, feet and the rest of the right side of the body by tilting the body to the left. Then, the body is tilted the right and the left side is washed commencing from the arms, feet and rest of the body. Performing wudhu has not been mentioned in the hadeeth.

    Appreciate if this can be clarified.

    Was salaam,

    • Wassalaamu ‘alaykum,

      The hadeeth in question mentions:

      “Begin washing the dead by washing organs on the right, and those parts that are washed in ablution.”[B1254 & M939]

      So here the Prophet (saw) explicitly said that one should start by washing the dead person’s right side and the parts that are washed in wudhoo. So in order, you first wash his private parts, then his mouth, then nose, then face, then his right arm, then left arm, then his head, then tilt him on his left, wash completely his right side, ten tilt him on his right and wash completely his left side, and end with his feet.

      This process is to be done three times.

      • Do 1 person wash or can u do it as n a group n the correct order plz brng me some hadith so i can have clarity Barakallahu feekum

  5. Yahuza Musa Dangiwa Says:

    Jazak Allah Khair

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