Fatwa Date : Jumaadaa Al-Aakhir 13, 1423 / 21-8-2002
If you want to wash a dead person, how can you do that?
Praise be to Allah, the Lord of the World; and may His blessings and peace be upon our Prophet Muhammad and upon all his Family and Companions. Washing a dead person has some rules and some good manners. First, anyone who wants to wash a dead person, has to conceal the dead's Awrah. So, he must cover the dead man between the navel and the knee. If the dead is a woman the women washing her must first cover her Awrah (front of women between the navel and the knee). Then the dead person's clothes are removed except that which covers the Awrah. It is likable that the dead person be concealed from the eyes of people while being washed and it is dislikable for anyone who is not helping in the washing to attend it. Then the corpse is placed on the washing bed or on an elevated place. Then the head of the dead person is tilted forward until the body almost in a seated position and his stomach is then squeezed carefully. After that water is poured on him/her thoroughly and the person doing the washing uses a piece of clothe in his hand to wash the dead's two outlets of impurities. He should not however touch the Awrah of any person aged 7 or more years unless wearing a covering for his hands. It is dislikable to touch any part of the body without screening the hands from directly touching the skin of the dead person. He may then perform Wudu on him as the Prophet (Sallallahu Alaihi wa Sallam) said to those who washed his daughter: "Begin washing the dead by washing organs on the right, and those parts that are washed in ablution" [ al-Bukhari and Muslim ]. He should not put water in the deceased's nose or mouth but uses his wet fingers to wipe over his teeth and places them in his nostrils to clean them. His fingers should then be covered. Next he begins the washing starting by saying "Bismillah". The head and beard are cleaned with the foam of Sidr (lotus jujube). The Sidr is pounded and put in a receptacle with some water. Then, it is beaten by hand until it has a foam. Only the foam is used to clean the head and the beard as to avoid having residue stick to the hair. In fact, the foam does not contain any sediments. Then the right side of the corpse is washed, then the left side, and finally the whole body three times, five times, or seven times or more, depending on the situation. But the number of washings has to be uneven as the Prophet (Sallallahu Alaihi wa Sallam) said: "Wash the dead body an odd number of times, that is, three, five, or seven, or more if you feel it is necessary" [ al-Bukhari and Muslim ]. During each washing one has to pass his hand over the stomach of the dead. Some camphor should be put in the last washing as the Prophet (Sallallahu Alaihi wa Sallam) said: "For the final washing, use some Kafoor or something from Kafoor. When you are finished, inform me" [ al-Bukhari and Muslim ]. Camphor has a good smell so it has a special effect on reducing the dead body's odor. There is no harm in using soap if there is need for it. Some scholars state that his nails should be cut and his moustache trimmed but his hair should not be combed but should be dried with a piece of cloth. If some impurities come out of the dead body after the seven washing, then the outlet is filled with some cotton and the place is washed and Wudu is performed on the dead person. But if this impurity comes out after it has been enshrouded then the Ghusl is not done again. The hair of the woman is trussed in three junctions and let hang on her back. Allah knows best.