I have a question surrounding the ruling of a person who died in another country. The corpse was transported to his own country in a coffin that was tightly sealed. The responsible parties requested that the box not be opened. Is it correct to bury him without knowing whether or not he was washed, knowing that he died in a car accident? What is the correct opinion in a case like this? Please elaborate.
All perfect praise be to Allaah, The Lord of the Worlds. I testify that there is none worthy of worship except Allaah, and that Muhammad, sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, is His slave and messenger.
Washing the deceased is an obligation, as is shrouding and burying him. The scholars have mentioned that the deceased, if buried without being washed or shrouded, is to be exhumed in order that he be washed and shrouded. However, if it is known that he has begun to decompose, then he is to be left alone.
Accordingly, if it is not known if the deceased has been washed and shrouded, then it is not permissible to bury him without a wash even if the responsible party objects. There is no obedience to the creation if it means disobedience to the Creator. However, if they already buried him or forced someone to bury him in that state, then there is no sin on anyone else.
If it is known that he was washed in the country of his death, he should be buried. He does not need to be washed again, even if the one who washed him there was a non-Muslim. Shaykh Zakareeya Al-Ansaari, the Shaafi‘i scholar said, commenting on "The chapter of washing the deceased, even without an intention": “This is because the goal of washing him is cleanliness and does not require an intention. The act is stipulated on the one being washed and not on the one doing the washing and the deceased has no intention. This holds true even if the washing is performed by a disbeliever, since the intention is not a condition.
Allaah Knows best.
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