Washing the dead is an important aspect of Islam. It’s obligatory for Muslims to wash their dead before putting them in the grave . Below are what needs to be done to wash a dead Muslim.
1. Close The Eyes of the Dead
When death is confirmed, the eyes of the dead should be closed and jaws should be tied shut.
2. The Awrah Should Be Covered
While washing the body, the ‘ Awrah should be covered, body should be slightly raised and stomach is lightly pressed to get the waste out of it. Then the person who washes, wraps his/her hands with a wash cloth or the like, to clean the expelled remains from the dead’s stomach.
Then the washer should wash the dead as in Wudhu (ablution) for the Salaat (obligatory prayer).
The head and beard is washed with water and Sidr (Lote tree leaves) or soap, and the right side of the body is washed before the left side. The body can be re-washed three times, with the last one requiring plain water.
Each time the stomach should be pressed. If there is any excretion, it should be washed and the anus should be covered with cotton or the like. If it does not work then use plain earth or any medical material such as plaster, then wash the dead again as in Wudhu.
If the washer feels that three washes are not enough to clean the body properly, then he can wash five or seven times.
The body should be dried with a clean cloth and some perfume should be applied to the hidden parts of the body and the sujood parts.
It would be better to apply wood perfume (‘oud) to the entire body of the dead and to the coffin.
The washer can clip the fingernails, and trim the mustache of the dead, but should not comb the hair. If the dead is a female, then her hair can be groomed in three plaits and placed behind the back.
3. Shroud the body of the dead (Kafn.)
It is better to shroud the dead man’s body in three white pieces of cloth without using a shirt or turban. The three pieces should be rolled up together. It doesn’t matter if the dead body is shrouded in a shirt, waist-sheet or a wrap.
The woman is shrouded in five pieces of cloth; a loose piece of cloth (dir), a veil, a waist-sheet and two wraps. The body is shrouded in one to three pieces of cloth. A young female is shrouded in a shirt and two wraps.
4. Close Relations are Entitled to Wash the Dead
People who are more entitled to wash the dead man and pray for him and bury him are his male guardians e.g. father, the closest kin and so forth. Similarly female guardians are more entitled to wash a dead female i.e. the mother, grandmother, closest female relatives, etc.,
The husband or wife can wash the dead spouse, in the same way that the dead body of Abu Bakr
(r.a.) was washed by his wife. Ali (r.a.) on the other hand, washed the body of his wife Fatima
(r.a.) on her death.