Washing and Shrouding for Muslims
A practical guidebook to understanding how to wash and shroud a deceased Muslim.
Some very important things to remember:
• A man's body should be washed by men and women's by women, but a child's body may be washed by either.
• A husband can wash his wife's body and vice-versa if the need arises.
• Only one person is needed for washing with someone to help. Preferably those people who know the deceased should help with the washing. However, if there are no relatives or close friends available, any pious member of the community may perform the gushl, (bath).
• Make sure the private parts of the body are covered at all times. For a woman the private area is from the shoulder to below the knee.
For a man, the private area is from the navel to the knees. Use a towel or thick, dark fabric to cover the body because a plain sheet will become see-through when wet.
• Always be on guard about where your eyes are looking. It is human nature to look at what he or she is doing when working, but when washing the deceased Muslim, we must not ever look at the private parts, and this is done by keeping the towel that covers the private parts in place at all times. The hands can work under the towel.
• Always be on guard with what is said during the bath. Only make dua, (a prayer supplication) and talk about the good that the deceased did.
• One should never tell what is seen during washing.
Press the stomach gently and clean whatever comes out. For washing, use a piece of cloth or your gloved hands with a paper-towel folded around. It is important to understand that the hands must have an object to block direct contact with the private parts. The exposed hand should not be used alone. Use the left hand for cleaning private parts, and cover the soiled towel with right hand while throwing away. This allows for discreet disposal. One should never tell what bad things that are expelled from the body are seen during washing.
Perform wudu (ablution) on the deceased as in normal wudu. The only difference is that wudu is being made on someone else. The steps are exactly the same as performing wudu on one’s self.
Use lukewarm water, not hot, not cold, but warm. Remember, cooler water is better than hotter.
1) Wash hands (right then left)
2) Use wet cotton to clean the mouth. Wipe front teeth and lips: One three or five times as needed.
3) Roll cotton and moisten it to cleanse the nasal passages. Cleanse each nostril one three or five times, as needed. Use left hand to cleanse nasal passages, and cover the cotton with right hand while disposing of.
4) Wipe wet cotton over eyes, right and left, one three or five times, as needed. Use Right hand
5)Wash the hands and forearms with the right hand as the primary washing hand. The left hand may assist.
6) Take a handful of water and pour over forehead and wipe hair and ears. Do this one three or five times as needed. Cotton may also be used to wipe the ears. Use right hands.
7) Move to wash the feet, using left hand as the primary washing hand. The right hand may assist as necessary.
Wash the hair and body.
Use soapy water or other scented washing solution, such as citar, which is crushed lotus leaves, but if this or camphor is not available, any other halal (islamically permissible) fragrance is allowed. Allah is merciful and accepts that we use what is available at our hands.
• Wash the hair. Use any mild shampoo.
• Wash the body three times, but if the body needs more cleaning, continue washing five or seven times, but wash an odd number of times.
• Start with the right side. Begin at the right shoulder, moving downward to feet, taking care that the armpits, under the breast area, any folds in tissue, and bends of knees and are cleansed. 4 Wash the front side first.
• Then roll the deceased on to his or her side, and cleanse the backside. Do not; however, roll the decedent so far that the buttocks or other private parts will be seen.
• Rinse thoroughly.
• Prepare a mixture of Camphor and water. This time, rather than washing, rinse the body from right to left, front to back. Simply pour the mixture over the body parts. No wash cloth is necessary. (There may be un-dissolved particles of Camphor, and these may be swept, or brushed off with the hands or towels from the hair and face.)
There can be a difference in the number of sheets for men and women. Three for men and three or five for women, depending on wether or not extra material is necessary to wrap the breasts and hips tightly.
The following materials are needed:
Three tie bands to tie kafn closed. (Sometimes, on large bodies, more than 200lb, for example, more ties may be necessary at the elbows and upper thigh. Generally speaking, three is adequate.)
1. Above head (2 inch by 12 inch)
2. Middle Chest (2 inch by 36-60 inch or more)
3. Below feet (2 inch by 12 inch)
Depending on the height and weight of the deceased, the sizes for the following vary. Cut material as large as needed. For a 6 foot tall man, his lifafah will need to be seven and a half feet long, so extra material is above and below the feet, to tie closed with the tie bands.
4. Lifafah: Winding sheet 6-8 feet long.4– 8 feet wide (depending on size of body.)
5. Izaar: Body wrapper
6. Izaar 2: Body wrapper
7. Sinaband: Chest wrapper [females] 4-7 feet wide 2 feet long (not shown, and only if needed)
8. Hijab, Khamir: Scarf and underscarf [females] (not shown)
It is simple: three sheets, one on top of the other. They can all be the same size, or each one a little smaller than the first. Use what is available, and use what covers the body appropriately.
Place the sheets in this order:
1) Lifafah: Winding sheet
2) Izaar: Body wrapper
3) Qamees: Sleeveless shirt (if necessary)
4) Sinaband: Chest Wrapper (if necessary)
Preparing the Female Kafan:
1) The qamees is cut at the X, where the picture shows, and it is rolled up from the bottom to the top. Head goes through cut area, like a shirt. This covers the neck and chest very well.
2) The rolled portion of the qamees (sleeveless shirt) should be above the head area. It is later rolled down to cover the body. Note: The Qamees and Sinaband are not necessary unless there is more fabric needed to properly cover the chest. On a thinner woman, the sheets can be three, the same as a man. On a larger woman with a larger chest area, these may be necessary to provide adequate coverage. ( In my experiance, most women require a Sinaband and Qamees.)
Placing the deceased on the kafn:
1) Place deceased on top of body wrapper, (and on top of chest wrapper for females.)
2) Unroll the Qamees (for females, if needed) to cover the body.
3) Begin to wrap the body in a left to right direction so that the right piece is over the left.
4) Wrap one piece at a time, and tuck it tight. A tightly wrapped Kafn not only provides adequate body coverage, but it also aides in transport of the deceased, as the body is now tightly packaged rather than loosley wrapped. Wrap tight, but not too tight.
The two videos below will describe how to WASH and SHROUD a womans body.