Category Archives: take care of the body

Ablution (Ghusl) for the Corpse – ISLAM

After getting rid of the impure (najis) elements that are on the body of the dead person (e.g., blood, semen, etc.), the corpse has to be given three ablutions as follows:

1. First wash it with sidr water. That is, water to which a little of sidr has been added.

2. The second wash is with camphour water. That is, water to which a little bit of camphour has been added.

3. The third wash is with pure water.

It is necessary that the ablution given to the corpse be of the tartibi kind: that is, the body should be washed in proper sequence with the head and the neck first, then the right side of the body, and then the left side.

The person washing the corpse must be of the same gender as the dead person. So, a male should wash a male corpse, and a female should wash a female corpse. However, husband and wife are allowed to perform ablution to one another; although it is better that the washing be done with the body covered with a sheet of cloth.
If a person of the same gender is not available, then, based on obligatory precaution, those of the opposite gender who are mahram to the deceased can perform it. Mahram means those relations with whom marriage is forbidden because of blood relationship or nursing (suckling) relationship or marriage, like brother and sister [or son-in-law and mother-in-law]. However, it is better that the washing be done with the body covered with a sheet of cloth. Unity of gender is not required when giving ablution to a corpse of a child that had not reached the age of discerning the right and wrong.

Based on obligatory precaution, the person performing ablution must be a believer (mu’min). If neither a mu’min of the same gender as the deceased is available nor a mahram [even of the opposite gender], it is permissible that a Muslim of the same gender can wash the deceased.
If even a Muslim is not available, then the deceased can be washed by an Ahlul Kitãb person [that is, a Jew, a Christian or a Zoroastrian] of the same gender with the condition that the person should first wash himself and then perform ablution to the corpse. If even an Ahlul Kitab person of the same gender is not available, the duty of performing ablution to the corpse is lifted, and the deceased should be buried without it.


The Rights of a Corpse

Here are a few lines from the article:

“Corpses in some cultures may be married before burial or in the grave, although
it is illegal to arrest one in Maine, and in Oregon corpses are explicitly not
permitted to serve on juries (Quigley, 1996, pp. 181 – 182). In Haiti, corpses are
kissed to ensure that the spirit does not return (Quigley, 1996, p. 17), while
deceased virgin women may have ritual intercourse before burial (Shibles, 1974,
p. 400). In historical Europe, they have been tried, punished, and deliberately mutilated
(Quigley, 1996, pp. 281 – 283). Superstitions in many cultures and times,
Rights of the Corpse 225
indeed, prescribe various precautions in treating the corpse to ensure in effect that
eventual separation from the living world takes place (Quigley, 1996, pp. 16 – 19).
In some parts of Europe, if a corpse is denied ‘‘proper burial,’’ it will return to make
life unpleasant for relatives and neighbors (Verdery, 1999, pp. 40, 109).”

(Page 225-226)

University Student (Zong Lei) worked in the cosmetics department -on the deceased.

“During my studies, I saw all kinds of frightful faces of the deceased in my textbooks – some of which were even smashed out of shape.”


“I didn’t expect dead bodies would have such a strong smell, especially those that have started to decay. Something that happens if the body is not sent to the funeral home for several days.”


When changing clothes for the deceased, the liquid inside the body may also pour from the mouth as the body is being turned over, frequently running into the cosmetician’s hands.


“We never wear gloves when changing clothes as it makes it difficult to button up the deceased’s clothing,”


“At the beginning, I even vomited at the sight of the liquid, and completely lost my appetite. But now I’m gradually getting accustomed to it.”


Cosmetic Process:

The first step is to wash the face of the dead person; second involves giving the body a simple face lift, for example helping to close the eyes and mouth; third involves applying cosmetics. Usually one team of four people handle each body.


“These difficulties are not important as long as our work satisfies the families,”


“The best reward for us is to hear from loved ones that the deceased looks like they are sleeping.”



Haixia, P 2002, “Working at a funeral parlour,” viewed on the 5th of September 2011.