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Death: What to do

Answered as per Hanafi Fiqh by CouncilofUlama.co.za

What to do when someone is about to leave this world

1. When a person is about to die, make him lie down flat on his back. Place his feet towards the Qiblah and raise his head so that his face could be towards the Qiblah. If moving him causes difficulty then leave him in any convenient position. Sit near him and recite the Kalimah aloud so that by listening to you he will also commence reading. Do not order him to read the Kalimah because this is a very difficult time and we do not know what he will utter. It is desirable that a person in the state of Janabat (impurity) leaves the room.

2. The moment he recites the Kalimah once, keep quiet and do not try to make him read it repeatedly until he passes away. Because the purpose of this is that, the last words that are uttered by him are that of the Kalimah. It is therefore not necessary that the Kalimah be continuously recited until he passes away. However, if he starts talking of any worldly matter after having recited the Kalimah, commence reciting the Kalimah again. Once he recites it, keep quiet.

3. Once the breathing begins to stop, he starts taking quick breaths, the limbs get loose and he is unable to stand, the nose gets crooked and the temples begin to cave in, one should know that death has approached. At that time, the Kalimah should be recited in a loud voice.

4. By reciting Surah Yaaseen, the severity of death decreases. This Surah should be recited by sitting near his head or anywhere else near him. If one cannot recite it oneself, one should ask someone else to
recite it. It is recommended that Surah Ra’d also be recited at this time, if possible.

5. At that time of death, do not speak anything that will turn his attention towards the world because this is the time of leaving the world and presenting oneself in front of Allah Ta”ala. Do such things, talk of such things that his heart turns away from the world, and directs itself towards Allah Ta”ala. In this lies full benefit for the dead person. To bring his family and children in front of him, or anyone else for whom he had a lot of love, or to talk of such things towards which his heart turns or whose love enters his heart is extremely detestable at such a time

6. If at the time of death, he uttered some words of kufr, do not worry about it and do not announce it. Instead, think that due to the difficulty of death, his mind is not normal and this therefore occurred. When one is not in one’s senses, everything is forgiven. Continue making dua to Allah Ta”ala for his salvation.

7. Once the person dies, straighten all his limbs. Close his mouth in the following way: take a cloth and tie it in such a way that it goes from below his chin and around both sides of his head. Thereafter, tie a knot so that his mouth does not open. Close his eyes and thereafter tie the toes of both his feet together so that his legs do not move about. Cover him with a sheet and thereafter, as far as possible,
hasten towards his ghusl and kaffan.

8. At the time of closing his mouth, recite the following dua: Translation: “In the name of Allah and on the creed, religion and faith of Rasulullah.”


What to do after a person passes away
1.Obtain a doctor’s certificate, burial order, and death certificate.
2. If the death is due to unnatural causes, e.g. drowning etc. then one must comply with the legal requirements.
3. Inform relatives and friends of the death and time of Janazah.
4. Prepare the Qabr, perform the ghusl and put on the Kafn.
5. Arrange transport if cemetery is at a distance.


*The burial should be carried out as soon as practically possible. This is strongly advised by Nabi (sallallahu alaihi wasallam). We should not wait for so and so to come from here and there

The Kafn
The kafn are the grave clothes for the dead. It is desirable that the kafn be made of white material and of medium quality according to the status of the deceased. It is permissible to prepare ones kafn in ones
lifetime. This will avoid last minute rush and inconvenience.

Kafn for male
The preferred Kafn for a male is:
*          Izaar – 1.75 metres
*          Qamees – 1.8 metres
*          Lifaafah – 2.25 metres

Kafn for female
*          Izaar – 3.5 metres
*          Lifafah – 4.5 metres
*          Qamees – 1.8 metres
*          Khimaar – 1.4 metres
*          Seenaband – 1,8 metres (to cover chest area)

Additional requirements
Any material 2.5 metres, 115cm wide. This has to be made into two pieces for tehbands (sheets for covering satr during Ghusl), about 115 cm square, the remainder should be used as mittens when performing Ghusl.

Sixty grams camphor cut fine, sixty grams sandal wood powder and rose water for paste to be applied on areas of sajdah.

Small bottle of Hunoot if easily available, for males only. (Hunoot refers to any substance, which the corpse can be perfumed with. The substance must be paak (pure).

Requirements for the grave:
*  Unbaked bricks, bamboo or timber where the ground is soft.
*  Sufficient spades.
*  Approximate dept of the grave for should be according to the height of the deceased.

Ghusl – bathing the deceased
*   Clean luke warm water
*   A broad bench, stand or platform.
*   2 large buckets for warm water, one small bucket or utensil used for water to be mixed with a little camphor at and applied at the end of ghusl.
*   2 jugs or utensils for pouring water over the corpse
*   Cake of soap
*   250 grams cotton wool.
*   2 tehbands (material for covering satr – this should be adequate enough to ensure that the satr is not exposed at any time during ghusl). It should also preferably be a dark colour so it does not become transparent when water gets it.
*  A scissor for removing the deceased’s clothing.
*  Lobaan (frankincense – aromatic gum resin obtained from trees) or any other paak (pure) incense for smoking the bench, stand or platform.
*  One clean sheet to cover during ghusl and one to cover before and after ghusl.
*  Clean towel for drying the corpse.

Who should perform the ghusl?
An adult male should be bathed by his father, son or brother. An adult female by her mother, daughter or sister. If these persons are not available or unable then it should be carried out by any Muslim male for male and Muslim female for female. The person giving the ghusl must be paak himself and in the state of wudhu. He maybe assisted by others. It is makrooh (reprehensible) for a woman in the state of haid or nifaas to perform the ghusl.

How to perform the ghusl
The platform on which the ghusl will be performed must be washed cleaned and fumigated with lobaan or any other incense 3,5 or 7 times.
During ghusl it is permissible to place the body in one of two positions
a.      have the legs facing the Qibla
b.      have the right shoulder and side towards the qibla.
It is preferable to place the body with the right shoulder and side towards the Qiblah because Rasulullah (sallallahu alayhi wa sallam) mentioned that the Qiblah is for the living and the dead.
All jewellery and wigs etc. should be removed. Where false teeth can easily removed, these should be taken out.
Thereafter the body should be placed on the platform and the satr covered.
The stomach should be gently massaged and both the private areas washed wearing mittens. This should be done without looking at the private areas.
The nostrils, ears and mouth should be closed with cotton wool to prevent water from entering the body during ghusl.
If the deceased reached the age of puberty he must he must first be given wudhu. This wudhu is similar  to the one for salaah  with the exception of  gargling and putting water into the nostrils.
If the deceased was in the state of Janabat (*impurity) then the mouth and nostrils will have to be made wet. This can be done with a little cotton wool.
After wudhu the head and beard should be washed first with soap or any other cleansing agent. The temperature of the water must be that which a living person will normally bath with.
Thereafter the body should be tilted onto it’s left side to allow the right side to be washed first. Warm water should now be poured from over the body from head to toe once, and the body washed with soap until the water has reached the bottom (left side). Then wash the body twice by pouring eater from head to toe. The body should then be turned onto its right side and the left side bathed similarly.
Thereafter the body should be lifted slightly into a sitting position, and the stomach massaged gently with a downward stroke. The waste matter should be washed away. The wudhu and ghusl should not be repeated in the event of any impurity being discharged.
The body should once again be turned onto its left side and camphor water poured over it from head to toe thrice.
All cotton wool should be removed from mouth ears and nose.
The ghusl is now complete and could be dried. The satr must be kept covered. The first tehband (covering piece for satr) will wet due to ghusl. It should be replaced with dry piece. Care should be taken that the satr is not exposed when changing.
The body should be wrapped in a cloth and carried carefully to the Kafn.

How the kafn should be put on:

First spread the lifafah on the ground, on top of it the place the Izaar and on top of the Izaar place that potion of the Qamees that will be under the body. The portion that will cover the top of the body should be folded and put at the head side. Lower the body gently onto the kafn and cover the top of the body up to the calfs with the folded portion of the Qamees.
Remove the sheet used for covering the satr.
Apply itr or hunoot to the head and beard.
Apply camphor mixture to areas of sajdah (forehead, nose, both the palms, knees and the forefeet.
Fold over the left flap of the Izaar first and over it the right flap covering the Qamees.
Thereafter fold the lifafah in the same manner. Remember that the right flap must always be on top.
Lastly, fasten the ends of the lifaafah at the head side, feet and around the middle with strips of cloth.

First spread the lifaafah onto the ground, then the seenaband, on it the Izaar and then the Qamees in the same manner states for males. The seenaband may also be placed between the Izaar and Qamees or lastly over the lifaafah.
Place the body gently onto the kafn and cover the top of the body up to the calfs with the folded portion of the Qamees.
Remove sheet used for covering satr.
Do not apply and form of incense or perfume.
Apply camphor mixture onto places sajdah.
The hair should be divided into two parts and placed onto the right and left breast over the Qamees.
Cover the head and hair with the orni, do not fasten or fold it.
Fold the Izaar, left flap first and then the right over the Qamees and the orni.
Now close the seenaband (breast cover) over these in the same manner.
Close the lifaafah, the left flap first and then the right.
Lastly fasten the ends of there lifaafah at the head side, feet and around the middle with strips of cloth, to keep the kafn in place.

Pertinent points: It is impermissible to enclose any paper or booklet with duaas or Quran inscription s into the kafn.
It is forbidden to write the kalimah or any other dua on the kafn or on the chest of the deceased with camphor, saffron etc.

What to do after the kafn
With the completion of Ghusl and kafn the mayyit is now ready for burial. The Janazah Salaah should be arranged as soon as possible and unnecessary delay should be avoided.
To ensure that all these procedures are undertaken swiftly the mayyit should be buried in the nearest Muslim cemetery. It is not necessary to delay the burial because certain relative is coming from a distance. Also to transport the body over long distances is undesirable.

How the Janazah should be carried
If the deceased is an adult, it should be placed into a bier and carried on the shoulders of four men.
If the deceased is an infant it may be carried in the arms.
When lifting the Janazah recite Bismillahir rahmaanir raheem each person should carry the Janazah for forty steps commencing with the left front (mayyits right shoulder) of the Janazah for ten steps, thereafter the left rear for ten steps, thereafter the right front for ten steps and lastly the right rear for ten steps. This preferable method should only be adopted if it does not cause inconvenience to others.
Those accompanying the Janazah should not sit before it is lowered to the ground. The sick and weak are excused.
The Janazah should be carried hastily but not in a manner that it jolted or shaken about.
It is mustahab to follow the Janazah and not go ahead of it.

Where and when should the Janazah salaah be performed.
The Janazah salaah should not be performed in the Masjid. It could be performed on any open space, or a building built specially for this purpose.
It is makrooh to perform Janazah Salaah while the sun rises at Zawwal time and when the sun sets. Besides these three times it could be performed at any other time of the day or night. It could also be performed after Asr Salaah.

The Janazah Salaah
The Janazah Salaah is Fard-e-kifaayah (If a few people in the community attend the remainder are absolved, if no one attends all are sinful) on all Muslims present. There two faraid (compulsory acts) in Janazah Salaah,
1.      To stand and perform the Salaah
2.      To recite all four Takbeers.
The body should be placed with the head on the right side of the Imam, who will face the Qiblah The Imam should stand in line with the chest of the mayyit.
It is preferable to make an odd number of saffs.
Make intention of dua for the deceased and follow the Imam. Only the Imam will say the takbeer aloud. Do not raise your hands for takbeer besides the first takbeer.
After the 1st takbeer recite Thana for Janazah, after the second takbeer recite Durood Ibraheem, after the 3rd recite dua for adult or infant, after the 4th make salaam.
The salaah is now complete and there is no need for dua or fatiha as this purpose was fulfilled by the salaah.

*After the Janaazah Salaat it is not Sunnat or advisable to have any congregational dua. The Janaazah Salaat is itself a dua, hence to make another dua thereafter would be indicating that the Masnoon practice is insufficient.

The method of Dafn (burial)
Once the Janazah Salaah is performed the Mayyit should be buried as soon as possible. Upon reaching the grave the Janazah should be placed at Qiblah side of the grave. The head should be on the right side of the grave if one faces the Qiblah.
It is appropriate that Mahrams or close relatives of a female enter the grave to lower her body. Those that enter the grave should face the Qiblah It is mustahab and important to hold a sheet over the grave while lowering and burying a female. If there is fear of her kafn opening then it is wajib to do so.
After placing the body into the recess of the grave it is masnoon (sunnat) to turn it onto its right side to face the Qiblah.
The strips of cloth tied to head, chest and leg side should now be untied.
The recess should now be covered with unbaked bricks, bamboo or timber. It is preferable to commence closing the recess from the leg side for males and from the head side for females. The remaining openings and gaps should be filled with mud or grass.

The grave
The shape of the Qabr when filled shoud be like the hump of a camel.
The height should be approximately 25cm. There should be no building, wall, enclosure etc around the grave. This has been strictly prohibited in the Hadith.
It is preferable to sprinkle water on the grave from the head to the leg side thrice after the Qabr has been shaped.
It is advisable to recite the Quran and make dua for the deceased at the graveside after the grave is filled and shaped.
After burial the first ruku of Surah Baqara should be recited at the head side and the last Ruku of Surah Baqara recited at the leg side.
It comes in the Hadith that we should beseech Allah to forgive the deceased and pray for his steadfastness because he is going to be questioned by Munkar and Nakeer

This answer was collected from CouncilofUlama.co.za, which is operated under the supervision of Council of Ulama Eastern Cape, South Africa.

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