Answered by Shaykh Yūsuf Badāt
Is it permissible for the wife to wash her husband in ghusl (bathing) after his death for the funeral rites? What about vice versa?
In the Name of God, Most Merciful, Most Kind
Thank you/ Jazāk Allāh Khayr for your question.
It is permissible for the husband or wife to wash each other in ghusl after death according to majority jurists including those from the Shāfīʿe, Mālikī and Ḥanbalī schools, provided the couple were in an islamicaly valid marriage at the time of the spouse’s demise.
This view is substantiated by the following;
“ʿᾹʾyeshā (may God be pleased with her) narrated that the Messenger of God (peace and blessings upon him) said to her, “If you die before me, I will wash you myself.” (Ibn Mājah, Musnad Aḥmad)
“ʿAlī (may God be pleased with him) bathed Fāṭima (may God be pleased with her) for her funeral.” (See: Bayhaqī, Ᾱthar Al-Sunan, Iʾelā Al-Sunan)
“Abū Bakr (may God be pleased with him) bequeathed his wife Asmā bint ʿUmays (may God be pleased with her) to bathe him for his funeral, so she did.” (See: Muʾaṭṭa)
Jurists from the Ḥanafī school permit the wife to wash her deceased husband, however they forbid the husband to wash his deceased wife due to the Islamic marriage immediately terminating upon her demise. In the case of the husband’s death, the wife remains in the marriage until the expiry of the ʿiddah (waiting period). (See: Radd Al-Muḥtār)
This position is based on the below mentioned;
ʿOmar bin Khaṭṭab (may God be pleased with him) said, “We would have the right to bathe the wives, as husbands, if the wives were alive. As for when they pass away, you [women of the community] have a greater right.” (Kitāb Al-Ᾱthār)
According to the Ḥanafī school, the reports of Companions washing their wives refers to them making arrangements for the washing and funeral, such as making payments, acquiring the materials, carrying, transporting and the burial. (See: Iʾelā Al-Sunan)
Despite the above variance in views, it is agreed by all Islamic jurists that the best is to have women wash women and men, men, in this funeral process.
There is no objection in viewing one’s deceased spouse. The difference is in the husband physically bathing the wife. (See: Al-Fiqh Al-Islāmiy Wa Adillatuh)
And Allāh Knows Best