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The Ghusl of a Shahada DeathBelonging to the B-Type

Answered as per Shafi'i Fiqh by Seekersguidance.org

Answered by Shaykh Mohammad Afifi al-Akiti

Question : The Ghusl of a Shahada Death belonging to the B-Type

A muslim was shot and the body was discovered a week later because of odor coming out of the apartment. After autopsy, what is [the] proper procedure for burial in regard to Ghusl of Mayit is wajib. So do we treat it like a drowned person, and still make Ghusl (minimum with one immersion in water).?

Answer:  Nothing in any of the books I have, Except that a drowned person should still be washed.
Reliance [= ‘Umdat al-Salik]

I‘anah Al Talibin

Faid Ilah Al Malik




Hasyiat al Jamal

Bijirmi [Bujayrimi] Al [‘ala] Khatib

In short:

The person MUST [= Wajib] be washed. Even if the cause of death was of the shahada-type (the “actual” cause of death was not specified but let us assume in the extreme case that he was killed in a robbery for example [qutila dUna mAlihi]), it will at most be considered to be among the 7-11 types of “as-shahAdah siwa l-qatli fI sabIli LlAh” or “shahid qhayr ma‘rakah” [a non-battle death as a martyr].

So, just exactly as in the case of drowning [ghariq], the tajhiz [preparation] of this mayyit [corpse] will include its ghusl [washing], takfin [shrouding], salat [prayer] and dafn [burial] – even when an autopsy is carried out before the tajhiz. If this case turns out not to be an abnormal death in the first place (read non-shahada death), then undoubtedly in that case the same tajhiz procedure will apply.

As for the other possible masa’ala [legal case] that may crop up in your case: It is unlikely in this particular case (a decomposed body one week old) that the mayyit will be considered ta‘adhdhur [impractical to wash] (such as its being badly spoilt or rotten or crumbling into decay) by the time the ghusl for it is to be performed, and especially if an autopsy was already carried out (since the mayyit would have been treated and refrigerated by the pathologist). In the unlikely event that there is ‘udhr [this excuse], the body should nevertheless be washed where possible – only to the extent that its purity will not be affected.

So the answer was there all along in the eight books you mentioned, without exception, including the shortest among them, the ‘Umdat al-Salik:

wa-yaHrumu ghuslu sh-shahIdi wa-S-SalAtu ‘alayhi wa-huwa man mAta fI ma‘rakati l-kuffAri bi-sababi qitAlihim
[It is unlawful to wash the body of a martyred (Muslim soldier) and to perform the funeral prayer over him. A martyr is someone who died in (a sanctioned) battle as a result of fighting with non-Muslim (soldiers)].

You only need to apply the mutala‘a [hermeneutic] tool of mafhum mukhalafa [inversion] to this ‘ibara [source text] and Dabit [principal rule] to see that your answer can be found already between the lines! Part of the style of composing furu‘ [secondary legal] works is for the text to be as minimalist and concise as possible, as is also the practice with modern legal primers and manuals. This episode shows that not only is it not enough to stop when one finds the right legal case in one’s bahth al-masa’il [case search], but it is also necessary to use and apply the case in question correctly. And this ability should be among the marks of a trained or a matured jurist:

istiHDAru al-ashbAhi wa n-naZA’iri wa-ibdA’u l-furUqi wa l-mawAni‘i
[To evoke the process of deduction from decisions of similar cases and to see the legal points and exceptions].

This is why some of our jurists have said that among the meanings of ‘Ilm Fiqh is “ma‘rifat al-naza’ir”: knowledge of this very deduction. This is among the fruits gained when the Usul [foundational legal principles] and the Furu‘ [corollary legal principles] of Fiqh are combined and understood together. Reflect upon this! For this ability alone does not include many other qualities that are also indispensable in a Mujtahid’s arsenal, such as the rarer and more difficult exercise of making ilhaq [inference], takhrij [drawing on direct precedent] and istinbat [deriving a conclusion] to clarify a Hukm [legal ruling] (whether directly from the scriptural Nusus of the Qur’an and the Prophetic Hadtihs – included in the brief of the Mujtahid Mutlaq or Mustaqill [the Completely Independent Doctor of the Law] such as Imam al-Shafi‘i – or whether indirectly through the standard of our Mujtahid Imam’s nusus [established texts] – a job for a Mujtahid lower than the first one such as Imam al-Nawawi).

That is why most of the faqihs [jurists] of our time are in reality mere nuqqal [transmitters]: they would not give a legal opinion or “fatwa” in something that they cannot find in between the lines [mastura]. And unless they are among the Nuzzar [the Examiners or Consultants of the School], anyone who calls himself a faqih today and thinks otherwise is deluding himself.

How true is the simple observation of one very old and matured fiqh teacher from Indonesia: “All the books of furu‘ are in fact the same: complete mastery of only one of them is enough to make up for all of them!”

May this help!

M. Afifi al-Akiti
16 Shawwal 1425
30 IX 2004

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