Fiqh-us-Sunnah, Volume 4: Al-Kafan (The Shroud)
Shrouding the body of the deceased, even it be with just one piece of cloth,is a collective obligation (fard kifayah) of the Muslims. Bukhari narrated fromKhabbab that he said: "We migrated with Allah's Messenger, peace be uponhim, seeking Allah's pleasure, and we hope He will reward us for that. In themeanwhile some of us died and received no reward in this life. One of them wasMusa'ab ibn 'Umayr, who was killed in the Battle of Uhud. We did not findanything to shroud him in except a piece of cloth. When we covered his head,his feet would show, and if we covered his feet, his head would show. Allah ' sMessenger, peace be upon him, ordered us to use the cloth to cover his head withit and cover his feet with some grass." 66
In shrouding, the following practices are recommended and should be observedwhile preparing a body for burial.
-1- The shroud should be nice, clean, and large enough to cover the entirebody. This is based on a narration of Ibn Majah and Tirmizhi, who regard it asound hadith from Abu Qatadah that the Prophet, peace be upon him, said:"If one of you is a guardian to his deceased brother, he should give himthe best shroud he can."
-2- A shroud should be white, as it is recorded by Ahmad, Abu Daw'ud, andTirmizhi on the authority of Ibn 'Abbas that the Prophet, peace be upon him,said: "Wear white clothes, for these are your best clothes, and enshroudyour dead in them." Tirmizhi considers it a sound hadith.
-3- The shroud should be scented and perfumed. The hadith is cited by Ahmadand by Al-Hakim, who regards it as sound, in accordance with Jabir's narrationthat the Prophet, peace be upon him, said: "If you perfume a dead body, doit three times." Abu Sa'id, Ibn 'Umar, and Ibn 'Abbas directed their heirsin their wills to perfume their shrouds with aloes-wood.
-4- The shroud should be three wraps for a man and five wraps for a woman,in light of what is narrated by the group from 'Aishah who said: "TheMessenger of Allah, peace be upon him, was wrapped in three pieces of new whitesheets of cloth from Yemen, without a shirt or a turban."
Tirmizhi said: "The majority of the scholars among the Companions ofthe Prophet (may Allah be pleased with them) and others hold this view."Sufyan Al-Thawri said: "A (deceased) male should be shrouded in threepieces of cloth, or a shirt and two loose pieces of cloth, or (if necessary)three wraps of cloth.
One wrap may suffice if nothing else is available. Two wraps will alsosuffice, but three wraps are preferable for those who can afford it. This isthe opinion of Ash-Shafi'i, Ahmad, and Ishaq. They hold that a deceased femaleshould be enshrouded in five sheets.
It is reported from Umm 'Atiyyah that the Prophet, peace be upon him, gaveher a loincloth, a shirt, a scarf, and two pieces of cloth (to be used as ashroud for him). Ibn Al-Munzhir said: "Most of the scholars, our teachers,are of the opinion that a woman should be shrouded in five sheets of cloth.
If a pilgrim dies, he is to be washed the same way any non-pilgrim iswashed. He should be shrouded in his ihram (two pieces of seamless cloth whichthe pilgrims don during umrah or hajj. His head should not be covered, norshould any perfume be applied to his body, because the restrictions of ihramstill apply to him. This is based on what the group reported from Ibn 'Abbas,who said: "During the last hajj, a man, mounted on a horse, was close toAllah's Prophet, peace be upon him, and was trying to learn more from him, whenhe suddenly fell off his mount. The horse kicked him and killed him. When theProphet, peace be upon him, was told about him, he said: 'Wash him with waterand lotus (leaves), then wrap him in his two sheets, and do not perfume hisbody nor cover his head, for Allah, the Exalted, will raise him on the Day ofResurrection with talbiyah (The prayer uttered during hajj by the pilgrims) onhis lips'."
The Hanafi and Maliki schools hold that when a pilgrim dies, then his stateof ihram is terminated, so that thereafter he may be shrouded like anynonpilgrim. His shroud may be sewn, his head may be covered, and he may beperfumed. In their opinion the case of the man who died while with the Prophet,peace be upon him, during the Hajj season is of a special case and does not seta precedent for other cases. Nevertheless the reason given (for not coveringhis head or perfuming his body . . ) applies generally. The statement that hewill be raised on the Day of Judgement with talbiyah on his tongue clearlyapplies to all who die in the state of ihram, because it is a well establishedjuristic principle that a ruling true for one case is also true and applicableto other similar cases, unless there is something indicating that the case isspecific in nature and limited in scope.
A shroud should be nice, but not so extravagantly expensive that it wouldunduly burden a person.
Ash-Shafi'i remarked, "Ali said: 'Do not be extravagant in shroudingme. I have heard Allah's Messenger, peace be upon him, say: "Do not beextravagant in preparing your shroud for it will soon be taken away."'This is narrated by Abu Daw'ud, in whose chain of narrators is a man called AbuMalik, who is of somewhat dubious character.
It is narrated that Huzhaifah said, "Do not be extravagant in preparingthe shroud. Buy for my shroud two clean white sheets of cloth."
Abu Bakr said: "Wash this garment of mine, and add another two sheetsof cloth, and shroud me in them." At this 'Aishah said, "This garmentthat you are wearing is old and worn out." He said, "The living aremore deserving of the new garments than the dead. This shroud is only to absorbthe secretions of the body."
It is not permissible for a man to be buried in a silk shroud, but it ispermissible for a woman. This is based on the following saying of Allah'sMessenger, peace be upon him, concerning silk and gold: "Both of thesethings, i.e. gold and silk, are forbidden for the males of my ummah, but theyare permissible for the females."
Many scholars, however, disapprove of a woman using a silk shroud, becausethis is extravagant and a waste of money and therefore forbidden. Thesescholars differentiate between the permissibility for a woman to wear ornamentsduring her lifetime and the practice of beautifying the shroud after her death.
Ahmad said: "I do not like a woman to be shrouded in silk."Likewise Al-Hasan, Ibn al-Mubarak, and Ishaq expressed their disapproval. IbnAlMunzhir said, "I know of no other scholars with a different view on thissubject."
A person who dies and leaves some money behind should have his shroudpurchased with his money. If the deceased did not leave any money, then,whoever is responsible for taking care of his living expenses should providehis shroud. In case the deceased leaves no money and there is no one to takecare of him, then his shroud should be purchased by the Public Treasury of theMuslims. Otherwise individual Muslims should take care of it. The same appliesin case of both the males and the females.
Ibn Hazm said: "The cost of a woman 's shroud and the digging of hergrave should be met out of her own money. Her husband is not obliged to pay forit, for the properties of Muslims are forbidden to be used except by the authorityof the Qur'an or sunnah.
The Prophet, peace be upon him, said, "Verily, your blood and propertyare sacred and are forbidden to each other." Allah, the Exalted, imposedon a husband the responsibility of providing his wife with food, clothing, andhousing. The shroud is not synonymous with clothing, according to the languagein which Allah chose to address us, nor is the grave equivalent to housing.