What do the scholars of the Dīn and muftīs of the Sacred Law state regarding the following issue: here, in the UK, the bodies of those who pass away due to the Coronavirus [COVID-19] are enclosed in a cover, thereafter the body is released; as one is not permitted to open the covering in such a situation, how will the ghusl (ritual bath) be performed. Also, only a handful of individuals are allowed to perform the janāzah prayer and are instructed to stand one metre apart from each other, is this permissible?
Questioner: Amjad from UK
بسم اللہ الرحمن الرحیم
الجواب بعون الملک الوھاب اللھم ھدایۃ الحق والصواب
After studying the NBC guidelines and the advice of the lead doctor [Chief Coroner] in the UK who is dealing with the Coronavirus, I did not come across anything which suggests that the washing of the deceased Muslim is prohibited. Rather, they advise that after taking the necessary precautions and donning correct PPE, the deceased may be given ghusl by pouring water inside of the plastic covering (in which the deceased is wrapped), or the plastic covering may be opened and the deceased be washed in this way, thus, the deceased should be given ghusl so that the obligation of washing is fulfilled.
It is stated in Fatāwā ‘Ālamagīrī:
غُسْلُ الْمَيِّتِ حَقٌّ وَاجِبٌ عَلَى الْأَحْيَاءِ بِالسُّنَّةِ وَاجِمَاعِ الْأُمَّةِ
[الفتاوی الھندیۃ”، کتاب الصلاۃ، الباب الحادی والعشرون في الجنائز، الفصل الخامس، ج۱، ص۱۶۲ Al Fatawa Hindiyyyah]
If, after taking the necessary precautions and making use of the correct safety equipment those who are ailing can be given treatment, as this is a humanitarian obligation, then there should be no compromise in fulfilling the shar’i obligation (of washing the deceased) after taking the required precautions. If opening the plastic covering is against the law and will result in a fine or other penalisation, then in such a scenario, the plastic covering should be wiped over (masah) and the deceased should then be placed in the coffin. However, if one is not even permitted to wipe over the plastic covering, then the obligation of washing the deceased shall drop, as Allāh (Most High) only tasks an individual to the extent that he can bear, just as He states:
لَا يُكَلِّفُ اللّٰهُ نَفۡسًا اِلَّا وُسۡعَهَا
“Allāh does not burden a soul, but to the extent of its capacity”
[Sūrah al-Baqarah, Verse 286]
Furthermore, the janāzah prayer is a communal obligation; a congregation (jamā’ah) is not a condition for it, even if one person was to perform it, the obligation would be fulfilled and all would be freed of their responsibility (of praying the janāzah).
Thus, it is stated in Fatāwā ‘Ālamgīrī:
الصَّلَاةُ عَلَى الْجِنَازَةِ فَرْضُ كِفَايَةٍ إذَا قَامَ بِهِ الْبَعْضُ وَاحِدًا كَانَ أَوْ جَمَاعَةً ذَكَرًا كَانَ أَوْ أُنْثَى سَقَطَ عَنْ الْبَاقِينَ وَإِذَا تَرَكَ الْكُلُّ أَثِمُوا، هَكَذَا فِي التَّتَارْخَانِيَّةوَالصَّلَاةُ عَلَى الْجِنَازَةِ تَتَأَدَّى بِأَدَاءِ الْإِمَامِ وَحْدَهُ؛ لِأَنَّ الْجَمَاعَةَ لَيْسَتْ بِشَرْطِ الصَّلَاةِ عَلَى الْجِنَازَةِ”
[الفتاوی الھندیۃ”، کتاب الصلاۃ، الباب الحادی والعشرون في الجنائز، الفصل الخامس، ج۱، ص۱۶۲ Al Fatawa Hindiyyah]
Also, in the above-mentioned scenario, it is permissible for the people to perform the funeral prayer in congregation whilst maintaining a slight distance between one another.
واللہ تعالی اعلم ورسولہ اعلم صلی اللہ علیہ وآلہ وسلم
کتبہ ابو الحسن محمد قاسم ضیاء قادری
Answered by Mufti Qasim Zia al-Qadri
Translated by Zameer Ahmed
Read the original Urdu answer here: [Q-ID0784] Should the Ghusl & Shrouding be suspended for those who died due to the Coronavirus?
Also see the following:
The Guidance For Handling Bodies Following Death From COVID-19 – by the National Burial Council (Muslim)
Official statement from Shaykh Monawwar Ateeq, Shaykh Saqib Shami and Shaykh Asrar Rashid: