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Gloves must always be worn while washing the deceased and it is recommended the washer performs wudhu  (ablution); before commencement and starts by saying: “Bismillah”

When a Muslim dies, it is the responsibility of his family or other Muslims within the local community to wash him and prepare the body for burial. Usually at least three to four people will be involved and the persons should be: adult Muslim, honest and trustworthy person, same gender as the deceased, but for a child, either males or females who are knowledgeable may do the ghusl.

The deceased’s body should be washed in a clean, secluded and private place where clean water and soap are available. If available, lotus leaves, or camphor is to be used in the final wash. The steps of the washing should be done at least three times or any more odd number of times as necessary to cleanse.

Privacy for the deceasedis a crucial and an important requirement at all times during the ghusl. The body should be placed on a table or alike and covered with a sheet of cloth at all times during the wash. The Auwra (private parts) of the deceased should be covered with a sheet of cloth (The aura of a male is from the belly button to the knee in the presence of males, for the female is the same in the presence of females).If there is any active bleeding or wound discharge then that may be padded and dressed. And in case the deceased is a female in her menstrual period or have child birth bleeding, padding should be used to prevent blood from leaving the body.

Also, in the case of a female, her hair should be loosened, washed, combed, be braided in three braids and placed behind her back. Um Atiyah narrated that: ” When the daughter of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) died, he instructed us:  Wash her three times, or more than that if you feel it is necessary, with water and sidr (good smelling leaves), and then after the last wash apply some camphor to the body, then loosen her hair, wash it, comb it, and make it in three braids laid behind her back ” (Bukhari & Muslim).

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The head and the upper body should be raised slightly to ensure the washing water with exudations from the body flows down and does not run back to the body. Starting from the head (hair, face and beard in men), then the upper right side of the body then the left side, after that the lower right side then the lower left. In the last wash, the washer may use camphor, or some perfume with the water.

The washer should press lightly the stomach of the deceased so as so to expel, if possible any remnants from it and wash the covered private parts and performs wudhu (ablution) for the deceased without inserting the water in the nose and in the mouth. However the washer may use a piece of wet cotton wool in a small roll to clean the nose and front teeth.  Afterwards, the body should be dried with clean towel, covered with a clean sheet and get ready for shrouding.

It is recommended that washers should take a bath after performing the ghusl to serve as infection control and protect the person against contagious diseases.  There is no Islamic teaching of reading of the Quran or of making any special dhikr during the ghusl.

To be continued.

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