Monday, 30 April 2018

Critical Issues Pertaining to the Deceased Corpse

بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم

والعاقبة للمتقين

It is from the Sunna of the Prophet Muhammad (Sallallahu alayhi wasallam) to perform Ghusl after washing a corpse, and to perform Wudu after coming into contact with a corpse, including carrying it. The Prophet (Sallallahu alayhi wasallam) said: “Whoever washes a deceased person, let him perform Ghusl and whoever carries him, let him perform Wudu.” (Sunan Abi Dawud #3161) and it was narrated by sayyida Aisha (Radi Allahu anha) that the Prophet (Sallallahu alayhi wasallam) used to perform Ghusl for four reasons, among them, after having washed a corpse (ibid, #3160). The reason for this may be understood from the fact that in the Hanafi school a corpse is Najis (impure) until it is washed. The Imamiya Shi’a have a similar view. Likewise, in Judaism there is the law of Tumat Met or the defilement that occurs when someone comes in contact with a corpse or human remains. Although most of the Fuqaha hold that Ghusl is not mandated but at the most only recommended after washing a corpse, and likewise Wudu is not mandated nor is it nullified through Mass al-Mayyit, the wording of the first Hadith I quoted apparently indicates otherwise.

Another critical issue is the imperative for Muslims to be be buried in a separate cemetery, and that Muslims and non-Muslims are not buried in the same cemetery. This is an example of an issue whose ruling is not derived from a khabr but from Amal at-Tawatur of the Muslim Umma from generation to generation going back to the time of the Prophet (Sallallahu alayhi wasallam) and his Companions (Radi Allahu anhum). Some Muslims who live in non-Muslim majority societies are tragically negligent of this critical Islamic law. They are in fact jeopardizing their position on Judgment Day by preferring to be buried alongside disbelievers, as perhaps they will be raised up alongside them and share their unenviable fate. The Prophet (Sallallahu alayhi wasallam) told the Bedouin whose father went to Hell:

حَيْثُمَا مَرَرْتَ بِقَبْرِ كافر فَبَشِّرْهُ بِالنَّارِ

“Whenever you pass by the grave of a disbeliever, give him the tidings of Hell.” (al-Mu’jam al-Kabir of al-Tabarani)

Finally, there is the vital issue for Muslims of burying their dead with haste. This is another issue that Muslims have become negligent of, especially those who live in the West, where the coroner may release the corpse of a Muslim after an unacceptable delay. Steps must be taken by our community to address this problem.

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