Burial of Covid-19 infected Bodies

Posted on: 08 April 2020

Burial of Covid-19 infected Bodies

In the name of Allah, the Most Gracious the Most Merciful

Guidance for Ghusl, Shrouding, Janazah and Burial during the Covid 19 Pandemic

Firstly, in normal circumstances, it is required for the deceased to be given a full ritual ghusl (bath), kafn (shroud), Janazah salah to be offered and for the deceased to be buried. Thus, there are certain mandatory rites afforded to the Muslim deceased, but, in such circumstances, the Divine Law permits certain relaxations of these rites:

‘So fear Allah as much as you are able’ (64:16)

‘Allah does not burden a soul except within its capacity’ (2:286)

‘There should be neither harming nor reciprocating harm’ (Ibn Majah)

 

Secondly, the concept of washing the deceased is a ‘ritual’. The main objective is not to necessarily ‘clean’ the deceased – rather, it is to continue the ritual done by the Prophet (saw) in ritually washing the body, when possible. The deceased’s body is not considered ‘impure’, whereby it has to be scrubbed and cleaned to remove impurity, rather, it is similar to the concept of wudhu – a ritual cleansing.

 

Therefore, taking into consideration the instructions given by Allah and our beloved Prophet Muhammad (saw), as well as recommendations from the local authority and many masaajid / organisations, we have decided to implement the following process for deceased of St Albans, London Colney (and nearby surrounding areas) who die from the Covid 19 virus:

 

  • The body will be brought straight from the hospital to the cemetery. The body bag will not be opened at any time, to reduce risks, in line with recommendations mentioned above.
  • In the cemetery, only a maximum of 5 family members will be allowed (those who have not been in contact with the deceased for at least 7 days), as well as the volunteers. PPE must be worn if you will be in close contact with the body.
  • The body bag will be wiped over once, using wet hands (wearing gloves) either at the hospital or inside the transporting vehicle. This does not need to be done, as the circumstances exempt us from washing the deceased at all, but it is in order to at least do something similar to the ritual laid out for us by our Prophet Muhammad (saw). After wiping over the body bag, gloves must be changed.

NOTE: Tayammum would not be done, as that would involve opening the body-bag.

  • Kafn (shroud) will be laid out on the board beside the grave (on which the body is normally placed, before burial) The body will be lowered on to the board and the kafn will be wrapped around the body (around the body bag). If there is no kafn available, the body bag will suffice as kafn. Avoid as much contact with the body as possible.
  • Janazah salah will be performed. Attendees should maintain distancing from one another and not stand shoulder to shoulder. It is encouraged to have an odd number of lines.
  • The body will be lowered into the grave. SADC have kindly allowed the body to not be in a coffin, as long as the body is adequately sealed / wrapped, but this may change.
  • Attendees may be allowed to put in a few handfuls of soil. They will then need to move away at least 10 metres and allow the grave to be filled by the Cemetery workers.
  • After the grave is filled, attendees may be allowed to go near the grave for final moments and duaa (a maximum of 5 minutes)

Alhamdulillah, we have a group of volunteers, specifically for Covid-19 deaths. We can manage everything from the moment the body is ready for collection from the hospital.

M Abdul Muhit