The Wayfarer

For the seeker or the merely curious

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Procedures after a death in hospital

In Britain nearly 80% of deaths occur in medical institutions. There is a concern that a Muslim who dies in such an institution may not be treated in accordance with Islamic tradition especially when family or community members are not present at the time of death. There have been problems related to how the body of the deceased should be handled, as improper handling can cause distress to the Muslim family, particularly when the handlers are of the opposite sex.

Hospital staff should avoid touching the body of deceased Muslims with bare hands. It is preferable that they wear gloves and under no circumstances should the body be washed. This is a very important duty which the deceased’s family members or members of the community are obliged to perform. In order to counteract these possible problems emerging in institutionalised death a number of guidelines have been laid down:

When death comes to a body it should be handled with the utmost respect, gentleness and decency.

Firstly, please ensure that the following procedures have been carried out, if not, please ensure that you attend to them immediately through members of the same sex or mahrams (permitted family members). As purdah (hijaab) is incumbent for the living, so too is purdah necessary for the deceased.


  • Any tubes, false teeth, contact lenses or artificial limbs should be removed and any incisions plugged so as to prevent or stem a flow of blood.
  • Close the eyes of the deceased.
  • Bind the lower jaw with a bandage or a strip of cloth tied on the top of the head in order that the mouth is held in a closed position.
  • The ankles must be fastened together with a bandage or strip of cloth to avoid opening of the legs.
  • Arms must be placed straight down the side of the body with straightened fingers. The body, still fully clothed, should then be wrapped in a sheet.
  • Anybody in the state of Janaabat (in need of compulsory Ghusl), Haidh (menstruation) or Nifas (postnatal bleeding) should not appear in the presence or of close proximity to the body.
  • Quranic recitations should not be performed near the body until after Ghusl is given.
  • If death occurs in Hospital then wait for the body to be placed in the hospital mortuary. The body shall remain at the hospital mortuary, untouched, until such time as the paperwork has been issued to release the body to the family.



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The Prophet of Allah (saws) said, “People are either possessors of knowledge or seekers of knowledge, and only those two groups are of any use to humanity.”

Sunan al-Daremi  (Vol. I, p.89)