Islam has set certain rules and regulations with regard to attending to a deceased person and some of these rules are as follows:
- In most cases, death is preceded by sickness and it is the duty of the Muslims who happen to know the sick person to pay him a visit and make supplications to Allah (subhanahu wa ta'ala) for his recovery. Indeed, a sick Muslim has a right to be visited by other Muslims who are acquianted with him.
- If and when a Muslim is about to die, it is the practice that the person is directed to the Qiblah (the sacred mosque in Makka) after which the "Shahada", (the words of witness) is proclaimed over the person and he/she is also urged to proclaim the same. Thus:" LAA ILAAHA ILLAL LAAH ". Which Means: " There is no god but Allah". This is in due regard to the following saying of the Prophet (peace be upon him):“ Exhort your dying ones to affirm the Shahada” (Reported by Imam Muslim).
- Where the person dies, the eyes are to be closed, body covered with garments and the people around him are required to avoid talking of anything else, except that which is good, such as saying for example:" O Allah forgive him and have mercy on him ". This is in accordance with the following saying of the Prophet (peace be upon him):“ Do not say over your dead ones except supplications for the angels say: Ameen, on your supplications” (Reported by Imam Muslim).
- In Islam a Muslim is respected whether alive or dead, and therefore, if a Muslim dies, the religion commands us to give the body total ablution (Ghusl) and to perfume it properly.
- A deceased male Muslim is given a bath only by other male Muslims, although, nothing forbids his wife from giving him a bath. Likewise, a deceased Muslim woman is given a bath only by other Muslim women, although, nothing forbids a husband from giving a bath to his deceased wife.
- The deceased should be wrapped in a shroud. If the deceased is a woman, she should be wrapped in a shroud composing of five pieces of white garments, while, a deceased male should be shrouded with three pieces of white garments.
- If a woman dies where there are no other women nearby to undertake the ritual bath or if a man dies in a similar situation where there are no other men nearby, then, the deceased person is only given a dry ablution (AT-Tayammum) by rubbing the earth over his/her face and hands. Because in such cases, complete bath is impossible. Proper funeral prayer is then performed over the deceased and thereafter buried accordingly.
- The funeral prayer is a collective obligation on the residents of a particular area. This is known as "FARDH-AL- KIFAYA" in Arabic. And if no one comes out to perform the prayer on a deceased Muslim of that community, the community as a whole is deemed sinful in the sight of Allah (subhanahu wa ta'ala). But, if it is performed by some of the people, then, the rest of the community are absolve of the sin.
- Women are not supposed to follow the funeral procession as can be noted from the following confirmation by Umm Atiya (may Allah be please with her) who said:“ We were forbidden by the Prophet (peace be upon him) without enforcement to follow funeral processions” (Reported by Imam Bukhari).
The prayer over the deceased person takes the following form:
- The funeral prayer has neither Adhaan nor lqamah.
- The deceased is laid down on the ground with the face directed towards the Ka'ba.
- Where the deceased is a male, the Imam would stand facing towards the head of the dead body, while, if the deceased is a woman the Imam would stand facing the middle part of the dead body. Meanwhile, the congregation would be standing behind him in rows.
- The funeral prayer is performed with one standing only and has neither bows (Rukuus) nor prostration (Sujuuds).
- The Imam begins the prayer by raising up his hands up to the lobes of his ears and comes up with the words of greatness i.e. "Allahu Akbar". The congregation would follow likewise.
- Then, everybody including the Imam would recite "Al-Fatihah".
- After completing the recitation of the Al-Fatihah, the Imam, once again comes up with the words of greatness i.e. "ALLAHU AKBAR", and the congregation would follow likewise. After this, the Imam and the congregation would recite for themselves in a low voice the supplication for the Prophets ABRAHAM and MUHAMMAD, (may peace and blessings be upon them), which is usually recited by the Muslims during their daily prayers in the second part of the At- Tashahud. The supplication goes as follows:" ALLAHUMMA SALLI 'ALAA MUHAMMADIN WA 'ALAA AALI MUHAMMADIN KAMA SALEYTA 'ALAA IBRAHIMA WA 'ALAA AALI IBRAHIMA, WABARIK 'ALAA MUHAMMADIN WA 'ALAA AALI MUHAMMADIN, KAMAA BARAKTA 'ALAA IBRAHIMA WA 'ALAA AALI IBRAHIMA INNAKA HA'MIDUN MAJIDUN ", which means: " O Lord give peace and blessings to Muhammad and his family like You blessed Abraham and his family and shower Your blessings on Muhammad and his family like You showered on Abraham and his family in the two worlds, You are the Most praised, the Most wonderful ".
- The Imam would thereafter proclaim the words of greatness i.e. "ALLAHU AKRAR " for the third time and the congregation would follow likewise.
- The Imam and the other members of the congregation would thereafter make the following private supplication for the deceased if he were an adult male Muslim. The supplication consists of prayer for self, for the deceased person and for the Muslims at large and it goes as follows:" ALLAHUMMA IGFIR LIH'AYINNA WA MAYITINAA, WA SHAHIDDINAA WA GHAA'IBINAA, WA SAGIIRINAA, WA KABIIRINA, WA DHAKARINAA WA UNTHANAA. ALLAHUMMA MAN AHYEYTAHU MINNAA FA'HYIHI 'ALAL ISLAM, WAMAN TAWAFEYTUHU MINA FATAWWAFAHU 'ALAL IIMAAN. ALLAHUMMA IGHFIR LAHU WAR-HAMHU,WA'AFIHI WA'AFU'ANHU, WA-KRIM NUZULAHU, WA - WA-SI'I MUDKHALAHU, WAGASILHU BIL-MAA-1 WATHALAJI, WALBARAD, WANNAQIHI MINA-D-DUNUBI KAMA YUNAQA THOUBUL ABYADHU MINA DANAS, WABADIL-HU DAARAN KHEIRAN MIN DAARIHI, WAZOWJAN KHEIRAN MIN Z0WJIHI, WAD - KHIL HU JA NNA TA, WA'AIDHU MIN'ADABIL-QABRI WA 'ADHABI-NAAR, WAAFSAH LAHU FII QABRIHI, WANAWAR LAHU FIIHI " which means: " O Allah forgive those of us who are still alive and those who have passed away, those present (at the congregation) and those who are absent, and our young and the elderly, our male and female lots. O Allah, whomever Thou wishes to keep alive from amongst us make him live according to Islam and whomever Thou wishes to die from amongst us, let him die in the state of being a believer (with faith). O Allah forgive him and have mercy upon him and keep him safe and sound and excuse him for his faults, and grant him respectable place in the heaven, and make his grave spacious, and wash him with water, snow and ice and purify him of all his sins like a piece of white cloth is cleared from dirt, and grant him a new house better than his (previous) house and a family better than his (previous) family and a wife better than his (previous) wife, and allow him to enter the paradise, and protect him from the torture of the grave and the hell-fire".
- If the deceased is an adult woman, then the above supplication shall be repeated in full and the only change will be that the supplication shall be given a feminine reading in the Arabic language. Thus:" ALLAHUMMA IQFIR LIHAYINNA WA MAYITINAA, WA SHAHIDDINAA WA QAAIBINAA, WA SAQIIRINAA, WA KABIIRINA, WA DHAKARINAA WA UNTHANAA. ALLAHUMMA MAN AHYEYTAHU MINNA FAHYIHI ALAL ISLAMI, WAMAN TA WAFEYTUHU MINA FA TA WWAFAHU ALAL IIMAAN ....... ALLAHUMMA IQFIRLAHA WAR-HAMHA WA'AFIHA WAAFU ANHA WAAKRIM NUZULAHA, WA-WA-SI'I MUD- KHALAHA, WAQASILHA BIL-MAA'I WATHALAJI WALBARADI, WANNAQIHA MINA-D-DUNUBI KAMA YUNAQA THOUBUL ABYADHU MINA DANAS, WABADILAHA DAARAN KHEIRAN MIN DAARIHA, WAZOWJAN KHEIRAN MIN ZOWJIHA, WAD-KHILHA JANNATA, WA - AIDHA MIN-ADABIL-QABRI WA ADHABI-NAAR, WAAFSAH LAHA FII QABRIHA, WANAWAR LAHA FIIHI " which means: " O Allah forgive those of us who are still alive and those who have passed away, those present (at this congregation) and those who are absent, and our young and our elderly, our male and female lots. O Allah, whomever Thou wishes to keep alive from amongst us make him live according to Islam and whomever Thou wishes to die from amongst us, let him die in the state of being a believer (with faith) ...... O Allah forgave her and have mercy upon her and keep her safe and sound and excuse her for her faults and grant her respectable place in the heaven. And make her grave spacious and wash her with water, snow and ice. And purify her of all her sins as like a piece of white cloth is cleared from dirt and grant her a new house better than her (previous) house and a family better than her (previous) family and a husband better than her (previous) husband. And allow her to enter the paradise, and protect her from the torture of the grave and the hell-fire ".
- If the deceased is a boy, then the following supplication would be recited:" ALLAHUMMA IJ'ALHU DHUKHRAN LIWALIDEYHI WA FARADAN WA AJRAN MUJAABAN ALLAHUMMA THAOIL BIHI MAWAASIINAHUMA WA-AZZIM BIHI UJUURAHUMA WA ALHIQ-HU BISALIHI SALAFIL MU'MINIIN WAJALHU Fl KAFALAATI IBRAHIM WAQIHI BIRAHMATAKA 'ADHABAL JAHIIM " which means " O Allah, make him forerunner of his parents and make him a reward and a treasure for them, make him one who will pleads for his parents and accept his pleadings. 0 Allah heavy him in their scales and grant them big reward and join him with the good believers and make him under the sponsorship of Abraham and protect him from the hell fire ".
- If the deceased is a girl, then the above supplication would be repeated in full and the only change would be that the supplication must be given a feminine reading in the Arabic language.
- The Imam would thereafter, proclaim the words of greatness for the fourth time and the congregation would also say it after him. Immediately thereafter, the Imam turns his face only to the right side proclaiming the words of peace i.e. "ASSALAMU ALAYKUM WA - RAHMATULLAAH" to signify the completion of the prayer. The congregation would also follow likewise, and thus, the funeral prayer is completed.
- If a person joins the funeral prayer while the Imam is about to complete the same, then, the person would continue with the congregation until when the Imam concludes the prayer, then, the person would complete by himself whatever he missed of the prayer following the above procedure.
- If a late-comer fears that the body of the deceased may be taken away before he completes the pray over him, then, such a person may only come up with the Words of greatness i.e. "ALLAHU AKBAR" four times without necessarily reciting the required supplications. The person thereafter, comes up with the words of peace, thereby, ending the prayer.
- If a person is unable to pray over a deceased person before burial, then, it is permitted for him to pray over the deceased's grave.
- If a person who is faraway Is told of the death of another, then such a person may pray over the deceased person in absentia with the intention as though the deceased is actually before him/her.
- Funeral prayer is also recommended over a baby born dead after completing four months inside the mother's womb. However, no funeral prayer is required over a baby born dead before completing four months inside the mother's womb.