Fatwa 7-2: THE FUNERAL, SHROUDING, & BURIAL OF A COVID-19 PATIENT
Khalīfah of Tāj al-Sharī`ah & al-Muḥaddith al-Kabīr, Grandson of Sadr al-Sharī`ah
Al-Faqīh Al-`Azīm Muftī Faizān ul-Mustafā Qādrī (May Allāh Preserve Him)
What do the scholars of the religion and the jurists of Islāmic law say regarding the following issue:
In current times, the Coronavirus (COVID-19) has appeared as an epidemic by which many deaths are occurring. A lot of news and rumors are spreading pertaining to this virus. To prevent this virus, the government has taken strict measures throughout the world and now the situation has come to the point where an issue is being made regarding the funeral, shrouding, and burial of those who die as a result of this virus. One department has made an announcement that whoever dies from this virus will be cremated, regardless of their religion. Although they retracted from this statement due to the objections made against it, there are still many rising concerns regarding the ritual bath (Ghusl) and shrouding (Kafan) of the deceased. They are expressing that by touching or coming near the deceased, there is a possibility of getting infected with the virus. This is creating an environment of fear amongst the people. Some `Ulamā were contacted for guidance regarding what to do for the ritual bath and shrouding. The answer was given that those who pass away due to this epidemic are martyrs (Shahīd) and there is no need for the ritual bath and shrouding for the martyr. Therefore, they should just be buried as they are. Some graveyards are even beginning to prohibit people from burial in the graveyards.
The question which arises is:
(1) Are those Muslims who pass away due to the COVID-19 such martyrs that there is no need for the ritual bath and shrouding?
(2) The entire world is now inflicted with this epidemic for which many different safety measures are being imposed. Is it permissible to omit the ritual bath and shrouding for those Muslims who pass away due to this epidemic?
(3) In these conditions, is it permissible to cremate the one who passes away due to this virus instead of burying them? Please explain and be rewarded.
Qamar Ghanī `Uthmānī
(Sadr Taḥrīk Farogh e Islām, Dehli)
March 31, 2020
The answer by the help of The King, The Bestower:
1 – We have hope in the mercy of Allāh that the Muslims who pass away due to the COVID-19 will have the rank of martyrdom (Shahādah) in their afterlife, also known as Shahīd Ḥukman (Shahīd e Ḥukmī). The Shahīd Ḥukman will undoubtedly be given the ritual bath and shroud, since only the Shahīd Fiqhan (Shahīd e Fiqhi) are excluded from the ritual bath and the one who passes away due to an outbreak is not a Shahīd Fiqhan. The Shahīd Fiqhan is the Mukallaf (obliged to follow Sharī`ah law) Muslim who has been killed unjustly with an injurious weapon or has been found killed in a battlefield and no wealth (blood money) is due because of the death. The funeral prayer (Ṣalāt-ul-Janāzah) of the Shahīd Fiqhan will be performed without the ritual bath, wearing the same clothes and with the blood remaining on his body.
It is in al-Durr al-Mukhtār:
هو كل مكلف مسلم طاهر قتل ظلماً بجارحة لم يجب بنفس القتل مال (الدر المختار ٣ : ١٥٨)
He [Shahīd Fiqhan] is every Mukallaf, Muslim, pure individual who was killed oppressively being wounded and no wealth became necessary (wājib) due to their death. [al-Durr al-Mukhtār; Vol. 3, Pg. 158]
It is in Kanz al-Daqā’iq:
هو من قتله أهل الحرب و البغي أو قطاع الطريق أو وجد في معركة و به أثر أو قتله مسلم ظلماً و لم تجب به دية فيكفن و يصلى عليه بلا غسل و يدفن بدمه و ثيابه (البحر الرائق ٢ : ٣٤٣)
He is whoever was killed by the enemies, rebels, the highway robbers, or whose body was found in a battlefield with signs of a martyr, or who was killed by a Muslim oppressively and the death didn’t necessitate any blood money. Then he will be shrouded and his Salāt ul-Janāzah will be performed without ghusl and he will be buried with his blood while in his clothes. [al-Baḥr al-Rā’iq; Vol. 2, Pg. 343]
Therefore, saying that there is no ritual bath nor shroud for the Muslims who pass away due to the outbreak of COVID-19 is absolutely baseless and false. There is not even an indication of such rulings in the books of the Ḥanafī school. It is as necessary to give to them the ritual bath and shroud as it is to other Muslims, any incompletions in these matters are impermissible.
2 – Neglecting the ritual bath and shroud of the Muslim who passes away due to this outbreak, fearing the threat of the outbreak and germs, is impermissible and Harām since the right of the slave [of Allāh] and a Farḍ is being abandoned. Passing away due to an outbreak has made the deceased even more deserving of mercy and compassion, not disadvantaged and deprived. Sayyidunā A`lā Ḥaḍrat (may Allāh have mercy upon him) says regarding the ritual bath, shroud, and funeral prayer of a person who did not fulfil his responsibility of daily prayer:
بعد موت ہر سنی صحیح العقیدہ کو غسل و کفن دینا، اس کے جنازہ کی نماز پڑھنا (إلا ما استثنى وهذا ليس منهم) فرض قطعى على الكفايہ ہے۔ اگر سب چھوڑدیں جن جن کع اطلاع تهى سب کنہگار و تارک فرض و مستحق عذاب ہوں گے۔ رسول اللہ صلی اللہ تعالی علیہ و سلم فرماتے ہیں: الصلوة واجبة عليكم على كل مسلم يموت براً كان أو فاجراً و إن هو عمل الكبائر۔ (ملتقطاً العطايا النبوية في الفتاوىٰ الرضوية مترجم ٩ : ١٥٩)
It is a collective, definitive responsibility upon the community to ritually bathe, shroud, and perform the funeral prayer of every Sunnī of correct belief who passes away (except for the ones excluded, from which this is not). If everyone abandons this responsibility, everyone who was aware will be sinful, deemed neglectors of a Farḍ (requirement), and deserving of punishment. Rasūlullāh ﷺ states: The Ṣalāt ul-Janāzah is necessary (wājib) upon all of you for every Muslim who dies as a pious or sinful person, even if he committed major sins. [al-Fatāwā al-Raḍawiyyah, 30 Vol Edition; Vol. 9, Pg. 159]
It is in a Ḥadīth Sharīf:
حق المسلم على المسلم خمس رد السلام وعيادة المريض واتباع الجنائز وإجابة الدعوة وتشميت العاطس (أخرجه البخاري)
There are five rights of a Muslim upon another Muslim: Responding to the Salām, visiting the sick, attending the funeral prayer, accepting the invitation, and responding to the one who sneezes. [Narrated by al-Imām al-Bukhārī, Kitāb-ul-Janā’iz, Bāb-ul-Amr bi Ittibā`-il-Janā’iz, Ḥadīth 1240]
It is in al-Durr al-Mukhtār:
الصلاة عليه فرض كفاية كدفنه و غسله و تجهيزه فإنها فرض كفاية (ملتقطاً الدر المختار ١ : ١٠٢)
The funeral prayer of the deceased is a collective responsibility just as his burial, bath, and shrouding are all collective responsibilities. [al-Durr al-Mukhtār; Vol. 1, Pg. 102]
Therefore, ritually bathing, shrouding, and performing the funeral prayer of the Muslims who pass away due to the outbreak of COVID-19 is most definitely and undoubtedly a collective responsibility upon other Muslims. Leaving out any of these responsibilities is oppression upon the deceased and is putting oneself in trouble regarding the right of Allāh and the right of the slaves [of Allāh]. Especially neglecting the burial and funeral services with the filthy thought of maybe getting the disease yourself due to getting too close is even worse, since this belief itself is rejected and dismissed. Sayyidunā Rasūlullāh ﷺ has rejected and refuted this belief by saying, “there is no such thing as a contagious disease”.
Afterall, the patients of COVID-19 and other outbreaks are given treatment by doctors and nurses wearing special types of clothing, gloves, and facemasks. It is not too difficult for these people of weak faith to at least use this technique to bathe and shroud the deceased, but to neglect the ritual bath, shrouding, and funeral prayer completely is not permissible under any circumstance. Allāh knows best.
3 – It is Harām to cremate the body of a Muslim who passes away due to any epidemic or infliction because this is punishing with fire and torturing the deceased for no reason. It is stated in a Hadīth Sharīf:
انه لا ينبغي أن يعذب بالنار الارب النار (أخرجه أبو داؤود)
No one can give punishment with fire except the Lord of the fire. [Narrated by Abū Da’ūd]
Umm ul-Mu’minīn Sayyidah `Ā’ishah al-Ṣiddīqah (may Allāh be pleased with her) even prohibited from combing the deceased since it will hurt them. Al-Imām Muhammad narrated in his Kitāb ul-Āthār, Sayiddunā Muhammad al-Muṣṭafā ﷺ said:
كسر عظم الميت ككسره حيا (أخرجه أبو داؤود وابن ماجة)
Breaking a bone of the deceased is like breaking his bone when alive. [Narrated by Abū Da’ūd & Ibn Mājah]
A`lā Hadrat (may Allāh be pleased with him) states in al-Fatāwā al-Radawiyyah:
عمرو بن حزم رضي الله تعالى عنه فرماتے ہیں مجھے رسول اللہ صلی اللہ تعالی عليه و سلم نے ایک قبر سے تکیہ لگائے دیکھا، فرمایا : لا تؤذ صاحب هذا القبر، رواه الإمام أحمد ۔ مردے کو ایذا نہ دے۔ سبحان اللہ! جب قبر پر تکیہ لگانے سے مردے کو ایذا ہوتی ہے تو ایسے ظلم شدید سے کس قدر ایذا ئے عظیم ہو گی، ولا حول ولا قوة الا بالله العظيم. والله تعالى أعلم۔ (فتاوی رضویہ مترجم ۹ : ۱۶۶)
`Amr ibn Ḥazm (may Allāh be pleased with him) says that Rasūlullāh ﷺ saw me leaning against a grave. He then said, ‘Don’t harm the dead.’ Subḥān-Allāh! When leaning against the grave harms the deceased, then imagine the massive pain that this severe brutality will cause. There is no might nor any power except with the Allāh Almighty. Allāh knows best. [al-Fatāwā al-Radawiyyah, 30 Vol Edition; Vol.9 Pg.166]
When pulling the hair of the deceased, breaking their bones, or even leaning against their grave causes harm to the deceased, then burning them is beyond cruelty and is barbaric. Assuming that the dead body carries the virus and the germs, the best solution for this would be to bury the body underground, by which the deceased is also respected. Burning the dead is serious disrespect and causes the worst pain and torment. Merely, due to death caused by an epidemic, this cannot be permissible.
[Muftī] Faqīr Faizān ul-Muṣṭafā Qādri (غفر له القوي)
6 Sha`bān al-Mu`azzam, 1441 AH
Mumtāz al-Fuqahā, al-Muḥaddith al- Kabīr,
Sayyidunā al-Muftī Ziyā ul-Muṣṭafā al-Amjadī (May Allāh Preserve Him)
Translated into English by:
Mawlāna Salman al-Nūrī & Mawlāna Sayyid Asad al-Qādirī