The most beloved people to you are the most intent in getting your burial underway. They have organised the place and time to wash you and have prepared the necessary items to shroud you. Do not hate them, since they are only following the command of the Prophet (sallallahu a’lyhi wasallam),
“The corpse of a Muslim should not remain withheld among the family (without being buried).” (Abu Dawud)
In fact, burying the dead is a natural instinct Allah (azza wa jal) has intrinsically placed in the heart of man – and you are no exception to that rule. Today is that day when you will be washed and you will not be able to show nor feel any embarrassment.
You are truly left to the mercy of your beloveds...
The cool water starts to run from the tap and hot water is also at hand. Islaam has given you respect even after your death- your private parts are covered. Your beloveds lie you down in a sloping position on a cold plank of wood, in this way the water that is used to wash you and whatever comes out of your body flows down.
Your head is raised and they sit you in a semi sitting position. One of the washers passes her hand over your abdomen gently allowing anything withheld therein (such as excrements) to come out. If only you knew that the food you ate only yesterday would be taken out in this manner…
They pour water over your body allowing the excrements to overflow and be removed. A washer uses a coarse piece of cloth, cleaning your stool, urine and anus with water. SubhanAllah, what did you know that this sister of yours would help you in this way, for now you cannot thank her, but her reward lies with Allah, inshAllah..
The “bismillah” (in the name of Allah) is uttered and they do wudhu (ablution) on you and for you; this is your last ablution forever - today you learn the beauty of ablution, but it’s too late to add more wudhus to your list of good deeds, since your book of deeds has been forever closed and now you must face the result of the exam you sat in this temporal and passing abode.
Your teeth and nostrils are cleaned with the utmost care and your head is washed with fragranced soap. They turn your body to its left side then wash the whole right side of your body (the neck -> right hand -> right shoulder -> right half of the chest ->the right thigh -> right leg -> right foot). They roll you to the right side and the left side of your back is washed the same way. They repeat this procedure 3 times and up to 7 times if need be. In the last wash they use camphor, or something scented; this scent overcomes the stench that was starting to emit from your body, aiding your body to remain stiff, fragrant and cool. Today has become clearer for you Islaam's beautiful etiquettes of cleanliness and burial; your love for the Rasool’s [saws]way is an asset which you hold dearly as a beloved friend, as they prepare you for the grave.
Some perfume is applied to your head, forehead, nose, hands, knees, eyes, armpits, and perfumed cotton is placed on the front and rear openings. Your long nails are cut and the hair from your armpits is removed. Both are kept – since they are going to be one of the few things that will accompany you in your shroud, when all others will leave you… Your hair is braided into 3 braids falling down backwards.
Throughout your life you had amassed many commodities and wealth: a house, jewellery, clothes, car, mobile, laptop… and the list goes on. Your family has also prepared for you a provision, but it does not include any of these things that you worked so hard to gain and were so attached to… Rather your wealth will be inherited by your family - and your friends will easily make new friends. But what your family do give you to take along as your worldly asset is something that many women underestimate the significance and need for - especially during the hot and summery months…
It is nothing but pieces of cloth, the same cloth that the Lord of the Worlds commanded you to cover with, and the same cloth that is a means by which a woman’s bodily honour, dignity and respect is preserved. Yes, there is a difference between the former kind of cloth which Allah commanded you to cover with, giving you free-will to choose to obey Him or the accursed satan [nb: satan only wants bad for you], and the second type - your shroud.
Even if you do not accept the former covering in your life, you now have no choice over the latter. Your shroud is white, as described by the Prophet (sallallahu a’lyhi wa sallam), "Wear white clothes, since they are the best of your clothes, and shroud your dead with them." (At-Tirmidhi)
They prepare the following five pieces of cloth to cover you from head to toe, and your face will not be revealed, since there is no longer a need for you to breathe nor see the world. Also, as you will be taken soon to the Masjid for the funeral prayer, your dignity and respect as a Muslimah must be preserved - even if you didn't think so when you were alive. The following five pieces of cloth are used to cover you:
They lovingly apply rose water or perfume on your shroud, since this is the best they can scent you- before you are handed down to the earth, and after which the soil's redolence will emanate into your shroud... right into your being.
They begin to tie the open cloth, starting from your head and then working down to the legs. Take your last look into this world; by Allah, its joys have come to an end! All friendships that were other than for the sake of Allah have blown away. The realities of the heavens have come alight and the lowly world has shown its dark colours of deception and betrayal. Truly they succeeded who were travellers in this world. You feel like screaming: 'O Believers! Wake up! Wake up before your soul is snatched away and your body is handed over to the grave as I am going to be,' yet they can't hear you, since you can't really speak nor think. This is because when the angel of death took out your soul, all your senses at that point came to an end.
Kissing your face for the last time, they slowly begin to cover your face and your whole body. Now you resemble a cocoon; lying there as naked as the day you were born, and it is only these sheets which guard your respect, honour and dignity.
Time has come for the believers to pray over you for the first and the last time.
Yes: it's time for your funeral prayer.
*Download the complete PDF (Preparing The Muslimah For The Grave (PDF)) by following the link.