Death is an inevitable event that comes to all living things irrespective of religion, race, sex, ethnicity or social status. As muslims, we are obligated to prepare for death not as an event worth of celebration but because of its uncertain nature. As such, its is important for muslims in general to know what to do aside panicking when in a situation of a passing brother or sister. This article looks into 10 things we can do to aid a dying muslim.
1.To invite knowledgeable or righteous people to be around the dying person
This is very important in case when you are not too knowledgeable about the procedure or deen. The reason for this is that; the dying person needs to be in constant reminder during his last minutes, pray for him/her and those around as well as make supplications and finally to console the family of the dying person at such emotional moments.
2.To remind him that he should have more hope than fear
Usually, it’s a common response for the dying person to be in a state of fear thinking about how they have lived their lives. Anas ibn Malik may Allah be pleased with him narrates: “The Prophet (SAW) entered on a young person dying, and said “how do you find yourself?” he said “I seek hope from Allah, and I fear my sins O Messenger of Allah,” so the Prophet peace be upon him said “They are not combined in the heart of a believing slave at this time except that Allah gives him what he wants and protects him from what he fears” (Ibn Majah, 4231) As such it is very important to remind the person about the mercy of Allah and to have hope in the kindness of Allah than the fearing of his wrath.
3.To moisten his face and lips
It is Sunnah for anyone around a dying person to moisten the face and lips of the dying person so as to enable the recitation of the shahada. That is because the mouth usually gets dried during this state. Ayesha may Allah be pleased with her used to say:
“The Prophet peace be upon him had a can of water with him. So he would enter his hand in the water and then he would wipe his face and say “There is no God but Allah. Death has its intoxications” (Bukhari, 6145)
4.Dictating the Shahada to him/her without asking them to repeat
it It is very important that the last word of the dying person should be the acknowledgment of the fact that there is none worthy of worship but Allah and prophet Muhammad(SAW) is his final messenger, this should be done as gently as possible. The Prophet peace be upon him said:
“Dictate to your dying people La ilaha illa Allah” (Aljami, 8550)
5.Testing to see if the person has indeed died
The story of people waking up after they have been confirmed dead is not new to our ears. As such it is very important to make sure the necessary means used to confirm if a person is really dead are used except in cases where such procedures are not needed; vital sign test which are mostly done by a medical professional, and pupils test. Umm Salamah narrated that the Prophet peace be upon him said:
“When the soul leaves the body, the (faculty of) vision follows it” (Aljam, 8554)
6.Closing the eyes and making the Dua
It is Sunnah to gently close the eyes of the dead after they have been confirmed dead. This is also due to the fact that the sight becomes unpleasant as a result of the dilated pupils, and making the dua whilst closing the eyes. It was said that when Abu Salamah died, the Prophet peace be upon him said the following words:
“O Allah forgive Abu Salamah (substitute the name of the person) and raise his degrees with those who are guided, and replace those whom he has left behind (with benefits), and forgive us and him O Lord of worlds. Make his grave wide for him, and light it for him.” (Muslim, 2080)
7.Wrap his/her jaws
Usually when a person is confirmed dead the jaws sag which leads to the opening of their mouth. This might in turn allow odour out of the mouth. for this reason, it is advisable to wrap the jaw around the face with a soft piece of cloth but should not be too tight to create marks on the face after the piece is removed.
8.Loosen his/her joints
Rigor mortis is a state of stiffness usually seen in lifeless bodies hours after they have been pronounced dead. This is due to failure of circulation which is due to trapped blood making it difficult to perform burial rights so it is very vital to loosen the joints by lying the body in supine position with face upright, both arms straightened by the side and fingers straightened too while both legs straight and properly aligned shortly after death.
9.Take his/her outer garments off and cover him completely
It is very important to take off the cloths of the dead as soon as they die not only because it is a common Islamic practice but because it will be easer for the performing the washing and shrouding as it will get harder to unclothe them after their joints have gotten stiff. Also, it is only natural to cover the dead body after the cloths have been removed. This is also the practice of Islam as narrated by Ayesha may Allah be pleased with her: “The Prophet –peace be upon him- was covered with a thin cloth when he died.” (Nasa’i, 7117)
10.Make sure to speed up his/her burial
It is the Sunnah to hasten the burial of the dead and not permissible to delay burial except for necessity or in expectation of a family member within few hours. It was narrated by the prophet Muhammad (SAW) in Bukhari (1252)
“Hasten the funeral, if it was a good soul, then it is a favour you are doing him, and if it was other than that, so it is an evil that you are lifting from around your necks.”
I pray that this article has cleared any doubts or misconception as regards to the procedures of the deceased and enlightened us on what to do when a fellow muslim is dying. May Allah(SWT) grand us the ability to put this knowledge to use and to benefit us and the muslim community amin.