Al- Ghusul: Washing the dead Muslim

When a Muslim dies, his family or other Muslims bear the burden of washing him in accordance to the Sharia (Islamic laws). However, two or three persons may perform the Al-Ghusul on the deceased. The person(s) who may wash the deceased are subjected to the following conditions:

  • Be a trustworthy, and honest adult Muslim(s).
  • Have knowledge as to the Islamic way of performing Ghusul, and with the ability to carry out the washing.
  • Abstain from making any comment with regards to the body of the deceased.

It is important to note certain regulations as far as washing the dead in Islam is concerned. If the deceased is a male, then only males should wash him. If the deceased is a female, then only females should wash her. However, if the deceased is a married person, the spouse may perform the washing. If the deceased is a child, either males or females may do the washing.


The body of the deceased should be washed in a clean, secluded and private place with clean water, soap and if available, lotus leaves, or camphor (to be used in the final wash). Gloves or pieces of cloth should be available. The washing should be done three or five times, or more odd number of times if necessary.


  • The body of the deceased should be placed on a table or the like, remove the deceased’s cloths and then cover the body with a sheet of cloth.
  • The head and the upper body should be raised slightly to make sure the washing water with exudations from the body flow down and do not run back to the body.
  • The Awrah (Private parts) of the deceased should be covered with a piece of cloth. However, the Awrah of a male is from the belly button to the knee in the presence of males, and the same goes for a female in the presence of females.
  • The person who is washing the deceased should start with “Bismil – lah” ,” In the name of Allah “.
  • The washer winds a piece of cloth around his/her hand to clean away any impurities from the body with water. After which the piece of cloth should be disposed.
  • The washer should take another piece of cloth around his hand, press the stomach of the deceased lightly so as so to expel, any possible remnants from it, and then wash away all impurities off the body with water. Then the piece of cloth should be disposed thereafter.
  • The washer should take another piece of cloth around his hand or May use gloves and wash the covered private parts, then dispose of the piece of cloth/gloves.
  • The person washing the deceased should perform Whudu (Ablution) on the deceased, without inserting water in the nose and mouth.
  • The washer should clean the body with water and soap preferably (if available), starting from the head (hair, face and beard if the deceased is a male), then the upper right side of the body then the left side, and then the lower right side, and then the lower left. (In the case of a female, her hair should be loosened, washed, combed, and be braided in three braids, and placed behind her back).
  • The washing should be done three, five, or seven times if necessary, after washing the head, wash the right side before the left, and the upper parts before the lower parts.
  • In the final wash, the washer may use camphor or mix perfume with the water.
  • After the whishing is completed, the body should be dried with a clean cloth or fabric.
  • Then the body should be totally covered with a white sheet or garment, ready to start the shrouding.

Special cases: In case the deceased is a female in her menstrual period or have childbirth bleeding, padding should be used to prevent blood from leaving the body.

It is recommended for the person who performed the washing on the dead to take a bath and perform Whudu.

Reference can be made on an authentic Hadith reported by (Bukhari & Muslim), narrated by Um Atiyah: “ When the daughter of Prophet Muhammad (P.B.U.H) died, he instructed us:‘ Wash her three times, or more than that if you feel it is necessary, with water and sidr (good smelling leaves), and then after the last wash apply some camphor to the body, then loosen her hair, wash it, comb it, and make it in three braids laid behind her back ”  

However, there is no Islamic teaching with regards to reading the Quran or making special dthiker (Certain words to remember Allah), during the Ghusul.


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