Sunnah materials to use for washing the deceased

Question:

What are the sunnah materials to use in terms of washing the deceased?

I’ve heard that we should use water boiled with leaves of a certain tree. I’ve heard various names of trees such as lotus, sidr, lote and saltwort. Is this correct? If so, which tree/s is the best to use?

Washing the hair: Is it correct that we should use marsh mallow plant?

Applying perfume: Is it true that we should use something called Hanut on the head/beard? I tried to find out what it is but did not manage to find anything.

Answer:

بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم


1. The Sunnah materials to use for washing the deceased are Sidr (السدر) and Camphor (كافور).

Umm Atiyyah (may Allah be pleased  with her) narrated: “One of the daughters of the Prophet (ﷺ) died and he came to us and said, “Wash her with Sidr (lote) for odd number of times, i.e. three, five or more, if you think it necessary, and in the last, put camphor or (some camphor on her), and when you finish, notify me.” So when we finished we informed him. He gave his waist-sheet to us (to shroud her). We entwined the hair (of the deceased girl) in three braids and made them fall at her back.” (Bukhari-1263)

In English Sidr is called as Jujube, Lote tree, Lotus tree and in Urdu it is called as Ber.

The fuqaha also mentioned using saltwort as well for the purpose of cleaning and bathing. 

It says in Mukhtasar al quduri: “The water (for ghusl) is boiled with lotus or with saltwort, and if not available then pure water (suffices).”

2. Washing the hair: It says in Al lubab fi sharhil kitab: “The head and beard should be washed with khitmi (marsh mallow plant) or any soap available.”

3. Applying perfume on the head and beard: It is also mentioned in Al lubaab fi sharhil kitaab: “Hanoot or any other fragrance should be placed on his head and beard and camphor on the forehead, the nose, the hands, the knees and the feet.”

It says in Kitaab al fiqh a’la madhahib al arba’ah: “The Hanoot is a mixture of fragrances.”

It says in al-Muntaqa: “Hanoot is that which is put on the deceased’s body and shroud of perfume, musk, amber, camphor and anything else that is used for its scent rather than its colour, because the purpose here is the scent.”

If one does not possess any of the above materials, simply pure warm water and any fragrance will suffice.

One may read the details method of washing the deceased in Heavenly Ornaments; the English version of Bahishti Zewar, page 112, Darul Ishaat.

Allah knows best
Hussain Syed ibn Imamuddin
26 Rabi ul akhir 1442 / 11 December 2020


References


عَنْ أُمِّ عَطِيَّةَ ـ رضى الله عنها ـ قَالَتْ تُوُفِّيَتْ إِحْدَى بَنَاتِ النَّبِيِّ صلى الله عليه وسلم فَأَتَانَا النَّبِيُّ صلى الله عليه وسلم فَقَالَ ‏” اغْسِلْنَهَا بِالسِّدْرِ وِتْرًا ثَلاَثًا أَوْ خَمْسًا أَوْ أَكْثَرَ مِنْ ذَلِكَ إِنْ رَأَيْتُنَّ ذَلِكَ، وَاجْعَلْنَ فِي الآخِرَةِ كَافُورًا أَوْ شَيْئًا مِنْ كَافُورٍ، فَإِذَا فَرَغْتُنَّ فَآذِنَّنِي”‏‏.‏ فَلَمَّا فَرَغْنَا آذَنَّاهُ، فَأَلْقَى إِلَيْنَا حِقْوَهُ، فَضَفَرْنَا شَعَرَهَا ثَلاَثَةَ قُرُونٍ وَأَلْقَيْنَاهَا خَلْفَهَا‏.‏ رواه البخاري- 1263۔


وفي مختصر القدوري: وإذا أرادوا غسله وضعوه على سرير، وجعلوا على عورته خرقة، ونزعوا ثيابه، ووضئوه، ولا يمضمض، ولا يستنشق، ثم يفيضون الماء عليه، ويجمر سريره وترا، ويغلى الماء بالسدر أو بالحرض، فإن لم يكن فالماء القراح، ويغسل رأسه ولحيته بالخطمى۔

و في اللباب في شرح الكتاب: (ويغسل رأسه ولحيته بالخطمى) بكسر الخاء وتفتح وتشديد الياء – نبت بالعراق طيب الرائحة يعمل عمل الصابون؛ لأنه أبلغ في استخراج الوسخ، فإن لم يتيسر فالصابون ونحوه، وهذا إذا كان له شعر وإلا لم يحتج إليه۔
(ويجعل الحنوط) بفتح الحاء – عطر مركب من الأشياء الطيبة، ولا بأس بسائر أنواعه غير الزعفران والورس للرجال (على رأسه ولحيته) ندبا (والكافور على مساجده) ؛ لأن التطيب سنة والمساجد أولى بزيادة الكرامة. هداية۔

و في المنتقى شرح الموطأ: الحنوط ما يجعل في جسد الميت وكفنه من الطيب والمسك والعنبر والكافور وكل ما الغرض منه ريحه دون لونه؛ لأن المقصود منه ما ذكرنا من الرائحة دون التجمل باللون۔

و في كتاب الفقه على مذاهب الأربعة: و أن يجعل الحنوط و هو أخلاط من أطيب۔