Rules of the Dead | Islamic Laws by The Leader Ayatullah Ali Khamenei
Rules of the Dead
Q 225: Is the person carrying out ghusl, shrouding and burial for the deceased to be of the same sex as that of the dead person? Or is it allowed for a person of the opposite sex to perform the affairs of the dead body?
A: Only the person doing ghusl for the deceased must be of the same sex as them. Hence, where ghusl can be given by persons of the same gender, it is not valid for a person of the opposite sex to engage in it and the ghusl is void. But sameness of sex is not a condition for shrouding and burying.
Q 226: It is presently common in villages to wash the dead at home, and at times the dead person has no executor (of a will) and has minor children. So what is your opinion concerning such situations?
A: The performance of acts generally necessary for the funeral, including its ghusl, shrouding and burial, does not depend upon the permission of the minors guardian, and the presence of minor children among the heirs is no problem.
Q 227: A person dies in a collision or by falling from a height. What is the duty in case bleeding continues after death? Is it obligatory to wait till it stops by itself or by using medical means, or can it be buried despite the continuation of the bleeding?
A: Before performing the ghusl, it is obligatory to purify the corpse, if possible. And it is obligatory to wait for the bleeding to stop, or to stop it, if possible.
Q 228: While digging a canal in a public square, formerly a cemetery, a bone belonging to a corpse buried forty to fifty years ago is found. Is there anything wrong in touching such bones for the purpose of viewing them? Are the bones najis?
A: The bone of a Muslim corpse that has been given ghusl is not najis, though it is obligatory to bury it again under the ground.
Q 229: Is it permissible for a person to shroud his father, mother or a relative with a shroud that he had bought for himself?
A: There is no objection to it.
Q 230: A medical team is constrained, for the purpose of conducting medical research and experiments, to remove the heart and some other organs from a corpse and to bury them a day after the study. Please answer the following questions:
i. Is it permissible for us to undertake such an activity despite our knowledge that these corpses on whom the tests are conducted belong to Muslims?
ii. Is it permissible to bury the heart and some body organs separately?
iii. Is it permissible to bury these parts with another corpse, especially when we are certain that the separate burial of the heart and these organs will cause many problems?
A: As long as saving a respectful human life, getting access to medical experiments needed for the society, or providing information about a disease threatening peoples lives depends on dissection of a dead body, dissection is permissible. However, it is necessary, as far as it is possible to dissect a non-Muslims body, not to dissect a Muslims cadaver. As to the organs removed from a Muslim corpse, the rules of Islamic law say that they should be buried along with the body. If it is not possible, there is no objection to burying them separately or with another corpse.
Q 231: A person buys a shroud for himself and he always spreads it out to offer obligatory and mustaHabb prayers and to recite the Noble Quran on, and at the time of death it is used for shrouding him. Is this permissible? Is it correct from the Islamic point of view for a person to buy for himself a shroud and write Quranic verses on it with the sole purpose of being shrouded in it after death?
A: There is no problem in doing any of the things stated.
Q 232: Recently a womans skeleton was discovered in an ancient grave dating back to about seven hundred years. It is big and in an intact state with some hair on the skull. According to the archeologists who discovered it, it is the body of a Muslim woman. Is it permissible for this immense and extraordinary corpse to be displayed by the Museum of Natural Sciences (after repairing the grave and placing the body in it) for the visitors for educational purposes, or to serve as a reminder by displaying it with suitable verses and traditions.
A: If it is confirmed that this skeleton belongs to a Muslim, it is obligatory to bury it again, immediately.
Q 233: In a village there is a graveyard that is neither the private property of anyone nor an endowment. Is it permissible for the inhabitants of the village to prevent the dead from the city or other villages, or someone who has willed to be buried there, from being buried in it?
A: If the public graveyard in the village is neither the private property of anyone nor an endowment for the specific use of the villagers, they are not allowed to prevent others from burying their dead in it. And if anyone makes a will to be buried there, it is obligatory to act according to this will.
Q 234: According to some traditions, such as the one in the book “Laali al-Akhbar, it is mustaHabb to sprinkle water on graves. Is this recommendation limited to the day of burial or is it general, as maintained by the author of this book? What is your eminences opinion?
A: Sprinkling water on the grave on the day of burial is mustaHabb and there is no problem in doing so later on in the hope that this maybe desired in shar.
Q 235: Why is a dead body not buried at night? Is burial prohibited during the night?
A: There is no problem in burying the dead at night.
Q 236: A person who died in a car accident was given ghusl, shrouded and brought to the graveyard. When the body was about to be buried, they found that its coffin and shroud were stained with the blood which had come out of his head. Is it obligatory to change the shroud in such a situation?
A: If it is possible to wash the bloodstained area or cut it off or change the shroud, it is obligatory to do so; otherwise it is permissible to bury the corpse in that state.
Q 237: It is three months that a corpse with blood stained shroud has been buried, is it permissible to exhume it?
A: In the given question, it is not permissible to exhume it.
Q 238: We request your eminence to reply to the following three questions:
i. If a woman dies in childbirth, what the rule is pertaining to the unborn baby in the womb in the following circumstances:
a. If the soul has recently entered it (after three months or more) and there is a strong possibility of its death upon being removed from the womb.
b. If the age of the fetus is seven months or more.
c. If the fetus has died in the womb.
ii. If a woman dies during childbirth, is it obligatory for the others to fully ascertain whether the unborn baby is dead or alive?
iii. If a woman dies during childbirth while the baby is still alive in her womb, and a person orders, in violation of the common practice, the mothers burial along with the unborn child even if it is alive, what is your opinion in this regard?
A: If the unborn fetus dies by the death of its mother or its mothers death happens before the soul enters its body, it is not obligatory to bring it out; rather to do so is not permissible. But if the fetus is alive in the womb of its dead mother and the soul has entered its body and there is a chance of its surviving until the time it is taken out, it is obligatory to take it out immediately. Unless the death of the fetus in the womb of its dead mother is ascertained, it is not permissible to bury her along with the fetus. If a living fetus is buried with its dead mother and there is a probability of its being alive even after the burial, it is obligatory to immediately exhume her body and bring it out of the womb. Similarly, if keeping a fetus alive in its dead mothers womb depends upon not burying her, apparently her burial should be delayed to protect the fetuss life. If someone says that it is permissible to bury the dead woman with the living fetus in her womb, and others, assuming his view to be correct, bury her and it leads to the fetus death in the grave, its blood money lies with one who actually buried her. But, if the death of the fetus is directly attributed to the opinion expressed by that person, he is held liable for the blood money.
Q 239: The municipal authorities have given an order to build two-storied graves to ensure better utilization of land. We request you to expound the rule of Islamic law in this regard.
A: It is permissible to build multi-level graves for Muslims provided that it does not result in the reopening of a Muslims grave and disrespect to his/her body.
Q 240: A child fell into a well and died in it, and its water prevents the body from being retrieved. What is the rule applicable to it?
A: It will be left in the well, which will be the childs grave. And if the well is not someones property or if its owner agrees to close it, it is obligatory to close it.
Q 241: It is customary in our region to perform the traditional chest beating and hitting with chains only during mourning ceremonies of the virtuous Imams (a.s.), martyrs, and major religious figures. Is it permissible to perform these rituals on the death of such persons who belonged to Voluntary Forces or those who were engaged in providing some kind of service to the Islamic government and the Muslim nation?
A: There is no problem in doing so.
Q 242: What is the rule applicable to a person who considers nightly visits to graveyards as effective in instilling Islamic values despite the knowledge that visiting graveyards at night is makruh?
A: There is no objection to doing so.
Q 243: Is it permissible for women to participate in funeral ceremonies and to carry the coffin?
A: There is no objection to doing so.
Q 244: It is a custom among some tribes to borrow money, on the death of some persons, for buying a large number of sheep (which causes a substantial loss) to feed all who participate in the mourning ceremonies. Is it permissible to incur such a burden for complying with the customs?
A: If the cost of preparing the food is being borne by the adult heirs of the deceased and with their consent, it is permissible. However, if this act results in financial loss and problems, it is to be avoided. In case the money is to be spent from the deceaseds estate, the spending should be according to the provisions of the will. In general, one should avoid any kind of extravagance that may result in wasting the Divine bounties.
Q 245: If a person is killed at the present time by a mine in a certain region, are the rules of a martyr applicable to him?
A: The rule of burial without ghusl and shrouding is exclusively for a martyr who has been killed on the battlefield.
Q 246: Brothers in the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps frequently travel between Mahabad and Urumiyeh (in Iran) and other areas where they are at times ambushed and engaged in combat by elements hostile to the Islamic Revolution leading, sometimes, to their martyrdom. Is it obligatory to give them ghusl or tayammum, or will it be considered a battlefield?
A: If that region is a battleground between the forces of truth and the deviant insurgent band, the rules pertaining to a martyr are applicable to someone who belongs to the forces of truth and is martyred there.
Q 247: Is it valid for a person who does not meet the conditions for leading a congregational prayer to lead the people in the prayers offered over the body of a deceased believer?
A: It is not remote that the conditions considered essential for imam and the congregation in other prayers are not necessary in the prayer over the deceased, though they may be also observed, as a caution, in prayer over the deceased.
Q 248: If a believer is killed in some parts of the world for the sake of the implementation of Islamic Law, participation in protest rallies, or for the application of Jafari jurisprudence, is he considered a martyr?
A: He is entitled to the reward and merit of a martyr, though the rules of martyr concerning the burial rites are specifically meant for those who have been martyred in action during war.
Q 249: If a Muslim is sentenced to death in accordance with the law and approval of the judiciary on the charge of drug trafficking and the sentence is carried out:
i. Is it valid to offer the prayer for the dead upon him?
ii. What is the rule concerning participation in mourning ceremonies held for such a person as well as recitation of the Noble Quran and elegies of the Ahlul-Bayt (a.)?
A: A Muslim who has been given the death sentence is like all other Muslims and all the rules applicable to them are applicable to him, including the Islamic rites pertaining to the dead.
Q 250: Does touching a bone that has flesh on it and has been amputated from a living person require the ghusl of touching a corpse?
A: It is not obligatory to perform ghusl after touching a body part which has been amputated from a living body.
Q 251: Does touching an organ or body part which has been separated from a dead body obligate performing of ghusl of touching a corpse?
A: If the touching of this organ is made after it became cold and before it is washed as corpse ghusl, it has the same ruling as that of touching a dead body.
Q 252: Is it obligatory to direct the dying Muslim towards qiblah?
A: It is advisable to place a dying Muslim to lying down on his back and to direct the bottom of his feet towards the qiblah. Many mujtahids believe that it is obligatory for the dying person himself — if he can — or for the others to do this and caution in doing so is not to be neglected.
Q 253: When a tooth is extracted, some tissue of the gum also comes out with it. Does touching this tissue require performance of the ghusl of touching a corpse?
A: Ghusl does not become obligatory in this case.
Q 254: Do the rules pertaining to touching a corpse apply to touching a Muslim martyr who had been buried in his clothes?
A: Touching the body of a martyr for whom ghusl and shrouding are not obligatory does not necessitate the ghusl of touching a corpse.
Q 255: I am a medical student and am forced at times to touch cadavers while performing dissection without knowing whether the cadavers belong to Muslims or not, or have been given ghusl or not, though the officials say that these bodies have definitely been given ghusl. With attention to what has been said, please explain our duty with respect to prayers and other religious acts after touching these bodies. With reference to what has been said, is ghusl obligatory for us?
A: If it is not ascertained that the cadavers have been given ghusl and you have doubts in this regard, the ghusl of touching a corpse is obligatory for you when touching such a cadaver or a part of it and prayers offered without performing this ghusl are invalid. But, if it is assured that the cadaver has been given ghusl, it is not obligatory to perform ghusl upon touching it, even if there is a doubt about the validity of its ghusl.
Q 256: A martyr whose name and address were not known was buried. After a month certain facts were disclosed indicating that the martyr was not a resident of the city (where he was buried). Is it permissible to exhume his body for the sake of carrying it to his own city?
A: If he was buried in accordance with the rules and norms of Islam, exhuming his body is not permissible.
Q 257: If it were possible to know what is inside a grave by filming its contents without digging and removing the earth, would it be like opening and exhuming the grave?
A: Taking pictures of a buried corpse without digging and, exhuming the grave, and exposing the body are not considered as exhumation.
Q 258: The municipal authorities intend to demolish the chambers surrounding a graveyard for widening the lanes. Is it permissible? And is it permissible to exhume the bones of the dead and bury them elsewhere?
A: The demolition and exhumation of the graves of the believers are not permissible even for the purpose of widening the lanes. In the case where exhumation occurs and a Muslims corpse or his bones that had not yet decomposed are uncovered, it is obligatory to bury them again.
Q 259: If someone starts demolishing a Muslim graveyard without paying attention to the rules of Islamic law, what is the duty of other Muslims in regard to this person?
A: It is obligatory for the others to forbid him from evil while observing all of its conditions and grades and if the bones of Muslims body are uncovered due to this act, it would be obligatory to bury them again.