How To Organise The Islamic Funeral (Janazah) For Muslims Killed By COVID-19

By Imam Murtadha Gusau

In the name of Allah, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful

All perfect praise be to Allah, The Lord of the worlds. I testify that there is none worthy of worship except Allah and that Muhammad (Peace be upon him) is His servant and Messenger.

Dear brothers and sisters, here are some brief explanations on the regulations of Janazah due to COVID-19 Restrictions:

  1. If you cannot perform ghusl (washing) of the deceased person due to the COVID-19 restrictions, then make tayammum (dry ablution or purification with earth) instead.

How to make tayammum: Strike the earth with both hands, wipe the face of the deceased, then his hands. Then shroud as normal with three large sheets, pray the janazah and bury. [See Majmu’u Fatawa wa Maqalat Mutanawwi’ah, vol. 13, page 123 of Shaikh Abdul-Aziz Bin Baz and Fatawa fi Ahkam Al-Jana’iz of Shaikh Muhammad Bin Salih Al-Uthaimin, page 213-214]

  1. If you cannot perform ghusl (washing) or tayammum because of the COVID-19 restrictions, then shroud him with three large sheets, pray the janazah and bury your deceased. This is due to the fact that the Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him) commanded that the janazah be hastened and not delayed, he said:

“Hurry with the burial.” [Bukhari]

And, if the COVID-19 restrictions disallow touching the body, even with rubber gloves, then that does not prevent the Muslims from doing as much as they are able for the deceased Muslim in fulfilling his rights. This is due to the saying of Allah the Most High:

“Fear Allah and keep your duty to Him as much as you can.” [Surah At-Taghabun, 16]

And due to the saying of the Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him):

“And whatever I command you with do as much of it as you are able.” [Bukhari and Muslim]

So, the Muslims are commanded to do as much as they can in fulfilling their obligations.

Delaying the burial of Muslims for days, weeks (or months) while waiting for the authorities to lift the restrictions is not correct since the regulations concerning the person who is assumed to have died from COVID-19 are unlikely to alter regardless of time ―and due to the fact that the Messenger of Allah (Peace be upon him) commanded with hurrying the burial and not delaying it. [See Majmu’u Fatawa wa Maqalat Mutanawwi’ah, vol. 13, page 181-182 of Shaikh Abdul-Aziz Bin Baz, and Fatawa fi Ahkam Al-Jana’iz of Shaikh Muhammad Bin Salih Al-Uthaimīn, page 77]

  1. If the body is sealed in a plastic bag (or a body-bag) by the authorities and the legal restrictions do not allow the bag to be opened, therefore neither ghusl (washing) or tayammum (dry ablution) is possible. In that case, the plastic body bag is shrouded in three large cloth sheets, followed by the janazah prayer and burial. [See Majmu’u Fatawa wa Maqalat Mutanawwi’ah, vol. 13, page 128-129 of Shaikh Abdul-Aziz Bin Baz]
  2. If the COVID-19 restrictions do not allow large numbers of Muslims to pray janazah for the deceased so that even close relatives are forced to miss the janazah, then it is permissible for a small group to pray janazah for the deceased and then bury him ―and then those that were not able to pray can visit the grave in small groups (or even individually) and pray janazah over a period of a few weeks next to the grave.

This is done by standing so that the grave of the deceased is between you and the Qiblah, and then pray the janazah as normal. The Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him) did this for a woman who had died in the night, so the Companions prayed her janazah and she was buried ―the Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him) was not informed, so he went to her grave and prayed the janazah. [See Majmu’u Fatawa wa Maqalat Mutanawwi’ah, vol. 13, page 153 of Shaikh Abdul-Aziz Bin Baz]

  1. The Muslims, even in small groups should make three rows behind the Imam. The Abu Umamah (RA) stated that:

“The Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him) prayed janazah and there were with him only seven people. So, he placed three in the first row, two in another row and two more in another row.” [At-Tabarani in Al-Kabir, and authenticated by Al-Imam Al-Albani in Ahkam Al-Jana’iz, page 127]

  1. If the deceased Muslim was buried by the authorities without anyone having prayed over him, especially in non-Muslim countries, then the Muslims must ask for the location of the grave and pray at the grave as explained previously.

And if the Muslims do not know where he was buried, they can establish the janazah prayer in the absence of the body as the Messenger of Allah (Peace be upon him) did for Najjashi (rahimahullah), the King of Abyssinia. In this situation, the janazah is performed in the normal manner except that the body is not present.

  1. It is permissible to perform the janazah in the same room where the washing and shrouding of the deceased took place. And janazah prayer in an open area outside of the Mosque is better, even though it is permissible to pray it in the Mosque. [See Majmu’u Fatawa wa Maqalat Mutanawwi’ah, vol. 13, page 157 and vol. 13, page 164 of Shaikh Abdul-Aziz Bin Baz]
  2. When praying janazah, make the rows in the prayer as normal. However, if the COVID-19 restrictions prevent that, then keep the required gaps between each person and pray the janazah in that fashion. This is due to the saying of Allah, the Most High:

“Fear Allah and keep your duty to Him as much as you can.” [Surah At-Taghabun, 16]

And due to the saying of the Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him):

“And whatever I command you with do as much of it as you are able.” [Bukhari and Muslim]

  1. It is allowed to bury more than one person in a grave if there is a need for that, such as a situation where the bodies of deceased are numerous and the places to bury them are few. In this situation, the Muslim who knew more Qur’an is placed first, closest to the Qiblah in the grave ―and they are laid next to each other. The scholars have also stated that between each of the deceased there should be a barrier (or mound) of soil. [See Fatawa fi Ahkam Al-Jana’iz of Shaikh Muhammad Bin Salih Al-Uthaimin, page 213-214]

May Allah in His Infinite Mercy forgive the death ones among us, safeguard us, heal the infected patients of Covid-19 among us, and all sick all over the world, and remove the epidemic entirely from the surface of the earth. Ameen.

And all praise is due to Allah, Lord of the worlds. May the peace, blessings and salutations of Allah be upon our noble Messenger, Muhammad, and upon his family, his Companions and his true followers.

Leave A Reply

Your email address will not be published.