How should funeral prayer and burial processes be carried out during an epidemic disease?

The Answer

Dear Brother / Sister,

Some of the most important responsibilities of Muslims toward their deceased Muslim brothers or sisters are washing their dead bodies, shrouding them and performing their funeral prayers (Salat al Janazah).

After washing the body, performing the funeral prayer is fard al kifayah. When this duty is fulfilled by some Muslims, the others are relieved of that responsiblity.

There is no defined time for performing the funeral prayer. It is essential to perform the janazah prayer of a prepared dead body and to bury it without delay.

When there is a risk of epidemic disease, performing the prayer with the least possible participation and with no unnecessary waiting should be preferred.

Besides, additional measures should be taken to ensure the prevention of the spread of the disease, and enough distance should be left between the participants. If there is more than one dead body, one funeral prayer will be enough for all of the dead bodies.

The funeral prayer of a dead body that was buried immediately because of spreading risk of the disease can be performed later by a few people near the grave.

After taking precautionary measures according to recommendations of experts against the risk of spread of the disease, the dead body should be washed, shrouded and buried properly.

If there is still a risk of infection despite all the precautions to be taken and even though the dead body is washed and shrouded properly, the following can be done:

1. The washing process can be can be carried out by pouring or sprinkling water on the body from a distance.

2. If this procedure is also risky, tayammum can be performed on the dead body by wearing protective uniforms in accordance with the instruction of the authorities.

3. If tayammum is also risky in terms of spreading the disease, tayammum is abandoned due to obligation; funeral prayer is performed and the body is buried.

If it is also risky to bury the dead body in the grave dug in the traditional way, it is permissible to bury it in a human remains pouch or coffin.

We should act based on the consciousness that we do our last duty toward our Muslim brother or sister while performing these procedures emerging from an obligation.

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