Preparing the Body
There are a number of rites that Muslims must hasten to perform as soon as a person dies. The Prophet (s.a.w) said: "Hasten the funeral rites." Preparing the body for burial is a Fard Kifaayah - A communal obligation on Muslims. Washing the dead body prior to shrouding and burial is obligatory, according to numerous recorded instructions given by the Prophet (s.a.w). Preparing the deceased begins with the washing of the body. As a general rule, males should take the responsibility of washing males, and females should wash females. The only exception to this rule is in the case of husband and wife, or small children. The evidence given that it is permitted for a husband to wash his wife and vice versa is the hadith collected by Ibn Majah and others. Aisha (r.a) reported that when the Prophet (s.a.w) returned from a funeral at al-Baqee', she was suffering from a headache and said: "Oh my head." The Prophet (s.a.w) replied: "No, it is I who am in pain from whatever hurts you. If you were to die before me, I would wash you…" Furthermore, when Abu Bakr (r.a) died, it was his wife Asmaa' along with his son Abdur-Rahmaan who washed him.
Those who take on the responsibility of washing the dead should be the most knowledgeable of the procedures, preferably from amongst the immediate family members and relatives. If relatives are unavailable, it is recommended that those who wash the body be among the pious. Washing a dead person is a meritorious deed that Muslims should be encouraged to take part in. The Prophet (s.a.w) said: "He who washes a Muslim and conceals what he sees (i.e. bad odors, appearance, and anything loathsome), Allah grants him forgiveness forty times (or for forty major sins)…" For this reward to be considered, a Muslim should only seek Allah's pleasure, and not thanks, pay, or any other worldly reward. Taking a bath after washing the body is an important hygienic measure introduced in Islam. However, there is difference of opinion amongst the scholars whether it is wajib (mandatory) or not to perform ghusl (ritual bath). The correct opinion and Allah knows best is that is not compulsory. This is based on the hadith: "You are not to take a bath after washing your deceased, because he is not najis (filthy). It is sufficient that you wash your hands."

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