Islamic lessons to wash, shroud dead in demand at UK charity

LONDON: A British bereavement charity will resume a series of seminars next month to teach young people the Islamic practice of washing and wrapping a corpse, following increased demand following the COVID-19 pandemic.

Supporting Humanity, which is based in London and also provides mental health support to minority communities, launched the Ghusl seminars in February. In recent months it has seen interest from Muslim communities and universities across Britain.

“Supporting Humanity has organized some ghusl workshops in the last few months. Basically they are washing and wrapping the body in an Islamic way, and we have been teaching women throughout the area, and more generally in London, how to do this procedure for family and friends and become volunteers themselves “, Sumaiya Khoda, Supporting Humanity’s trustee, he told Arab News.


In Islam, preparation for burial should take place as soon as possible after death. (A photo / Sarah Glubb)

In Islam, preparation for burial should take place as soon as possible after death. The body is washed and then wrapped in a clean and fragrant white veil, while the hair is combed and, if feminine, braided. The relatives of the deceased are usually involved in the procedure together with an expert guide.

“Although we initially planned to only do three, because it is such a popular request that we will actually continue to manage them and try to offer them nationwide, because we are trying to reach people to teach the practice all over England,” he added. Choda.

He said the charity was looking to expand the initiative to include young males.

“Surprisingly, it has become more and more popular. So most of the people who approach them come through word of mouth, because people leave feeling quite enlightened by knowledge and understanding (and) breaking the myths they thought were around it, ”Khoda said.


Supporting Humanity, which is based in London and also provides mental health support to minority communities, launched the Ghusl seminars in February. (A photo / Sarah Glubb)

“We support anyone from any community who wants support with the burial process and we have a commitment to coroners … but in terms of the burial itself, we adhere to Islamic principles for burial,” Khoda said.

He added that when it comes to the burial procedure, there are limited distinctions between the different Sunni and Shia casts, but the workshops were following the Sunni burial method.

Previously, older women in the Muslim community took on this responsibility. However, during the pandemic, people over 60, those with chronic conditions or those considered to be at high risk had to protect themselves and struggled to find younger women who were able to take on the task, said Tahreem Noor, chief of operations. and Humanity Supporting Communications.

“We have to teach people how to do it, especially young people, we have to show them that it is an important part of our culture, of our religion, and we have to promote it as something that is rewarding, uplifting. It frees you as a Muslim who goes to a wash house and shroud room to wash a body, because you have just prepared that body to meet Allah and this is the most precious part of that person’s journey, ”he said.


The charity is looking to expand the initiative to include young males and are in talks to hold workshops at universities. (A photo / Sarah Glubb)

“We think helping them throughout their lives would be, while it isn’t, it’s actually the end of their life, where you really treated them with the utmost respect, treated that female body with dignity, gave them the modesty they always have. preserved throughout their life, and you follow the Sunnah (the way of the Prophet Muhammad), ”Noor added.

He said the purpose of the seminars was also to destigmatize the myths that come with washing and veiling and raise awareness on a more national scale, adding that the next series of seminars, which are held on a monthly basis, will resume in September. 25.

Salma Patel, principal facilitator of the ghusl seminar, said she was approached during the pandemic to help wash and wrap and over the past three years she has done thousands of ghusl and gained extensive experience.

He instructed the participants on personal protective equipment, how they should be dressed, have their hair covered, and had ablutions performed before starting the process.

“We don’t have to see any part of their body other than their face, hands and feet, and how we should wash them, just like we would normally wash, washing all their private parts is very, very important. So we make sure everything is clean and then how we have to dry them, ”Patel said.

He also addressed some myths regarding the body embalming process if it is to be transported to another country. It is forbidden in Islam for the body intended for transport to be drained of blood and then filled with an alcohol-based substance.

He answered questions about whether hair, eye and nail extensions should be removed or any artificial material attached to the body. This should be approached carefully as the deceased person feels “70 or 100 times more pain”. She also faced a myth that females can go through the process during the menstrual cycle.

“Most of them come to me saying it’s great, because there are a lot of things they didn’t know, there were a lot of myths. I basically erased the myths in particular, so I think everyone was really happy, ”added Patel.

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