Tilting Covid-19 bodies in the coffin
Please give us some guidance on turning the deceased body on its right side when burying. With Covid-19, volunteers are now performing ghusl with full PPE and are burying in a coffin. We are advised not to open the coffin again at the graveyard, due to lack of hand-washing facilities and other reasons. Under normal circumstances, some soil is inserted into the coffin at the graveyard to prop the body up. In the current circumstance, it is impractical to do this at the ghusl area because it adds weight, and it could also add wight on one side, so the coffin is unstable when carrying it. We in Leicester already have much smaller teams of six volunteers carrying a coffin. We are looking at placing a wooden prop to see if that will work. If we cannot prop the body up and we just turn the face to right, is that sufficient? The body would be lying flat in the coffin.
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بسم الله الرحمن الرحیم
Tilting the full body on its right side is recommended, similar to the Sunnah sleeping posture. Therefore, if it is possible to do this, this should be done. Consider using wooden planks that are not heavy.
If the body cannot be titled fully in the normal way, then tilt the body slightly by placing a small amount of soil with the face fully turned. Otherwise, if this is not possible, the minimum is to turn the face, as you have mentioned. If for some reason turning the face is also not possible in the current circumstance, the full body will be buried lying flat.
قال في الأصل (١/٣٦١): قلت: أرأيت رجلا مات فدفن ووجهه لغير القبلة، أو وضع على شقه الأيسر، أو جعل رأسه في موضع الرجلين، ثم ذكروا ذلك بعد ما فرغوا من دفنه، هل ينبشون قبره فيدفنونه على ما ينبغي له؟ قال: لا، ولكنهم يدعونه كما هو. قلت: فإن كانوا قد وضعوا اللبن ولم يهل التراب عليه بعد؟ قال: ينزع اللبن، ثم يهيئونه على ما ينبغي له، انتهى. والتفصيل في مقالتي: إزالة الزلة عن دفن الميت إلى القبلة۔
Allah knows best
10 Shaʿbān 1441 / 4 April 2020
Approved by: Mufti Shabbir Ahmad and Mufti Muhammad Tahir