I heard that people refused to let a Covid-19 patient who passed away to have his funeral and buried in a certain place. Local people refused the burial because they are worried that the virus will spread there. Is this permissible?
Alhamdulillah, praise and thanks to Allah for the countless blessings He has blessed us all with. Blessings and salutations to the Prophet Muhammad PBUH, his wives, his family, companions and all those that follow his teachings to the day of judgement.
The ruling of refusing the burial of Covid-19 deceased with the reason of avoiding the spread of a harmful disease is haram because the virus cannot be spread through soil and the deceased in Malaysia has already been shrouded by taking all the necessary precautionary steps, unless if the authority commands to do so considering both the maslahah and mafsadah.
The ruling of burying the deceased is wajib for Muslims through kifayah obligation for a Muslim deceased as long as there is no excuse from burying them like death in the sea and etc. The author of al-Fiqh al-Manhaji (1/249) said:
“It is Sunnah to hasten the burial process by bathing, shrouding, praying and burying. Muslim scholars have reached consensus (ijma’) on stating that all those four actions are fard kifayah upon all Muslims in the place where the death takes place. If there is no one among them to carry the task, then all of them are considered sinful.”
Referring to the Guidelines of Worship for Workers and Patients of Covid-19 (pg. 13), Covid-19 virus is spread through droplets in the air which is spread through coughing and sneezing. The same goes for gargled water, spit or washing of any organs related to mucous membrane which are mouth, nose and eyes. Dirt may also become an agent of spread if used on the Personal Protective Equipment (PPE). However, the Covid-19 virus can be washed away from the contaminated surface by using soap or virucide like sanitizers with alcohol.
While in the Guidelines for Muslim Funerals (COVID-19) (pg. 17), a deceased who passed away due to Covid-19 does not negate the obligation to its burial like its original ruling, even if it is performed by workers not more than 4 persons and is done under the observation of healthcare authorities. In addition, the process of shrouding the deceased is done with close inspection and caution by haviing three layers of cloth for the deceased starting from a white linen followed by two layers of body bag before spraying the body with disinfectant.
Based on the above facts and explanation, we are inclined to state that the ruling of refusing the burial of Covid-19 dead bodies due to being afraid of the spread of the disease is haram due to the following reasons:
- Virus present in the Covid-19 dead bodies is not spread through the soil.
- For the funerals of Covid-19 dead bodies in Malaysia, the body is already shrouded by taking all the precautionary measures and with close care.
- If there are specific cases in which the dead bodies are not shrouded by following the stated procedure, unburying the body in order to transfer it elsewhere due to being worried of the spread of the disease is unnecessary unless if one is commanded by the authorities to do so considering both maslahah and mafsadah.
May this explanation give answers to the one who asked. Let us pray to Allah SWT to lift this calamity from us and bless us with obedience in facing this with our best conduct. Ameen.