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Shroud

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Shroud or kafan (Arabic: الکفن) is set of pieces of cloth that is obligatory to cover the dead body of Muslim by it before burial. It at least consists of three pieces of cloth: a loin cloth, a shirt or tunic, and a full cover.

Compulsory Quantity

Lexically, Kafn (Arabic:کَفن) means to cover; but in Islamic jurisprudential terminology it is the special way and order that a dead body of Muslim is covered before burial. In Hadiths, kafan was introduced as the adornment of a dead Muslim and was recommended to be of high quality. Kafan consists of three pieces:

  • Mi'zar (loin cloth); must be long enough to cover the navel to the knee of the dead Muslim, while it is better to cover the body from the chest to the feet.
  • Qamis (shirt or tunic); must be long enough to cover the body form top of the shoulders to the middle of the shins, while it is better to reach the feet.
  • Izar (all-over body cloth); must be long enough to cover the whole body from head to feet and broad enough that the one side overlaps the other, while it is better to be long enough that it could be tied on both ends.

The difference between male and female kafan is in some recommended pieces. After putting the dead body in the grave, it is recommended to untie the kafan and put the right cheek of the dead on earth.

Other Compulsory Acts

There is no need to heirs' consent for spending the deceased wealth on the compulsory quantity of kafan. However, their permission is required for providing a high quality cloth or recommended pieces. Covering the dead body of Muslim is a collective compulsory (al-wajib al-kifa'i) and if possible the permission form the guardian of the deceased is required. There are 232 Hadiths in Wasa'il al-Shi'a and Mustadrak al-Wasa'il explaining the details of this ruling.

Perfuming the Body

Once the ghusl (ritual bath) is performed on the corpse, it is compulsory to perfume the body rubbing camphor on seven parts that touch the earth during prostration (forehead, palms of the hands, kneecaps and big toes). It is also recommended to rub the Turba of Imam al-Husayn (a) on the forehead and palms of the hands.

Material

The cloth used as kafan must be thick enough to hide the body of the deceased and not be see-through. It is better to be white and not made of cotton. Covering the deceased with usurped or najis kafan and also that made of pure silk or woven form wool or hair of the animals whose meet is haram to eat is not permissible in normal circumstances.

Recommended Acts

It is recommended that a Muslim prepares his kafan while he is alive and sometimes looks at it and write shahadatayn and the names of the infallible Imams (a) on some parts of it that are less likely to get najis, it is better to write them with the Turba of Imam al-Husayn (a).

Jaridatayn (Two Twigs)

It is recommended to use the shirt in which the deceased performed prayer or hajj as kafan. It is recommended to put two green twigs, each about half a meter, with the deceased: one from the right collarbone under kafan touching the deceased skin and the other from the left collarbone on the shirt or tunic. The two twigs can be placed in the grave or if burial has finished they can be stuck in the soil at the top and the bottom of the grave. According to Hadiths, the punishment will not reach the deceased as long as these twigs are not dried.

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