The Official Website of the Office of His Eminence Al-Sayyid Ali Al-Husseini Al-Sistani

Questions about Preparing the Bodies of Those Deceased From CoronaVirus (COVID-19)

In The Name of Allah The All-Merciful The Beneficent

The office of His Eminence Sayed Ali Al-Sistani (May Allah Prolong His Life)

Please answer the following questions regarding those who have deceased from the Coronavirus pandemic:

1. A Muslim who dies as a result of this virus, is it obligatory to perform Ghusl (ritual wash) on his body like other dead bodies, or is dry ablution (Tayammum) sufficient? 

 What if the authorities do not allow dry ablution as well, as they have placed the body in a medical bag, which contains chemicals and preservatives, and prevent the opening of the bag before burial? 
2. If it is not possible to camphorate (Tahnit/Hanoot) the body by applying camphor to all seven obligatory areas (forehead, palms, knees, and tips of the big toes) is there an alternative method?
3. Should the body be shrouded (Takfin) in the three pieces of cloth (a loincloth, a shirt, and a full cover)? What if the authorities do not allow the opening of the bag and the shrouding of the body?
4. In some non-Islamic countries, the bodies of those who have died from Coronavirus are cremated. Is it permissible to allow the cremation of a Muslim’s body, or should his family resist and reject it if they can do so? 
5. What is the ruling of placing the body of the deceased in a box (coffin), and burying the box in the ground?
6. Specialists say that it is possible to bury someone who has died from Coronavirus infection in the usual known burial places in the country, and there is no need for exceptional procedures to do so, for instance the depth of the grave, etc. This is because the virus relies on living cells to survive, and thus after the death of an infected individual, the virus remains for a period that may last for hours, however, there is no way for the virus to exit the body, resulting in the destruction of the virus.

Hence, it becomes sufficient to take the necessary medical precautions in the process of transferring the dead body of the infected individual and burying them while wearing medical gloves, respirators and so on, and there is no fear that after burial the virus can be transmitted to others. In light of this, what is the ruling of preventing the burial of those who have died due to Coronavirus in public cemeteries in the country - even in a location that is isolated and away from the other graves - contrary to the will of the deceased or the wishes of his family?


In The Name of Allah The All-Merciful The Beneficent

1. If it is not possible to wash the body in fear of transmitting the infection, then the duty, if possible, becomes that an alive human should perform dry ablution (Tayammum) on the body, even if he must wear gloves [to do so]. If this is also not possible or it was not allowed by the relevant authorities, the body can be buried without Ghusl (ritual washing) or performing dry ablution (Tayammum).

2. In this case, camphorating (Tahnit) will no longer be a duty, and there is no alternative for it.

3. The body must be shrouded in the three garments even if it is around the bag, and if it is not possible for the dead to be shrouded in all three, then it should be done with the pieces that are possible such as the Ezar (full body cover), which covers the entirety of the body. 

4. It is not permissible to cremate the body of a dead Muslim, his relatives and others must resist and prevent this, and they should insist on burial according to the requirements of the true Sharia. 

5. It is permissible, but it is necessary, if possible, to place the corpse in the box on its right side, directing the face towards the Qibla, as if it were placed in the ground (on the soil).
6. It is not permissible, in the context of this question, to prevent the burial of the body in the public cemeteries. The concerned authorities should facilitate this, and God knows best.

The Office of His Eminence al-Sayyid al-Sistani
The Holy City of Najaf
3 Sha'ban, 1441 AH


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