Sheikh Ahmad Kutty, a senior lecturer and Islamic scholar at the Islamic Institute of Toronto, Ontario, Canada, states: “First of all, it is important for us Muslims to take all necessary safeguards in order to g
uard ourselves against such vicious diseases. We must comply with all the guidelines established by the medical professionals and health officers. To violate these rules and thus expose ourselves and others to health risks would be considered as a most heinous sin in the sight of Allah.
Furthermore, we must also pray to Allah to protect us against such diseases. The following du`a’ (supplication) can be read on a regular basis:
Allahumma inni a`udhu bika min sayyi’ al-asqami wa al-adwa’ wa al-ahwa’i wa al-akhlaq
(O Allah, I seek refuge and protection with You from all vicious ailments and diseases, and from vain desires and wretched morals.)
Now coming to the rules of Janazah, we must know that the rigors of the law in Islam are relaxed in case of exigencies, although the precise degree and extent of such relaxation varies according to the degree of hardship involved.
In other words, we are allowed to skip the rites of ghusl (bathing the diseased) or tayammum (symbolic ablution with dust or sand) only when such rites are considered risky and endangering to the health of people who perform them. In such cases, we must definitely skip such rites and simply bury the body as it is, and pray Janazah (funeral prayer) on the grave after burial.
If, on the other hand, it is determined that trained personnel with proper protective gear can handle such bodies, then we are not allowed to forego the rites of ghusl or tayammum. For in such cases such trained personnel must perform such rites, and it is the duty of the community to make sure that there are enough trained people in the community to undertake this task. In cases like these, it becomes fard kifayah (community obligation); in other words, should the community neglect this task, all members of the community will be guilty of committing a major offense in the sight of Allah. Once the community has enough trained personnel to handle such cases, the rest of the community will be absolved of their duty.
If it is determined by health officers that none other than those who are trained with proper equipment must handle such bodies, it would be considered as wrong for others to do so, for by doing so they are endangering the health of the community.
If it has been determined by the medical experts or health officials of the city that it would be hazardous to bring such bodies to the mosques or public facilities that are ill-equipped to deal with them, then the requisite rites of ghusl or tayammum must be performed in the hospitals or funeral homes equipped with such facilities.
If it has been determined that performing ghusl is too risky, then the next thing is to perform tayammum with the protective gear and necessary safeguards. This should be done after removing the wrapper, if it is considered safe to do so; if it is considered unsafe, then the tayammum should be done on the wrapper itself. Allah says, “Allah desires for you ease; He desires not hardship for you.” (Al-Baqarah: 185) Also, “Fear Allah as best as you can.” (At-Taghabun: 16). And the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) said, “When I order you to do some thing, do it as best as you can.”
Once tayammum is done, Janazah can be performed at the graveyard before burial, in which case, the casket can be placed on the grave, and the people can line up behind the imam and offer the Janazah prayer; it is also considered permissible to pray after burial as well.