First, we earnestly implore Allah to bless the souls of all our brothers and sisters who died in the Indonesian quake. We would like also to seize this opportunity to remind their relatives to exercise remarkable patience: (And surely We shall try you with something of fear and hunger, and loss of wealth and lives and crops; but give glad tidings to the steadfast who say, when a misfortune striketh them: Lo! we are Allah’s and Lo! unto Him we are returning. Such are they on whom are blessings from their Lord, and mercy. Such are the rightly guided.) (Al-Baqarah 2: 155-157)
In this regard, we would like to cite for you the following fatwa issued by the eminent Muslim scholar and renowned da`iyah, Sheikh `Abdel Khaliq Hasan Ash-Shareef, in which he states the following: It is the manner of the committed Muslim to thank Allah in all situations. I earnestly implore Allah to bless the souls of all dead Muslims, especially those who died in the recent Indonesian earthquake. May Allah grant them all jannah, and may He Almighty accept them among His righteous servants, ameen!
Muslim men and women who die as a result of such natural disasters are to be washed, shrouded, and buried to the best ability of their fellow Muslims. Here, I should clarify the juristic rulings in such situations as follows:
1. It is well-known that every dead body should be thoroughly washed before shrouding and burial. However, in such circumstances where there are lots of Muslims dying at the same time, washing and shrouding the dead should be done as best as Muslims can do.
2. Muslims in quake-stricken areas should try their best to recover the dead bodies of their fellow Muslim brothers and sisters there. In case they fail to find certain remains of the body, they should gather what they find, wash it thoroughly, shroud it, and then perform the Janazah Prayer.
3. In case washing the body will spoil it as a result of water harming the corpse, then tayammum in this case is sufficient, and it should be performed to the best ability of their fellow Muslims. On the other hand, if the recovered bodies are sound and there is no possibility of water spoiling them, then they should be thoroughly washed, shrouded, and then buried.
4. As far as shrouding is concerned, Muslims in quake-afflicted areas should strive hard to gather the remains of their dead brothers and sisters, and they should make sure that every shroud includes only the organs of its own person. In this regard, they should strive hard to return every organ to its own body, and in case there is mixing of organs, then there is nothing wrong in shrouding them in one cloth as long as they have exhausted all the possible means.
5. A word of caution should be added here: Men and women should be shrouded and buried separately with no mixing. However, in case there is no way out, and all efforts of separation are done, then there is nothing wrong in burying the dead men and women in a mass grave after performing Janazah Prayer on them.