In Britain nearly 80% of deaths occur in medical institutions. There is a concern that a Muslim who dies in such an institution may be treated in a manner outside of the Islamic tradition, particularly when a family or friends are not present at the time of death.
At times problems identified are related to how the body of the deceased should be handled as Muslims believe improper handling can be quite distressful to both the deceased and the family especially when the handlers may be of the opposite sex. In other words should the deceased be a gentleman then it is preferable for the handlers to also be male.
Hospital staff should avoid touching the body with bare hands. It is preferable that they wear gloves and under no circumstances should the body be washed. This is a very important duty, which the deceased’s family or friends are obliged to perform.
In order to counteract these possible problems emerging in institutionalised death a number of guidelines have been laid and initiatives have been set up.
The following guidance is for members of the Muslim community:
When death comes to a body it should be handled with the utmost respect, gentleness and decency, such etiquettes are highly valued by Muslims and great lengths are taken to ensure the deceased is treated in this way.
Firstly please ensure that the following is carried out or attended to immediately through members of the same sex or immediate family members:
- Any tubes, false teeth, contact lenses or artificial limbs should be removed and any incisions dressed so as to prevent a stem of blood flow
- Close the eyes of the decease
- Carefully bind the lower jaw with a bandage or a strip of cloth tied on the top of the head in order that the mouth is held in a closed position
- The ankles must be gently fastened together with a bandage or strip of cloth to avoid opening of the legs
- Arms should be placed straight down the side of the body with straightened fingers. The body, still fully clothed, should then be wrapped in a clean sheet
- If death occurs in a hospital then wait for the body to be placed in the hospital mortuary. The body shall remain at the hospital mortuary, untouched, until such time when the paperwork has been issued to release the body to the family.
Please see the contacts section for directions and opening times of the mortuary at any one of the three major hospitals in Leicester.
For release of bodies after hours: – Liaise with On-Call Manager.
For further assistance please contact the Muslim Chaplin at the Hospital.