The shrouds of cloth in which the mayyit will be wrapped for burial are called the Kafan. The Masnoon Kafan for a male consists of three sheets known as the lifafah, qamees and izaar. The Masnoon Kafan for a female consists of five cloths known as lifafah, seenah-band, kurtah, izaar and sarband.
THE MALE’S KAFAN
The lifafah (the outer sheet which will cover the entire body from above the head to below the feet) should firstly be spread out. The izaar which is a sheet from the head to the feet should be spread on the lifafah. The qamees should be placed on the izaar.
The qamees is a sheet that will fit over the mayyits body like a kurtah. It will have an opening for the head to go through. It will have no pockets, sleeves and seams. It is a plain white sheet which will cover the front and the back of the mayyit in the same way as a kurtah covers a person. The qamees should be placed on the izaar in such a position to enable it to be slipped over the head of the mayyit. Thus, one half of the qamees will be covering the back and one half the front of the mayyit.
The Kafan should be white in colour. When the mayyit is laid on the Kafan, apply itar (alcohol-free perfume) to the hair and beard. Itar should not be applied to the kafan nor should bits of cotton wool soaked with perfume be placed in the ears of the mayyit. Camphor should be rubbed onto the forehead, nose, both palms, both knees and both feet.
THE FEMALE’S KAFAN
First spread the lifafah, then the izaar on top of it. Then spread the qamees. At
this stage the mayyit should be on the kafan. Now wrap the qamees over the mayyit. Divide the hair on the head into two parts and place it on the qamees over the breasts, one part on the right side and one part on the left side.
Now place the sar-band over the hair on the head without tying or wrapping it.
Thereafter wrap the izaar, first the left flap, then the right flap on top of it.
Now wrap the seenah-band in the same way, i.e. first left flap, then the right flap on top. The seenah-band is the sheet from the breasts to the thighs. The seenah-band may be wrapped after the sar-band and before wrapping the izaar.
It may also be wrapped second last, i.e. before the lifafah which is the largest sheet. This outer sheet, lifafah, is wrapped last, first the left side, then the right side on top of it. The sar-band is a piece of cloth which is for covering the head and the hair which has been placed on the breasts.
Tie strips of the cloth on the kafan at the head, feet and around the waist to prevent the kafan opening up when the mayyit is carried.
Itar (perfume) should not be applied to the hair of a female mayyit. However, camphor should be rubbed on the parts as described in the section dealing with the male kafan.
MASAA-IL (RULES PERTAINING TO THE KAFAN
- The five cloths/sheets required for a female’s kafan are Sunnat. It is permissible to use only three cloths, viz, lifafah, izaar and sar-band.
- It is Makrooh and sinful to use less than three cloths for a female kafan.
- The Sunnat kafan for a male consists of three sheets. Two sheets, the lifafah and izaar will also suffice.
- The Sunnat or Masnoon kafan (5 cloths for a woman and 3 for a man) should not be discarded unnecessarily)
- It is not permissible to put any written dua, ta’weez or Aayat in the kafan, nor is it permissible to write anything on the kafan.
- It is permissible to put a piece of the ghilaf of the Ka’bah Shareef in the kafan for the sake of deriving barkat (blessing).
- It is permissible to purchase and keep one’s kafan during one’s lifetime.
- When wrapping the kafan, the mayyit’s hands should be at the sides.
- The colour of the kafan should be white. This is Sunnat. If, for a valid reason, white is not available, any colour may be used. However, bright feminine colours such as red, yellow and orange are Makrooh for males.
- If any part of the human body or half the body minus the head is found, it should be wrapped in the cloth and buried. There is no Masnoon kafan for it.
- If half the body with the head is present, then it will be necessary to Wrap it in the Masnoon kafan.
- If somehow the Qabr became open exposing the body or for some reason the body was exhumed and it became denuded of it’s kafan, then it should be wrapped in the Masnoon kafan provided that the body has not yet decomposed. If it has decomposed, then it should only be wrapped in a cloth and buried.