The manners of shrouding deceased men and women
What is meant by the shroud and what is its ruling? What is the manner of shrouding men and women?
Ibn Abbas (may Allah be pleased with them both) said, “The Messenger of God (peace and blessings be upon him) said, “Wear white clothes for verily it is among your best garments and shroud your dead in white too” [recorded by Abu Dawud in his Sunan].
Definition of a shroud
It is a covering that conceals the body of a deceased.
Scholars are in agreement that shrouding the body of a deceased with whatever conceals the body after washing it is a fard kifaya (communal obligation). According to them, the shroud must be of the same clothing that was permissible for the deceased to wear during his lifetime except for leather due to the Prophetic command ordering the removal of any leather items from the dead and burying them in their clothes. Ibn Abbas (may God be pleased with them both) said, “The Messenger of God ordered us to strip those who were killed in the [battle of] Uhud of any metal or leather and to bury them in their blood and in the same clothes [in which they were killed]” [recorded by Abu Dawud in his Sunan]. Al-Thawri reported through Al-Layth who reported through Mujahid who said, “Any leather worn by a martyr is to be removed” [recorded by Abdul Razzaq in his Musannaf].
According to Hanafi and Maliki scholars, it is recommended to shroud a deceased in good cloth i.e. it should not be of less value than of what he used to wear during Eid days and for the Friday prayer unless he leaves instructions to this effect. This is based on the words of the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) who said, “When anyone of you shrouds his brother, he should give him the best shroud” [recorded by Muslim in his Sahih].
The obligatory minimum for shrouding a man or woman is to cover the entire body. If the deceased is a man, the Sunna is to shroud him in three pieces: an izar (wraparound), a qamis (shift), and a lifafa (outer sheet). The qamis must be long enough to cover the body of the deceased from his neck to his feet and it is sleeveless. Contrary to the izar worn by a person who is alive, the izar of a deceased person covers the body from the top of the head to the feet. The lifafa is similar to the izar in that it covers the entire body from the top of the head to the feet.
If the deceased is a woman, it is a Sunna to shroud her in five pieces: a qamis, an izar, a khimar (head cover that hangs down to just above the waist), a lifafa, and a khirqa that is to be tied around her breasts due to the hadith of Umm Layla Bint Qanif who said, “I was among those who washed Umm Kalthoum, the daughter of the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) when she died. The first thing he gave us was the waist wrapper, then the shift, then the head cover, then the large outer sheet. She was afterwards wrapped in another cloth. The Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings be upon him) was at the door, handing us the pieces one by one” [recorded by Abu Dawud].
And because it is permissible for a female to wear these items and go out in them during her lifetime, it is likewise permissible to shroud her in them.