It is tradition to quicken the persons journey from death to burial as was the tradition of the Holy Prophet. And understandably so, as there were no facilities like we have to be able to transport or a mortuary to keep the body of the deceased.
It is the communal duty (Farze-Kifayyah) of the Muslim community that some people should be able to give the body of the deceased a ritual washing.
It is obligatory to wash the whole body once and it is sunnah to do this thrice. Where the body is being washed, it is recommended that only those washing the body are able to see it, those helping should be kept either behind a curtain or in a different area during this. During the ritual washing, the body of the deceased maybe laid as is put in the grave or can be turned to a side, which ever is easier for those giving the ritual wash.
It is recommended that those giving the deceased a ritual wash should be clean and not in the state of requiring obligatory washing, though even in this state, the ritual washing of the deceased will be fulfilled. It is also best that the ritual washing of the body of the deceased is given by a family member, close relative and or people from the community who are pious and God fearing.
The people washing the body should be trust worthy and God fearing that they do not reveal any defects of the deceased and only his praiseworthy attributes as is stated in the saying of the Holy Prophet.
Those washing the deceased should wear perfume before washing the body to help defuse any smell coming from around the body. One should not all at the body of the deceased except where necessary as there might have been a part of the body that the deceased used to hide from people during his lifetime. This is being sensitive and understanding and respecting the rights of the deceased even after his/her death.
Men should wash the deceased men and women should wash the body of the deceased women.
If the skin of the deceased is sensitive and coming off then only water should be poured over it and should not be touched.
It is not permissible to cut or trim the beard of the deceased or to cut their nails or removing other hair from any part of the body as the deceased should be buried as in the state of death even though the deceased was in a prolonged illness and could not properly clean or cut his hair. And if for any reason there is broken toe nail or some hair were required to be cut they should be buried with the deceased.
Note: under no circumstances can you wash a cloth and put it into the mouth of the deceased to wash it or pour water in to the mouth and or nose as it has been seen in some places, this is a wrong practice and not permissible according to our Hanafi school of law and nor is this found in any authentic narration and nor is it permissible.
Ritual Washing of the deceased:
Make sure the place where the body is to be washed is clean and has bren washed down.
The private parts of the deceased from the navel tot the knees should be covered with a cloth. Then the washer should wear some gloves and cover it with a cloth and do istinja, to make sure that there is nothing coming out from the body. Then wash the body as though doing wudhu, i.e first wash the face, then wash the arms including the hands, then do Massah over the head and then wash the feet. In the wudhu of the deceased, the hands will no be washed upto the wrists separately and nor will water be put into the mouth or nose. But if you have a cloth or wool, you may rinse it and wipe the teeth and lips of the deceased with this. This should now be repeated turning the body on the left and letting the water flow to the feet of the body. The body should be washed with warm water. Then in the end sit the body up and then gently press around the abdomen and if anything is released from the body, then clean it. There is no need to perform the whole ritual washing again. Then finally pour water from head to toe upon the body of the deceased and the body should then be wiped clean with towels accordingly.
Shrouding the dead: