In shrouding, the following practices are recommended and should be observed while preparing a body for burial.
1. The shroud should be nice, clean, and large enough to cover the entire body. This is based on a narration of Ibn Majah and Tirmizhi, who regard it a sound hadith from Abu Qatadah that the Prophet, peace be upon him, said: “If one of you is a guardian to his deceased brother, he should give him the best shroud he can.”
2. A shroud should be white, as it is recorded by Ahmad, Abu Daw’ud, and Tirmizhi on the authority of Ibn ‘Abbas that the Prophet, peace be upon him, said: “Wear white clothes, for these are your best clothes, and enshroud your dead in them.” Tirmizhi considers it a sound hadith.
3. The shroud should be scented and perfumed. The hadith is cited by Ahmad and by Al-Hakim, who regards it as sound, in accordance with Jabir’s narration that the Prophet, peace be upon him, said: “If you perfume a dead body, do it three times.” Abu Sa’id, Ibn ‘Umar, and Ibn ‘Abbas directed their heirs in their wills to perfume their shrouds with aloes-wood.
4. The shroud should be three wraps for a man and five wraps for a woman, in light of what is narrated by the group from ‘Aishah who said: “The Messenger of Allah, peace be upon him, was wrapped in three pieces of new white sheets of cloth from Yemen, without a shirt or a turban.”
Tirmizhi said: “The majority of the scholars among the Companions of the Prophet (may Allah be pleased with them) and others hold this view.” Sufyan Al-Thawri said: “A (deceased) male should be shrouded in three pieces of cloth, or a shirt and two loose pieces of cloth, or (if necessary) three wraps of cloth.
One wrap may suffice if nothing else is available. Two wraps will also suffice, but three wraps are preferable for those who can afford it. This is the opinion of Ash-Shafi’i, Ahmad, and Ishaq. They hold that a deceased female should be enshrouded in five sheets.
It is reported from Umm ‘Atiyyah that the Prophet, peace be upon him, gave her a loincloth, a shirt, a scarf, and two pieces of cloth (to be used as a shroud for him). Ibn Al-Munzhir said: “Most of the scholars, our teachers, are of the opinion that a woman should be shrouded in five sheets of cloth.