Question: How can we diagnose that a person has died? What service should be done to the deceased?
Stiffening (rigor mortis), becoming cold, and putrefaction are signs of death. Breath stopping can be determined by using a mirror, which should not be misted over when held before the dead person’s mouth. Heart stopping can be determined by a pulse. When death is diagnosed, it is sunnat to close his or her eyes and tie up his or her chin. The chin must be tied up by means of a wide piece of cloth fastened on top of the head. When one is closing the eyes of the deceased, it is sunnat to say the prayer, “Bismillahi wa ‘alâ millati Rasûlullah Allahumma yassir ‘alaihi amrahu wa sahhal ‘alaihi mâ ba’dahu wa us’id’hu bi-liqâ’ika waj’al mâ kharajayni khayran mimmâ kharaja ‘anh.”
It means, “In the name of Allah and in accordance with the religion of Allah’s Messenger, O my Rabb! Ease his affair. Render easy his end. Make him happy to meet You. Make the place he will arrive at better for him than the place he has left behind.”
Before the corpse becomes cold, it is sunnat to open and close his or her fingers, elbows and knees, and to leave his or her arms and legs straight. Thus, washing and shrouding will be easy.
Before the corpse becomes cold, the deceased’s clothes are taken off and he or she is covered with a wide, light bed sheet. One end of the sheet will be put under his or her head and the other end under his or her feet. Something, a knife or anything made of iron, is placed on top of his or her stomach, on or under the sheet, thus to prevent the corpse from swelling