What is the opinion of religious scholars about the Kafan (shroud); how many clothes are there for men and how many for women? And how many clothes for children?
(The following answer is based on authoritative text of Radd Mukhtar).
The Sunnah is three clothes for men:
1. Wrapping – A wrapping is a sheet that covers the body from head to toes.
2. Shirt – A shirt covers the body from the base of the neck to the to the toes.
3. Envelope – An envelope is a sheet that is about two feet longer than the length of the body so that after wrapping the body it can be tied at the feet and at the head.
For women there are five pieces of cloth; three as for men and an additional two, which are:
4. Head Cover – A headcover is about a metre long.
5. Chest Brace – The chest brace is a piece of cloth to tie the breasts (it should cover the
chest to the naval button)
This is the Sunna shroud. However for men, it can be reduced to two pieces; the wrapping and envelope, and for women these two and the headcover. If one cannot afford much then the minimum will be one single envelope.
For adolescents (children ten years or older) the above will apply; three pieces of cloth for boys and five for girls. For a still-born child, it is sufficient to wrap the body in a single piece of cloth.
And Allah ﷻ knows best
There was a funeral where a embroidered sheet and a piece of cover of Ka’ba were placed on top of the shroud. An Imam who was leading the prayer removed them both and pronounced it as a Bid’a (innovation) and the practice of the Rawafid. What is the correct position on this matter?
To place an embroidered sheet on top of the shroud is permissible and in fact it is virtuous if done with a virtuous intention (to enhance the deceased person’s stature and dignity amongst people). This is just like laying flowers on the grave. Until they remain fresh they glorify the Lord and are pleasing for the deceased. In Al-Fatawa Al-Hindiya it states: ‘The laying of flowers on graves is a good thing.’
Similarly placing a small piece of the Ka’ba cloth for blessings is permissible. To pronounce this as a practice of the Shi’a is untrue. The following evidence for this practice is mentioned in Asad al-Ghaba:
‘When Amir Mu’awiya was dying, he instructed to be shrouded in the shirt that the Beloved Messenger ﷺ had given him. It was to be placed on his body. He also possessed some nail cuttings of the Beloved Messenger ﷺ and again instructed that they should be placed on his eyes and mouth. He then said: ‘Thereafter hand me over to the most gracious Lord.’
To pronounce such practices as forbidden or innovative is sheer ignorance.
And Allah ﷻ knows best
Imam Ahmad Rida Khan
Translation by Dr Musharraf Hussain Al-Azhari Translator of Majestic Quran, www.majesticquran.co.uk