South Africa – Ghusl (full ablution) is the final parting gift a believer receives from their fellow Muslims. The Muslim Burial Society plays a huge role in offering a believer this parting gift. While the men who perform ghusl are well-known, the women in the community are silent helpers who give their time with little recognition.
Just like the men, they are ready at a moment’s notice, sometimes going out in the late hours of the night or before the sun rises in service to those who have parted. Women like Anisa Karani, Radia Laher and Apa Suraya Kara’s journey began during days.
Traits of one who performs ghusl
To carry out a ghusl is not an easy task. It requires someone to be available at all times. Death has no set time. Those who perform ghusl are ready to leave whatever they are doing immediately in commitment to this important service. This is why Laher explained it requires an immense amount of commitment. It also requires an understanding heart as one needs to be there for the family who have lost someone special.
“The commitment is unwavering. You’ve got to free yourself 24/7 to be able to do it. It does become a part of you. It’s a part of who you are. This work is a commitment of immense proportion. My experiences with people, you deal with all different kinds of personalities, and you’ve got to be so understanding to their needs at that time. It’s a loved one, it’s their last rite. You’ve got to be so gentle with these personalities because everyone is going through a hard time.”
All three women stressed how important it is to be compassionate and to carry out this act with the correct intentions. Apa Kara shared that one way to show compassion is by not asking or speaking of the deceased. The family is going through enough at that point and one should not be asking questions of that nature.
It requires a team, not just one person
Ghusl is a physically intense task as well as a mental one. It requires a team of people. It is then very important that everyone work together and has the same mindset. Karani explained that since everyone who form part of the society is ready to go at any given time, AA special bond is created amongst them.
Ghusl is beneficial not just for the deceased
Ghusl is not only beneficial for the deceased but also for the ones who are performing it. Just like visiting the graveyard should remind one of death, this final full ablution reminds people that one day they will also be in that position. It is a humbling experience, said Apa Kara. When one leaves the ghusl khana (place where ablution is performed), they leave with a “different ideology” and mindset.
Performing ghusl has its own rewards. In a Hadith narrated by Hazrat Ali (RA) the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) said: “Whoever washes a deceased person, shrouds him, embalms him, carries him and offers the funeral prayer for him, and does not disclose what he has seen, he will emerge from his sins as on the day his mother bore him.” (Sunan Ibn Majah 1462)
May Allah (SWT) reward those who give their time and help unconditionally to perform this great act abundantly and take them from strength to strength. Such acts go unrecognised by the community but surely these people are the greatest from our communities.
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