Bathing a dead body is also from among the sunan of the Prophets. The directive stands fulfilled if water is poured all over the body. However, keeping in view the importance of purification and cleanliness in Islam, the spirit of the directive is that the body should be bathed with diligence and thoroughness.
The directives regarding bathing a dead body which the Prophet (sws) once gave are:
اغْسِلْنَهَا ثَلَاثًا أَوْ خَمْسًا أَوْ أَكْثَرَ مِنْ ذَلِكَ بِمَاءٍ وَسِدْرٍ وَاجْعَلْنَ فِي الْآخِرَةِ كَافُورًا أَوْ شيئاً مِنْ كَافُوْر
Bathe the [dead] body of this [girl] with water and berry leaves three times or five times – or even more if required and add camphoror [he said] some camphor to the water with which you bathe her. (Bukhari, No: 1195)
اغْسِلْنَهَا وِتْرًا وَكَانَ فِيهِ ثَلَاثًا أَوْ خَمْسًا أَوْ سَبْعًا وَبْدَاْنَ بِمَيَامِنِهَا وَمَوَاضِعِ الْوُضُوءِ مِنْهَا
Bathe this girl odd number of times: three or five or seven times and begin with her right side and from the limbs by which wudu is done. (Bukhari, No: 1196)
(Translated by Mr Shehzad Saleem)
. In normal circumstances, every dead person must be given a bath. However, in extraordinary circumstances in which bathing a dead body and putting it in a coffin cloth becomes a matter of great difficulty, then the body can be buried without bathing it and putting it in a coffin cloth. It is narrated in Bukhari (No. 1346) that the Prophet (sws) directed Muslims to bury the martyrs of the battle of Uhud in this manner. This incident has been narrated in other books of Hadith also. Our jurists associate such a burial with martyrdom only. However, in the opinion of this writer, this is a general exception which is based on the principle of relief (rukhsah) that is always kept in consideration in the various directives of Islam.