In Islamic culture and tradition, the dead are washed before they are buried. The people who wash the corpse are called corpse-washers. These people should be mahram to the dead. A mahram is an unmarriageable kin with whom marriage/sexual intercourse would be considered haram (illegal in Islam). Current usage of the term covers a wider range of people (including parents, siblings and children, but not cousins) and mostly deals with the hijab and its cultural and regional norms. The dead are washed and shrouded in a building in or near the graveyard. Is there a word to describe this place in English? We call this place in Persian a corpse-washer house.

  • 1
    What is the Persian/Arabic word? That might give a better hint to us. (I can't think of an English specific word yet)
    – Mitch
    Aug 8, 2017 at 13:32
  • It normally seems to be called a Ghusl room or Ghusl facility, after the ritual (Ghusl), but this isn't a single word. Example.
    – Stuart F
    Apr 1, 2022 at 16:06

1 Answer 1


Given that this is very specifically an Islamic cultural situation (or rather probably an Arabic one that came along with Islam) and that English is primarily spoken by people with a Christian background, the exact cultural situation is probably called in English using a loanword (the original Persian/Arabic word) by Muslims, or in general by that word or a loan translation (like 'corpse-washer').

But if you want to translate the culture and see what words correspond to what is done in cultures where they generally speak English, then one needs to look at the funeral process in English speaking cultures.

The morgue is the place at a hospital or health care place for temporary storage of dead bodies until funeral arrangements are made.

Usually the bodies are then transferred to a funeral home, where the body is prepared for a funeral (by many methods, embalming, cremation, etc.). The person who does this is called an

undertaker, mortician


funeral director

('funeral director' sounds like a business owner whereas 'undertaker' sounds like they do the work of dealing with the bodies. So I suspect 'undertaker' is closest to what you want.).

What an undertaker does is covered by all sorts of health regulations of which I do not know the details, but presumably there is some washing preparation of the body. There may well be Christian practices (similar across all generally Christian cultures in Europe) that call for washing of the corpse with corresponding vocabulary, but I don't think vocabulary is used nowadays (or at least is not common knowledge).

Not everything is immediately translatable word to word.

  • Piggybacking on the answer: corpses.are washed in funeral parlors. Aug 8, 2017 at 14:04
  • @YosefBaskin Yes, the establishment/place/building is called a 'funeral home' or 'funeral parlor' (the latter a little older fashioned)
    – Mitch
    Aug 8, 2017 at 14:24

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