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Kāfūr (camphor, Arabic: کافُور) is a white crystalline substance with a strong aroma which is used in performing ghusl, embalmment and shrouding a dead body. The word "kafur" is mentioned in the Qur'an, but there are different views among exegetes about its meaning. It has an important position in Islamic hadiths, medicine, and traditional medicine and has been prescribed for some diseases.



Camphor is a white aromatic and crystalline substance with a bitter smell and taste which is obtained by boiling crumbled pieces of the stalks and stems of a special tree[1] and letting it evaporate.[2] Camphor does not only exist in the camphor tree, but it is a volatile oil which can be found in many plants and some lexicologists defined it as the blossom or the husk of the palm tree or the nodes of a grape tree.[3] Its nature is cold and dry.[4]

The word "kafur" is also mentioned in the Qur'an 76:5, "Indeed the pious will drink from a cup seasoned with kafur".Shi'a exegetes have different views about the meaning of "kafur" here. Some considered it used in its lexical meaning referring to any cold and fragrant substance or anything with a good smell.[5] Some other exegetes mentioned its extraordinary whiteness and coldness because it is a perfect example of that.[6] Some others referred to its lexical root in "k f r" meaning "to cover" and said that because it is derived from the fruit which is covered in the husk, it has been called "kafur".[7]

Religious Use

Camphor is used in preparation of a dead body for burial.

  • Ghusl of the dead: based on the fatwa of most Shi'a authorities, ghusl is performed to a dead person three times; the second time of which, water mixed with camphor is used[8] and about its amount in water, it has been said that it should not be so