The minimum in which the deceased may be shrouded, which fulfils the obligatory duty, is a single piece of cloth that covers the entire body. This is the view of Abu Haneefah and Ahmad, and is one of the two views held by the Maalikis.
See: Haashiyat Ibn ‘Aabideen, 3/98; al-Mughni, 3/386; Mawaahib al-Jaleel, 2/266
They quoted as evidence for that the hadeeth narrated by al-Bukhaari (4047) and Muslim (940) from Khabbaab ibn al-Aratt (may Allaah be pleased with him) who said: When Mus’ab ibn ‘Umayr was killed on the day of Uhud, he left nothing but one sheet. If we covered his head with it, his feet became exposed and if we covered his feet with it his head became exposed. The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said to us: “Cover his head with it and put idhkhir (a kind of grass) over his feet.”
Al-Zayla’i said: This indicates that covering the ‘awrah alone is not sufficient. End quote from Haashiyat Ibn ‘Aabideen, 3/98
Shaykh Ibn Baaz (may Allaah have mercy on him) said:
If the deceased is shrouded in a single sheet, that is permissible, whether it is a man or a woman. The matter is broad in scope.
Majmoo’ Fataawa Ibn Baaz, 13/127
Al-Bassaam said in Tawdeeh al-Ahkaam, 2/39: What is required for the deceased in all cases, whether young or old, male or female, is a single sheet that will cover the entire body of the deceased. End quote.
The view of al-Shaafa’i is that the minimum shroud is that which covers the ‘awrah, and for a woman a sheet that will cover all of her body except the face and hands. This is the other view held by the Maalikis.
See: al-Majmoo’, 5/162; Mawaahib al-Jaleel, 2/266.
They also quoted the hadeeth of Mus’ab as evidence.
Al-Nawawi said: If covering the body was obligatory, they would have bought a shroud with what he left behind (his weapons etc), and if he did not have any wealth, the shroud would have had to be completed from the bayt al-maal, and if there was none such, then the Muslims would have had to pay for it.
The response to this is that the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) and his companions did not have anything with which to shroud the martyrs of Uhud, and they even shrouded two men in one cloth, as was narrated by al-Bukhaari from Jaabir ibn ‘Abd-Allaah (may Allaah be pleased with him) who said: The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) put two men from among those slain at Uhud in a single cloth, then he would say: “Which of them had memorized more Qur’aan?” and if one of them was pointed out to him, he would put him in the lahd first.
Where would they buy the shrouds if they did not have anything with which to shroud the martyrs of Uhud?
If no proper shroud is available, and there is not enough to cover the entire body, then his head and part of his body should be covered and whatever is left exposed should be covered with idhkhir or some other kind of plant. That is because the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said, in the story of Mus’ab ibn ‘Umayr: “Cover his head with it and put idhkhir (a kind of grass) over his feet.” Agreed upon.
Shaykh Ibn ‘Uthaymeen said in al-Sharh al-Mumti’, 5/225: The evidence that this (i.e., covering the entire body of the deceased with the shroud) is obligatory is the fact that when the Sahaabah did not have sufficient shrouds, the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) ordered them to put the shroud over the head and to cover the feet with idhkhir which is a kind of plant.
If there is nothing available, such as if his garments have been burned and there is nothing with which to shroud him, then he should be shrouded with grass and the like, which should be placed on his body and then wrapped. If nothing at all is available then he should be buried as he is, because of the general meaning of the words of Allaah (interpretation of the meaning):
“So keep your duty to Allaah and fear Him as much as you can”
And Allaah knows best.