I'm looking for sources discussing the religious aspect of the Tahara done on deceased Jews.
I recall someone mentioning that the religious aspect of it was a practice we picked up from the Muslims while living in their countries. The lack of mention in Talmudic sources would corroborate this.
Although the Mishna in Shabbos on the bottom of 151a does mention washing the deceased, and Rambam codified this in the beginning of Hilchos Avel chapter 4, that washing was simply a way of preserving the body from further decay along with plugging up of airways, tying the jaw if necessary etc. This is obvious from the Gemara and commentaries on the Mishna.
Nowadays however, it is treated as a spiritual ritual. The Chevra Kadisha treat this washing and preparation as a full blown mitzvah. Funds are collected. Volunteers choose between this and other Chessed. (Should I join Hatzala or the Chevra Kadisha? Depends how fast you drive)
So, any articles or links?