Muslims Face Challenges for Burial Places in the Wake of Covid-19 Deaths
COVID-19 has resulted, in large number of deaths. These losses, have pushed Muslims to face the shortage of burial places in many countries of the world. Muslims are worried, about handling the dead bodies of their close ones. They can neither send them to their country of origin nor they find proper place for their burial. France, already had lack of burial plots, but huge number of Muslims deaths, due to COVID-19 has resurfaced the issue. Italy has also struggled to provide burial spaces for Muslims dead bodies. Italy, is among most badly hit COVID-19 countries which hosts, 2.6 million Muslims as a minority.
In Delhi, relatives of all those, who died due to Covid-19 have complained that they had to search places for them. The government had specified only six graveyards for Muslims to control the spread of infection in Delhi. A social worker, Mashkur Hussain from Seelampur is of the opinion that lack of space for graveyards was an old issue. The COVID-19 has accelerated the demand for more cemeteries in Delhi, he stressed.
As per the teachings of Islam, the dead is to be buried without any unnecessary delay. It’s better, that the dead body is laid to rest within 24 hours are sooner, if possible. But the scarcity, of burial grounds has delayed the burials of Muslims in many countries during COVID-19 pandemic. One such case was that of Ibrahim’s mother who died of COVID-19 in Pisogne, Italy. The dead body of Hira, Ibrahim’s mother was kept at home for ten days, due to no Muslim cemetery, in her area. Many Muslim families faced the same problem as per reports.
Worldwide Response to This Issue
Different countries have responded differently by adopting innovative methods to respond to the burial space problem.
The management of Greater London, a Muslim Graveyard, has implemented a unique technique for burying the dead, in compliance with Islamic law. It was due to the increasing number of deaths in London from COVID-19. As per this method, up to ten dead bodies can be buried, in separate chambers, in one plot. A Muslim imam performs, a single funeral prayer, for all the ten dead bodies before their burials.
There are only 76 Islamic cemeteries out of 8,000 municipalities, in Italy as per the statistics of The Union of Islamic Communities. The Muslim youth born in Italy don’t want to be taken to their country of their parent’s origin. Even, the old people also prefer to be buried there as the whole families live there. Therefore, establishing additional burial places, is the cry of the day for Italian Muslims.
According to Delhi minority commission, Muslims won’t find burial spaces for their diseased ones in Delhi, in the incoming 2 years. This report is based on the field study conducted by Human Development Society, Zafar-ul- Islam, chairman, Delhi Minority Commission, informed. The study also reveals, that most of Qabristans (graveyards) have been occupied illegally by individuals.
Muslims, across the world are looking forward to solving the grave issue of burial spaces shortage.
Written by Ijaz Ali