Muslims accept funeral ban

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Tuesday, March 02, 2021

MEMBERS of at least one Muslim community in Jamaica are prepared to observe the Government’s two-week ban on burials, even though this goes against a key tenet of their faith.

Tariq Azeem, missionary for the Ahmadiyya Muslim community in Jamaica, yesterday told the Jamaica Observer that while there is an important rite in the Islamic faith regarding burials, the community will abide by the order announced by Prime Minister Andrew Holness on Sunday.

“In our religion, one of the key things is that when somebody passes away the funeral and all the process should take place as soon as possible. If, for any reason, the conditions do not allow that, the funeral will be delayed as long as necessary,” Azeem told the Observer.

“So in the case where someone passes away outside of their home country, in that case there is time for the body to be transported from that country to the country where they want to be buried — so there might be a delay of one to two weeks anyway.

“So even though the preference is to have the burial as soon as possible there is leniency in our faith so that if there is a need, it can be delayed,” added Azeem as he declared that he was not speaking for the entire Muslim community in Jamaica.

“In our community we make sure that we follow all the laws and conditions that the Government has put in place…and in this case if we do not get the clearance, if we do not get the permission, we would have the burial once the green light is given to us,” said Azeem.

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Addressing a media briefing on Sunday evening Holness said the Cabinet has given a directive to the municipal authorities that no burial orders should be issued until the decision is reviewed. The ban runs from March 8 to 22.

According to Holness, funeral services that were already scheduled for March 1 to 7 will be allowed to proceed but only under the strict guidelines of the existing measures, which only allow for 15 people inclusive of members of the clergy.

The Islamic religion views death as a transition to another state of existence called the afterlife. Where you go in the afterlife depends on how well you followed Islamic religious codes during your life. Muslims, practitioners of the Islamic faith, believe that if you lived a good life you will go to “Paradise” after you die. If not, you will be separated from all that is good in the world.

Therefore, Islamic funerals serve not only to comfort the grieving, but also to pray to Allah to have mercy on the deceased.

Finally, tradition dictates that flowers are to be sent to the family’s home after the burial of the deceased. There is a 40-day mourning period, during which not only flowers but also food is accepted.

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