Q: In the UK and more specifically London we are facing great difficulties in securing further burial spaces for our Muslim community. Up to now our community has used a mix of council run cemeteries with dedicated areas for Muslims and in recent years we have had a two dedicated purpose built Muslim cemeteries. The problem we face in London is that the majority of council run cemeteries have now run out of space or are on the brink of running out of space. The result is that in parts of London the cost of a burial is around £5000 and rising yearly which is mostly unaffordable to most. As well as that, within the current climate of major property developments in London, rising land costs, and the current climate with Muslims in the UK it is becoming extremely difficult upon those current Muslim cemeteries to purchase further land. Our cemetery launched recently and after discussing with the local Ulama we concluded on providing “double depth burials” to ensure we extend the life of the cemetery as much as possible for future generations which will also assist in maintaining a lower price on burials. We are currently able to provide a burial for £2500 and by offering the option of double burials can extend the life of the cemetery by almost double. We have also been able to offer additional support for La-Warith cases due to this method. However, our community is majorly concerned with the validity of such an offering and are extremely reluctant to accept this solution at this moment until further approval. For this reason, we are reaching out to Ulama across the UK and across the globe to review this and respond as our personal experience with Ulama has told us that this is not an issue at all and actually a sensible approach to overcoming the challenge we are facing. This method has actually already been implemented in other parts of the UK but as it has not been documented as a fatwa we and other new facilities will face difficulties in being able to convince the community. We hope that this response from the Ulama at large will provide our community with ease and also be used by further cemeteries in this situation. Please could you review our method below and provide you conclusion on this matter.
Double interment Burials:
• A 6 ft. grave is purchased by an owner in agreement that it will be used in the future by a second individual.
• The first person is buried as normal at the bottom of the grave 7 ft down in a shiq method with wooden planks laying flat upon a ridge to cover the body.
• The soil is replaced
• Later on when the second person passes away only 5 ft is re dug from the top of the same grave and the second person is buried above the space of the first.
• This method ensures that a barrier of wooden planks and at least a foot of soil separates the two interments.
• Under no circumstance is the first interment exposed or disturbed during this procedure as our digging team are aware of stopping at least one foot before they reach the soil of the first grave.
• The second person is buried with at least 3 foot of soil above to ensure no animals or the smell of determination does not reach the surface.
And Allah Ta’ala (الله تعالى) knows best.
Mufti Ebrahim Salejee (Isipingo Beach)