Sat | Sep 23, 2023

Bury them quick!

Published:Sunday | September 29, 2019 | 12:14 AMPaul H. Williams - Gleaner Writer
below: A Muslim elder speaking at the farewell service for Queen Mother Mariamne Samad inside the mosque at 24 Camp Road.
below: A Muslim elder speaking at the farewell service for Queen Mother Mariamne Samad inside the mosque at 24 Camp Road.

Lifelong Garveyite and black power activist Queen Mother Mariamne Samad passed away on Thursday, September 5, four days after her 97th birthday.

Three days later, after a very short funeral service at the mosque at 24 Camp Road, Kingston 4, she was buried at Dovecot Memorial Park beside her husband, Abdul Samad, who had long predeceased her.

At the service, apart from the Muslim who officiated, only one other person, Michael Duncan, a United Negro Improvement Association official living in the United States, spoke. After his brief presentation, prayer was led by a group of male Muslims at the front of the room, and that was it. The service was over.

Many non-Muslim mourners could not understand why Queen Mother was buried so soon after her passing. Some who had hoped to see her face did not get a chance to. The coffin was not opened. That was another wonder.

What they did not know was that Muslims treat their dead differently from Christians. The elder who officiated briefly explained why the burial took place three days after her passing. In essence, it was to send the deceased to ‘Paradise right away’.

So, Family and Religion, which was present at the service, went into research mode to find out more about Islam burial practices. There was much confirmation of what the elder said. Some Muslims, in fact, are buried the same day they died.

“In Islam, starting from the time of Prophet Adam, the dead are buried on the same day they die except when the person dies at night because it is wrong to bury the dead at night in Islam,”Aderonke Odeyeri writes in an online article.

‘Paradise’ or damnation

It is said that people are entitled to an afterlife in ‘Paradise’ or damnation and that angels are standing by ready to give them what they are entitled to and to accompany them to wherever they should go.

“Delaying the burial of a corpse will delay his enjoyment in Paradise, and in a case where he is entitled to suffering, the angels will begin to punish him right there in the house, and this could affect the living around him negatively,” Odeyeri writes.

He also says, “Leaving a` corpse for long before burying is another way of suffering the dead and increasing the pains of their loved ones because the more they see their loved one lying lifelessly, the more they feel bad … Burying a corpse almost immediately when he or she dies will not make the dead become a terror to his loved ones as many people get scared and run away from the corpse. It will make the dead rest peacefully.”

It is also believed that leaving the corpse among the living is unhealthy, especially if the person had spent many years on a sickbed. So, from the moment the person dies, the burial process starts. If the person died suddenly, a doctor must determine that the person is actually dead. Upon such pronouncement, the person’s eyes are closed and a special prayer is said.

It goes like this: “O’ Allah, forgive [name of the person] and elevate his rank among those who are guided. Send him along the path of those who came before, and forgive us and him, O Lord of the worlds. Expand for him his grave and shed light upon him in it.”

The person is then undressed and good things are said about the dead “because the angels will be there to say Amin”. The deceased is then given a special bath.

“Another reason we bury our corpse on time in Islam is to adhere to the teachings of Allah,” Odeyeri says, “Also, the Prophet made us to understand that the dead should be buried in the same area where they died. Transporting the body to another area or another country is not permissible if it will unnecessarily delay the burial or cause financial or other hardship.”