At the start of this year, no one could have predicted the impact of COVID-19. However, we are fortunate that the FMO’s affiliate MBCOL (The Muslim Burial Council of Leicester) has been there to support communities during this challenging time.
The coronavirus pandemic has affected every aspect of our daily lives, including the way we look after our deceased. I know many of you are concerned about how we can continue to hold burials that respect our Islamic faith without being put at risk by the virus.
To reduce the impact of the coronavirus on our burial practices, MBCOL has maintained its joined up working with its partner agencies including the Bereavement Department of the Leicester City Council, Registration Services, Coroners, NHS Hospitals, Police, the Reliance Forum, Leicester Council of Faiths, and the National Burial Council. We are also grateful to our affiliates, Masjids and Funeral Arrangers, as well as all the volunteers for stepping up to help.
I’d like to reassure you all that we are working hard to ensure families’ wishes are respected and Muslim funeral rites can be observed as far as possible, whilst also keeping people safe.
Ghusl and safety
Many people in the community have shared their worries about whether it is still safe or allowed to perform ghusl. It saddens me to say that in this case, the current guidance is that unless you have access to full personal protective equipment (PPE), the safest practice is to pour water over the closed body bag. We always recommend that individuals seek guidance from their local Imams in relation to religious rituals that may differ from our recommendation.
In response to this, there has been a heroic fundraising effort going on in the community to buy PPE for ghusl volunteers. I very much appreciate the great number of volunteers that have stepped up to help the community in different ways, some in their individual capacity and others by forming the independent COVID-19 Leicestershire Muslim Funeral Support group. We thank them all for their work to ensure we can perform Islamic burials in keeping with the wishes of those who have sadly passed away, by providing guidance and logistical support.
New restrictions in line with social distancing allow up to ten close family members to attend funerals and these are in place to halt the spread of the virus. This is, however, subject to change when new government guidelines are released.
I understand how devastating it can be for people to not take part in a loved one’s burial, but it is a testament to our community that we are pulling together, respecting this guidance and putting the safety of others first.
As we pass through these difficult and uncertain times look after yourselves and each other. Stay safe and remember that if we come together in our faith, as a community and as a nation, we will beat this disease.
If you wish to donate, please contact us on firstname.lastname@example.org – for further information on our work please visit www.mbcol.org.uk.