CAIRO - A shortage of plots and high costs of burials are leaving poor Muslims in the eastern Australian city of Sydney in an endless dilemma of how to bury their beloved ones.
"We need support from the community, Osman Iqbal, funeral director at Shahzeb Janaaza Services, told Herald Sun on Wednesday, October 31.
We need to put our differences aside, regardless of religion and race.
Sydney Muslims complain that they don't find enough cemeteries to bury their dead.
Complicating their difficulties is the high costs of burials in the city, in the state of New South Wales.
Seeking to help ease the problem, Shahzeb has launched a search for a cemetery for the community in western Sydney.
The non-profit organization has launched an appeal to raise money for the cemetery project and has a target of $4 million
"Unity is the issue. If the community comes together, the rest will fall into place, said Iqbal.
We just want (to) have somewhere to honor those who have died."
New South Wales is home to 168.788 Muslims, about 49.6 percent of the total population, making the state a habitat to the largest Muslim population, according to the 2006 government Census.
Muslims, who have been in Australia for more than 200 years, make up 1.7 percent of its 20-million population.
Islam is the country's second largest religion after Christianity.
Iqbal said the high costs of burials and a shortage of plots are leaving no other option to Muslims but to bury their beloved in already overcrowded public cemeteries.
"Riverstone only has about two months left and Rookwood up to five months," he said, referring to the two public cemeteries in Sydney.
"There are 450 Muslims passing away every year in NSW and not every family can afford private, expensive funeral services.
Islam calls for respecting human beings whether alive or dead.
A Muslim's dead body should be immediately taken to a mortuary for washing and preparation.
Two or three adult Muslims should wash the body and then put on the shroud (kafan). Before the burial, the funeral prayer should be done.
The burial should be done as soon as possible. It is makruh (reprehensible) to delay the burial of the dead.In April, the NSW government allocated thousands of new burial plots for Muslim and Jewish communities in the state.