CAIRO - A mosque in the southeastern state of Tennessee, which has been the center of public opposition, is seeking a permit to build a cemetery for Muslim worshipper, a move likely to spark a new uproar.
We have older members of the mosque who wish to be buried by the mosque, Ossama Bahloul, the leader of the Islamic Center of Murfreesboro, told The Tennessean on Thursday, November 1.
It's their dream, and what is wrong with us trying to help them achieve what they have in their heart? What's wrong with us helping their dream come true?
Mosque officials say they would seek to get a conditional-use permit for building the cemetery in the back part of the building.
A public hearing will be held on November 14, to take a decision on the proposal.
There is one person buried there now, said County Planning Director Doug Demosi.
We let them have that with a Type I conditional-use permit with the condition that no other burials would be approved unless they went through the Board of Zoning Appeals process.
The Murfreesboro mosque was the center of fierce public opposition since plans for building the Muslim worship place were unveiled in 2010.
Opponents have sought court rulings to stop the mosque building, arguing that Islam is not a religion protected by the US Constitution, and that the mosque would promote Shari`ah.
After a long court battle, a federal judge issued a temporary restraining order in June to allow the Muslim community in Tennessee to use the mosque, about 30 miles from Nashville, for worshipping.
Mosques have been facing fierce opposition across the United States recently.
At least 35 mosque projects from Mississippi to Wisconsin have found foes who battle to stop them from seeing light citing different pretexts, including traffic concerns and fear of terrorism.
Even more, some mosques were vandalized including a 2011 Wichita mosque arson case for which a $5,000 reward is being offered.
Mosque officials rule out that their attempts to build a cemetery would lure a strong public opposition.
I don't think this cemetery will bother anyone, Bahloul said.
Similar request for building a cemetery were withdrawn by mosque officials two years ago over public opposition to the worship place.
The Muslim leader reiterated that the community follows local laws while burying their dead.
We will follow the law in Tennessee 100 percent, Bahloul said.
We intend to do what any church has done to have a cemetery by the church.
We bury them under the ground, said Bahloul, noting that prayers are typically offered during the burial.
Under Islam, 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.
It's a custom for people in the West and for people in the East to feel comfortable being buried by the religious facility, said Bahloul, noting that many local churches have cemeteries.They feel like they are being buried close to God. People will have the opportunity to pray for them and visit them more often.