CHRISTCHURCH – Devastated by the huge number of deaths, Kamran Nasir and other volunteers have flown in from Brisbane in Australia to offer help in washing the bodies of those massacred in two mosques in New Zealand.
“We got this text – they need volunteers,” Nasir, 35, who was in a finance lecture in Australia, told Reuters.
“It literally unfolded in an hour and a half and we were running to the airport to catch a flight,” he said, sitting with four friends who had also dropped everything to offer help.
Within hours he had joined a band of about 60 volunteers on their way to wash the dead victims.
The men from Brisbane who are connected to Brothers in Need, a charity group, are part of a contingent drawn from Australia and cities across New Zealand to help the Muslim community to bury their dead.
“The first thing that went through my head was: They need us,” Nasir said.
Terrorist Brenton Harrison Tarrant killed 49 Muslim worshippers in Friday’s attacks as he targeted Al Noor and Linwood mosques.
Jacinda Ardern, the New Zealand Prime Minister, said the victims came from across the Muslim world, with Turkey, Bangladesh, Indonesia and Malaysia among the countries rendering consular assistance.
Waiting for Burial
Till today, the families of New Zealand Muslim victims are awaiting the bodies of their relatives to bury.
The victims, after their bodies were removed from the crime scenes, had to be examined by investigators before they can be prepared for burial.
“It is a spiritual process, preparing the body to go into the next life,” said Taufan Mawardi, who is 38 and one of Nasir’s fellow volunteers.
“I’ve never personally done anything that’s got to do with violent crime, particularly bodies that have been riddled with bullet holes or knife wounds or whatever that may be. So it is a bit confronting as well, anticipating what it’s going to be like in there,” he said.
Eight teams of six people are carrying out the work of cleansing the bodies before burial.
“You start from the head, working down from the right to the left side, to the feet. The mouth and the nose have to be washed,” Nasir said.
Officials say they have released one body and that they hope to complete their examinations of the other 49 killed as soon as possible.
“As much as it is emotional, we’ve got a very good support network,” said Nasir.
“For me, it is an honor. It is an honor to be washing these bodies.”
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.
Meanwhile, the New Zealand Muslim Association said people wishing to attend a Muslim memorial should refrain from wailing and shrieking.
Local Muslim community leaders are planning to hold a national memorial burial for the 50 victims of the Christchurch mosque shootings later this week.