QUEBEC – After decades of struggling to bury their death miles away from their homes, a Quebec cemetery has dedicated burial grounds for local Muslims, thus helping them achieve their long-pursued goal
“Having a cemetery in the Quebec City region is much more convenient and much more appropriate than going to Montreal, or repatriating bodies to their home countries,” Nadir Belkhiter, spokesperson for Algerian community association of Quebec, told CBC on Sunday, July 9.
The decision was announced on Sunday by Lépine Cloutier/Athos funeral home in Saint-Augustin-de-Desmaures, about 25 kilometers west of downtown Quebec City.
The cemetery reserved 500 places for Muslims at the Les Jardins du Québec cemetery, near the St. Lawrence River.
The space was inaugurated Sunday morning and there will be an open house in the afternoon so that those who are interested in the new service can check out their facilities.
“We want to serve everyone that lives in Quebec City, that’s our goal,” said Mélijade Rodrigue, who works at the funeral home.
Rodrigue told CBC News their project has been in the works since before the Islamophobic attack on Quebec mosque which resulted in the death of six Muslim worshippers.
Rodrigue said they checked with leaders in the Muslim community for specifics, such as their special burial traditions, and adapted one of their funeral homes to be able to perform the necessary rituals.
She said while there are a lot of Muslims settling in Quebec City, some who have been living there for decades and still have nowhere to bury their loved ones.
“If you live here you want to be buried here, obviously,” she said.
This project is different from one that has been in the works since 2016 in Saint-Apollinaire, which is about 40 kilometers southwest of Quebec City and spearheaded by the Centre culturel islamique de Québec.
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.
Funerals in Islam have always been simple with no elaborate services or extravagant caskets.