Published on: Muslim Link, April 6th, 2012
The city of Ottawa and Richmond Hill are two municipalities in Ontario that are about to get their first Islamic cemeteries this summer.
The Ottawa Muslim Cemetery Inc. has been fundraising for the past four years to complete the cemetery project in southern Ottawa. It hopes to wrap things up in the next couple of months in order to begin official operations in June.
“We got licencing from the province four years ago,” said Abu Nazir, the President of the OMC. “We purchased land in 2005, which was much harder than getting the license, but the actual project started in the mid 90’s.”
Mr. Nazir said he hopes the Ottawa Muslim community will increase their support in the coming months to help finish this project.
“There has never been a proper burial ground for Muslims in this city, and I think the Muslim presence here goes back to about a century,” Mr. Nazir said.
He also noted that the remaining work on the cemetery can’t be done unless the right equipment is purchased. The majority of the fundraising being done is centred on acquiring the equipment needed to complete the construction of the 6-hectare property.
“It’s hard to believe that this city doesn’t have a cemetery for Muslims,” said Ottawa resident Ammad Wajahat, whose grandmother passed away recently. “I think there are around 100,000 Muslims in Ottawa, so it’ll definitely be a big help for us.”
In Greater Toronto, the city’s very first Muslim cemetery completed its ground breaking ceremony last November. It’s set to open officially in Richmond Hill, Ontario in June.
The Toronto Muslim Cemetery Corporation got the operating licence from the provincial government in late February. More work is being done on construction and ground-levelling, but the cemetery is ready to receive bodies. The price is $1,500 per plot.
“We have around 300,000 Muslim in the Toronto area,” said Abdulhaq Ingar, one of the founding members of the cemetery project. “So there’s a lot of demand for doing burials according to religious guidelines, and it’s about time we give this option to our population here.”
Most Toronto Muslims are either forced to accept religious compromises for burial, or have to go through services that arrange for Islamic burials in non-Muslim cemeteries. Until now, there has been no plot of land designated specifically for Islamic burials in Greater Toronto.
The Toronto cemetery is also a joint Sunni-Shia venture aimed at bringing the Muslim community closer. “I’m leading the Sunni side of things,” Mr. Ingar said, “but the Shia side have their own thing going.”
The fourteen-hectare property was purchased from a Jewish cemetery group called the Beth Olam Cemetery Corp for under seven million dollars.
Mr. Ingar said that the Toronto cemetery is already beginning to receive pre-order calls from individuals who have terminally ill relatives.