Funeral directors servicing the Muslim community and other community stakeholders got together on Monday 23 March at LMA offices in Lakemba to deliberate and strategise a response to challenges posed by Coronavirus pandemic regarding burial rites and associated activities.

Organised by Muslim Cemetery Board and the Lebanese Muslim Association, the meeting was chaired by Khaled Allamuddin – LMA General Manager.

The meeting lasted about 2 hours during which attendees deliberated on strategies to adopt while combating potential hazards posed by COVID-19 to funeral activities and when dealing with deaths arising due to COVID-19. A Community Statement was issued subsequently after the meeting.

Community Statement released by LMA on Thursday 19 March.

Meanwhile another Public Statement was issued on the same day on the same issue by ANIC released by Ms Mariam Ardati, ANIC Advisor on Funerals and Cemeteries.

ANIC Community Statement – Muslim Burials During Pandemics

Br Khalid in his opening remarks, outlined the activities LMA has been engaged in, with regards to consulting with the department of health and tabled a draft paper with a view to generate consensus on a way ahead.

Br Hisham (Funeral Director, LMA) and Br Davud Karadavut (Funeral Director, Turkish Funerals), both provided their perspective on protocols to be adopted on the matter.

Br Davud advised the forum that the Turkish Imams had already provided a fatwa allowing the use of “tayyamum ” (dry ablution) and burial in the coffin / sealed bag – without the use of a shroud – if received as such from the mortuary/coroners/hospital. Both confirmed there were no reported cases of death due to COVID-19 till date.

Br Kazi Ali, Chairperson, Muslim Cemeteries Board, elaborated on the protocols deployed at Riverstone Muslim Cemetery and Kemps Creek Cemetery – Muslim Lawn in the face of the potential hazards associated with exposure to COVID-19 during interment and associated funeral activities. The protocols have been developed in line with restrictions announced by the government to curb exposure and spread of COVID-19.

Mr Samir Dandan, LMA President, encouraged the stakeholders to take a pragmatic approach with a view to ensuring exposure to risk is minimised. He re-iterated existing rulings in Islamic jurisprudence already caters for and offers options and solutions when faced with circumstances such as those posed by COVID-19.

It was recognised that the situation was evolving and that the community, led by the forum in this matter, needed to be agile and proactive in analysing and responding the continuous stream of information coming through.

The attendees agreed to continue to share all relevant information and ideas, with a view to ensure a unified singular set of protocols for the whole of community, irrespective of the funeral director being engaged for the purpose.

The agreed protocols while handling and preparing the dead for burial and interaction of family and friends was drafted into a statement at the end of the meeting with a view to ensure the community had a uniform approach going forward that was pragmatic and cognisant of the risks of COVID-19.