TMC’S REACTION TO LAGOS STATE LAW ON CREMATION
The Muslim Congress (TMC)
1 Thanni Olodo Street, Off Ikorodu Road, Jibowu B/Stop, Lagos
June 12, 2013
PRESS RELEASE ON CREMATION OF UNCLAIMED CORPSES
All praise is due to Allah, the Lord of the universe. May His peace and blessings be upon the noble Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him), his faithful companions and dutiful followers till the end of time, amin.
The Muslim Congress (TMC) uses this platform to condemn the endorsement of cremation law for unclaimed corpses in Lagos State. The condemnation is hinged on the following grounds:
Firstly, Islam views cremation as a deviation from the natural course ordained by Allah, the All-Knowing for the deceased. He says:
“Thereof (the earth) We created you, and into it We shall return you, and from it We shall bring you out once again” (Qur’an 20:55).
Muslims and the rest of humanity evolve from the earth and must be returned to the earth by burial not by cremation/burning. Islam instructs that burial should be conducted quickly after a person is certified clinically dead in compliance with Prophetic instruction. The corpse is then washed with purified water and wrapped in three layers of clothing for men and five layers of clothing for women. Fragrance, scent and pleasant smelling material like camphor should be spayed on the corpse. The body is then carried by male relatives or volunteers to a mosque for funeral prayer. The funeral prayer is compulsory and must be led by a religious leader (Imam).The deceased is placed in the grave on his side and facing the direction of Makkah and then covered with sand. With cremation, all these essential rites cannot be carried out as ordained by Allah and His Prophet (Peace be upon him). Secondly, Almighty Allah pragmatically taught humanity how to bury their dead from the time of Prophet Adam (Peace be upon him). Allah relates:
“And recite to them the story of the two sons of Adam (Cain and Abel) in truth; when each offered a sacrifice, it was accepted from one (Abel) but not from the other (Cain). The latter said to the former: “I will surely, kill you. The former said: “Verily, Allah accepts only from those who have fear of God (Taqwa). If you do stretch your hand against me to kill me, I shall never stretch my hand against you to kill you, for I fear Allah; the Lord of all that exists…. So the soul of the other encouraged him and made fair-seeming to him the murder of his brother; he murdered him and became one of the losers. Then Allah sent a crow who scratched the ground to show him how to hide the dead body of his brother. He said: “Woe to me! Am I not even able to be as this crow and to hide the dead body of my brother” Then he became one of those who regretted. Q5:27-31
By that singular incident, Allah instituted the rite of burial as the norm for all. On the strength of the foregoing, the scholars unanimously agreed that burial is norm, while other methods of burial are aberrations designed by men based on insinuations of the devil and fancies of fellow men. Thirdly, the Qur’an is not alone in its condemnation of cremation; the Hadith of the noble Prophet (Peace be upon him) also nullifies cremation on the basis of the following narration:
‘Ikrima reported that Ibn ‘Abbas (May Allah be pleased with both of them) said: Allah’s Apostle said: ‘Do not punish anybody with Allah’s punishment of fire (Sahih Bukhari, Volume 9, Book 84, No. 57).
Furthermore, the age long traditional burial rite of Yoruba in South Western Nigeria goes against the concept of cremation. It not right to burn our dead relations, fathers, mothers and love ones. The decent burial rite is to accord our dead ones befitting burial. Those who practice cremation are essentially devotes of Hinduism, humanists, atheists and rationalists who attach less importance to human corpses. They view cremation as a way of simplifying their funeral process, and thus choose cremation based on their worldviews about death. Some other people prefer cremation to traditional burial option because the thought of a long, slow decomposition process of corpses is unappealing to them. Furthermore, some others prefer cremation because it appears to be cost effective. All these reasons do not find place in Islam. Islam views dead as continuity of human transition to another realm.
Beyond religious sentiment, it is the social responsibility of Lagos State government to honour the living and the dead according to their religious beliefs and traditions. The unclaimed corpses should not be short-changed by cremation because they cannot complain from mortuaries, and because there is nobody to protest the abuse of their corpses through cremation. If the issue of cremation is put to vote in Fashola’s cabinet as well as in the House of Assembly, who among them would like to be cremated after death? We are confident, that majority of the honourables, commissioners, special advisers and Directors would prefer the interment (burial) option to the wicked cremation. This demonstrates the universal acceptability of burial over cremation. Please be informed that, decent burial is also part of the fundamental human rights of the unclaimed corpses, as citizens and tax payers in Lagos State.
For the unclaimed corpses in the various mortuaries in Lagos State, we suggest a befitting mass burial rather than adopting alien option of cremation. If the constraint facing Lagos State government is land space, we recommend to the government, the need to construct large cemeteries in the heart of Epe, Badagry and other areas. People who pay for their refuse are willing to pay to have decent burial for their love ones. Besides, if the constraint is logistics of burial for unclaimed corpses, we recommend to the government to release unclaimed Muslim corpses to the Lagos State Muslim Community for decent mass burial. The same privilege could be accorded to the Christian Community should they be interested.
In conclusion, we urge the Fashola’s administration to respect the views of the electorates and the religious communities. This is the meaning of democracy and consultation. We are taken aback that despite the overwhelming rejection of creation law and well researched memoranda submitted at the public hearing held by the Lagos State House of Assembly, the Executive and the House dumped all submissions into the dustbin in preference for the wish of minority elites who are behind this evil legislation!
Long live Lagos State, God Bless Nigeria!
Luqman AbdurRaheem, MNIM
Amir, The Muslim CongressMr. Raimi, Lukman
Lecturer, Centre for Entrepreneurship Development (CED),
Yaba College of Technology,Lagos, Nigeria, West Africa.