COVID-19: Islamic council opposes cremation of corpses | Dailytrust

COVID-19: Islamic council opposes cremation of corpses

FILE PHOTO: Remains of late Abba Kyari being interred at Gudu Cemetery Abuja by personnel in protective gear after his death from Covid-19
FILE PHOTO: Remains of late Abba Kyari being interred at Gudu Cemetery Abuja by personnel in protective gear after his death from Covid-19

The General Purpose Committee (GPC) of the Nigerian Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs (NSCIA) has rejected cremation of corpses of Muslims who died of COVID-19 in the country.

Cremation is the disposal of a dead person’s body by burning it to ashes, either as culture, lack of land for burial or other circumstances.

The Director of Administration, NSCIA, Alhaji Yusuf Nwoha, made the position of the council known on Tuesday in an ‘Advisory on the interment of possible victims of COVID-19 pandemic’.

He said: “It is important to state emphatically that Islam does not, under any circumstances, approve of the cremation of the body of a dead Muslim.

“This Advisory therefore is in tandem with this position and emphasizes that cremation of victims who succumb to COVID-19 is not allowed in any format.”

According to him, washing the dead is a collective obligation, which is not exempted except under a strong legal justification; and among such legitimate circumstances is to ensure that the deceased did not suffer from an infection that could be transmitted to others.

“The known rule is that ‘Harm to the living must be avoided.’

“For the deceased, who suffered from a communicable disease, the government officials (health authorities) are to bear the responsibility of preparing the body for burial. The body in this circumstance may be sprinkled with water as much as possible; alternatively, even by pouring water on the body without physical scrubbing or touching by hand.

“A specific nature of shrouding is not mandatory, provided the entire body is covered by the shroud. Where practicable however, it is encouraged to use three or five pieces of white shroud for men and five pieces for women; otherwise application of reasonable discretion is allowed,” Nwoha said.

He also said that there was nothing wrong with putting the body in a body-bag that may prevent the leakage of viruses.

Although preferably white, the body bag can be of any colour and the body may also be placed in a coffin if necessary, for additional preventive measures, he added.

He said: “All of these should be controlled and supervised by appropriate Health Authorities.”

He said that where it is however medically established that the deceased is free from any contagious disease, then the deceased should be prepared, prayed-upon and buried by a few who are permitted under the social distancing and/or complete lockdown imposed, while taking all necessary preventive measures.

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