Muslim Society of P.E.I. seeking final resting place for community members

The Muslim Society of Prince Edward Island is trying to figure out the answer to a potential future problem as more Muslims settle in P.E.I. — where they will bury their dead.

Currently there are no Muslims buried in Green Meadows cemetery

The community will have to decide where they will want their cemetery developed. (Natalia Goodwin/CBC)

The Muslim Society of Prince Edward Island is trying to figure out the answer to a potential future problem as more Muslims settle in P.E.I. — where they will bury their dead.

The society acquired a piece of land in Green Meadows, P.E.I., back in the late 1990s, but no one has been buried there. 

"I think it's because we haven't had the demand," explained Omair Imtiaz, Vice President of the Muslim Society of P.E.I. "I think in the time that we've owned the cemetery until now there's probably only been less than ten deaths."

VP of the Muslim Society Omair Imtiaz says the society will be speaking with the community to get their opinion on the best location. (Natalia Goodwin/CBC)

Imtiaz said the land is currently "just woodland, so who would want to be buried in something that's not looking nice and developed?"

Instead some families have chosen to lay their loved ones to rest in the cemetery in Truro, N.S.

A lot to consider

Imtiaz said some people in the community would like a cemetery closer to Charlottetown, to make it easier for visitation and upkeep.

Others think they should use the property in Green Meadows, since they already own the land.

Special washing ceremony

Moving forward we're thinking 20, 30, 40 years down and further down the road that we make sure that we have enough space for the future generations- Omair Imtiaz

In either scenario there has to be a place to prepare and wash the bodies. 

Muslims go through a special washing ceremony after death and are wrapped in a white cloth, explained Imitaz.

They are then put directly into the ground. No coffin is used, said Imtiaz.

The head of the person should also point toward Mecca.

Imitaz said the cemetery would look quite familiar to most people.

"It looks pretty much the same as to what a Christian or any other graveyard would look like," he said. 

"In terms of tombstones, they're all about having the smaller tombstones or no tombstones, it's to be as humble and modest as possible."

The community will have a say

Imtiaz said the executive of the Muslim Society plans to get the community together to discuss how they would like to move forward.

"Tell them that here's what we have on the table — we have a designated graveyard situation over here, would you like to use that if so we have to start to doing some research on what it's going to cost to maintain the land, what it's going to cost make that a graveyard," he said 

"And then there's some research that needs to be on what if we want to look for a graveyard that's closer, in terms of cost and taxes and all that."

Imtiaz said it's important to do it right, as more and more Muslims are choosing P.E.I. as home. 

"We're thinking 20, 30, 40 years down and further down the road that we make sure that we have enough space for the future generations." he said

He said more young people, including himself, are also interested in learning the proper techniques for burial, which will help in the future.