Muslim community group aims to help grieving families with funeral costs
'This is not about money. It's about reward. It's about helping those who are in need.'
A group of seven individuals in Windsor's Muslim community have started a trust to help grieving families with their funeral expenses — and the goal is to provide both financial and moral support to those who need it.
"The passing of a person in the family is not an easy thing, and our whole objective is to make that as easy as possible," said trustee Farhan Hussain.
Windsor-Essex Muslim Care first came about after one of the trustees attended a Muslim funeral in Toronto and learned that the costs had been absorbed by community members there.
When the idea was brought back to Windsor, "we jumped on the bandwagon," said Swaleh Hussain, the president of the organization.
The way it works is members pay into the trust, $100 for themselves and $20 for each of their dependents. There is a 90-day waiting period before a membership becomes active. In the case of a death, all the members split the cost of the funeral, up to $6,000.
"This is the last thing we prepare for," Swaleh said.
"Even if you talk to the people and ask them, 'Hey, have you thought about your funeral?' They don't want to talk about it."
He says it's a chance to give back to the community and help others, especially newcomers.
"Not everyone is thinking about saving for the funeral expenses," he said.
"You are setting up. You are putting your roots down. You have so many other things to think about."
'Bring the community together'
Ultimately, the goal is to help members of the community feel connected, Farhan explained.
"This is not about money. It's about reward. It's about helping those who are in need. A lot of us may not need the financial assistance but this is to help and bring the community together," he said.
Not only does the group help with the financial side of things, it also supports families by coordinating the funeral arrangements for them.
"I think that part is more difficult than even the financial part of it," said Zafar Iqbal, who was among the first to join the trust. "This is something that every community needs."
For now, the trust is just for members of the Muslim community in Windsor-Essex, but organizers say they'd love to see the idea travel, and they're willing to help other groups wanting to do the same.
Since the group first launched in May 2018, the trust has accumulated about 500 members. And to date, there have been no deaths among group members.
Swaleh said he's grateful to be surrounded by friends with a common goal of wanting to support other members of the community.
"We are so fortunate. So it is our duty to give it back to the community. That is the prevailing thinking among our friends and that's how it came about."