COLOMBO – Muslim theologists in Sri Lanka have urged the government to reconsider its decision on cremating the Muslims who died due to the coronavirus, saying the revised rule goes against the Islamic tradition.
Sri Lanka has made cremations compulsory for coronavirus victims, ignoring protests from the country’s Muslims, who make up 10 per cent of the 21 million population.
In a letter to the Director General, Health Services, the All Ceylon Jamiyyathul Ulama (ACJU) claimed that more than 180 countries in line with the guidelines of the World Health Organisation have allowed burials for Muslims who die of COVID-19.
“It is our moral and ethical duty to abide by the law of the country and to guide people towards it. But it does not imply that we endorse or give consent to this ruling as it is against our religious principles”, the letter said.
They urged the health authorities to reconsider the decision.
The Muslim clerics in Sri Lanka had earlier also made an appeal regarding their opposition to cremations.
Sri Lanka had earlier amended the operational guidelines to allow only cremations of COVID-19 victims after it had been originally agreed for burials. Health officials said burials would be dangerous with the risk of transmission.
The Muslim Outfit assured the government that they would comply with the required standards such as preparing the grave 8 feet deep and the graves can be cemented or concreted to allay safety fears.
At least three Muslims are among the nine people who have so far died from the highly infectious disease in the country so far. Their bodies were cremated by the authorities despite protests from their relatives.
Sri Lanka has so far recorded 835 coronavirus positive cases. Of the total, 404 are Sri Lanka Navy personnel.
Having been under continuous curfew in the lockdown observed since March 20, the island nation is set to re-open from May 11.