The Supreme Council of Kenya Muslims, Nakuru Chapter has now proclaimed that those who die out of coronavirus will not be subjected to the ritual washing procedures (Ghusl), to prevent possible infection and spread of the disease.
Nakuru SUPKEM secretary Mr Abdulqadir Adam said an alternative ritual known as Tayammum, where purified sand or dust is used instead of water will also not be performed.
“We have had discussions with the County government of Nakuru’s Public Health Department and reached a resolution that washing of the dead or performing Tayammum poses a grave health risk due to the highly contagious nature of coronavirus.
The Council has began convincing Muslims in Nakuru to put corpses in body bags before prayers and burial. The reality is that we cannot perform most of the burial rituals stipulated in our religion as they present imminent danger,” said Adam.
Speaking during a forum to train the second batch of Imams and Muslim scholars on safe disposal of bodies of coronavirus victims sponsored and conducted by the Nakuru County Public Health Department, the secretary announced that Communal prayers before burials and condolences and mourning that goes on at bereaved families homes after burials had been put off indefinitely.
County Head of Preventive and Promotive Health Services, Mr Gerald Maina said the County Government of Nakuru will work with local Mosques to ensure COVID-19 victims get a decent send-off.
He said the devolved unit had already begun training locals and youth on how they will handle and bury bodies of Covid-19 causalities.
Maina said it was in the interest of the nation for Muslim leaders in Nakuru to forego some religious rites associated with burials and abide by public health’s standard protocols to fight the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We have trained over 100 Supreme Council of Kenya Muslims- Nakuru Chapter Imams on the COVID-19 surveillance, prevention and handling of the dead.
Burial ceremonies will only be conducted by volunteers trained and equipped with Personal Protective Equipment with no congregation at the burial site otherwise known as farḍ al-kifāya,” said Maina.
Adam said that the council was sourcing for funds from well-wishers to buy Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) for Muslim volunteer undertakers who will be burying Covid-19 casualties.
The Secretary noted that on average it would cost Sh25, 000 to dispose of one body; an amount he said was way beyond the reach of many Muslims most of whom live in low income settlements.
“We kindly petition well-wishers for funds to help Muslims buy PPEs to ensure the dead are buried without any hitch in case the numbers surge,” said Adam.
By Jane Ngugi and Dennis Rasto