By Zahid Jadwat
The current circumstances during the coronavirus pandemic mean that funerals have to be conducted in ways we aren’t used to. Salaamedia spoke to Aboobaker Sayed, a member of the Saaberie Chishty Burial Society, to find out what this unusual procedure entails. “Our team has been prepared [and] trained. We are also fortunate that Allah has chosen us to do this work,” he said.
Burying a person who has died from the relatively-new disease is an undertaking that involves teams from the health authorities, the National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD), and even the South African Police Services (SAPS).
Following concerns that Muslim burial rites were being compromised under the circumstances which demand extreme precautionary measures, Sayed assured the Muslim community that this wasn’t the case. “We’ve been doing the ghusal normally. Rest assured, we do conduct a proper and full ghusal. There are no shortcuts.”
As at 1 June 2020, 54 Muslims have succumbed to the Covid-19 illness. This makes up 7.66% of the total death toll in South Africa, which stands at 705.
In the process of burying the deceased who have died as a result of Covid-19, the first task Sayed’s team has to carry out is to inform the health authorities, Police, and the NICD. The deceased body is then wrapped in two body bags before being transported to the ghusal facility. Disinfectant teams are tasked with the duty to clean all areas of operation during the procedure. This includes the body box and ghusal facilities.
Sayed also said that conducting funerals during the pandemic requires mental preparation on the part of the deceased’s relatives and the burial teams alike. “Reality is that we are going to see more of this. People need to be mentally prepared.” This is because current regulations prohibit more than 50 people at a funeral, and family members – who, under normal circumstances, would have been at the forefront of the burial procedure – now have to step back in order to allow trained teams to conduct the procedure.
Strict precautionary measures also increase the cost of burial, says Sayed. A single funeral ceremony would require up to 10 sets of personal protective equipment (PPE). “The cost implications are huge. The main cost is the donning of PPE.”
“We have been talking about this for a while and now we see the reality. It’s something that we’re not used to. The sympathy is there but we take precautionary measures.”
Watch the full interview here:
Featured image via FreePik.