TMC Expresses Opposition to the Proposed Cremation of Unclaimed Corpses

The Muslim Congress (TMC) stated its opposition to the proposed bill that seeks to empower the Lagos State Government to cremate unclaimed corpses.

This was started in a Paper Presentation at the Public Hearing of the proposed Law held today Wednesday the 4th of July, 2012 at the Logos State House of Assembly Complex, Alausa, Lagos.

Except of the presentation is a follows:


All praise is due to Allah, the Lord of the universe. May His peace and blessings be upon the noble Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him), his faithful companions and dutiful followers till the end of time, amin.
The Muslim Congress (TMC) uses this platform to commend the Lagos State House of Assembly (LSHA) for its prompt, proactive and responsive approach to legislation on issue of serious importance. May the Almighty continue to empower the House, its leadership and the esteemed honourable members, amin.

Islamic Perspective on Cremation: Our stand

The Muslim Congress (TMC) wishes to present the views of Muslims on the proposal to cremate unclaimed corpse in Lagos State. The fountains of guidance from which the Muslim communities and individuals derive their stand on issues are Qur’an and Hadith. These two sources categorically described cremation as unlawful, unIslamic and unacceptable innovation, whether the corpses are claimed or unclaimed by the families. The jurisprudentially-backed position of Islam is hinged on the following:
Firstly, Islam views cremation as a deviation from the natural course ordained by Allah, the All-Knowing. He says:
“Thereof (the earth) We created you, and into it We shall return you, and from it We shall bring you out once again” (Qur’an 20:55).

Muslims and the rest of humanity evolve from the earth and must be returned to the earth by burial not burning. Islam instructs that burial should be conducted quickly after a person is certified clinically dead in compliance with Prophetic instruction. The corpse is then washed with purified water and wrapped in three layers of clothing for men and five layers of clothing for women. Fragrance, scent and pleasant smelling material like camphor should be spayed on the corpse. The body is then carried by male relatives or volunteers to a mosque for prayer for the dead (Janaza prayer). The funeral prayer is compulsory and must be led by a religious leader (Imam), presides over the funeral. The deceased is placed on his side and is facing Mecca and covered with sand. With cremation, all these essential rites would be ignored.

Secondly, Almighty Allah pragmatically taught humanity how to bury their dead from the very first death in the time of Prophet Adam (Peace be upon him). Allah relates:

“And recite to them the story of the two sons of Adam (Cain and Abel) in truth; when each offered a sacrifice, it was accepted from one (Abel) but not from the other (Cain). The latter said to the former: “I will surely, kill you. The former said: “Verily, Allah accepts only from those who have fear of God (Taqwa). If you do stretch your hand against me to kill me, I shall never stretch my hand against you to kill you, for I fear Allah; the Lord of all that exists…. So the soul of the other encouraged him and made fair-seeming to him the murder of his brother; he murdered him and became one of the losers. Then Allah sent a crow who scratched the ground to show him how to hide the dead body of his brother. He said: “Woe to me! Am I not even able to be as this crow and to hide the dead body of my brother” Then he became one of those who regretted.. Qur’an 5: 2728293031

By that singular incident, Allah instituted the rite of burial as the norm for all. On the strength of the foregoing, the scholars unanimously agreed that burial is norm, while other methods of burial are aberrations designed by men based on insinuations of the devil and fancies of fellow men.

Thirdly, the Qur’an is not alone in its condemnation of cremation; the Hadith of the noble Prophet (Peace be upon him) also nullifies cremation on the basis of the following narration:

‘Ikrima reported that Ibn ‘Abbas (May Allah be pleased with both of them) said: Allah’s Apostle said: ‘Do not punish anybody with Allah’s punishment of fire (Sahih Bukhari, Volume 9, Book 84, No. 57).

Furthermore, the age long traditional burial rite of Yoruba in South Western Nigeria goes against the concept of cremation. It not right to burn dead relations, fathers, mothers and love ones. The decent thing to do it accord them befitting burial. Those who practice cremation are essentially devotes of Hinduism, humanists, atheists and rationalists who attach less importance to human corpses.
 They view cremation as a way of simplifying their funeral process, and thus choose cremation to make their services as simple as possible. Some other people prefer cremation to traditional burial option because the thought of a long, slow decomposition process of corpses is unappealing to them. Furthermore, some others prefer cremation because it appears to be cost effective. All these reasons do not find place in Islam. Islam views dead as continuity of human transition.

Beyond religious sentiment, it is the social responsibility of all responsive governments to honour the living and the dead according to their religious beliefs and traditions. They should not be short-changed by cremation because they cannot complain, and because there is nobody to protest the abuse of their corpses through cremation. Honorable members of LSHA present at this public hearing, if the issue of cremation is put to vote that who among you will like to be cremated after death, we are confident that majority if not all members would prefer the burial option to cremation. This demonstrates the universal acceptability of burial over cremation.
Please be informed that, decent burial is also part of the fundamental human rights of the unclaimed corpses, as citizens and tax payers in Lagos State.

Our Prayer

For the unclaimed corpses in the various mortuaries in Lagos State, we suggest a befitting mass burial rather than adopting alien option of cremation. If the constraint facing Lagos State government is land space, we recommend to the government, the need to construct large cemeteries in the heart of Epe, Badagry and other areas for which people is ready to pay to have decent burial for their love ones. Besides, if the constraint is logistics on burial, we recommend to the government to release unclaimed Muslim corpse to the Lagos State Muslim Community for decent mass burial. The same privilege could be accorded to the Christian Community should they be interested.

In conclusion, we thank the LSHA for giving us the opportunity to present the views of Muslims on the contentious proposal on cremation of unclaimed corpses.

Long live Lagos State, God Bless Nigeria!

Luqman AbdurRaheem,
Amir, The Muslim Congress

Mr. Raimi, Lukman
Lecturer, Centre for Entrepreneurship Development (CED),
Yaba College of Technology,
Lagos, Nigeria, West Africa.
Phone: 234-8023462555

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