New shelter proposals in development for Pleasington Cemetery extension

Published Thursday 12 August 2021 at 13:36

Plans for a new Muslim prayer shelter will be discussed at a meeting of the Council’s Executive Board on Thursday, August 12th.

The current Muslim burial grounds at Pleasington Cemetery will be full within 12-15 months and at this point all future burials will take place in the new cemeteries extension which is located over half a mile from the existing prayer shelter.

The new shelter would be located in the new extension and would mean that mourners would not have to walk the half a mile distance from one area of the cemetery to another between the prayers and the burial.

The chapel at Pleasington Cemetery was recently refurbished for use by the Christian community attending funerals and visiting loved ones’ graves and memorials.

During Muslim funerals, traditionally, the deceased person is taken to the Muslim prayer shelter and, immediately following the prayers and further blessings, is then carried to the graveside and buried.

These prayers and the blessings that take place in the prayer shelter are crucial elements to the Muslim burial service in a similar way to the services that take place at the crematorium and before Christian burials.

The new Muslim burial grounds are located too far away from the prayer shelter to allow this practice to continue – not only would it be a long walk for mourners, particularly in bad weather but it would potentially lead to mourners walking close to other services in the crematorium. Separate groups are generally kept apart in the cemetery and crematorium due to the sensitive nature of the services.

The need for a new shelter has been made more urgent by the impact of the pandemic with a significant increase in excess deaths in our Muslim community.

Quesir Mahmood, Deputy Leader of Blackburn with Darwen Council, said:

There is a real need for a new prayer shelter in this new extension at Pleasington Cemetery and we don’t think it is the right thing to do to make any mourners walk such a long way from the existing prayer centre to the new burial site. Funerals are such an upsetting and emotional time and we don’t want to make then more difficult for anyone.

We don’t want to have significant crowds from any service having to move through the cemetery and potentially disturb other services. Every funeral service, of any religion, or no religion, is deserving of dignity and its own separate area for mourners and we will strive to make this possible for everyone.”

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