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Newham Volunteers Complete 50+ Covid Ghusl’s

Newham Volunteers Complete 50+ Covid Ghusl’s

Categories: Past Event Articles

Tuesday May 05 2020

بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم

As the Coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic hit the United Kingdom, we very quickly began to see the number of fatalities increasing at an alarming rate. This of course brought with it many different challenges. For the Muslim community in particular, there were a number of questions around fulfilling the burial rites of our deceased. We are so used to members of our community receiving a dignified burial, but there were suddenly question marks around the entire process. Would the government pass legislation that could require all CovID-19 related deaths to be cremated? Would we be able to continue to wash our deceased as per normal? How would the burial be conducted? Lots of questions required answers.

Keeping a close eye on developments, some of the local MEND team began to investigate the current Muslim burial arrangements in Newham. This involved liaising with the local council, funeral directors, cemeteries and local Imams. After a brief round of enquiries a number of important points became evident. The most pressing issue was that the number of facilities available to perform ritual washing of the deceased were very limited. Due to the rules around social distancing coupled with the different medical views on coming into contact with a CovID-19 deceased, most existing funeral service providers had stopped the washing of those suspected to have had Covid-19 and were resorting to mere wiping or tayammum. This was creating a major strain on those that continued to provide these facilities. As a result, there was an ever increasing backlog of Muslim families waiting to bury their loved ones. At one stage we were informed that one Muslim cemetery had in excess of 30 deceased waiting to be washed and buried.

To respond to this need of the Muslim community, in coordination with local scholars, and Muslim funeral directors, some of the members of MEND Newham decided to set up a washing facility and transportation service under the Newham & Redbridge Imams Forum (NRIF). We quickly mobilised a team of scholars and local volunteers who received training in performing a COVID-19 Ghusl, wearing full Personal Protective Equipment (PPE). Our service provision included a helpline for people to call on the demise of a loved one to receive guidance on next steps. Our volunteers would then arrange transport to collect the deceased from the hospital and bring them to the washing facility. On completion of the ritual washing, our volunteers would transport the deceased to the cemetery for the final burial rights.

Alhamdulillah since we started this service we now have a fantastic team of 25 volunteers who are involved in the washing, managing 3 private ambulances, transporting the deceased (May Allah have mercy on them) from the hospital to the ghusl facilities and then to the cemetery. Some of the volunteers also participate in the burial process. Through the grace of Allah, we have been able to assist with the Ghusl of more than 50 Muslims, male and female. Furthermore we now have 5 washing facilities in Newham and Redbridge taking care of male and female deceased.

This has been a humbling experience for all involved. We pray that Allah alleviates this suffering from the world and grants paradise to all of our deceased. Aameen.


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