Burying the dead is an important ritual for Muslims and they had to do it within 24 hours. With the lone Muslim cemetery in Metro Manila severely congested, those with the means are forced to transport their dead to Mindanao costing at least P10,000 in air fare alone. The establishment then of a second Islamic Cemetery is like an answer to their prayers.
BY AUBREY MAKILAN
RODRIGUEZ, RIZAL ? Moro people in this province hailed the establishment of an Islamic Cemetery in Sitio Maislap, San Isidro in Rodriguez (formerly known as Montalban). The cemetery, located at the outskirts of the National Capital Region, is only the second Islamic Cemetery for Muslims in Metro Manila.
Colorful flaglets and buntings were put along the way leading to the ceremony’s location during the ground breaking ceremony Dec. 13. Despite the rain, they walked their way to the muddy site of the ceremony, in their best traditional dresses.
Moro children and women performed singkil, kulintang, and malong dances (traditional dances using bamboo, gongs, and the traditional Muslim wrap around cloth). After which, leaders performed a Duwa’a, a muslim prayer. Guests and Muslim leaders threw coins, water, and salt at a hole in the ground. Datu Karnaen Acon, 53, Montalban Islamic Affairs Council chairman of the board, said that the coins and water symbolized a prosperous life while salt was put to prevent adversities. After putting a short bamboo pole into the hole, Bayan Muna Party-list Joel Virador and San Isidro Barangay Captain Eliong Hernandez covered it with soil.
This marked the main gate of the new Islamic cemetery.
A very important project
Alim Mohaimen Alioden, an imam (Muslim priest) at the Rawdhat Salam Mosque and director of the Rawdhat Salam Qur’ran Reading School, both in Sitio Maislap, said that the cemetery project is very important to them.
Alioden said that the existing Islamic cemetery in Taguig could not accommodate more. Those with the means had to transport their dead relatives to Mindanao costing around P10,000 in air fare alone.
Death is a very important and sacred event for them because “there is everlasting life after death.”
Muslims from Rizal sought the help of the Suara Bangsamoro Party-list for the project. Suara did not have any representative in the Lower House and Bayan Muna (People First) Party took-up the proposal. Bayan Muna donated P3 million for the project while Rodriguez Mayor Pedro Cuerpo, through the Office of Muslim Affairs, committed 13 hectares of land for the proposed burial site. The Bahrain government will also donate P5 million for the project, Cuerpo said.
Aside from the donation, Virador also sponsored House Bill 3615 “establishing an Islamic cemetery in Barangay San Isidro, Rodriguez, Rizal, appropriating funds therefore and for other purposes.”
If approved by both the House of Representatives and the Senate, the national government, through the Department of Budget and Management has to allocate the necessary funds for its construction. The proposed bill has passed the Committee on Muslim Affairs and now pending in the Committee on Appropriations.
If approved without amendments, Virador said, P15 million will be allocated for its construction.
Virador added that this project inspired Moros in Davao City to have their own Islamic Cemetery in their place. Likewise, the Davao government will be requested to donate land for the burial site, he said.
There are around 100,000 Muslims in Metro Manila. Continuing armed hostilities in Mindanao results in massive dislocation and forced migration thereby increasing the number of Muslims in and around Metro Manila. In Rizal alone, Muslim communities are concentrated in Sitio Maislap, Sitio Tanag, Sitio Juvel, all in Barangay San Isidro, and in Kasiglahan, Dau, and Abatex, in Barangay San Jose.
Virador said that many Muslims have become fall guys in government campaigns against “terrorism” and the Abu Sayyaf. With the impending passage of the Anti-Terrorism Bill, Virador said, more Muslims will become victims of military and police operations. Virador called on police authorities to respect the rights of Muslims.
Virador added that the Moro people want peace but not the peace of the cemetery.
Meanwhile, aside from the Islamic cemetery, Muslims are proposing for the establishment of a “Halal” slaughter house. It will be used to slaughter only red-meat animals Muslims are allowed to eat such as cows and goats. (Bulatlat.com)