Muslim Cemeteries Seek to Meet Growing Demand

April 1, 2006

Source: The Charlotte Observer

On April 1, 2006 The Charlotte Observer reported, "Space is tight at the only Muslim cemetery in the Charlotte region, and finding a new burial ground has turned into a frustrating quest. About 100 plots remain at the Muslim cemetery in east Gastonia, and it will likely reach capacity in the next several years, said Hossam Shoukry, the cemetery's treasurer... The cemetery serves Muslims from Gaston, Lincoln, Cleveland, Mecklenburg and other surrounding counties, as well as those near the S.C. border. One option is to clear land and make room for 180 more sites, but it'll likely be too expensive, Shoukry said. Another option is to bury Muslims in other types of cemeteries, but then certain burial traditions can't be observed, said Khalil Akbar, resident imam at Ash-Shaheed Islamic Center in Charlotte... Muslims graves are supposed to have two levels, and bodies are traditionally buried in a shroud and placed on their sides, facing Mecca. Some Muslims approve of coffins, but only if they're made with natural materials... About 90 percent of Muslims who have died in the Charlotte region are buried in Gastonia, said Jibril Hough, spokesman for Charlotte's Islamic Center. As the number of Muslims grows, the need becomes greater, he said. Islam became prominent in Charlotte about 10 years ago and now has about 12,000 adherents here, he said."