06th of January 2021
His Excellency Gotabhaya Rajapakse,
President of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka,
CC: Hon. Mahinda Rajapaksa M.P.
Hon. (Mrs.) Pavithra Wanniarachchi M.P.
Minister of Health
Dr. Asela Gunawardena
Director General of Health Services,
Dear Sir / Madam,
RE: PERMITING BURIAL OF DECEASED BODIES OF COVID-19 VICTIMS
It is with great concern that we witness the critical impact caused by the Covid-19 pandemic which has effected many countries around the world and has disrupted the normal routine lives of the people.
Accordingly, today we write about a very sensitive matter which unfortunately has become a controversial topic currently. We wish to express our serious concern on the continuous practice of the cremation of deceased victims of Covid-19. We reiterate that this request is in accordance with the guidelines set by many international health organizations and endorsed by recognized medical professionals world over.
We are aware that many concerns have been expressed claiming that ground water maybe contaminated due to the burial of Covid-19 victims and various other issues have been cited as reasons to mandate cremation as the only mode of disposal of bodies of Covid-19 victims. However, it is significant to note that since the outbreak of this global pandemic, almost all the countries in the world have practiced the burial of the bodies of Covid-19 victims without any reports of any complications or issues arising due to this practice.
College of Community Physicians of Sri Lanka (CCPSL):
The most recent statement in support of permitting burial of Covid-19 victims has been issued by the CCPSL who have stated there is no solid evidence indicating that the burial of dead bodies would increase the spread of Covid-19. Furthermore CCPSL has said that each citizen should be allowed to be cremated or buried as per his/her and the family’s desire within the strict guidelines recommended by the Ministry of Health.
Sri Lanka Medical Association (SLMA):
The SLMA too has confirmed that burial of COVID-19 victims can be permitted in Sri Lanka based on available scientific data. They have clearly stated “The virus itself can thrive only inside a living cell. It is unlikely that it could remain infectious within a dead body for any significant period of time”.
Professor Malik Peiris a world renowned Pathologist and Virologist, who currently serves as Chair Professor of the Department of Virology in the University of Hong Kong too has stated as follows: ‘When you bury the body six feet down wrapped in impermeable wrapping, it is very safe.’ He further states that ‘the transmission of Coronavirus from burial is extremely unlikely.’
Dr. Nihal Abeysinghe former chief Government Virologist and Epidemiologist has also stated that coronavirus dead bodies could be buried. He further explains that there was no question of germs spreading through water in the grave and causing health hazards to the living.
WHO – World Health Organization:
The WHO guidelines on ‘Infection prevention and control for the safe management of a dead body in the context of COVID-19’ published in September 2020, clearly states that the dead bodies of Covid-19 victims could be buried provided that standard related regulations are followed. WHO states: ‘There is a common assumption that people who die of a communicable disease should be cremated to prevent spread of that disease; however, there is a lack of evidence to support this.’
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) of U.S. Department of Health & Human Services:
There is no danger of the virus spreading as a result of the burial of the bodies of covid-19 victims. The wishes of the deceased family members should be honored in deciding on the issue.
It has been reported that the Experts Committee appointed by the Ministry of Health on this matter, has recommended both burial and cremation. It has been further reported that the Committee also states there is no evidence to prove the virus can transmit through water contamination after burial.
According to Islamic teachings the burial of the body is one the most important obligations due to the deceased person and thus denial of this right is emotionally painful to the Muslim community. Due to the immense concern regarding this matter, the Muslim community is deeply grieved and psychologically distressed.
Since there is no credible evidence to prove that burying of Covid-19 victims is harmful or can result in the spread of this disease, we earnestly urge Your Excellency to intervene and instruct the relevant authorities to amend the relevant procedures and to permit burial of the victims of Covid-19.
Millions of Sri Lankans of various religions and ethnicities have placed their trust in the Government to strengthen this nation enabling all communities to live in peace and harmony as Sri Lankans.
May Almighty bestow our Motherland with unity, peace and prosperity and guide us all towards eternal success, Aameen.
Signed on behalf of the 7,600 Members Scholars around the country by the Executive Committee of All Ceylon Jamiyyathul Ulama:
Mufti M.I.M. Rizwe
President – ACJU
Ash Shaikh M.S.M. Thassim
(Acting) General Secretary – ACJU
Ash Shaikh A.C.M. Agar Mohamed - Deputy President
Ash Shaikh A.L.M. Khaleel - Treasurer
Ash Shaikh H. Omardeen - Vice President
Ash Shaikh A.L.M. Rila - Vice President
Ash Shaikh M.J. Abdul Khaliq - Vice President
Ash Shaikh A.L.M. Hashim - Vice President
Ash Shaikh S.H. Atham Bawa - Vice President
Ash Shaikh M.M.M. Murshid - Executive Committee Member
Ash Shaikh M.L.M. llyas - Executive Committee Member
Ash Shaikh M.F.M. Fazil - Executive Committee Member
Ash Shaikh K.M. Muksith - Executive Committee Member
Ash Shaikh Arqam Nooramith - Executive Committee Member
Ash Shaikh Hassan Fareed - Executive Committee Member
Ash Shaikh (Mufti) M.H.M. Yoosuf - Executive Committee Member
Ash Shaikh A.C.M. Fazil - Executive Committee Member
Ash Shaikh S.L. Nawfer - Executive Committee Member
Ash Shaikh M.K. Abdur Rahman - Executive Committee Member
Ash Shaikh S.A.M. Jawfar - Executive Committee Member
Ash Shaikh Abdullah Mahmood - Executive Committee Member
Ash Shaikh A.R. Abdur Rahman - Executive Committee Member
Ash Shaikh M.H.M. Burhan - Executive Committee Member
Ash Shaikh Dr. Azwer - Executive Committee Member
Ash Shaikh Zaky Ahmed - Executive Committee Member
Ash Shaikh M. Nooman - Executive Committee Member
Ash Shaikh Dr. M. L. M. Mubarak - Executive Committee Member
Ash Shaikh M.S.M. Farood - Executive Committee Member
Ash Shaikh M.A.A.M. Bishir - Executive Committee Member