The memorial plaques are in English and Arabic, bearing messages such as “Gateway to Mercy.” The dead are buried in the direction of the Islamic holy city of Mecca.
On a sprawling plain in Mount Sinai, Muslims have turned a section of the Washington Memorial Park into the only large-scale Muslim burial ground on Long Island with a few thousand plots.
Now, Islamic leaders on Long Island want to establish a cemetery to exclusively serve the growing numbers of Muslims in the New York metropolitan area.
Currently burials at the Mount Sinai cemetery attract the faithful from as far away as Brooklyn and Queens. Islamic leaders said they are running short on plots and see that as a sign of how the Islamic community on Long Island is growing, establishing roots and even dying in significant numbers here.
They use part of this nonsectarian cemetery because they have few other alternatives to be buried near others who share their faith. If they are successful in their efforts to acquire land, the cemetery would be one of a relatively small number of Muslim cemeteries in the United States. The nearest Islamic cemetery to Long Island is in Millstone, N.J.
“People are coming all the way from New York City to bury their loved ones because they don’t have a choice,” said Nayyar Imam, who is heading efforts to create a Muslim cemetery in eastern Suffolk. Using the nonsectarian Washington Park for now “is like a compromised situation.”
The Islamic faith calls for the dead to be buried as soon as possible, preferably on the same day they died. That often gets complicated at cemeteries such as Washington Park, which normally limits burials after 3 p.m. and on weekends and on holidays.
Imam, who said Washington Park generally cooperates with Islamic traditions, nonetheless noted that because of holidays, for instance, “sometimes you have to wait three days to bury someone, which is a big no-no in Islam.”
He is currently examining vacant land in Middle Island, Riverhead and Baiting Hollow that could be used for an Islamic cemetery and accompanying religious regulations.
For instance, they could allow evening services to allow many more people to attend after work.
“Having a stand-alone Muslim cemetery shows the real growth and maturity of any particular community. It is definitely a milestone,” said Ibrahim Hooper of the Washington, D.C.-based Council on American-Islamic Relations. Long Island is home to an estimated 70,000 Muslims, with thousands more in New York City, local Islamic leaders said…
In other words, a Muslim-only cemetery shows the growth of sharia in the U.S.