THE Jamiatul Ulama, Pietermaritzburg, issued a statement over guidelines by the NICD over burial and cultural rites.The establishment said that Islamic commandments, rites or rituals and way of life are primarily ordained for the benefit and well-being of humankind.“As such, like other rituals and Islamic practices, the burying of the deceased is based on the Quran and Prophetic teachings. “Accordingly, if handling the dead body entails risk to the living and the relevant government has issued strict protocols to be followed, Muslims are allowed some flexibility with regards to some rules for the greater benefit of saving lives and to follow the negotiated guidelines issued by the government and the [NICD] National Institute for Communicable Diseases. (The relevant government departments should consult the different religious bodies of all the religions in SA and negotiate the guidelines.)“Preparing the deceased for burial has certain requirements in Islam which must be strictly followed. The body must be washed, shrouded, a short prayer is read and then buried. This does not mean the necessary precautions should not be taken in accordance to the guidelines of the NICD, the Department of Health and the local environmental health practitioner.“If the regulations do not allow for the physical handling and washing of the body, then using protective gear, like gloves, N95 masks, etc., the body should be washed by pouring water over it using a container or a hosepipe, as washing the body before the prescribed prayer and burial is compulsory.“Furthermore, it is acceptable to pray for the deceased without taking the body to the house for rituals or traditional practices and with the safety leak-proof triple body bag on as recommended by the NICD and without tampering with it at the burial site, bury the deceased without waiting for a large gathering of family, relatives and friends.“In addition to this, in principle cremation will not be allowed as Islam does not allow the cremation of the deceased. In this current Covid-19 outbreak government protocol allows the burying of the deceased, so it will be mandatory to bury and not cremate the deceased.“Islam encourages Muslims to consult broadly with people of authority, religious bodies and to follow their guidance and rules ...” concluded the statement.