Cemeteries and crematoriums



JAVA, which forms part of the Indonesian archipelago, is the most densely populated island in the world. Despite its small area, the volcano-dotted island lying between Sumatra and Bali is at the economic center of Indonesia and home to more than half of its people.

Java has a population of over 145 million and most of them are Muslim. Therefore, it inevitably has a large number of cemeteries. I traveled to the island seven years ago and visited most of the places. Everywhere I went, I saw three things in common: cemeteries, villages and paddy fields.

When I visited Bali, I did not see any cemetery because 93 percent of its people are Hindu. Hindus cremate dead bodies of their beloved ones and preserve the ash.

I asked a hotel receptionist whether most Hindus cremated their dead, she answered affirmatively, adding that she herself had her mother's body cremated lately.

Then she asked me, "Do you cremate the dead?"

I said with a smile: "No, we bury them and God burns whoever He wants."

She asked me again, "Why don't you burn the bodies of your people when they die?"

I said, "I can't explain it now. It is too complicated."

I have noticed that some countries have a large number of cemeteries, not because their mortality rates are very high but because of the huge difference in the way people there handle their dead and their cemeteries.

In most of these countries, the dead body will be put inside a coffin and then placed in a grave. The grave will never be used to bury another person, while here in the Kingdom we use the same grave again and again.

Some Muslim scholars argue that a grave should be used for burial again only after 25 years. We in the Kingdom use the same grave for burial again after the passage of a certain period. This explains why the famous Baqea Cemetery in Madinah has been in use for more than 14 centuries despite its small area.

Holland, Japan, Monaco, Indonesia, Switzerland, Nepal and several other countries and cities continue to struggle because of the increasing number of cemeteries.

Hindus do not have such a problem because they cremate their dead. Today, some Western countries too resort to cremation.

In the UK, 17 percent of the dead bodies are cremated while in the United States it is 11 percent and Germany 9 percent. In Tibet, the dead body is thrown to vultures while in Ghana, the dead are thrown to alligators.