Thursday, June 22, 2006

15,000-grave Muslim cemetery opens in Westland
6/15/2006, 5:36 a.m. ET
The Associated Press

WESTLAND, Mich. (AP) — A Muslim cemetery with space for 15,000 graves is opening in suburban Detroit, making it easier for families to adhere to Islam's burial traditions, an organizer says.
The Islamic Memorial Gardens has been in planning for at least six years and now has begun selling graves.
"What makes this nice, I believe, in addition to the proximity to Dearborn, is that we are complying with all of the Islamic mandates and guidelines," cemetery board chairman Robert Berry told The Detroit News for a story Thursday.
Dearborn is the center of southeastern Michigan's about 300,000-member Arab-American community, many of whose members are Muslim.
Muslims avoid lending with interest, so the cemetery will not charge interest to finance grave purchases, Berry said. The cemetery will provide service on weekends, when most cemeteries are closed for burials, so that Muslims can observe the tradition of burial shortly after death.
Plots also will be laid out so that the dead face east toward Islam's holy city of Mecca.
"We're doing things that all of the Islamic interests kind of require," Berry said. "And it's going to be an attractive place."
The 26-acre parcel now is mostly undeveloped woodland. The existing nondenominational Maple Grove cemetery, established before the Civil War, is to be fenced off and preserved, and a small plot in it will remain open for Romanian Americans.

Information from: The Detroit News,

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