AK: FIRST MUSLIM CEMETERY OPENS IN ALASKA
ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) – A 1998 newspaper story about two Muslim children mistakenly buried on top of each other in Palmer left Ake Dobrova weak with outrage.
One of the children had to be exhumed and reburied, a violation of Muslim beliefs. The cemetery mix-up caused anguish all around.
“I was feeling so bad about it,” said Dobrova, a small-business owner from Albania. “What kind of people are we (that) we don’t have no cemetery?”
That year, he decided to make a cemetery himself. This year, what he started has become the first official Muslim resting place in Alaska.
Islamic teaching, or “sunnah,” is strict and specific about the treatment of the dead. A body must be washed by the family, prayed over by the men, wrapped in a shroud and laid in the ground facing Mecca. Burial must occur quickly after death, and the grave must be located near those of other Muslims.
Some have paid thousands of dollars to have the bodies of loved ones sent back to their home countries because there was no Muslim cemetery in Alaska. Often there was trouble with paperwork and shipping. For many years, Muslims collected money to build a place to lay their family members to rest.