MD: Bill on Muslim Funeral Services Clears House of Delegates


A bill that acknowledges the growing political clout of Maryland's Muslim community cleared the House of Delegates unanimously yesterday and is headed to the Senate.

The bill addresses complaints from Muslim leaders that their community is served by just one licensed mortician in the Washington region, in the District.

Since Muslims do not practice embalming but perform a ritual cleansing of the body instead, they have not been able to break into the funeral home industry in Maryland. That's because anyone applying for a mortician's license must embalm and perform cosmetic work on at least 20 dead bodies as an apprentice, a practice banned by Islamic law.

The bill would open the industry to Muslims by exempting them from embalming as they learn the trade, creating two licensing tracks for morticians -- those who embalm and those who don't.

"I'm happy to say that this addresses a problem we heard about from many Muslims," said Del. Saqib Ali (D-Montgomery) who co-sponsored the measure with Del. Samuel I. Rosenberg (D-Baltimore).


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