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Cemetery Sign Defaced with Graffiti in Harnett County

5 December 2012 General No Comment Email This Post Email This Post

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Yaqub Shamsiddeen haves hope in the community and is not generalizing the action of one person to represent the community at large. For he sees himself part of that community.

Shamsiddeen said the sign was moved inside a fence after someone defaced it with graffiti. He said he expects the vandalism was the work of just one person.

“For the most part, people here have been very kind,” he said. “In fact, they even help us.

By Steve DeVane, FayObserver.com

JOHNSONVILLE – For the Muslims in the Sandhills, a cemetery for people of their faith was more than a desire. It was an obligation.

But making that duty a reality was far from easy.

A group of local Muslims started work on the cemetery in 2001, said Yaqub Shamsiddeen, the administrator of a Muslim cemetery in Harnett County.

They looked for suitable land. They would find a potential site and reach a tentative agreement to buy it, but the deal would fall through when the seller found out who wanted to buy it.

“That happened more than once,” Shamsiddeen said.

The Muslims even went to a land auction where they were the high bidder until the seller discovered what they wanted to do with the land.

Finally, the Muslims secured land on N.C. 24 near the Johnsonville community. The first burial was in 2005.

Shamsiddeen said the group working to start the cemetery included Siddiq Abdullah, Capt. Mohammed Khan, Adam Beyah and Abu Salahuddin. Many others also helped.

“Lots of people made sacrifices,” Shamsiddeen said.

Several Muslim organizations support the cemetery. They include the Masjid Ahlu Sunnah, Masjid Al Madina and Masjid Omar Ibn Sayyid mosques; Muslims at Fort Bragg; and the Islamic Community of Fayetteville.

Thousands of Muslims live in the Cape Fear region, Shamsiddeen said. Many others are soldiers at Fort Bragg.

Beyah, former imam at Masjid Omar Ibn Sayyid, said the cemetery is important for Muslims.

“It helps satisfy requirements in our faith and our religion in terms of burial procedures,” he said. “It’s just knowing if you seek to identify with the faith in your life that when you die things are going to be taken care of.”

Salahuddin is chairman of the executive committee at Masjid Al Madina, which is also known as the Muslim Association of the Carolinas. He said the cemetery helps Muslims follow their faith’s code of ethics regarding burial.

“It’s very important in the sense there are a lot of rituals we do,” he said.

A cemetery in the area also makes it easier for Muslims to be buried soon after death. If possible, Muslims should be buried within a day, Beyah said.

Shamsiddeen said that, ideally, a Muslim who dies in the morning will be buried before sunset.

Muslims can be buried in the cemetery for free, Shamsiddeen said.

“No one else will be buried here,” he said.

Shamsiddeen said a Muslim’s body must be washed and placed in a shroud after death. The body is taken to a mosque, where Muslims stand shoulder to shoulder in three lines and say funeral prayers.

“We ask Allah’s mercy to be on the deceased and those left behind,” he said.

The funeral prayers last about three to five minutes, then the body is taken to the graveyard where it is buried.

The burial is simple, with no formal prayers or eulogy, Shamsiddeen said.

“There’s no flowers, no wreaths,” he said. “It should be simple, straightforward. That’s it.”

The body is placed on its side facing Mecca. More than 25 graves in the cemetery are bordered by bricks and covered with white rocks but are not marked with tombstones or names. A number on each grave coincides with information about the deceased in records kept by Shamsiddeen.

The graves, which are toward the back of the 2-acre cemetery, are not visible from the highway. A sign with a phone number marks the site.

Shamsiddeen said the sign was moved inside a fence after someone defaced it with graffiti. He said he expects the vandalism was the work of just one person.

“For the most part, people here have been very kind,” he said. “In fact, they even help us.


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