THE Malay Muslim image in Penang, especially on the island, is rather pathetic. Besides the dilapidated state of urban and rural Malay villages, which reflects their dire economic plight, another visual that is quite demeaning is the crumbling state of Malay Muslim cemeteries on the island.
They resemble dumping grounds for the dead, as there is no planning in delineating the grave plots and demarcating pathways to access old and freshly dug graves.
It is fraught with obstacles for those trying to get to the plots of their dearly departed.
If you have ever had the experience of being a pall bearer ferrying a coffin from the mosque to the burial plot, which is usually some distance away, you would face difficulty and even danger in negotiating the mounds of graves, tombstones, rotten tree branches, plastic bottles and even shards of glass.
One has to step on and over the graves and may be grazed by tombstones of all sizes littered all over the cemetery, suffering cuts and bruises. The dead should be treated with respect and dignity and their final earthly journey should be a solemn and dignified procession, not one of wobbling through undergrowth, upright, fallen and broken tombstones, not to mention desecrating other graves.
One wonders which local government agency is responsible for the upkeep of Malay Muslim cemeteries in Penang. Or is there none, leaving the respective mosque committees to administer their own cemeteries?
It is high time we salvaged the image of the Malay Muslim community in Penang with respect to not only the cemeteries but also the dilapidated condition of the urban and rural Malay villages and their economic plight.
If the state government agencies, like the Islamic Religious Council, are not interested in addressing the plight of the Malay Muslim cemeteries, perhaps non-governmental organisations such as The Penang Malay Association and Malay Muslim-based political parties should shoulder the responsibility.
One wonders also if the zakat monies collected can be channelled for this purpose?
MOHAMED GHOUSE NASURUDDIN, Universiti Sains Malaysia, Penang
Berita asal : http://www.nst.com.my/news/2016/05/147480/help-maintain-burial-grounds