Archive for February, 2008

Muslim Burial Practices vs Local Laws….

February 18, 2008

We reported earlier (10/29/07) on ways in which American funeral and burial practices are changing to accommodate “green” concerns and the wishes of many to simplify the treatment of the deceased. Now Muslims are weighing in with concerns that their traditions and Quranic imperatives run afoul of state and local ordinances regarding funeral and burial practices. The Hartford Courant has an excellent article today about the problems facing Connecticut Muslims when dealing with their dead. The crux of the matter is aptly summarized in the following quote from the Courant:

Muslims bury their dead quickly — within 24 hours. The dead must be interred without a casket, facing the holy city of Mecca.

Before the burial, the body is washed with soap and scented water, then wrapped in a seamless cloth, tied at the head and feet. Cremation and embalming are forbidden.

But the specific burial rites meant to prepare Muslims for the afterlife are in conflict with public health codes and public cemetery regulations, forcing Muslims in the state to compromise the rituals outlined in the Quran.

The Muslim community in Connecticut is addressing the problems with caution and creativity; their intention is to adhere to local laws while obeying as closely as possible their religious laws.

Some mosques are calling for members to enter the funeral industry, while others find creative alternatives that keep with Islamic law.

“We must respect the law of the land in which we live — that’s the essence of Islam,” said Muhammed Ali, the president of the Daar-ul-Ehsaan mosque in Bristol.

A rather complete explanation of Muslim practices can be read here.

On a related note controversy has erupted in London (U.K.) about a plan to dig up 350,000 bodies in a historic cemetery to provide a “21st century burial site. Officially it would be known as a multi-faith cemetery but it is likely that it would principally answer calls for a Muslim graveyard in the largely-Asian East London borough. The Daily Mail reports (12 Oct 2007):

The local newspaper has been bombarded with letters from historians and nature lovers declaring: “There is no way we’ll allow them to dig up our ancestors.”

But the Labour-controlled council’s environment spokesman Abdal Ullah appeared to be in no doubt about the feasibility of the plan when he said: “To preserve the respect and dignity for everyone, I think most of the graves would have to be cleared out and we’d start afresh.”

He said a corner of the cemetery would be reserved for Muslims who are buried in shrouds at a depth of 6ft and on their side facing Mecca.

By law, any graves more than 75 years old can be removed.

The photo below shows part of the historic Tower Hamlets Cemetery Park.

More on woodland and green burials at Brookwood, England’s largest cemetery. Their website describes the cemetery:

Brookwood Cemetery is the largest cemetery in Britain and is probably the largest in Western Europe.

Situated between Woking, Guildford and Aldershot, it is located about 30 miles southwest of London, adjacent to the village of Brookwood.

The cemetery was laid out in 1854 as the London Necropolis and has been in constant use ever since.

The photograph at the top of this page is of one of several Muslim burial plots within Brookwood cemetery.

This article also appears today at Steady Habits:  Our Changing Funeral and Burial Practices (cont.)

Army Base Meeting at Wesleyan, Sun Feb 17….

February 16, 2008

From Wesleying blog:

Have you heard that the Army plans to build a new base on Freeman Road in Middletown, which is very close to campus? Want to learn about the environmental risks posed by the location selected for the base? Want a chance to make your voice heard on the issue, or do you just want to learn what all the fuss is about?

Come to the WSA meeting this Sunday at 7PM in Usdan 108 to hear the Mayor of Middletown, Sebastian Giuliano, speak about the Army Base. Also a representative from the CT River Watershed Council will be speaking on the issue and will share information about the environmental concerns.

There will be opportunities to ask questions to both speakers and there will also be a chance to submit inquiries directly to the Army.

As always, the first 10 minutes of the meeting will be an open forum for student concerns. Please feel free to contact with any questions or concerns.

See our previous posting about the workshop in council chambers next week.

Army Base: Common Council Workshop Feb21

February 15, 2008

The public is welcome at a Middletown Common Council workshop concerning the siting of the proposed U.S. Army Reserve Center. The date is Feb 21 at 7 PM in council chambers.

See our earlier posting for more details on the proposal; also more from Right of Middle here.

O’Rourke’s Diner Redux….

February 11, 2008

Brian O’Rourke opened his, or should we say the community’s, diner today for the first time since the disastrous fire many moons ago. According to the staff it was gangbusters from 5 Am ’till closing at 3 PM. I didn’t get a chance to interview Brian this afternoon but hope to do so in the near future.

Cows and Pigs are SUV’s, Bugs are Bicycles

February 10, 2008

Humans need to become insectivorous and to encourage this imperative the United Nations Food and Agricultural Organization is sponsoring an event titled “Forest Insects as Food: Humans Bite Back” in Chiang Mai, Thailand. The NY Times reports today that among the topics to be addressed at the workshop later this month is “Why douse fields with pesticides if the bugs we kill are more nutritious than the crops they eat?” Of course NY Times coverage would not be complete without the obligitory food do-gooder to disabuse meat and potatoes Americans of the notion that bugs are, well, yucky.

The Times folks trot out one David Gracer: “one of a small but growing number of people earnestly working to transcend the yuck factor. By day, Gracer teaches expository writing at the Community College of Rhode Island. By night, he stalks America’s elite chefs with an electric wok and Tupperware stuffed with six-legged critters in an attempt to convince them that consuming insects is both pleasing to the palate and good for the planet.”

Says Gracer; “Insects can feed the world. Cows and pigs are the S.U.V.’s; bugs are the bicycles.”

Source: NY Times Magazine 2/10/08

Also see “Insect Cuisine: Good for You”
“Food Insect Festivals of North America”

New article today on our Global

Jonah Center News….

February 8, 2008

The following Jonah Center bulletin, received today, is reposted as a public service:

Jonah Center News


Municipal Building, Room 209

Tuesday, February 12, 2008, 4:30 pm

The City of Middletown is exploring various options to expand Community Gardening and needs to hear from everyone who is interested. Even if you can only stop in for a few minutes and sign in, it would be wonderful! Let’s promote and get involved in “urban agriculture” in Middletown. This is reconnect us with the soil and help everyone learn about the food-growing process. NEAT and Nehemiah Housing are involved in this.

Please forward this notice to anyone who might be interested in community gardening.


The city and DEP are working with the Army to find a more suitable site for the new training base. There will be a Common Council “workshop” meeting about alternative sites coming up soon, perhaps on Thurs. Feb 21 at 7 p.m, but this schedule is only tentative and not confirmed. We’ll keep you posted


The “Floating Meadows” between Middletown and Cromwell and the Maromas section have been identified as possible “focus areas” of the Conte Fish and Wildlife Refuge, sections of which cover the entire Connecticut River Watershed. If you are interested in helping to promote these two local areas for the Conte Refuge, reply to and put “Conte Refuge” in the subject line. We need people to send in “comment sheets.”


There will NOT be a Jonah Center meeting or program in February, due to the many other meetings and events taking place. Our next program meeting will probably be held on March 18.