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New Islamic burial plan for Adelaide

A new Islamic cemetery with its own prayer room will be established in Adelaide’s north, amid concerns over the state’s only other dedicated burial site nearing capacity.

Oct 28, 2022, updated Oct 28, 2022
A design image for an Islamic prayer room at Smithfield. Photo: Islamic Society of SA/Facebook

A design image for an Islamic prayer room at Smithfield. Photo: Islamic Society of SA/Facebook

Islamic Society of South Australia president Ahmed Zreika said families in the Islamic community, like all faiths, wanted to best follow their traditions in burials, including wanting to bury loved ones on the same day or day after they died.

Securing 1000 burial sites at Smithfield Memorial Park and creating early plans to also build a dedicated prayer room and facilities to wash the body nearby meant it would remain possible to access important facilities at a stressful time for families.

“In the Islamic tradition we must wash the body and then we go to the prayer room to give a final prayer for the deceased. Once that has taken place the funeral is conducted and they are laid to rest,” Zreika said.

He said new burial sites for the Islamic community had been secured in an agreement with Adelaide Cemeteries, with the only other operating cemetery site near a mosque at Torrens Rd in Woodville, able to provide burial room only for another few years.

The agreement ensured “we can meet the needs of our community in future generations, so they can be respectfully laid to rest in the Islamic tradition”.

“We are one of the fastest growing faiths in this state. According to the latest census, there are 40,000 people of Islamic faith in South Australia,” Zreika said.

“Everyone wants to follow the conventions of their religion, it’s the only way to make that family feel comfortable that they respect their own family member when they pass away.”

Negotiations began in March last year, and Adelaide Cemeteries chief executive Michael Robertson said it was an important agreement as the state organisation worked to meet the needs of all faith communities.

Islamic Society of SA president Ahmed Zrieka and Adelaide Cemeteries Michael Robertson. Photo: Adelaide Cemeteries

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Adelaide Cemeteries will fund the project after being approached by eight Islamic groups about creating a dedicated burial area prior to working out the agreement with the Islamic Society, he said. This new project would also create potential to expand the cemetery to 10,000 sites.

“The establishment of an Islamic cemetery supports Adelaide Cemeteries’ commitment, as a State Government entity, to meeting the needs of communities via the long-term provision and maintenance of burial sites,” Robertson said.

“Smithfield Memorial Park has a small established Islamic burial area, but this section will not meet the long-term burial needs of Adelaide’s Islamic communities.

“Adelaide Cemeteries works to meet the needs of all faith communities in South Australia including Catholic, Anglican, Lutheran and Buddhist, as well as the needs of cultural communities such as the Chin community.”

Adelaide Cemeteries owns and cares for four cemeteries in Adelaide, including Enfield, West Terrace Cemetery, Cheltenham Cemetery and Smithfield Memorial Park, and also administers the North Brighton and St Jude’s cemeteries, along with the Walkerville Wesleyan Cemetery. 

Planning Minister Nick Champion said the state government was “committed to meeting the needs of our diverse communities and I am pleased to see this multimillion-dollar project become a reality”.

Development of the initial phase of the grounds is expected to begin within eight months.

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