Muslim burial sites rise in Bradford with Scholemoor expansion plans

Scholemoor Muslim burial ground

By ANISAH ARIF

The increasing need for Muslim plots in Bradford is becoming prevalent due to the shifting trends in the community, according to one leading figure.

General secretary of Bradford Council for Mosques (CfM) Zulfi Karim revealed a sharp rise in the number of Muslim burials in the district over the last few decades, in a meeting on Tuesday.

The Bradford Council Executive meeting, which took place in City Hall, where Mr Karim attributed the increase in Muslim burials in the district to a move away from repatriation within Bradford’s Islamic community.

It shows that there were only six burial plots in 1981, but last year there were 360 Muslim burials. This represents an increase of 5,900 per cent.

The increase in population rose from 75,188 in the 2001 Census to 129,041 in the most recent 2011 census – a 72.6 per cent increase.

He said: “This is down to both the increase in the Muslim population, and also the drop in the numbers of repatriations of deceased.

“The number of people who send the bodies of relatives back to their countries of origin to be buried is no longer significant, it is less than five per cent actually.”

He added: “The number of Muslim families who choose burial in the UK continues to grow. There is also an ageing Muslim population.

“Bradford has a young, diverse population, so the need for Muslim burials in Bradford will only increase.”

The most recent figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) show Bradford has the third highest percentage of the under-16 population in England.

Nearly 25 per cent of the district’s overall population are Muslim, according to the ONS statistics.

Councillor Imran Khan said at the Council’s Executive meeting: “More people want to bury their loved ones in the UK, and younger people want to be able to visit their parents’ graves.”

This demand, as well as the general need for more crematorium services, is being tackled in several ways.

The Council Executive meeting showed a report which displayed the current site dedicated to Muslim burials, at Scholemoor, has two to three years of burial space remaining.

The site is set to be expanded to increase the provision to eight to 10 years, but this is dependent upon the Council receiving a felling license to remove the trees from the prospective neighbouring derelict allotment, in order to undertake the planning process. Work is expected to begin in summer 2019.

Bradford CfM undertakes the Muslim burials under a land lease from the Council, which originated in the mid-1980s. After the Executive meeting on Tuesday, an update on this lease – to address a further improvement to the quality of the service and to include the proposed expansion – was signed.

Mr Karim said: “We are delighted to be working with the bereavement service team.”

The Executive report also states: “The need for new cemetery provision beyond 10 years is recognised for both Muslim burial and more generally within the Shipley/Keighley corridor.”

There are also plans for the creation of two new crematoria to replace the ageing existing sites at Scholemoor and Nab Wood.

Imran Khan said: “We’re all going to need these services at some point – it’s important to treat our dead with dignity they deserve.”

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