Barrackpore imam: We have cemetery through power of prayer

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

The Prime Minister and Kazim Hosein, the Rural Development and Local Government Minister at the time, present legal documents to Imam Fazar Allaham, for land for the Barrackpore Muslim Cemetery in Subrattee Trace Masjid in 2020. – Photo by Marvin Hamilton

Barrackpore imam Fazar Allaham is thanking Allah and the power of prayer for finally being able to have a Muslim cemetery in the area.

Although the first body was buried at the Rochard Douglas Road site in October, the cemetery was formally opened on Wednesday.

Speaking during the ceremony, Allaham recalled the early days of having to reach the site by tractor because there was no road. “Don’t make joke with prayer. Get on your knees and worship the one God and you speak to him, and I am saying this with conviction in my heart, because he answered my prayer,” he said recalling what the community had endured.

Much like the path to the site, he said the journey to getting the cemetery over the last 13 years was bumpy.

He said an application was made for it in 2011 and a response received in 2013 from the People’s Partnership administration. He said a cabinet note was then received in 2015, but then all communication went dark.

That was until 2019, when the organising committee met with then Moruga MP, Dr Lovell Francis. After this, he said, they met with Kazim Hosein, Rural Development and Local Government Minister at the time, and a memorandum of understanding was drawn up in 2020.

The MoU was hand-delivered to the Prime Minister and that, he said, is when work kicked off through the Princes Town Regional Corporation.

As well as space for burials, the cemetery has a mortuary to prepare the bodies and a space for the final prayer to be read on behalf of the dead. Allaham said 51 people have already been buried at the site.

Also speaking at the opening was Minister of Rural Development and Local Government Faris Al-Rawi, who said the project required legal adjustments for the government to lawfully fund it. He added that the drop in oil price to US$26 per barrel in 2016 and the pandemic were also factors that posed a challenge.

Al-Rawi commended Allaham for all the begging and pleading he did over the years to turn the cemetery into a reality. He then thanked all the donors and contractors who also made the project possible.

However, he called out the chairman of the Princes Town Regional Corporation, Gowrie Roopnarine, for not supporting the property tax, which, he said, could help fund projects like these.

“Help me, brother, to support modest property taxes, because with that, that you don’t support, all of this can be paid for, because it’s small contributions in transparency, coming to where we are.

“You can see what it does. That is how we fix our roads, that is how we fix our drainage. That is why we are doing the vesting orders and we, in the ministry, are busy in local economic development,” Al-Rawi said.