A new cemetery has opened in Sydney at a cost of AUS $8 million, totally funded by the community.
The Behesht-e Zahra – The Paradise of Zahra – cemetery will be run by The Imam Hasan Centre.
The name was chosen after a community poll, with 66% of those who voted choosing this name.
The initial area has 1,000 cemetery plots capable of double-depth burials and is therefore able to accommodate 2,000 burials.
The ground works were completed on 30 April, just four months after Imam Hasan Centre entered into an agreement to establish a new cemetery for the Muslim community in Sydney.
Religious requirements met
The agreement was signed on 31 December, coinciding with the birthday of Bibi Zaynab AS, after clearances from New South Wales Cemeteries and New South Wales Health to ensure all religious requirements of burial are met.
The official establishment ceremony was held on 15 February, coinciding with the Birthday of Bibi Fatima Zahra AS.
The cemetery is in a separate section within the Castlebrook cemetery in Rouse Hill.
Behesht-e Zahra cemetery was required urgently as the existing cemetery in Castle Hill was full (all plots sold). The Castle Hill Muslim cemetery was established in 2006 with Hills Shire council and Imam Hasan Centre and had 300 plots available. It served the whole Muslim community, as all Muslims are welcome to use the facilities.
The Imam Hasan Centre Cemetery Committee will manage the new facility and has provided options to the community to either purchase the plots outright or via a payment plan over three years. The cost per plot is currently AUS $6,900.
Masjid Ar Rahman, Imam Husain Islamic Centre and Al Zahra Funeral Services (part of the Al Zahra Mosque) joined Imam Hasan Centre to ensure the community has the required facilities for burials.
Serving the community
Sydney community member Abbas Aly said: “A cemetery is a sad place for us to attend, however it is an important requirement and we now have a place that will serve our community and will be considerate of the requirements of our community.
“We thank everyone who has contributed towards the purchase of a plot on the cemetery. May Allah grant you a long and healthy life.”