Shadrack Smith burial row laid to rest

Shadrack Smith burial row laid to rest

The family of Roman Catholic Shadrack Smith have been assured he will not be exhumed despite a complaint from a Muslim family that a ‘non-believer’ had been buried next to their relation.

According to this report, Smith, 89, will stay put after the Ministry of Justice, the only organisation with the power to grant an exhumation licence, said there was “no way” he would be moved.

Smith was buried in the multi-denominational Burbage Cemetery in Leicestershire on January 30. His burial plot was next to the grave of Muzaffar Khan, 87, whose family reportedly raised concerns over a non-Muslim being buried next to their relative.

Mr Smith’s family say they were warned by Burbage Parish Council that exhumation was one possibility, though the council now denies this was ever discussed.

When we reported this story on Tuesday, the Council posted a comment, saying that initial coverage in The Hinckley Times was wrong:

An inaccurate, divisive and inflammatory article printed in The Hinckley Times appeared to indicate that Burbage Parish Council has considered the exhumation of a person recently interred at Burbage Cemetery – this is totally untrue and without foundation.

A Ministry of Justice spokesman has since said said that without the permission of Smith’s family, no exhumation licence could be granted.

MoJ rules state that anyone applying for an exhumation licence will:

Need to get the signature of any close relatives, the owner of the grave plot and the burial authority. The only exception is when a corner issues a warrant for an exhumation in the course of a criminal investigation.

The council said in a statement that the first Muslim burial at the site took place several months ago.

Khan’s grave was the first in a row of plots that had not until then been allocated.

After the Smith family bought the adjacent plots:

A number of complaints followed and the council initiated their correct procedures and considered the matter carefully.

The statement added:

Burbage Parish Council has sought to resolve this matter in a fair and transparent manner and has had extensive dialogue with both families concerned. We have also taken extensive legal advice on all matters associated with the issues raised.

Burbage Cemetery is a non-denominational, multi-faith facility and requests from all communities living in and around Burbage will be treated equally and fairly in line with our policies and the law.

At a meeting of the parish council on Tuesday, the council discussed the matter and confirmed its existing policy. It said it “regrets any distress”.

A member of Khan’s family said that the row had been “blown out of proportion”.

Dr Sheik Howjat Ramzy, Director of the Oxford Islamic Information Centre and an adviser to the Muslim Council of Britain, said:

There is nothing in the Koran which says that you have to be buried separately [but] there are some traditions that in the time of the Prophet it was good to be separated.

[Graves] are separated in some Muslim countries but Islamic jurisprudence is different from one country to another and in this country it is allowed.

Tim Morris, director of the Institute of Cemetery and Crematorium Management, added:

In 33 years I have never come across another case like this, apart from a man who moved his wife because some Hell’s Angels bought some plots nearby.

28 responses to “Shadrack Smith burial row laid to rest”

  1. Broga says:

    Who knows, maybe the spirits Shady and the Muslim next door will be good friends? They could enjoy a few pints and share the virgins. On a rather abstruse theological point: do the virgins stay virgins after carnal relations?

  2. barriejohn says:

    This is exactly what several of us said. The original newspaper article was mischievous.

    Broga: As Rene Artois might have said, “Do you know nothing?” The celestial virgins regrow their hymens, and the men have “an eternal erection”!

    I might also add that in hell (and “Islamic scholars” obviously know everything) the flesh that is burned by the flames constantly regrows so that the pain is felt over and over again for all of eternity. God told them this. Isn’t religion wonderful?

  3. David Anderson says:

    “In 33 years I have never come across another case like this, apart from a man who moved his wife because some Hell’s Angels bought some plots nearby.”

    Silly man. His wife’s skeleton could have been next to Hell’s Angels skeletons sitting astride Harleys. Awesome.

  4. Broga says:

    @barriejohn: What a fascinating link about the 72 virgins. Highly entertaining and, of course, utterly bonkers. The infinite replacement of the hymen may not be all that great an arrangement. Someone, it may have been a French king, said something along the lines of having sex with a virgin for the first time is “work more suited to a coal heaver than a king.”

    And the men have an eternal erection? Let us pause for a moment on this. An eternity with an erection? That just has to cause very serious problems.

    The guidance itself comments that there is nothing offered for the pleasure of women in paradise. It seems they are there strictly as sexual objects to entertain men. Nor is there guidance on the important minutiae preliminary to successful coupling.

    This religious weirdness, apparently believed, is as good as it gets. Repays a read just for its comic potential. Thanks.

  5. gedediah says:

    The only outrage here is a dodgy paper trying to stir up a religious dispute out of nothing.

  6. Trevor Blake says:

    “Islamic jurisprudence is different from one country to another.”

    Exactly the opposite of what the Quran says (9:33): “He it is Who hath sent His messenger with the guidance and the Religion of Truth, that He may cause it to prevail over all religion, however much the idolaters may be averse.”

  7. barriejohn says:

    Trevor Blake: You can’t win with them. I remember when I was a young Christian being taught that God’s commandments were not subject to compromise, only for missionaries to wax lyrical over the way that the Bible’s message could be “adapted” to different times and different cultures – and these were evangelical Christian fundamentalists. I was reading this very thing on a Chrsitian site just the other day, and I have read elsewhere that Judaism is “adaptive” as well – despite what the Old Testament clearly says in so many places. It’s a case of “These are our principles, and, if you don’t like them, here’s another bunch of principles that might suit you better”!

  8. Rob Andrews says:

    I can’t figure out why the Muslim family did ask the cemetary staff if the graveyard was segregated or not, before they signed the agreeement for burial. Since they knew it was a multifaith cemetary to begin with. Especilly since this is so important to them.

    They also should have figured out that Britain is a largely xtian country so most people in that site would be xtian. I can’t see why they didn’t iron this out before buring their family member there.

    Is this delibrate provocation

  9. John the Drunkard says:

    Yes, not only do you have infinitely repeated sex with 72 virgins. They get to be miserable every time!

    And of course these ‘virgins’ aren’t actual sentient beings, they certainly aren’t actual women in an afterlife. Just magical sex-bots supplied by Allah so the (male) faithful will shut up and obey while living.

  10. AgentCormac says:

    Sorry to go OT, but for anyone who feels in need of a bit of a laugh right now here’s a link to a humorous article on the News Thump site which reports that god has apparently informed Stephen Fry that he allows the continued existence of worms which blind children by eating their eyeballs from the inside out because said parasites say their prayers.

  11. AgentCormac says:

    OT again, but the following statistics from the NSS website are an encouraging revelation:

    * YouGov/Times poll shows that 42% of UK adults say they have ‘no religion’
    * 46% of 18- to 24-year-olds claim they do not believe in ‘any god’
    * 33% say they do not believe in ‘any sort of god or greater spiritual power’, compared with 32% who believe in god and 20% who believe in a ‘spiritual power’.

    We may just be starting to win this war, folks.

  12. Broga says:

    @John the Drunkard: Modern developments may throw light on this. I read recently that fake rubber women have become more and more popular with many men. I think it was in Japan that some men take the rubber woman to a restaurant. And, of course, they are companions in bed for sexual activity.

    The Stepford Wives looked dishy so maybe that is for the robotic future. This would remove much of the motivation for Muslims seeking Paradise if they can have the same thing here and now on Earth.

  13. barriejohn says:

    Broga: Great idea – and one of these for each gay man!

  14. Broga says:

    @barriejohn: And lots of married man will want them. But what about the male hunk equivalents? Thanks for the link.

  15. Broga says:

    @barriejohn: Just seen your link. Yup! Just great. Everyone taken care of now.

  16. I as a relative of Mr Smith must say firstly he is NOT a roman Catholic .he was church of England .secondly I have to say I have never heard so much filthy talk about 2 dead people in my life please please show respect for any religion & let these people rip

  17. Stephen Mynett says:

    I have been searching for this poem since the first post on this story, I believe it is by Hartley Coleridge, nephew of Samuel Taylor.

    I dreamed that buried in my fellow clay
    Close by a common beggar’s side I lay,
    And as so mean an object shocked my pride,
    Thus like a corps of consequence I cry’d,
    “Scoundrel, begone and henceforth touch me not,
    More manners learn and at a distance rot.”
    “How! scoundrel!” with a hautier tone cry’d he,
    “Proud lump of earth, I scorn thy words and thee.
    Here all are equal, now thy case is mine,
    This is my rotting place, and that is thine.”

  18. JohnMWhite says:

    @family relative – please show respect for any religion

    No. Why does it deserve any? Look at the fight it caused, and the terrifying end it supposed for made-up transgressions.

    I am sorry for your loss, and I respect the deceased men in question. I don’t respect their faiths. Their faiths give people bad ideas and lead to bad things happening and needless suffering.

  19. Maggie says:

    @family relative – “please show respect for any religion”

    First, many people find it impossible to respect superstitious drivel. That should be no surprise to you, particularly when you read a website for and by atheists.

    Second, for most of us our problem is not with Mr Smith, or his family. Rather it is with the family demanding that their deceased not be ‘tainted’ by rotting away next to a non-believer of their religion. All religions bleat on about tolerance, but actually followers show zero tolerance for other religions.

    At least now your family will not have to worry about the matter any further.

  20. Anonymous says:

    It was the council’s fault. Stop hating Muslims – they are not all great but there are plenty that are and they are humans. There was no exhumation request. I know there are plenty of fair people out there, but there also are unfair people. It was the council’s fault. The previous article about this was untrue and the Muslim family have come forward and corrected it in an interview. The council clerk also said that it was not true, although there are suspicions it was the council who suggested exhumation in the first place. It was NOT the Muslim family. It was a big council problem. In fact, the Romany Gypsies and the Muslim family met and get along. Thank you for the reading this, all of the people who now know the truth.

  21. Anonymous says:

    @gedediah Thank you.

  22. JohnMWhite says:

    How was it the council’s fault? Did they ring up the Muslim family and go “hey by the way, your beloved departed family member is lying next to a heathen, do you want us to move them?”

  23. JohnMWhite says:

    Why are you thanking a person who blamed the paper and not the council, Anonymous?

  24. Dan says:

    There’s a problem here, isn’t there? The original story seems to have been cooked up provocatively by journalists trying to manufacture another anti-Muslim panic, when all it amounts to is a storm in a teacup about what families thought they were getting when they bought burial plots, if that.

    Too many atheists seize on stories like this without exercising some basic skeptical principles, with the result that we get co-opted into the whole Crusader narrative, which we should be attacking not participating in.

    Something to reflect on.

  25. barriejohn says:

    No one comes out of this smelling of rosewater, do they – apart from the Smiths, who are the innocent party. It would seem that the Muslim family complained to the council – maybe with some justification – that they had been misled over the burial plot of their relative, and someone there had the bright idea that exhuming and reburying Mr Smith’s body would be the solution to the problem, and get them out of trouble. As has been said before, there wasn’t a snowball’s chance in hell of this happening unless the Smiths wanted it, and the newspaper – being well aware of anti-Muslim feelings in Leicestershire – thought that a “Muslim family demand exhumation of Roman Catholic gypsy” headline would play really well. Shame on them all.

  26. gegsieline says:

    What a load of crap

  27. Anonymous says:

    @JohnMWhite Because that person, gedediah, is correct. The papers are equally to blame, because one began a lie and it spread.

    I feel sorry for the people who can only believe what a newspaper tells them, as if a newspaper never lies. Oh, sometimes some of the same people can criticise a newspaper for lying, but on particular articles they seem to forget about that. Interesting, isn’t it? I enjoyed learning that.

    Fun fact: The phrase “non-believer” was never used by the Muslim family, it is newspaper waffle that has spread!

  28. Anonymous says:

    There are some interesting people here. I daresay some people here have brains, sense and justice inside them.

    Sorry for the badly worded comment.