I work as the Marketing Manager for Colney Woodland Burial Park on the outskirts of Norwich. As the name suggests we are a burial park set in 12 acres of mature woodland. We offer a natural alternative to conventional burial and cremation options.
The Park is open to people of all beliefs and denominations and we can host meaningful services and ceremonies, religious or secular. Consequently the grounds are not consecrated but an individual plot can be blessed if required.
I am keen to understand whether there would be any restriction from Shariah point of view for a Muslim to be buried in the woodland. I apologise if I sound a bit ignorant, whilst I am a Muslim myself, I have never been involved in a funeral and certainly not been to a cemetery to view a burial.
At Colney, we permit the burial of the body with a shroud. Individual graves can be marked only by discreet wooden plaques as stone or other non-biodegradable materials are not permitted. We don’t have a specific Muslim area & wonder whether that would present an issue.
Under normal circumstances, it is impermissible to bury Muslims alongside non-Muslims. It would not be permissible to bury Muslims in a graveyard or a land where Christians, Jews, Hindus, Sikhs and people of the other faiths are buried. Similarly, it is impermissible to bury non-Muslims in a land where Muslims are buried.
However, if the Muslims do not have a cemetery of their own, then it is permissible for them to bury their dead in a non-Muslim cemetery. In such a situation, every effort should be made to secure a portion of the cemetery exclusively for Muslims, that they may bury their dead together.
Since the time of the blessed Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him & give him peace), Muslims throughout the ages have been burying their dead in their own cemeteries. There have always been separate burying areas for Muslims and non-Muslims, thus the constant practice of the Ummah (ta’amul) is considered to be one of the evidences.
There are many rules and regulations in Islam that have to be adhered to during burial, such as the type of grave dug, etc…thus, it is necessary for Muslims to have a separate burial area.
Therefore, due to the burial park which you mentioned not having a separate area for Muslims where they may bury their dead, and also an area where they may perform the funeral prayers, it would not be permissible for Muslims to bury their dead in the park. However, if a whole separate area can be designated for Muslims and where no non-Muslims are buried, then it would be permissible.
And Allah knows best
[Mufti] Muhammad ibn Adam
Leicester , UK