Haji Imam Sheik Nazrudeen Mohammed died from COVID-19 on Wednesday 12th May 2021. (Photo courtesy Fareed Mohammed)
RADHICA DE SILVA
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Eid is supposed to be a joyous occasion but this year it was filled with grief as relatives bade a final farewell to Haji Imam Sheik Nazrudeen Mohammed, who died from COVID-19 on Wednesday 12th May 2021.

The Imam’s body was buried at the New Grant Cemetery on the day of Eid.

Even though Imam Mohammed gave decades of his life to serving the poor, he died at the Augustus Long Hospital without getting a ventilator.

His son Fareed said the family had drawn comfort knowing that anyone who dies during the month of Ramadan is forgiven for their deeds.

“We believe that sin will be erased, and they will have a clear path to heaven,” Fareed said.

He said his father served as an Imam for 23 years. Before he became an Imam, he served as campaign manager for the former UNC Princes Town MP Nela Khan.

Fareed told Guardian Media his father was looking forward to celebrating Eid.

“He knew that we will not be allowed to congregate so he wanted to cook food and box it out to share with people,” Fareed said.

He said his father’s body was in a sealed white casket and all COVID-19 protocols were followed during the funeral.

Fareed said the hearse drove past the family’s home so that his four grandsons and one granddaughter could wave goodbye.

The body was then taken to the Tableland mosque where his sons read the Janaza prayer.

Afterwards, his body was taken straight to the New Grant Cemetery for burial.

In a video supplied to Guardian Media, four pallbearers fully masked with protective coveralls were seen bringing the white casket to the grave.

Two white sheets were placed on the casket before it was lowered in the grave. As the water was poured onto the casket, there were no cries or tears of mourning.

Meanwhile, on Wednesday night, the Anjuman Sunnat-ul-Jamaat (ASJA) Association offered its condolences to the family. Three weeks ago, ASJA public relations officer, Imam Raffaic Mohammed, warned all Imams to stay in seclusion at the mosque.

Haji Imam Sheik Nazrudeen Mohammed and four other members of the mosque tested positive for the virus. Last Friday, after experiencing symptoms, Mohammed went to the Lengua Health Centre last Friday. His condition deteriorated and on Tuesday he was rushed by ambulance to the Augustus Long Hospital.

The Intensive Care Unit (ICU) was filled, and he had no access to a ventilator.

Augustus Long Hospital has an ICU capacity of six beds, four High Dependency Unit (HDU) beds and 38 ward beds. Medical personnel reportedly tried putting Imam Mohammed to lie on his side and his belly as he gasped for breath. However, he died on Wednesday before he could be given an ICU bed.