An old man, a first generation immigrant from Pakistan, is dying in his modest Wanstead semi. There are half a dozen relatives gathered around his bed; his breathing is laboured, his grip weak. He has worked hard, reared children, made his share of mistakes, but by and large has lived honourably. He has even had the foresight, in his will, to allot a sum of money for his burial. He might not have been rich, but there is enough here for a decent grave. Should he be buried in the nearest graveyard, for ease of accessibility? Should his tombstone have a hyperbolic epitaph, or be painted in the colours of the ‘homeland’? Should his loving children pool their money and put up a mausoleum in his honour? What can or ought to be done? Does Islam have anything to say?

In the ‘Gardens of Peace’ cemetery in Ilford, the graves appear to have come off a production line. Rows of identical mounds of earth crowned with a simple stone slab stretch obediently as far as the eye can see. They resemble some kind of chant, or repeat binary code; they are like insistent questions to which you always get the same answer.

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