An Australian widow has won the right to a Catholic funeral for her late husband after his brother went to court to argue for an Islamic burial.
Omar Kak, a resident of Sydney, died in February aged 44, leaving behind his wife and children. His wife sought to arrange for a burial at a local Catholic church, but Omar’s brother, Gus Kak, argued that funeral arrangements should instead be made “in accordance with the Islamic faith”.
Omar Kak had been raised in a Muslim household and had married his wife Allison in 2006 according to Islamic law, when he was aged 22 and Allison was 18. But the couple then married two years later with Catholic rites at a Church in Woolwich, North Sydney.
At the Supreme Court in New South Wales, Allison Kak argued that Omar had later become a “practising Catholic” and had expressed a desire to be baptised by their local priest Fr Kevin Bates. She added that before his death he had requested that his funeral take place at the Woolwich church of their wedding and that he be buried afterwards at a Christian cemetery in Woronora, a suburb in southern Sydney.
Gus Kak asked that he instead be granted sole custody of the body of his brother in order to arrange for a Muslim burial, as requested by their birth family.
As described by Justice David Hammerschlag, Gus’s argument was that, were Omar to be buried at the Woronora cemetery, “the family will not visit Omar for the purpose of remembering and praying for him because it will be a desecration to Omar as a person”. Justice Hammerschlag explained that this was because “it is against the Islamic faith to pray for a person who died as a Christian.”
But Justice Hammerschlag ultimately ruled in Allison Kak’s favour on the grounds that her husband had made her sole executor of his will. “Allison is ready, willing and able to do so,” he said. “There is no reason to depart from this, and every good reason to adhere to it.”