Dozens of family, friends and supporters came to pay their respects to Mustafa Rafi, the Afghan refugee killed by a distracted driver while riding his bike near his Northern Sacramento home.
Prayers and funeral hymns rang out from an Imam at the Sacramento Muslim Cemetery with one final opportunity for the Afghan community to say goodbye to Rafi, a father, husband and friend to many in attendance.
“We have seen the whole Afghan communities who give them the help, give them all kind of help if they need it,” Samiullah Ibrahimi said.
Many, like Ibrahimi, who came to support the Rafi family didn’t know Mustafa personally, but say they were drawn to his story.
“It’s a part of our religion that we have to come together and support the dead’s family,” said one funeral goer who only went by Ahmadzai.
The day began with a funeral service at the Sacramento Islamic Center, filled with prayers and condolences. At one point Mulalai, Mustafa’s widow, became physically ill and fainted, according to those in attendance. Her cries were audible from outside the Islamic Center.
“I told Malalai that we are with you, the community is with you and the whole California are with you,” said Sacramento Afghan Community President Abdul Karim Yusufzai.
He said the family first wanted to send Mustafa’s body back to Afghanistan, but Islamic tradition dictates he be buried as quickly as possible. In order to ship his body, Mustafa’s organs would have had to be removed, which according to Yusufzai, is not the norm in Islamic tradition.
The Rafi family huddled together, surrounded by friends in a corner of the cemetery as Mustafa was buried.
“The family is in a bad situation, in misery. The public should know that this family is alone right now,” Yusufzai said.
Yusufzai says he’s proud of the way his community has stepped up to help the Rafi family and says he hopes for continued public support.
“To help each other is the best thing to do, and we can survive,” he said.
The Rafi family’s wounds may never heal, marred by tragedy. But Tuesday, in the face of sorrow, the family was surrounded prayer and kindness from friends and strangers alike.
Community members have created a GoFundMe page for the Rafi family. If you’d like to donate, you can do so here: http://www.gofundme.com/mustafaandomar