The Muslim Council of Britain has gained worldwide headlines — and praise — for the announcement. Secretary of State Tillerson said Monday in New Zealand: “I was actually encouraged when I heard on the news this morning that a number of imams in London have condemned these attackers and said they will not perform prayer services over their funerals, which means they’re condemning their souls. And that is what has to be done, and only the Muslim faith can handle this.”
Moderate Muslims stand up at last, right? Here is the MCB’s statement:
“Over 130 Imams & Religious Leaders from diverse backgrounds refuse to perform the funeral prayer for London attackers in an unprecedented move,” Muslim Council of Britain, June 5, 2017
Imams and religious leaders from across the country and a range of schools of thought have come together to issue a public statement condemning the recent terror attack in London and conveying their pain at the suffering of the victims and their families.
In an unprecedented move, they have not only refused to perform the traditional Islamic prayer for the terrorist – a ritual that is normally performed for every Muslim regardless of their actions – but also have called on others to do the same. They said:
“Consequently, and in light of other such ethical principles which are quintessential to Islam, we will not perform the traditional Islamic funeral prayer over the perpetrators and we also urge fellow imams and religious authorities to withdraw such a privilege. This is because such indefensible actions are completely at odds with the lofty teachings of Islam.”
This all sounds great, but there’s just one catch: Muhammad is depicted in hadiths as forbidding funeral prayers for martyrs, and Islamic law forbids such prayers as well:
“Narrated Jabir bin `Abdullah: Allah’s Messenger used to shroud two martyrs of Uhud in one sheet and then say, “Which of them knew Qur’an more?” When one of the two was pointed out, he would put him first in the grave. Then he said, “I will be a witness for them on the Day of Resurrection.” He ordered them to be buried with their blood (on their bodies). Neither was the funeral prayer offered for them, nor were they washed. Jabir added, “When my father was martyred, I started weeping and uncovering his face. The companions of the Prophet stopped me from doing so but the Prophet did not stop me. Then the Prophet said, ‘(O Jabir.) don’t weep over him, for the angels kept on covering him with their wings till his body was carried away (for burial).'” (Bukhari 5.59.406).
“Narrated Jabir bin `Abdullah: The Prophet collected every two martyrs of Uhud in one piece of cloth, then he would ask, “Which of them had (knew) more of the Qur’an?” When one of them was pointed out for him, he would put that one first in the grave and say, “I will be a witness on these on the Day of Resurrection.” He ordered them to be buried with their blood on their bodies and they were neither washed nor was a funeral prayer offered for them.” (Bukhari 2.23.427)
Muhammad’s words in hadiths that are deemed authentic are normative for Islamic law, and Islamic law consequently states: “It is unlawful to wash the body of a martyr (O: even if in a state of major ritual impurity (janaba) or the like) or perform the funeral prayer over him. A martyr (shahid) means someone who died in battle with non-Muslims (O: from fighting them, as opposed to someone who died otherwise, such as a person killed out of oppression when not in battle, or who died from fighting non-polytheists, such as (N: Muslim) transgressors).” — Reliance of the Traveller g4.20
So what has been taken by Rex Tillerson and the world as a great show of Muslim rejection of terrorism is actually a display of Muslim adherence to Islamic law, acceptance of terrorist deaths as Islamic martyrdom, and application of Muhammad’s dictum “war is deceit.”
(Thanks to Lars.)