The recent terror attacks in the city of London, which left 7 people dead and many others critically wounded, brought sadness and sorrow across Britain and the world. Islam once again came under scrutiny when the attackers were identified as Muslims.
According to the British police, 3 men (Khuram Shazad Butt, Rachid Redouane, and Youssef Zaghba) rented a van to mow down people on London Bridge. After the attack, the terrorists then left the van and started stabbing revelers, who were enjoying their night around Borough Market, with 12-inch knives. A police officer was also stabbed. The 3 men, wearing fake suicide bomb vests, were later shot dead by 8 police officers.
After the heinous attack, police and intelligence officials worked to identify the attackers. It emerged that one of the attackers was a resident of East London, and even attends the East London Mosque during prayers.
In accordance with Islamic practice, a special prayer is supposed to be held for a departed Muslim. The prayer is believed to be an attestation that the departed soul was a Muslim and lived an upright life while on earth. According to the belief, this prayer can expiate some of the sins of the deceased, allowing the person to be spared some punishment after death. This makes the prayer very critical for every Muslim. The prayer is therefore held for any departed Muslim regardless of the actions of the person while living on earth.
But a group of imams are defying this important Islamic conventional practice in the wake of the London attack. An imam is the title of a worship leader in a mosque among the Muslim community. Over 130 imams and Islamic religious leaders in London refused to perform the traditional Islamic funeral prayer for the attackers who committed the London attacks.
These Islamic leaders came together to make this unanimous decision in protest against extremist groups using Islam as an excuse to attack unarmed innocent civilians. The imams issued a statement on social media regarding their decision, urging other Islamic religious leaders to adopt similar measures and send a clear message to those who murder innocent people: that no Islamic leader will stand by them.
“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,” the statement said.
Leaders of the East London Mosque, who played a lead role in the decision not to observe the prayer for the attackers, said they would work to combat extremism. They explained the extremists have twisted and perverted the teachings of Islam.
The chairman of the East London Mosque and London Muslim Centre, Muhammad Habibur-Rahman stated: “Once again we come together, to stand united against those who try to divide us. The cold-blooded murder of innocent people in London on Saturday evening will not succeed in driving us apart. I have a clear message to those who perpetrate terrorism: you are against the very core teaching of Islam and of our Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him.”
Apart from these London imams taking a strong stand against the attackers, other Islamic leaders across the United Kingdom have also condemned the attack.
What’s important to note is how most mainstream media outlets have deliberately refused to report on the condemnations and measures being taken by the Muslim community to deter such attacks. They choose to fan the flames against the many Muslims who abhor such attacks rather than douse them.