Imams reject rites for London killers
‘They are not martyrs ... and they are not following a path to paradise,’ one says.
LONDON — More than 100 Muslim leaders across Britain have joined forces to denounce the actions of the three London Bridge attackers by declaring that they will refuse to perform funeral prayers for them.
In an unprecedented show of solidarity and outrage at the latest terrorist incident to hit Britain, imams across the country are also urging other Muslim leaders to follow their example.
“We have always condemned all these type of atrocities, but we needed to send a strong message to these killers that what they have done is totally against the teachings of Islam,” said the head of chaplaincy at Barts Health NHS Trust in London, Sheik Yunus Dudhwala, one of the 130 imams who signed the statement.
There have previously been calls for the Muslim community in Britain to take tougher visible action against the perpetrators of terrorist acts, beyond just verbally condemning them. In 2015, then-Prime Minister David Cameron also angered the Muslim community by saying that it had to do more to tackle extremism and that it was time for the “silent majority” to stand up.
Muslims said at the time that Cameron was wrong to link a lack of social cohesion with extremism and terrorism, and they believed that they were being forced to constantly apologize for each terrorist attack carried out in their religion’s name.
But the frequency of the recent attacks in Britain by homegrown extremists has spurred the community into taking a more cohesive, strong stance against the actions of the terrorists, Dudhwala said.
The group said that denying a funeral prayer was one of the strongest messages its members are able to send to the wider Muslim community, because the prayer is the final moment the community offers acceptance to the deceased for the sins they may have committed.
“We are saying they are not martyrs, they are criminals, and they are not following a path to paradise,” Qari Asim, an imam in the city of Leeds said.
Sheik Asim Yusuf, an imam in Wolverhampton, added, “We hope it will give people pause.”