Today, I bring you an interesting article, verbatim by Noor Javed, a Toronto Star news reporter, with files from the Associated Press entitled, 'Boston Marathon bombings: Muslims torn over burial prayers for Tamerlan Tsaraev.' My response is below with room for your comment below that, unless you prefer to send an email but please keep your comments smart and civil. Don't attack others personally, and keep your language decent.
In the aftermath of the Boston Marathon bombings, the Muslim community has been united in its condemnation of the terrorist attacks that killed three people and injured more than 200. But one issue has sparked intense debate within a community struggling to come to terms with the tragedy: should accused terrorist Tamerlan Tsarnaev be given an Islamic burial?
For the religious leaders in Boston, the issue of how to deal with the remains of an alleged terrorist is an ethical dilemma with no clear answer, and little precedence. As a result, it has led to two distinctly different responses from the leadership: those who say Tsarnaev’s acts are so heinous he deserves rejection from the community, and those who believe that every man, regardless of his crime, deserves his last rites.
“It’s not an easy situation to be in,” said Imam Yusuf Badat, who leads the congregation at the Islamic Foundation of Toronto, one of the largest mosques in the city. “They probably fear that people will think they are too sympathetic to the terrorist, or they have concerns about a backlash. That’s likely why the mosques are declining.” The body of Tsarnaev, 26, who died after a fierce gun battle with police on April 19, is still in the custody of the state chief medical officer, who has been working to determine the cause of death.
Doctors said his injuries were so extensive that they were unable to immediately determine why he died.
Doctors said his injuries were so extensive that they were unable to immediately determine why he died.
Tsarnaev’s father, Anzor, told media Thursday that he intended to fly to the U.S. within a day or two and said he hoped to take his dead son’s body back to Russia. Tsnarnaev’s mother, Zubeidat Tsarnaeva, was undecided about returning to the U.S.
Earlier reports said the family hoped to find an Islamic centre to conduct a funeral in the Boston area. Initially there were no takers. And on Wednesday, Tsarnaev’s relatives told NBC news that their request for burial had been rejected by an unidentified mosque in Cambridge.
Imam Talal Eid of the Islamic Institute of Boston believes the community has been absolved of any obligation to conduct a funeral prayer. “He is a murderer, and according to the Qur’an those who kill innocent people will dwell in hellfire forever, without parole,” Eid said, in an interview with the Star. “In the eyes of our faith, he is not a Muslim. “How can I do a burial and ask God to forgive him? He didn’t do it in a fit of anger, it was a deliberate act,” said Eid, who has not been approached by the family. “We as a community should react very aggressively toward such acts of terror and not give him any benefit of the doubt.”
On Wednesday, Suhaib Webb, the imam of the Islamic Society of Boston Cultural Centre, posted a brief statement on his Facebook page espousing a different view. “ISBCC did not deny the deceased suspect his rite of burial. It was not asked to provide those services. If it was, it would offer them to him as it is a community obligation to bury the dead. While we denounce the acts he’s accused of, his soul stands before God. Our hearts and prayers are with the victims of this horrible tragedy and their families.” Webb did not respond to the Star’s request for comment.
The two completely different responses are also indicative of the range of opinions that exist within the faith around how a funeral can be conducted, said Badat. The Islamic funeral is meant to be simple and quick. It consists of five main steps: confirmation of death; washing of the body; shrouding of the body; performance of a prayer; burial and continued prayers for the soul.
At issue in this case is who would conduct the funeral prayers over the body. Badat says it is not mandatory for the funeral prayer to take place at a mosque, nor does an imam need to conduct the service. He said that throughout Islamic history, when there were concerns that a funeral would harm the community, it was recommended for a private burial to take place, with only two or three people taking part in the funeral prayer. That can even include family members.
“If no one performs the funeral prayer, then the Muslim community of that specific town would be considered to have sinned,” Badat said. “In the very least, an Islamic burial should take place. That absolves the community of their obligation.” But Shahina Siddiqui, head of the Winnipeg-based Islamic Social Services Association, says denying anyone a proper Islamic burial is a slippery slope.
“Where do you draw the line? What about alcoholics, wife abusers or murderers?” she said. “I think it’s not a precedent that we should set and we should not take the job of God to judge people.” She likens the prayer to the Christian act of offering those about to die, including criminals, their last rites.
This is not the first time Muslim leaders have had to deal with the onerous task of disposing of terrorist remains. After the Mumbai attacks in 2008, which killed 164 people, including nine gunmen, the Indian government considered burying the bodies of the attackers in a Muslim graveyard in the city. However, religious leaders vehemently opposed the use of their cemetery. The government was forced to hold on to the bodies. When they began to rot, officials launched a secret operation to bury the bodies in the outskirts of the city, away from the media glare. The government informed the public of the burial two days later.
The U.S. government also conducted a covert operation when it disposed of the body of Osama bin Laden in the sea within 24 hours of him being killed. In media reports following his capture and death in 2011, U.S officials said they were trying to be sensitive to the Islamic practice of a quick burial, and believed that finding a country to accept his body would have be too difficult. There was also concern that his gravesite would become a site of veneration and converted into a shrine. Hence, the exact location of the burial was never revealed.
And little has been known about what happened to the remains of the Sept. 11 terrorists. According to a 2009 Newsweek story, the remains of 13 of the 19 hijackers were identified through DNA testing of charred remains of tissue and bones from the Pentagon and the Twin Tower sites. The remains are being held at undisclosed locations in New York and Virginia.
They are “stored as evidence in a refrigerated locker in sealed containers and test tubes,” FBI spokesman Richard Kolko told Newsweek. At the time, officials said no family or foreign government had asked for the remains, and it was unclear if such a request would be granted.
The FBI did not respond to a request for confirmation on whether, four years later, it was still in possession of the remains. In the case of Boston, it remains to be seen where Tsarnaev will finally be buried. But Eid’s advice to his fellow community leaders and imams is to stay away. “If others (in the community) want to do it, that’s fine. But I believe we (imams) should not come near this.”
Now that it is clear that some Boston and Toronto imams will condemn terror and
stand for freedom, will criminals know they could be marginalized and exposed? In
the case of Toronto, is this the result of Prime Minister Harper's statement to
the criminals...'please don't bring your hatred to Canada' or a strong backlash
within the community?
The CBC reports that “a prominent community leader” among Toronto Muslims tipped
off the RCMP to possible terror suspects and the Mounties gave GTA’s imams a
“special briefing” on Monday before announcing the arrest of two men in an alleged
plot to derail a VIA passenger train, one community leader told the CBC Tuesday
morning. “It was a sense of thank you as well as a reconfirmation of our
collaborated efforts for the safety of the country,” said Yusuf Badat, director of
religious affairs for the Islamic Foundation of Toronto
Tarek Fatah, an Indian born in Pakistan; a Punjabi born in
Islam, of Hindu ancestry & Sikh heritage. A 'Sarmachar'
grounded in a Marxist youth, above all a Canadian.
Tarek Fatah of the Toronto Sun asks his community to "denounce the doctrine of jihad as pronounced by the Muslim Brotherhood and Jamaat-e-Islami, and distance themselves from the ideology of Quth, al-Banna and Maudoodi." Farzana Hassan of the Toronto Sun tells us as for “root causes,” the former president of the Toronto based North American Muslim Foundation, Sheharyar Shaikh and Imam of Masjid Qurtabah, writes: “If the murder of three people during the Boston Marathon held on Patriot’s Day became a 'cowardly' act, U.S. drone bombing on Shigal, an Afghan village, a week prior to the Marathon, causing 11 children and a woman to be blown to fleshy bits not cowardly as well? — thus raising the count of U.S drone killings of Afghani/Pakistani children to over 200.”
Farzana Hassan Author, Freelance writer,
Women's rights activist, Musician
"It is such fallacious moral equivalencies that have prevented Muslims and their non-Muslim supporters from acknowledging the truth, from owning up to the fact that radical Islamic extremists do in fact commit terror in the name of Islam. It prevents them from acknowledging that drone attacks cannot be seen in the same light. While drone attacks target militants, the very same individuals who stone women, who kill mercilessly over perceived insults to Islam, who kill other Muslims, who destroy the peace and security of otherwise peaceful neighbourhoods, who attack teenage girls for wanting to get an education — cannot be equated with the terrorists targeting killings of innocent civilians. Where indeed is the moral equivalency?" While many in the GTA appreciate the brave stance that these imams have taken
when they decided to co-operate with the RCMP, could this be an ideal time for
the criminals to end their violent ways and join with their peace-loving brethren
to become respectful Canadians?
-30- @write_stuff_2 bio at http://about.me/brianweller firstname.lastname@example.org twitter chatter....