There's a Huge Catch in the 'Imams Refuse Funeral Prayers for London Jihadis' Story

The Muslim Council of Britain (MCB) gained worldwide headlines -- and praise -- for its announcement last week that 130 imams in the United Kingdom were refusing to perform funeral prayers for the London jihad mass murderers.

But as is so often the case, there was less to this much-heralded display of Islamic moderation than met the eye.

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said the following last 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 stood up at last, right? It certainly seemed so. From the MCB statement:

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 himself is depicted in hadiths as forbidding funeral prayers for martyrs.

Islamic law forbids such prayers as well.

To be clear:

Withholding funeral prayers is an HONOR reserved for those who die while committing jihad.

In one hadith -- hadith are reports about Muhammad’s words and deeds that, when deemed authentic, are normative for Islamic law -- the prophet of Islam ordered:

[Two martyrs to] be buried with their blood (on their bodies). Neither was the funeral prayer offered for them, nor were they washed.

One of the martyrs’ sons recalled:

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).