No Funeral Service for Boston Suspect: OK?

Question and answer details
As-salamu `alaykum. Dear scholars, we have heard the news that mosques in Boston have reportedly refused to conduct the funeral service for the killed suspect in Boston. Also many imams have refused to lead the funeral prayer for him. What does Islam say about this? Below is a link to the news-story about this issue:http://www.onislam.net/english/news/americas/462348-funeral-of-boston-attacker-troubles-muslims.html
Ahmad Kutty
Hatem al-Haj

Wa `alaykum as-salamu wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuh.

In the Name of Allah, Most Gracious, Most Merciful.

All praise and thanks are due to Allah, and peace and blessings be upon His Messenger.

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Brother,  thank you for your question.

As for your question, we should first state that killing innocents is a major sin (kabirah) in Islam. Also, it is considered an enormity that is totally rejected by all peoples and laws.

Second, burying a deceased Muslim is a communal obligation that the community should care about.

However, in some cases such as the question in hand, it is not recommended for imams and community leaders to lead or attend such a funeral. That is to deter the others from such grave crimes. Nevertheless, some of the community members take care of the funeral services for the deceased..

In his response to your question, Sheikh Ahmad Kutty, a senior lecturer and an Islamic scholar at the Islamic Institute of Toronto, Ontario, Canada, states,

Before answering this question, I would like to state upfront the following:

Islam is opposed to terrorism and violence in all shapes and forms. Therefore, no Muslim with a conscience can condone killing innocent people no matter what grievances he or she may have.

Moreover, Muslims, as a community, ought to distance themselves from those who preach extremism and violence as a method of change. Such people are violating Islamic principles by such actions.

Furthermore, instead of making the situation better, they are only making it worse.

Now coming directly to the issue, we need to ask, was this person a Muslim before he committed this act of terrorism? If he had been, then he does not become a kafir because of his actions. He is undoubtedly guilty of an abomination; and yet it does not take him out of the fold of Islam, for, as Imam Abu Hanifah says, a person goes out of the fold of Islam by denouncing it.

Mind you, we had no shortage of blood-thirsty tyrants in Islam-including Yazid and Hajjaj ibn Yusuf Ath-Thaqafi, both were guilty of most heinous crimes against humanity, including the family of the Prophet as well as other great scholars. The main-stream Muslims undoubtedly deplored their crimes, and yet never put them out of the fold of Islam on account of such crimes.

The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) has set a precedent for us in dealing with those who are guilty of such heinous crimes. Thus, as we learn from the authentic traditions, he refused to pray for those who committed suicide.

However, while doing so, he told his companions to pray for them. It is perhaps not wrong for us to assume that the Prophet’s policy was meant to deter others from contemplating such actions.

In light of these, the reasonable approach concerning this issue would be that while the leaders and scholars should stay away from praying for him, they should ensure that he is given an Islamic funeral without publicity or fanfare.

Therefore, the mosques, while refusing to hold the funerals inside the mosque, should appoint a few individuals to see to it that janazah is done in a funeral home or at the cemetery itself.

In conclusion, while sending a strong message to deter those who may be contemplating such acts of terrorism in the future, we should not deny him an Islamic funeral.

I pray to Allah to adhere to the path of moderation while staying clear off forms of extremism in our beliefs and practices.

For more elaboration on the issue, Dr. Hatem Al-Hajj, Dean of Shari`ah Academy of America and who is also a medical physician, and who is also a medical physician, adds,

Offering the funeral prayer for the deceased is a communal obligation. However, in the case of someone who died while committing an enormity, the service should be conducted by his family, acquaintances, and some of the Muslim public.

The imams and distinguished community members should avoid participating in the funeral ceremony. This is to send a clear message to the community that his actions are disapproved by Islam.

When an indebted man died and was brought to the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) he asked, “Did he leave behind any assets to pay off his debt?” If he had left something, he would offer the funeral prayer for him, otherwise he would say, “Offer the prayer for your companion.

Later he said, “I am closer to the believers than their own selves. Whoever dies in debt, I will pay it off and whoever leaves behind wealth, it is for his heirs.” (Al-Bukhari and Muslim from Abu Hurayrah)

It was also narrated that a man killed himself with a large-sized arrow and was brought to the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) and he did not offer the funeral prayer for him. (Muslim from Jabir ibn Samurah)

I have read the report you provided the link for, and I agree with the position of Imam Suhaib Webb. I would also emphasize the following:

Killing innocent people is an enormity, but it does not nullify the Islam of the murderer by consensus.

The same concept of not participating in the funeral prayer of those who commit great enormities should be respected in all other cases. It is not only limited to killers of themselves or others.

The imams may avoid leading the prayer for such individuals. However, the managements of the Islamic centers should never bar the body of a Muslim from the masjid and from having the funeral prayer offered for them.

Allah Almighty knows best.