PA: Mosque's Burial Refusal Stirs Global Controversy


Turning down a request last week to bury alleged cop-killer Howard Cain at the Germantown Masjid has sparked an international controversy about the burial of Muslims.

And locally, during Jumah, or Friday prayer services, several imams denounced the May 4 killing of Sgt. Stephen Liczbinski and the bank robbery by a trio, two of whom wore Muslim women's garments.

During these sermons, called kutbah, the religious clerics preached about the need for safety and security in the city, and issued an apology to the Liczbinski family.

And perhaps most importantly, Islamic leaders have begun to discuss the criminal behavior of some Muslims who pray at their mosques - much to the chagrin of ex-jailhouse Muslims, who are used to silence on such topics.

These events represent a major turning point in the once-insular Muslim community here where leaders want it to be known that their Allah-fearing believers do not condone such violence.

"This was a wake-up call, not just for us to say Islam calls people to good behavior, but when we see [criminal behavior] in the mosque, we have to speak about that," said Amin Nafari, a visiting imam who preached last Friday at Masjidullah in West Oak Lane.

"We have been afraid to confront it headlong," he added. "The days of isolation and extremism are over. We have to apply Islam in situations we find ourselves in in our broader society." . . .

Reaction to the mosque's decision was overwhelming, said El Shabazz, who heard from imams from all over the world, including Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. It was the hot topic of Islamic blogs and Web sites, and even the national media weighed in.

"For nine out of 10 people, the reaction was positive," said El Shabazz. "People are used to the masjid being silent, so when you take a position and condemn certain behavior, it's a shock to the people." . . .

But El Shabazz, a defense attorney who said he's represented "some notorious defendants," cited Islamic teachings for the mosque's decision.

Prophet Muhammad, he added, would not perform funeral services of those who committed major sins, such as suicide, murder, but he urged the deceased's relatives and friends to do so.

At Friday services at the Germantown Masjid, Imam Talib Abdullah talked about "people with attitudes."

Abdullah chastised those who knew what Cain planned but didn't stop him. "That would have kept him alive," he said. Safety and security takes precedence over everything, including food and shelter. (MORE)

 


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