The accusation from many against the British Muslim community in the wake of the London terror attack is that spiritual leaders do not condemn the terrorists enough. However, a single statement on June 5th, two days after the incident, makes it abundantly clear to anyone who will bother to read it that the faith very much condemns the attack.
130 Imams and religious leaders from diverse backgrounds issued a joint statement in which they made clear their refusal to perform the funeral prayers for the terrorists. Since publication, the number has increased to over 200 Imams.
This refusal to grant the funeral prayers is hugely significant. Perhaps more so than many outside the Muslim community would understand it to be.
Funerals are big affairs in the Muslim community. The belief in the afterlife requires anyone and everyone who knew the deceased to come together together for a 'big send off'. Condolences are given to the family and prayers are offered by all the gathered for the deceased. These prayers include asking God to forgive the dead, to shower His mercy on the departed soul and to raise him/her to heaven.
Then we leave it to God to judge for we cannot judge.
And yet the statement includes the following:
Their acts and wilful dismissal of our religious principles alienates them from any association with our community for whom the inviolability of every human life is the founding principle. (Q.5:23)
Such criminals defile the name of our religion and of our Prophet, who was sent to be a mercy to all creation.
For those vulnerable young people who are on the brink of radicalisation, statements such as these can prove to be a powerful counteract against the grooming process. Terror grooming is very similar to child abuse grooming where the steps to maintain control include gaining trust, filling an emotional need and isolating the victim from family and friends. This can happen face to face, but happens more frequently on-line which is hard to monitor and control.
Returning to those who would commit murder in the streets of the UK, the brainwashing includes the promise that the act of death will be a stepping stone to glory. Yet there is no glory in the unmarked grave which Imams refuse to bless with prayers for forgiveness.
More importantly, and perhaps the only thing that will deter a potential extremist is the unified faith teaching that there is no reward for the terrorist in the hereafter.