On January 11, 2015, when leaders from more than 40 countries traveled to Paris to take part in the public march condemning the attackers of the French satirical weekly Charlie Hebdo, a funeral prayer in absentia was held for the attackers in the city of Hyderabad in southern India.
Islamic cleric Maulana Naseeruddin, who belongs to the religious organization Wahdat-e-Islami Hind, led the prayers, describing the Charlie Hebdo attackers as martyrs and justifying their actions on the basis of the precedents set by the Prophet Muhammad. The funeral prayer in absentia was offered at Eidgah (a mosque-like open field where annual prayers such as Eid Al-Fitr and Eid Al-Adha take place) in the Saeedabad area of Hyderabad.
Wahdat-e-Islami Hind (the Unity of Islam in India) is a new religious group that gained prominence in the past decade, though fears have been expressed that it could be linked to the radical Islamist group Students Islamic Movement of India (SIMI), which has been outlawed due to concerns over its role in terrorism. In 2011, Syed Mohammed Bukhari, the top official of Wahdat-e-Islami Hind for Tamil Nadu state, said: “Wahdat-e-Islami literally means Party of Islam. We are just like any other charitable social organization. We spread the true essence and values of Islam and try to propagate Islam as a way of life rather than religion.”
Following are excerpts from a transcript of Maulana Naseeruddin’s prayer and speeches delivered to the worshippers as well as to the camera after the funeral prayer in Hyderabad, as translated from the Urdu video:
Click here to view this clip on MEMRI TV
Facing the worshippers after the funeral prayer:
“The prayer that has been offered [for this funeral prayer is]: ‘O Allah, forgive those who are alive among us, forgive our dead, forgive those who are present [here], forgive those who are absent; forgive our younger ones, the elders, women and men, forgive everyone; while you keep us alive, keep us alive on Islam [i.e. as believers]; when you give death, give death when we are on Islam.’
“This is the prayer… May Allah forgive Said and Cherif [Kouachi], the two boys who were martyred while taking revenge on the enemies of the Prophet Muhammad. May Allah provide sustenance to their fathers and mothers. May Allah protect their parents, friends, and family from torture and arrest. May Allah grant others with the same courage and conviction.
“When someone who mocks the Prophet before our very eyes remains alive, it is as if our lives are useless. There is a written fatwa [Islamic decree]: May Allah make us such that such a life be sacrificed for the honor and greatness of Prophet Muhammad. May Allah free those [Indian terror suspects] who have been arrested based on doubts, save them from torture, and lessen their difficulties. As for those who have gathered today in Paris to condemn this incident [the attack on Charlie Hebdo] – Muslim heads of state attended as well… 11 or 12 people get killed, and leaders from the entire world gather, but when thousands of Muslims get killed, nobody says a word… May Allah grant the Muslim rulers proper intelligence, may Allah birth in their hearts respect for Islam and faith…”
The Urdu text on poster reads: “Funeral prayer in absentia for the martyrs who delivered justice to the French blasphemers of Prophet the Muhammad. From Wahdat-e-Islami Hind”
Facing the Camera after Addressing the Worshippers:
“In the name of Allah, the Compassionate, the Merciful. Today, at the Eidgah in Saeedabad. Hyderabad, we performed the funeral prayer in absentia for the martyrs Cherif and Said, who killed the enemies of the Prophet Muhammad. Blasphemy against the Prophet’s honor is a grave crime, and Allah says in the Koran that such people should be punished by death. The Prophet himself, despite being the mercy-giver of the worlds, did not take revenge for [insults against] his own person, but the Prophet of Allah himself ordered the killing of eight people during his lifetime who ridiculed and falsified the prophethood. Kaab bin Ashraf, as well as two people arrested during the Battle of Badr [were killed]. And after the Victory of Mecca, [the Prophet] named 16 people who had clung to the Kaaba [to save themselves] and ordered their killing.
“This proves that those who commit blasphemy of the Prophet should not remain [alive], they should be killed. In this regard, if there is no Islamic government, then a Muslim is individually responsible [to carry out this punishment]. There occurred an incident in Medina: There was a blind sahabi [companion of the prophet] who had a female servant in his house who committed blasphemy against the Prophet – he killed her without even asking the Prophet of Allah. When he came to the Prophet of Allah, the Prophet asked: What happened? [He answered:] O Prophet of Allah, I told her not to commit blasphemy against the Prophet, but she still committed blasphemy, so I killed her. Give me whatever punishment for it, in lieu of this blood. [The Prophet] said: there is no revenge for this blood, leave him. In those times, [it was customary to take] life for life, but despite it he was left [unpunished].
“This proves that the punishment for blasphemy against the Prophet – as is proven from the Koran, Hadith and deeds of the Companions – is death. The two boys who attacked the offices of [Charlie Hebdo] and killed the French cartoonists did the right thing, according to human values as well as shari’a law. According to human values, a son cannot mock his father, and a student is not allowed to mock his teacher. The status of the Prophet is the highest of all, so how come it is allowed to mock him? Freedom of expression – whether spoken or written – does not mean that one may cross all limits. Therefore, the punishment for such people is undoubtedly death. We fully support this. This is why we have come to this funeral today…”