Mosques in four cities observed the Namaz-e-Janaza or funeral prayers for the liquidated al-Qaida chief Osama bin Laden on Friday, but not all Muslims agreed with the idea behind such invocations. Tagged with jumma, the day that sees the largest congregations of the devouts in mosques, many Muslims asked by imams to stay back if they wished to for the Osama prayers, did so. But while one such namaz was cancelled in Lucknow, it was far from crowded in Hyderabad.
In Srinagar, however, Hurriyat hardliner Syed Ali Shah Geelani called for the special Osama prayers as well, and observers said many people may have heeded his call. “Muslim clergy should organise funeral prayers in their mosques for peace to the soul of Osama bin Laden,” Geelani said, and added, “Osama was not just a person but also an ideology against occupation of Muslim lands by foreigners. Western countries must realise that suppression of Muslims in their lands will result in resistance.”
Chief minister Omar Abdullah tweeted, “Syed Ali Shah Geelani is losing the feel of peoples’ pulse by calling for funeral prayers for bin Laden.” Manzoor Ahmed Kachroo (59) said, “I can’t pray for Osama’s peace. He was a violent man.”
In Kolkata, the Shahi Imam of Tipu Sultan mosque, Maulana Nurur Rehman Barkati, held special Friday prayer for the “peace of the soul” of bin Laden. All-India Minority Forum president Idris Ali, who took part in the prayer, said, “Laden wasn’t given a burial and his bullet-riddled body was thrown into the sea. The prayers were held for his peace.”
In Chennai, the imam of a major mosque on Anna Salai Road announced prayers for bin Laden, a call that was faithfully adhered to, whereas in Lucknow, some youths’ plans to offer prayers for bin Laden came unstuck after resistance from community elders.
The Lucknow Muslims feared that the call could trigger a law and order crisis. In fact, when some community leaders learned about Osama prayers, they rejected it. “Do we offer namaz-e-janaza for all the world’s Muslims? Why just for Osama?” asked a senior Muslim community leader.
Another cleric said, “This is mischievous. May be some people want to create a controversy. If anyone wants to offer these prayers as a Muslim, he can. But please don’t involve the community.”
Hyderabad, which was tense, witnessed Maulana Mohammed Naseeruddin, described by the police as a militant preacher, conducting funeral prayers for bin Laden at Ujale Shah Idgah grounds on Wednesday. Less than 100 people joined in under tight security. His announcement for funeral prayers did not enthuse general Muslims who did not turn up.