Imam: I wouldn’t give Boston suspect last rites
Tamerlan Tsarnaev, shown in a 2009 photo, died Friday. In accordance with Islam, he should have been buried the same day.
April 21st, 2013
03:30 PM ET

Imam: I wouldn’t give Boston suspect last rites

By Moni Basu and Eric Marrapodi, CNN
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(CNN) - Tamerlan Tsarnaev died early Friday, and according to the rules of Islam, he should have been buried by now. But his severely wounded body is still being held to determine a cause of death.

"We are waiting for more information," said Terrel Harris, spokesman for the Boston Medical Examiner's Office. He wasn't sure when a cause of death would be released.

Tsarnaev, 26, had so many penetrating wounds when he arrived at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center early Friday that doctors could not tell which ones had killed him. He'd engaged in a ferocious battle with police in which more than 200 rounds of gunfire was exchanged. He and his brother Dzhokhar, 19, also allegedly hurled improvised explosive devices and handmade grenades at officers.

Haroon Firdausi, a licensed funeral director in Chicago, said he usually encourages authorities not to delay when there is a need for an autopsy. Usually, Muslims are buried the same day as their death.

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There are questions about when, where and how Tamerlan Tsarnaev will be buried. And there's a bigger question: whether any Muslim entity will be willing to deliver last rites.

Many Muslim community leaders have sought to distance themselves from the Tsarnaevs in light of reports that Tamerlan Tsarnaev might have been influenced by radical Islam. Fearing retaliation, Muslim leaders have strongly condemned the bombings and made it clear that Islam does not condone violence.

At least one Boston cleric said he would refuse to perform funeral rites for a man accused of committing so much violence. The Quran, said Imam Talal Eid, says that anyone who has killed another human being is going to hell.

Eid, who is imam at the Boston Islamic Institute, said he had never met the Tsarnaev brothers but questioned media accounts that Tamerlan Tsarnaev had become a devout Muslim.

"A person who is devoted does not kill innocent people," Eid said.

Yusufi Vali, executive director of the Islamic Society of Boston Cultural Center, the largest mosque in the Boston area, also rejected the Tsarnaev brothers.

"I don't care who or what these criminals claim to be, but I can never recognize these criminals as part of my city or my faith community," he said.

"All of us Bostonians want these criminals to be brought to justice immediately. I am infuriated at the criminals of these bombings for trying to rip our city apart. We will remain united and not let them change who we are as Bostonians."

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The Tsarnaev brothers occasionally attended prayer services at the Islamic Society of Boston Cambridge Masjid, a small mosque near their apartment in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

"In their visits, they never exhibited any violent sentiments or behavior," said a statement from the masjid. "Otherwise they would have been immediately reported to the FBI. After we learned of their identities, we encouraged anyone who knew them in our congregation to immediately report to law enforcement, which has taken place."

- Moni Basu

Filed under: Islam • Muslim • Terrorism

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About this blog

The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.