Refutation on behalf of the Grand Mufti’s Office regarding the published false information in Trud newspaper from 11th of February, 2015, page 8, under the heading: “Widow complaint: Imams do not perform funeral services for deceased with Bulgarian names”

Grand Mufti’s Office of the Muslim Denomination in the Republic of Bulgaria refutes the information published in the national and copied in regional print media that imams refuse funeral service for people with Bulgarian names.

According to Art. 12 of the Statute of the Muslim Denomination, where it is expressly stated that professing the Islamic religion and the performance of religious rituals is done in full respect of the rights of the citizens, of the International Charter on Human Rights, the Convention for Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms, other international acts, acts of the EU institutions and the Constitution of the Republic of Bulgaria. The religious rituals are performed from the Muslims according to the rules of the Holy Qur’an – the Word of the Almighty Allah, and the Sunnah (the tradition) of Muhammad (peace be upon him).

The affiliation to the Islamic religion and the Muslim denomination is expressed as a voluntary act as the Holy Qur’an with its explicit verse forbids the imposition of Islam. At the same time the affiliation to the Islamic religion has certain responsibilities and indicators – the expression of faith, the performance of prayers and other religious duties. The observance of the religious recommendations and traditions includes practices from the birth of a person to the end of his earthly life. This includes the choice of a name for the newborn (naming), making a family and sending the deceased according to the Muslim tradition.

According to the canons of the Islamic tradition the funeral act for a deceased is a religious rite. It is a part of the religious rituals the manner of performance of which is determined by the Islamic norms, taking into account also the tradition. Based on these sources and the centuries-old tradition, the Fatwa Committee at the Muslim Denomination during its meeting held on 12th of March, 2009, discussed the question raised from the Muslim society “Is it allowed the deceased to be put in a coffin in the grave?” As a result of this the following fatwa (religious decision) was given: “According to the principles of the Islamic tradition the deceased is washed, wrapped in a shroud (white sheet), janazah prayer is performed (a prayer for deceased) and then s/he is laid in the grave without a coffin, clothes, pillow and whatsoever belongings. That is why laying in the grave in a coffin is not allowed.

A proof for this is the sunnah (the tradition) of Muhammad (pbuh), the consensus of the Islamic scholars, the centuries-old Islamic tradition both in the world and in Bulgaria. Laying the deceased in a coffin and clothes in the grave has never been practiced by the Bulgarian Muslims, but it was forcibly imposed by the totalitarian regime during the o called “Revival process”.

Grand Mufti’s Office respects the right of choice and the freedom of every Bulgarian citizen in the framework of the statutory norms, but insofar as it does not contradict to other constitutional and statutory rights. Based on the abovementioned, Grand Mufti’s Office cannot allow its employees – imams, and to people, who are not employees of the Denomination, to bury the deceased in a way which is forbidden by the Islamic tradition.

Since the law in the country has provided alternative possibilities for each of its citizens, those who want to bury their relatives in a way out of the traditionally established one for the respective Denomination have the right to perform this according to the civil ritual, without the participation of a clergyman – imam.

Grand Mufti’s Office appeals to the representatives of the mass media to check the correctness and the accuracy of the information in order to prevent the transmission of false information.

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