Q. Some 358 Muslims reportedly got incinerated when the World Trade Center was attacked on September 11, 2001. Since there is no hope of recovering these bodies, should the janaza still be performed for them?

A. Under extenuating circumstances, the requirement of the body for the funeral prayer is one that can be waived. And the wanton terrorist sin of September 11 certainly presents such an extenuating circumstance. It has its precedent in the Prophet Muhammad's performance of the janaza for the Negus of Abysinnia. His body was not there, but the Prophet nonetheless did the prayer. I am aware of some weak hadith that claim the earth shrank and the body was brought before the Prophet, but these traditions are fabrications. Since the bodies were incinerated -- even in the absence of a precedent, one would still have to rule for a prayer for the entire amount of Muslims -- in the form of a single janaza. The question regarding bathing the dead and shrouding does not apply. Every single victim is a martyr, and martyrs are not bathed nor shrouded. And Allah knows best.

Posted October 28, 2001