A FAMILY has spoken out after they said the final Islamic rites of a worshipper were unable to be conducted at the mosque he had supported throughout his lifetime.

Bosses at the Shah Jalal Mosque in Burnley, however, have responded saying they were just following Covid-19 guidelines.

It followed the death of Haji Rofique Ullah earlier this month. It is customary for the body to be washed (ghusl) at a mosque. A family member said they ‘felt his Islamic rites were denied’ because they themselves had refused members of the committee from seeing Mr Ullah during the last week of his life due to Covid-19 restrictions.

The body was taken to Bangladesh for burial after prayers were conducted at another Burnley mosque.

The family member said they had nothing against the mosque and said: “Due to Covid restrictions our family decided that no visitors would be allowed in order to protect him and our family members. Unfortunately, the committee members thought they were exempt from Covid restrictions and decided they would try their luck and turn up at the door, to which they were refused.

“On the early morning of October 8, my grandfather sadly passed away.

“As we wanted to take my grandfather to Bangladesh, we contacted funeral services who had experience in taking bodies abroad during the pandemic.

“Following this, Shah Jalal denied my grandfather’s ghusl and janazah (prayers) saying they could not accommodate them. We were extremely upset and disheartened by this as my grandfather was a trustee of the mosque, however we respected their decision.

“Therefore we contacted Queensgate mosque who were happy to accommodate under Covid guidelines. We would like to personally thank Mozaquir Ali without him the burial abroad would not have been possible.”

A statement from the Shah Jalal Masjid & Burnley Islamic Cultural Centre Management Committee said it wanted to clarify ‘misunderstanding and misinformation’.

It said: “We would like to remind the community that during these unprecedented times, the rules for janazah are ever changing due to coronavirus. The Masjid committee liaises with Lancashire Council of Mosques (LCM) and Burnley Council of Mosques (BCOM) to ensure that we are following local government guidelines; as our goal is to keep worshippers and the Masjid safe.

“As you may be aware, during August 2020 BCOM, which consists of all Burnley Masjids agreed that janazah will only take place at the cemetery, only family members and the people washing the deceased are able to see the body and a limited number of people may wash the body.

“The Masjid has capped the number of people washing the body to a maximum of five members.

“The guidelines for Burnley remain the same as stated above; they may differ from cities and towns throughout the UK. There is a cap on the number of people washing the body to ensure that people are safe and the Masjid has taken reasonable steps to prevent the spread of Covid-19.

“As trustees of the Masjid, it’s our legal duty to adhere to the law of the land and not bring the Masjid into any disrepute that may force the closure of the Masjid, legal action, or deep clean that may be necessary and detrimental to the community.”

It added: “At the start of the pandemic, Muslim Burial Trust selected Queensgate Islamic Centre as the Masjid for janaza ghusls to take place but Shah Jalal Masjid still offered to wash the deceased if the family chose to do so, and this still remains the case.”