• Jules Gomes

Koran read at Westminster Abbey as Royal Cathedral bows to Islam

Britain’s royal cathedral—the nation’s coronation church since 1066—and the final resting place of 17 monarchs approved a Koranic reading from its lectern at a memorial service last Tuesday.

Husein Kavazović, the Grand Mufti of Bosnia and Herzegovina, read from Koran 16: 90-97 at a Service of Thanksgiving for the life of Paddy Ashdown—a British politician and former diplomat who served as leader of the Liberal Democrats.

Ashdown, who died on 22 December 2018, became a passionate advocate for the Muslims of Bosnia and Herzegovina during the wars that led to the break-up of Yugoslavia.

The Koranic reading was in Bosnian and preceded biblical readings from Isaiah 52: 7-12 and Paul’s second epistle to Timothy 4:1-7.

Expressing his consternation, Islamic jurist Yasser Hussein who spoke to Rebel Priest media, said that such an act could imply that the deceased may secretly have converted to Islam.

“Islamic prayers or readings are never offered at the graveside or for the memorial of a kaffir”

“Islamic prayers or readings are never offered at the graveside or for the memorial of a kaffir—an infidel or unbeliever,” the Shariah scholar stated.

Mohammad, the prophet of Islam, visited his mother’s grave and “sought permission” from Allah “to beg forgiveness for her” but it was not granted to him because she was a non-Muslim.

Later, even visiting graves of non-Muslims was completely forbidden as in Koran 9:84: “Nor do thou ever pray for any of them that dies nor stand at his grave: for they rejected Allah and His apostle and died in a state of perverse rebellion,” Hussein explained.

In fact, chapter 16, which was read at Ashdown’s memorial service, speaks of hell for disbelievers, he said, adding that an exception may have been made because the body of the deceased was not present.

Hussein also noted that other verses in the Koran like 9:80, 113 and 114 warn: “It is not for the Prophet and those who have believed to ask forgiveness for the polytheists, even if they were relatives, after it has become clear to them that they are companions of Hellfire.”

When objections were raised on the Abbey’s social media page to the reading of the Koran, a spokesperson replied: “Verses from non-Christian religious texts have been read in the Abbey many times. We have held many interfaith services.”

The Abbey spokesperson was unable to give a specific answer when asked how many times Christians had been invited to interfaith services in a mosque or Hindu temple.

Bishop Gavin Ashenden, who resigned as Queen’s Chaplain after objecting to the reading of the Koran in St. Mary’s Episcopal Cathedral, Glasgow, in 2017, commented:

“Reading the Koran in cathedrals is sometimes seen as a sign of civility, hospitality or inclusion. Instead, it validates Islam’s teaching that is predicated on the claim that the resurrection was a fraud and Jesus lied to his followers and the world.”

He continued:

When this happens, it is a sign that the hosts misunderstand the ambition of the Koran and the assertions of Mohammad. In this epistemological conflict between Jesus and Mohammad, the Gospels and the Koran, the core contradiction signified is that one source is authentic and the other is bogus. By welcoming an uncritical reading of the Koran, Westminster Abbey asserts the legitimacy of Mohammad and in so doing repudiates Jesus. One has to wonder what their claim to be a Christian cathedral rests on at that point?

“By welcoming an uncritical reading of the Koran, Westminster Abbey asserts the legitimacy of Mohammad and in so doing repudiates Jesus.”

The Church of England’s canon law B 1 states: “Every minister shall use only the forms of service authorised by this Canon, except so far as he may exercise the discretion permitted by Canon B 5.”

According to Canon B5 (3), the forms of service “shall be neither contrary to, nor indicative of any departure from, the doctrine of the Church of England in any essential matter.”

The Koranic reading at St. Mary’s Cathedral, Glasgow, on the Feast of the Epiphany from Surah 19, explicitly denied the divinity of Jesus.

A translation of 19: 35 in the Quran reads in part: “It befitteth not the Majesty of Allah that He should take unto Himself a son,” and then 19: 36, which has the infant Jesus saying: “And lo! Allah is my Lord and your Lord. So worship Him. That is the right path.”

In 2017, a row broke out after the Islamic call to prayer was performed in Gloucester Cathedral.

“This is being celebrated as an ‘inclusive’ act. When will the Nicene Creed be recited inside a mosque? Or must the ‘inclusive’ acts, as always, go only in one direction?” asked Islamic scholar Robert Spencer.

“Do the ‘inclusive’ people at the Gloucester Cathedral realize that now that the Islamic profession of faith, which is part of the Islamic call to prayer, has been recited in the cathedral, that according to abundant precedent, it is now a mosque? When Mehmet the Conqueror wanted to turn the Hagia Sophia cathedral in Constantinople into a mosque, he had a muezzin recite the profession of faith from the pulpit. So it’s now the Gloucester Mosque,” pointed out the Maronite Catholic.

In 2018, the Islamic call to prayer was performed at Blackburn Cathedral.

In May 2019, Rebel Priest broke the story of St Matthew and St Luke, Darlington, Durham, saying it would cover crosses and other sacred images in order to host Islamic prayers and an Iftar meal for the local Muslim community.

Westminster Abbey which houses the shrine of St Edward the Confessor, is a ‘Royal Peculiar’ under the jurisdiction of a Dean and Chapter, subject only to the Sovereign and not to any archbishop or bishop.

Every monarch since William the Conqueror has been crowned in the Abbey, with the exception of Edward V and Edward VIII (who abdicated) who were never crowned. The ancient Coronation Chair can still be seen in the church.

In 2011, Prince William of Wales married Miss Catherine Middleton at Westminster Abbey.

(Yasser Hussein has asked that his name be changed to protect his identity)