Delivered by Shaykh Dr Umar Al-Qadri - Imam, Islamic Centre of Ireland
August 8, 2023.
For Muslims, death denotes a gift greater than the gift of life. While our births deliver us into this ephemeral world, our deaths deliver us into an eternal abode.
Our Prophet, peace be upon him, reminded us to honor the gift of life and not desire death, but to pray for a life abundant in good deeds. But he also reminded us that, “Death is the great gift of a believer.” The Persian poet, Rumi, astutely noted that “We come into the world crying while those around us shout with joy; yet we leave the world with a shout of joy while those around us are crying.”
That first cry foretells of the many tears to be shed that flow from the trials and travails of this earthly abode. As a child grows, a belief in God comes easily, as it did for Sinead. Yet, as the world reveals itself and a loss of innocence occurs, the accompanying hardships that ensue can result for some in a rejection of God, but not for Sinead, whose name means, God is Merciful. She chose to remain loyal to the Divine presence and mercy she so intensely felt as a youth.
Sinead suffered more than her share of hardship and adversity, especially in her formative years, much of it from adults and institutions she revered, and yet she displayed an unflinching and resolute faith in the Divine; her unwavering loyalty to God is a testimony to the deep and abiding love she held for her Creator. The more she sang and spoke about her own pain, as well as about the pervasive sins in society that she witnessed, the more her voice and her words resonated with listeners and touched their hearts. Sinead never stopped her search to know God fully, exemplifying a life marked with a deep communion with God.
Gifted with a voice that moved a generation of young people, she could reduce listeners to tears by her otherworldly resonance. One need only listen to her a cappella version of “O Danny Boy” or the traditional Irish tune “Molly Malone” to know this about her gift. Sinead’s voice carried with it an undertone of hope, of finding one’s way home. The Irish people have long found solace in song from the sufferings of this lower abode, and Sinead was no exception, and in sharing that solace, she brought joy to countless people the world over.
I know that peoples of all faiths throughout the world will be praying for this beloved daughter of Ireland, among them will be countless Muslims praying for their sister in faith and humanity. Our Prophet, peace be upon him, said, “If God loves a servant, God casts the love of that servant in the hearts of creation.” We take it as an auspicious sign that our sister was so loved by so many. We are also told that “Whoever loves to meet God, God loves to meet them.” I know that Sinead had that love of God’s meeting in her heart, and she takes it with her into the next life.
Jesus Christ, peace be upon him, said, “Blessed are the pure of heart, for they shall see God.” May God give our pure-hearted sister Sinead the beatific vision of that infinite face through which the heavens and the earth are lit. May she be granted the STATION of the Muslim name she chose for herself, Shuhada, the martyrs and witnesses of God’s Grace and Beauty. May her light continue to shine and grace the land of Ireland that she loved so dearly, and may she find the peace of God that she sought so earnestly.
May her family and loved ones find solace in the outpouring of love from the corners of this earth for this unique daughter of Ireland who moved so many hearts with her mighty voice and unflinching honesty as an artist, poet, and human being.
Sinead had a poet’s heart and, I believe, would share with us today the sentiments of the poet, Rumi when he said:
“This place is a dream. Only a sleeper considers it real. Then death comes like dawn, and you wake up laughing at what you thought was your grief.“
On this solemn occasion, I wish to express my heartfelt gratitude to the esteemed family members of our beloved Sister Sinead O’Connor. It is with profound appreciation that I stand before you, humbled by the privilege you have extended to me, entrusting me with the honor of leading her Muslim funeral prayer. Your remarkable openness, your boundless magnanimity, and your genuine inclusivity have touched the lives of countless souls, uniting us all in this sacred farewell. As I stand here today, I am reminded of your profound wisdom and the profound impact of your inclusive spirit.
Just as Sinead O’Connor brought diverse souls together through her art, so have you orchestrated a symphony of unity during her final journey. Your noble gesture has transcended boundaries and connected strangers, echoing the very essence of Sinead’s legacy. In this shared moment of remembrance and prayer, we find ourselves united in a tapestry of love, compassion, and reverence. May this ceremony be a testament to the enduring power of humanity’s collective spirit, as we bid farewell to a remarkable soul who touched us all.
In a manner that seems almost preordained, as we reflect upon Sinead O’Connor’s rendition of “The Parting Glass,” it becomes evident that she may have foreseen this very moment:
Oh all the comrades e’er I had, they’re sorry for my going away.
And all the sweethearts e’er I had, they’d wished me one more day to stay But since it falls unto my lot, that I should rise and you should not
I gently rise and softly call, Goodnight and joy be with you all.
Sla’n abhaile, Sinead; Dia leat.