Asyut – Marking the demise of an alleged man of God, a large funeral procession was held to accompaniment of drum music and Mizmar dance in almost unheard-of precedent in Egypt, according to local witnesses from Asyut governorate, located 320 kilometres from Cairo.
The funeral marchers claim that the deceased was a holy man and a miracle worker who led a life of utmost spirituality and worship. In order to account for playing folkloric music at the funeral, the marchers said that the late was chosen as a saint whose holy soul would not ascend to heaven except to the accompaniment of mizmar music and mournful dirges which they were playing.
Mizmar is any single or double reed wind instrument. Mizmar dance is a traditional Egyptian folkloric dance, well-known to the southern Egyptians, in which a group of musicians, usually a duo or trio, play a mizmar instrument along with one or two double-sided bass drums, known in Arabic as tabl baladi or simply tabl. Mizmars are usually played in Egypt at either weddings or as an accompaniment to belly dancers; however, to see it at funeral ceremonies was considered 'the impossible possibility' with good measure.
For his part, Sheikh Mansour Mandour, the head Imam of Ministry of Religious Endowments and Affairs (al-Awqaf), expressed his disapproval of this incident, saying: “This act bespeaks that part of the Egyptian society may have relapsed into an age of darkness whose hallmarks, among others, were paganism, deification and idolization of human beings, raising the frightening specter of ignorance, superstition and backwardness that might prevail out there," Mandour said in a phone call with the "90 Minutes" TV Show on Saturday evening.
Sheikh Mandour quoted a Prophetic Tradition, i.e. Hadith, in which Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) was reported to have said: "May Allah’s curse be upon people who built places of worship at the graves of their prophets and righteous men,” as if Prophet Muhammad was warning his followers against doing such acts.”
“In fact, there are a number of mercenaries who promote such myths about righteous late men only to make the people build sanctuaries in their memory through which they can make a living by cheating and deceiving others,” Sheikh Mandour warned.
Sheikh Mandour shamed such groups for spreading lies and promoting superstition, called on security forces to criminalize such fraudulent activities, and de-license their marches which should never be held in any Islamic milieu or whatsoever, especially as Al-Azhar institution has made itself clear that is totally against that.