Imam 'humbled' after leading Muslim funeral prayer for Sinead O’Connor

Fans lined the streets in her Irish home town to say goodbye to the Nothing Compares 2 U singer who died in July

Crowds line the street as the hearse carrying Sinead O'Connor's coffin passes by her former home in Bray. Getty Images
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The imam leading the funeral prayer for Sinead O'Connor has praised the singer as her family and fans said their last goodbyes on Tuesday.

Fans lined the streets of Bray, her hometown in Ireland, where they mourned and sang her songs.

The acclaimed singer, best known for her 1990 single Nothing Compares 2 U, died at her home in London last month, aged 56.

Shaykh Dr Umar Al Qadri, chief imam at the Islamic Centre of Ireland, who met O’Connor in 2018, said he was “incredibly grateful for the opportunity to lead the Muslim funeral prayer for the daughter of Ireland, Sinead O’Connor, aka Shuhada Sadaqat”.

The singer had changed her name to Shuhada Sadaqat in October 2018 after converting to Islam.

At a private funeral, the imam delivered the eulogy: “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.”

Dr Al Qadri also spoke of his “heartfelt gratitude” to O'Connor's family and added that he was “humbled by the privilege” of delivering her service.

“It was very spiritual and it reflected her Irish identity as well as her Muslim identity,” the imam told PA.

“So I was with the members of the Muslim community and we performed the Janazah prayer, which is the Islamic funeral prayer, over Sinead.”

He also said that O'Connor “never moved away from God”, unlike others who have “difficulties and trials” in their lives.

Dr Al Qadri added: “She was an amazing human being who was not just a great musician, artist, but one that would reach hearts of millions of people because of her voice but also because of the amazing content … She had always had strong faith and conviction in God.”

In Strand Road in Bray, a vehicle equipped with loudspeakers played music from her long career. There was a murmur of appreciation as Nothing Compares 2 U was played, with many singing along.

Mourner Sara Mohamed said she had travelled to Bray to pay her respects. “As an Irish Muslim, I felt that I should be here on behalf of my community to pay my respects to the Irish legend she was,” she said.

“I just think she was massively outspoken and she spoke for minorities who didn't have a voice. And that's very admirable and very brave.”

Irish President Michael D Higgins issued a statement saying he was attending the private funeral service.

“The outpouring of grief and appreciation of the life and work of Sinead O'Connor demonstrates the profound impact which she had on the Irish people,” he said.

“The unique contribution of Sinead involved the experience of a great vulnerability combined with a superb, exceptional level of creativity that she chose to deliver through her voice, her music and her songs.”

A London coroner did not find a medical cause of death and suggested that the postmortem results may take several weeks. The singer's death is not being treated as suspicious.

Handwritten notes were left outside O'Connor's home in Bray thanking her for sharing her voice and her music, with one saying: “You are forever in my heart.”

A pink chair was placed outside the pink-framed conservatory of the seafront house, with pink flowers, candles and a photo of the singer in front of it.

One sign left by the wall of the property listed causes the singer had championed, including welcoming refugees, saying: “Where words fail, music speaks.”

A neighbour was also seen putting candles on the wall between the two properties.

O'Connor's family had asked people who wish to say a “last goodbye” to stand along the Bray seafront as the cortege passed.

The midmorning procession started at the Harbour Bar end of the Strand Road and continued past her former home, Montebello, where she lived for 15 years.

Since her death on July 26, people have been leaving flowers and paying their respects at the house, which the singer sold in 2021 and which now lies empty.

“Sinead loved living in Bray and the people in it,” a statement from her family said.

“With this procession, her family would like to acknowledge the outpouring of love for her from the people of Co Wicklow and beyond, since she left last week to go to another place.”

The Irish Grammy-winning singer was found unresponsive by police at her south-east London home.

Sinead O'Connor dies at 56 – in pictures

Several gatherings were held in the days after O'Connor's death in Dublin, Belfast and London, where members of the public paid tribute to her legacy as a musician and activist.

O'Connor, who was born in Dublin in December 1966, released her first album The Lion And The Cobra in 1987.

Her second studio album, I Do Not Want What I Haven't Got, followed in 1990 and contained the hit single Nothing Compares 2 U, which saw O'Connor top the charts around the world.

The track earned her multiple Grammy Award nominations including for the prestigious record of the year category, best female pop vocal performance and best music video.

In 1991, she was named artist of the year by Rolling Stone magazine and took home the Brit Award for international female solo artist.

She released a further eight studio albums, the latest being 2014's I'm Not Bossy, I'm The Boss.

Following her death, her music management company 67 Management said she had been finishing a new album, reviewing tour dates for next year and was also considering “opportunities” around a movie of her book.

Updated: August 08, 2023, 3:16 PM