Mosque leaders denied a popular mini-cab driver a proper funeral, according to his friends

The body of Khalid Mahmood, who died of a heart attack last Wednesday aged 52, had been prepared for the funeral prayer in Lea Bridge Road Mosque when allegations emerged that he belonged to the Ahmadi sect, which is not recognised as Muslim by Sunnis.

The mosque committee then stopped the funeral in order to keep peace they say, but friends say Mr Mahmood was disrespected and that the mosque’s actions only increase sectarianism.

One friend, Tanveer Khan, 57, a Walthamstow estate agent, said: “In a modern democracy this kind of discrimination should not happen.”

Another friend, Shahid Dastgir Khan, also 57, an Ilford solicitor and human rights activist, said: “These actions increase hatred between sects.

“The issue uniting us is common humanity and there is no place for using religion to divide people.”

The friends said Mr Mahmood’s family in Pakistan and his Pakistani passport verified he was a Sunni Muslim but mosque management said they did not have the proof at the time.

Chaudhry Khalid Hussain, president of the group that manages the mosque, Waltham Forest Islamic Association, said the allegations emerged only minutes before Friday prayer and that there was insufficient time to determine whether Mr Mahmood was Muslim or not.

Thus he said the decision was made to cancel the funeral as neither side could definitively prove their point.

“If he is not Muslim we are not allowed to have his prayer,” Mr Hussain said.

“Friday was Eid so I did not want to spoil Eid celebrations and Friday prayer.

“If we had broken Islamic law there may have been violence and argument. What we did was in the name of peace in the community.”

Nearly £1,000 was raised in the name of the deceased for the funeral, which Mr Hussain says can be collected back by those who donated should they wish, otherwise the money will be used the next time a Muslim cannot afford a funeral.

Another friend, Munib Anwar, said: “The money was not the problem, the man was not given a respectable funeral.”

Mr Mahmood had lived in Cleveland Park Avenue, Walthamstow, for around 20 years before staying with a friend in Haringey after health issues in April.