CNN reports that a “senior Department of Defense official” says Osama bin Laden’s body was buried at sea, from the deck of the aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson, because “when there is no land alternative, Islamic law dictates that the body be buried within 24 hours.”
Another official added there was “no country willing or able to accept the body for burial,” and “U.S. forces took pains to observe Muslim law.” The body was reportedly washed and wrapped in a white sheet before being commended to the waves.
It didn’t take long before some Muslim clerics weighed in. The Associated Press reports that “a wide range of senior Islamic scholars interpreted it as a humiliating disregard for the standard Muslim practice of placing the body in a grave with the head pointed toward the holy city of Mecca.” Supposedly sea burials are only allowed when the death took place at sea.
Mohammed al-Qubaisi, the grand mufti of Dubai, helpfully informs us that “if the family does not want” the remains of the deceased, “it’s really simple in Islam: you dig a grave anywhere, even on a remote island, you say the prayers and that’s it.”
Lebanese cleric Omar Bakri Mohammed said, “The Americans want to humiliate Muslims through this burial,” and said it was a “strategic mistake” to dispose of bin Laden’s remains this way, because it will cause outrage in the Muslim world, presumably despite his best efforts.
I have a question for this wide range of senior Islamic scholars.
For years, we’ve been hearing that al-Qaeda is a “tiny minority of extremists” who have hijacked the noble Religion of Peace. If that’s the case, why do they give a damn whether he gets buried in accordance with the highest traditions of Islam? Why would they extended the honors of their religion to someone whose actions have defamed and slandered it? What sort of message does that send to the righteous and peaceful members of the faith, struggling to practice the entirely non-violent meditative technique known as jihad?
You would think the last thing our great scholars of Islam would want is high honors for a man who has defiled their great religion with the blood of innocents. The grand mufti of Dubai wouldn’t want legions of misguided Muslims showing up on that deserted island to pay their respects to bin Laden’s remains… would he?