Another Bin Laden debate

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Alissa_Sal's picture
Joined: 06/29/06
Posts: 6427
Another Bin Laden debate

Forgive - I'm having a hard time finding much else in the news that would be debate worthy.

http://www.knoxnews.com/news/2011/may/02/islamic-scholars-criticize-bin-ladens-sea-burial/?partner=popular

Muslim clerics said Monday that

Osama bin Laden's burial at sea was a violation of Islamic tradition that may further provoke militant calls for revenge attacks against American targets.

Although there appears to be some room for debate over the burial — as with many issues within the faith — 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.

Sea burials can be allowed, they said, but only in special cases where the death occurred aboard a ship.

Bin Laden's burial at sea "runs contrary to the principles of Islamic laws, religious values and humanitarian customs," said Sheik Ahmed al-Tayeb, the grand Imam of Cairo's al-Azhar mosque, Sunni Islam's highest seat of learning.

A radical cleric in Lebanon, Omar Bakri Mohammed, said, "The Americans want to humiliate Muslims through this burial, and I don't think this is in the interest of the U.S. administration."

A U.S. official said the burial decision was made after concluding that it would have been difficult to find a country willing to accept the remains. There was also speculation about worry that a grave site could have become a rallying point for militants.

The official spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss sensitive national security matters.

President Barack Obama said the remains had been handled in accordance with Islamic custom, which requires speedy burial, and the Pentagon later said the body was placed into the waters of the northern Arabian Sea after adhering to traditional Islamic procedures — including washing the corpse — aboard the aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson.
But the Lebanese cleric Mohammed called it a "strategic mistake" that was bound to stoke rage.

In Washington, CIA director Leon Panetta warned that "terrorists almost certainly will attempt to avenge" the killing of the mastermind behind the Sept. 11 attacks.

"Bin Laden is dead," Panetta wrote in a memo to CIA staff. "Al-Qaida is not."

According to Islamic teachings, the highest honor to be bestowed on the dead is giving the deceased a swift burial, preferably before sunset. Those who die while traveling at sea can have their bodies committed to the bottom of the ocean if they are far off the coast, according to Islamic tradition.

"They can say they buried him at sea, but they cannot say they did it according to Islam," Mohammed al-Qubaisi, Dubai's grand mufti, said about bin Laden's burial. "If the family does not want him, it's really simple in Islam: You dig up a grave anywhere, even on a remote island, you say the prayers and that's it."

"Sea burials are permissible for Muslims in extraordinary circumstances," he added. "This is not one of them."

But Mohammed Qudah, a professor of Islamic law at the University of Jordan, said burying the Saudi-born bin Laden at sea was not forbidden if there was nobody to receive the body and provide a Muslim burial.

"The land and the sea belong to God, who is able to protect and raise the dead at the end of times for Judgment Day," he said. "It's neither true nor correct to claim that there was nobody in the Muslim world ready to receive bin Laden's body."

Clerics in Iraq, where an offshoot of al-Qaida is blamed for the death of thousands of people since 2003, also criticized the U.S. action. One said it only benefited fish.

"If a man dies on a ship that is a long distance from land, then the dead man should be buried at the sea," said Shiite cleric Ibrahim al-Jabari. "But if he dies on land, then he should be buried in the ground, not to be thrown into the sea. Otherwise, this would be only inviting fish to a banquet."

The Islamic tradition of a quick burial was the subject of intense debate in Iraq in 2003 when U.S. forces embalmed the bodies of Saddam Hussein's two sons after they were killed in a firefight. Their bodies were later shown to media.

"What was done by the Americans is forbidden by Islam and might provoke some Muslims," said another Islamic scholar from Iraq, Abdul-Sattar al-Janabi, who preaches at Baghdad's famous Abu Hanifa mosque. "It is not acceptable and it is almost a crime to throw the body of a Muslim man into the sea. The body of bin Laden should have been handed over to his family to look for a country or land to bury him."

Prominent Egyptian Islamic analyst and lawyer Montasser el-Zayat said bin Laden's sea burial was designed to prevent his grave from becoming a shrine. But an option was an unmarked grave.

"They don't want to see him become a symbol, but he is already a symbol in people's hearts."

1) Was it a smart strategic move to bury the body at sea? The story is that this was done so that people wouldn't have a grave to rally around, but do you see this as potentially backfiring by further angering the Fundamentalist Muslim country? If you *do* think it will anger them, do you see that as a reason not to do it?

2) On a more general note, do you think that the US has any sort of moral obligation to bury our enemies in a way that is respectful of their culture and traditions?

Any other thoughts that you have on the subject....

Rivergallery's picture
Joined: 05/23/03
Posts: 1301

1- burial at sea is traditionally done for military members as well as combatants killed. I watched a burial at sea not long ago in a documentary done in wwII it was ceremonial and reverent.. even for those that were enemies.

It doesn't matter how the body was dealt with they would have been angery about how it was done. Not sure if it is a real Muslim issue, or just these extremists have an issue with it. I don't know enough about the religious beliefs to say if they are just saying it to say it.

2- I think burial at sea is normal seen as respectful.. I would realy need proof it wasn't I do not think we have an obligation to do so.. We do have an obligation to follow a golden rule of sorts.. not desecrate bodies.. drag through streets etc.

Spacers's picture
Joined: 12/29/03
Posts: 4103

"Alissa_Sal" wrote:

1) Was it a smart strategic move to bury the body at sea? The story is that this was done so that people wouldn't have a grave to rally around, but do you see this as potentially backfiring by further angering the Fundamentalist Muslim country? If you *do* think it will anger them, do you see that as a reason not to do it?

2) On a more general note, do you think that the US has any sort of moral obligation to bury our enemies in a way that is respectful of their culture and traditions?

Any other thoughts that you have on the subject....

To the bolded, what I've heard in my very limited internet time today (damned real work getting in the way of pg.org again!) is that no country that the U.S. contacted was willing to accept bin Ladin's body. The implication was certainly that they didn't want the trouble that would come along with it. But I haven't seen anything to suggest that the sole purpose was to prevent his supporters from having a grave to enshirine.

Burial at sea is acceptable in Islam, "If it is feared that an enemy may dig up the grave and exhume the dead body and amputate its ears or nose or other limbs, it should be lowered into sea, if possible, as stated in the foregoing rule." It's also against Islamic rules to bury a Muslim in a non-Muslim cemetery, or in any disrespectful way or place. Seeing that most people, even in Arab countries, consider him a hated enemy, I can see how burial on land could be an issue under Islamic law.
http://www.al-islam.org/laws/burial.html

While I don't consider bin Ladin to be deserving of respect in any way, I do think that generally we should consider other cultures' beliefs & traditions when dealing with their dead, whether they are enemies or not. I was watching "The Civil War" a week or so ago and am thinking about how Confederate women washed the bodies of the Union soldiers and kept them sheltered away from the sun until they could be picked up. That's the right thing to do. Someone died, and they deserve a certain amount of respect whether you like them or agree with them or hate their guts.

GloriaInTX's picture
Joined: 07/29/08
Posts: 4116

I think it was a good solution, they will never be happy with what we did no matter what.

Did he deserve it? Absolutely not, especially since our soldiers were mutilated, burned and dragged behind a truck, before they were booby trapped with grenades for the ones trying to recover their bodies.
http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2006/09/23/iraq/main2036227.shtml

But I am ok with it because I feel it was for our benefit not his, and shows that we are more honorable than they were. We can feel good about the fact that our military at least attempted to do the right thing instead of acting like animals.

Joined: 05/31/06
Posts: 4780

This one twists me all up. I don't even know what to say.

I mean, we KILLED HIM DEAD, on purpose, so the idea of respecting the person you just intentionally killed seems weird to me, you know?

I'm glad he's dead and all (I guess?) but, like, if someone hurt my kid and I went and intentionally killed them I would not give a rats *** what happened to their body or what their religion wanted, because I would assume that their religion probably wanted me to not kill them in the first place, and I already had usurped that whole bit, so who cared about the body, you know?

I mean, after murder, does PC matter much?

Did we worry about it to mollify his fellow crazies? Nothing will mollify them.

I don't know. I have no idea. Its all in the "super weird" file in my head.

Rivergallery's picture
Joined: 05/23/03
Posts: 1301

Spacers thanks for some accurate information on mainstream Islamic rules Smile